Breaking Recruitment.


I became obsessed about the idea of breaking the recruitment space a few years ago. I had a Post-it on my desk when I still worked at Propel that said “Focus on the problem not the solution.” but it’s only in the last few months that I feel I have started to understand the problem and make headway on actually building a solution.

We all have heard it too many times how recruitment is broken and it’s an industry ripe for disruption. Yet for some reason no one has come up with the silver bullet yet. The internet and big data have definitely changed the nature of the beast, but the reality is that it is still a painful process to both hire someone and to find a job.

Why is it a problem?

It’s Different Every time

Building a team should be easy!

If only building teams was this easy.

Have you tried to get together a bunch of people to play a sport or a game? Even if it is only for a couple of hours a week, it can be tough to organise.

Hiring people is the same, and in business it’s not just a group of friends to kick a ball. Successful businesses want to build the best team to do the job. It’s a hard and expensive process.

There is no rule book to follow, every company, every candidate, every time it’s different. Everyone has a different point of view on it!

In a perfect world you could easily solve the problem with some technology or an algorithm. Automated CV matching, easy to use job boards and Big data search tools leveraging machine learning; are all amazing things. But there is still huge monster in the closet that gets in the way of these being affective. This is a people problem… People

You may be able to find the person you’re looking for so will using a tool or technology help? — No!

You need a person to hire another.

Machines wont make friends!

So who does the hiring? HR people and recruiters? I think your wrong.

I’m sure, like me. Every time you hear about people in HR or Recruitment you conjure up images of shiny suited kids in headsets doing recruitment by numbers and bored HR staff enforcing form-filling and complaining when things aren’t part of the process. Sadly however, they are the biggest weapon in a CEO’s armoury and most people don’t understand what they are here to do.

A HR person or a recruiter has never hired anybody… Unless it was for their own team. They are just the tool that a company uses to accelerate the hiring process and protect themselves.

If your building a business then you need, you are the one building a team your talent team is the resource you use to do it. By way of resource, we dont hire people for you, we just help you navigate the hiring landscape. We provide you with insight and expertise, introductions to the right people and advice on how to influence there decision and get them to work for you.

I think, my job as a recruiter is to make it easy for you to build amazing teams. Sometimes you think I am going to hire you someone, sorry thats your job… I’m just here to make it easier for you.

Now you know what I am here to do, why I sit at a screen stalking people on line all day. We can figure out what recruiters need to do to get better so you stop moaning about the fact that our industry is broken!

Recruiters must share stuff!

It’s not a silver bullet, but a step in the right direction and all of a sudden I love my job because I share stuff.

I share and benefit from other people sharing ideas every day, so do you, it is a bit post modern to write a blog about it, right?

Some Context. I am lucky enough to work with a very innovative company (Lyst) and this year they sent me to FOSDEM. It wasn’t just to recruit someone, it was to learn something. FOSDEM is a snapshot of a global community that’s based around the development of free and open source software. These are super smart people that are considered anarchistic hackers by governments and nerds and geeks by the rest of the world.

Open source communities are collections of like minded people working towards a common goal. Whether it’s cryptology or scientific discoveries. They all want to fix something that is broken and understand that it is only as a collective that they will do that.

You probably use open source software everyday. You probably don’t realise why it is so much better.

So we have the best intellects in the world sharing information and projects. Why cant the rest of us do it?

The action of sharing is a day to day normality for me. I get up and read stories that people have shared with me on twitter. Head to work and share the train and the route with people I know and recognise. Arrive in the office share my thoughts with a co worker, share some insight on twitter with my coffee and instagram my lunch. It goes on and on right.

Why don’t recruiters do this?

I only put this here so that if anybody comments about not sharing I have pre warned them how childish I think that is.

Most of the time it’s because they are greedy and want to make money. The hunger for profit is what has destroyed our industry to the point that when I tell people what they do, they get scared and run away. Yes that is the truth, it happened to me again on Friday, it might be the beard…

Why on earth would you pay £15,000 to get someone’s name and contact details?

It sounds mad right! But trust me it is a normal everyday practice in the world of recruitment and it’s this profiteering secrecy that has led to people like me not telling you what I do.

It is probably the hippy’s war cry but If we share more the world will start to be a better place.

As recruiters we need to get better at our job and have more information at our fingertips. The internet might answer a lot of your questions, but it is hard to know where to look. Information like this is what helps people make a profit, but to break the industry we have to stop this rampant profiteering.

It’s tough when you work for a business to have a safe place to share information, we have tough questions to ask and answer and sometimes share a candidate with. I don’t want to publicise my needs or share someones contact details. (As your recruiter — I don’t think you would want me to either) but great news things are changing!

In London, I am very lucky to be part of a group of recruiters who are attempting something along these lines. Using tools that are free and the generosity of our peers and a few suppliers we are building a safe haven for in-house recruiters. We have built a network where we can share things that are useful to use and advice that is sometimes not — you can find loads more about it here.

NOTE: This does not represent the views of my employer and it does contain some very broad brush strokes and generalisations. Thats what makes it a good read.

Thanks to this guy for letting me use his awesome picture!

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