Time to tell a story...

Once upon a time
Once upon a time

When Donald Draper and his fictitious madison avenue friends changed the advertising world they thought they were gods, charging millions for art, posters and giant hoardings that dominated our post airport drive home or to our businessman’s hotel.  Brands were born and cultivated, the minority standing for something, the majority a good logo and a pretty face.

This traditional approach to advertising still remains but has extended into a digital media driven brand experience, click here, have you seen this, friend me.  Advertising and Marketing are closer to recruitment now than ever before.  Think about how we find a new job or how we reach potential future hires.  We started in the same place as the consumer brands with the formality of newspaper advertising giving way to job boards, google ads and linkedin.  It was not that long ago that the job boards were king, giants like Monster dominated our global recruitment activity with a shop front for our job product.  But now those same giant job boards are dying or desperately trying to morph into something else.  Anyone on the receiving end of a Monster sales pitch in the last 12 months or so will love the moment they talk about linkedin/Monster integration, those connections we crave only being provided by Linkedin and dinosaur Monster forced into talking about a competitor in a sales pitch.  If Monster needs linkedin what does that say for the rest of us?

That hunger for connections has evolved into something else. We still want to connect but realise we have to give something away now to earn that connection, a little piece of us each time.  Recruiters like their marketing colleagues have evolved and need to do something different.  But that something different is not so radical, not so far removed from our recent present.  We need to get back to basics, start telling a story.  True engagement begins as it always did with a conversation about real things, not the digital dream we are busy creating.

I have a story.

An anecdote to wheel out when needed, just ask anyone that has ever had to spend time with me waiting for a conference call to start.  I can fill in the silence, doing lots of things, working with lots of people will do that for you and I love a good story.  As recruiters we have to tell a story to our candidates.  Candidates need to be the hero, the villain, the happy ever after all in one.  We need to put them at the centre of the story.

How do very traditional businesses find a way to be seen and heard in the background of noise we have created.  More importantly how do their recruiters compete against the cool kids and their Digital organisations, Digital organisations that want to create intimacy with their candidates but are continually drawn to volume.

Candidates are drawn to the story.  The suggestion of what might be rather than the size of the company or the money they have spend getting the candidate interested.  How we tell that story (if we have one) has become in a digital world part of the challenge.  The recruitment world is full of words like platform technology. created in the hope that the combination of tools that we deploy will some how connect us to people that we want to talk to instantly, whilst making us look cool, exciting and interesting employers.

How our candidates consume that technology is part of the debate we need to have, a one size fits all approach clearly doesn't work.  It is confusing from a candidate perspective, with some organisations throwing themselves at technology, seeing it as the silver bullet to engagement, with a bewildering array of click here, apply there etc. whilst demonstrating in equal measure those organisations that lag behind.  Some confused by that same confusing array of technology, methodology or just simply not having an idea about what they should actually do for the best.

The technology is pervasive.  I am no luddite but as a child I remember the influence that books had on me and on my parents.  Reading books at all ages was seen as a good thing, a means of spending time, educating, having fun and telling those stories.  It was a simpler time with simpler needs before a world of catch up TV and multimedia platform mediums.  If we go back even further stories were told to each other around the fire, in pubs and inns where travelers would tell tales of things they had seen or heard in the next village.

The story was king.

So where does that leave me, you and your recruiters today?

In recruitment like marketing we have lost our way a little.  The answers we are looking for lie in our past and present, not the future.  We need to learn to tell those stories again.  They are in us all as individuals, our story to be told.

For me it is about a moment in time.  That moment when some special is passed from one person to another not via a text or an email and whilst the medium shouldn't matter it does.  That book we found special as a child, that story our grandmother told us, a story that was a connection to another world, our past or just to something new that we have discovered for the first time.  What mattered was that connection and the trust and safety we found in it.

So how about we start now, you and me.  Let's develop our hiring story, make it compelling, write a best seller... Make it yours...


I have a background in executive search and selection, headhunting and senior level recruitment combined with people and business management experiences. My focus has always been on the IT services, technology and management consultancy sectors on a permanent and interim basis where I have developed a personal portfolio that covers areas such as EVP, social recruitment and the successful creation of talent pools as well the management and leadership of corporate talent acquisition teams.

I am an avid blogger, writer, public speaker and traveller of trains across the UK.

Follow me on twitter @MDangerfield or have a look at http://www.linkedin.com/in/martindangerfield for more details.