It’s Either Your Best Friend Or Your Worst Enemy
The other day I stepped out of a meeting on my way to the airport. For some odd reason, I could not get mobile phone service. So I did something that seems almost archaic now. It’s so old fashioned it’s almost embarrassing to admit. I hailed a taxi cab.
There just happened to be one driving by, so I hopped in. I asked the driver – how’s business today. I wasn’t surprised by what he said. He pointed to building after building and said: “I used to pick up people there and there and even over there.” He pointed to one office building after another with a near wistful tone.
I asked him what business is like today versus two years ago. He told me that he used to earn a six figure income as a taxi driver and was even able to buy a home. But now, his income had been cut in half. More than that, he estimated two things that I found shocking. He said: “I haven’t picked anyone up in this neighborhood in more than a month and fares from here to the airport have dropped by 70%.”
Of course, I’m sure you know why. Digital transport services like Uber and Lyft, among others, have completely disrupted a stalwart business model that thrived for generations. If you’re wondering what this has to do with digital marketing, let me explain.
Here is the key idea I want to share with you. Digital marketing can be your best friend or your worst enemy. There is no neutral ground. You will either benefit from digital or be its victim. I want to you to benefit from the radical shifts that have occurred and that are yet to come.
Whether you recognize it or not, digital transformation is making radical changes to the way recruiters do business. If you don’t take steps now to position for success in digital, you will likely get left behind. This thought piece lays the ground work for you to start to build a vision and plan for how digital will impact your company over the next several years.
Digital transformation can be your best friend or your worst enemy. How it impacts you will largely be determined by the choices you make over the next 12 months.
BEST FRIEND OR WORST ENEMY?
Digital is a harbinger of either good news or bad news – depending on how you look at it. Here is the good news. You’ve never had a better opportunity to build a highly profitable global recruiting company that expands at an exponential rate. Digital marketing is making this possible.
At JXT, we are privileged to serve recruiting firms that range from single-entrepreneurs all the way up to global organizations with offices in more than 50 countries. This gives us visibility into the way more than 1,000 recruitment functions handle their digital operations. That’s a lot of insight.
Here is what we see. A select group of nimble, agile and forward-looking companies are growing at exponential rates – primarily because of digital marketing. It is a great pleasure for me to watch them leverage digital marketing for tremendous business benefit.
You’ve never had a better opportunity to build a highly profitable global recruiting company that expands at an exponential rate
But there are other organizations who seem to have stops and starts. They make certain commitments and take certain steps, but then they get sidetracked. They don’t follow through or take full advantage of what digital marketing offers. They get some benefit, but they are not the exponential growers. I estimate this today to be around 80% of all recruitment firms.
Then there is a third group who seems to believe that digital marketing is for everyone else, but not for their firm. In some instances, these teams have been operating with a certain culture, a certain mind-set, for a certain period of time – and they see no need to change.
Here is the bad news. Digital changes everything in its path. So even if you don’t want to build a global recruiting firm, even if you don’t want exponential growth, you still need to have a strategy for digital or it may destroy your existing business model.
If you do not have a strong game plan and forward momentum with digital in the next 12-24 months, it may be impossible to jump start a digital strategy that allows your company to survive. This is not hyperbole. Let me show you some examples of those who were caught off guard.
- Taxis – global taxi cab rates are down substantially with no end in sight because of Uber & Lyft.
- Music – the record industry got turned on its ear when peer-to-peer sharing launched and that industry has never recovered.
- Financial advisors – robo-advisors are now doing the work that humans used to do, which scares financial advisors more than you can imagine.
- TV Content Providers – monthly digital video subscription services, like Amazon and Netflix, killed the global video rental business (remember those?) and have eroded market share of cable and satellite providers, threatening to take first place.
- Hospitality – AirBnB and other digital hospitality sites have opened people’s private homes and residences to new sources of income as hoteliers around the globe sweat when they watch the number of visitors to these websites grow every month.
ARE YOU IMPERVIOUS TO DIGITAL DISRUPTION?
Many recruiters believe that they are impervious to digital disruption. It’s not hard to see why they might believe this. Here are some common reasons I hear recruiters say that they don’t have to be too concerned or have a real and concerted plan for digital.
Recruitment is one of the only business models that exists today that allows for profitability within the first 30 days. The barriers to entry are very low. This means that recruitment is already in a state of flux, with more new people and companies entering the market all the time. Digital disruption has usually occurred in established industries with standard business models and few players.
Some “recruiters” are actually part-time people who leverage the power of their relationships and rolodex to earn high incomes from very few hours worked. Often these people are well known in their industry with a long and respected work history. These people don’t see the need for their services going away any time soon. Neither do they see digital changing the way they work.
Recruitment is a relationship-driven business model, where digital devices are often seen as either unnecessary or a poor substitute for a real human-to-human conversation. People hire recruiters they trust based on either established relationships or referrals and recommendations from trusted sources. Will digital really impact these?
If you hold any of these opinions, even after what I’ve shown you about how other industries have been turned upside down by digital, keep reading. I’m about to change your mind.
3 KEY THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DIGITAL
If you’re still not sure why you should care about digital, and its corollary for recruitment firms – digital marketing, let me give you 3 solid reasons.
- Digital is a disruptive medium.
- Digital is a democratizing medium.
- Digital is an opportunistic medium.
Let me explain what I mean here.
Digital is a disruptive medium that radically changes existing business models. Moore’s law has unleashed more change on the planet than any other single scientific or technological advancement in the last 100 years. It is not possible for you to escape the impact of Moore’s law. You will be the beneficiary or the victim. The choice is yours.
Digital is a democratizing medium. It seeks to break down walls between people and create connections that did not previously exist. Digital devices give everyone a voice. Digital systems don’t care if you are a one-person recruiting firm or a 1,000-person recruiting firm. As long as you optimize your digital presence for the rules digital operates under, you get a shot. This is why I see small, nimble and innovative firms growing by leaps and bounds.
Digital is an opportunistic medium. Digital systems create completely new business models and business opportunities that typically very few people saw coming. Digital creates opportunities that did not exist before and it does not care who takes advantage of these.
Kodak had one of the largest R&D budgets in the world. Yet their engineers did not see digital photography coming or make a plan to be on the leading edge of it. Kodak is now a shell of the company it used to be – all because digital changed the landscape right beneath their feet.
A MORE APPROPRIATE EXAMPLE
Many of the examples I’ve cited here are from industries that are not like recruiting. I’ll concede this point. Consumer businesses are not recruitment. Consumer goods are often impulse buys or purchases based on existing brand loyalties.
Recruitment firms, on the other hand, are relationship-driven. To build a highly successful recruitment business, you have to do one thing very well and do it consistently, day-after-day: place great candidates in great jobs. Here is a fairly standard process.
- Build relationships with people from companies who have jobs to offer and get them to trust you to fulfill their placement needs.
- Offer their jobs to job seekers – typically via computer systems today.
- Collect resumes and responses from job seekers.
- Vet the candidates.
- Recommend candidates.
- Wait for the hire decisions.
- Get paid.
Can digital really make radical changes to this process? I might argue that it already has make radical changes. But my point in this article is that radical changes are still to come.
In case you were thinking that all of this talk about digital is really about Amazon and Google and the transformation of brick and mortar stores into online stores, let me show you an example that might hit closer to home. In fact, you may have forgotten about this because the transformation has long since taken place.
Do you remember travel agencies and travel agents? Here is how their business model used to work:
- Build relationships with people from companies who have executives that travel and get them to trust you to fulfill their travel needs.
- Offer travel options and a high service level to executives about to embark on a journey.
- Handle all of the logistics and scheduling complexities for flights, hotels and transportation.
- Present the travel documents needed to the executives to ensure their journey goes smoothly.
- Get paid.
I don’t know about you, but I find a striking number of similarities between the business model of travel agents and the recruitment industry. So I have a question to ask you. When did you last use a travel agent to plan, book and manage your travel?
These agencies used to be on every street corner, it seemed. I remember going into their offices and seeing posters of exotic locations. The value proposition was that these travel agents could help you build a travel plan that was custom tailored to your needs. But here is the truth of the matter.
Information systems made their jobs and this business model possible. Many airline carriers had proprietary information systems that the public could not access. But that all changed with the rise of the internet. As soon as the public had access to booking systems from airlines and hotels, travel agents were seen in a new light.
Travel agents were dependent on two sources to achieve their economic goals: carriers who needed passengers and passengers who needed to travel. As soon as information systems went public, both passengers and carriers decided that travel agents, despite their exotic posters, were little more than expensive middle-men who needed to be cut out of the equation.
WHY DO I TELL YOU THIS?
I believe that more than 80% of the world’s recruitment firms today are not prepared for the radical changes that digital and digital marketing are bringing to this industry. I grew up as a professional in this field and have long-standing relationships with many wonderful people. I do not want to see people get hurt from the changes that I know are coming. I don’t want you to be caught off guard.
I cannot predict how digital will change recruiting over the next 20 years or so. But I can say with absolute certainty that Moore’s Law will impact this industry and in radical ways that most of us did not see coming.
This is why you need to develop your digital plan now. You cannot wait. Digital marketing will either be your best friend or your worst enemy – and that all comes down to how seriously you take this.
In this post I’ve built a case for why you should care about digital. If you want to start building a plan that is customized to your firm, I have a great solution for you. I’ve developed an Action Guide called 6 Steps To Becoming A Digital Marketing Ninja.
This free resource provides a comprehensive overview of digital marketing for recruiters. It contains 6 videos and 6 Action Plans that allow you to take my counsel and build a plan that is customized to your firm.
Please don’t ignore this. Please take advantage of this free resource now.
About the author
Rick Maré is the founder and CEO of JXT, the number one provider of cloud-based digital marketing solutions for recruiters and corporate recruiters. Rick has coached thousands of recruiters, empowering them to take their businesses and careers to the next level. Connect with Rick on LinkedIn.