I’m fortunate to meet with and coach some of the very best recruiters in the world today. I love my career and I count myself fortunate to be a partner in the success of some amazing recruiting organisations.
But I’ve noticed a trend. After I build a relationship with a client, after they’ve come to trust me, there is a moment where they confide in me something that almost seems embarrassing to them. It’s a strange thing and I can’t always predict when it’s coming. But I now anticipate this moment as I foster relationships with clients.
At some point, often times when we’re alone, they ask me this question. “Rick what is this whole digital thing and what does it really mean for our company?” They usually are hesitant to ask this question early in our relationship because they feel as if they should already know the answer.
But here is the difficult truth. Almost no one in the recruitment space seems to really understand what the term “digital marketing” means. More than that, very few recruitment organisations have figured out how to use digital marketing to accomplish the goals that really matter to them.
Does this sound familiar? Do you feel this way? If so, I want to help. So here is the starting point for some of my very best ideas about digital marketing.
Those who do not embrace and adapt to what is coming next from technology will get left behind. Period.
Reasons recruiters struggle to understand or appreciate digital marketing
Most recruiters, especially those who have been in business for more than 15 years, really struggle to understand what digital marketing is, why they should care and what it can actually do for their organisation.
In another post, I’ll explain what I mean by digital marketing and talk about why you should care. But in this post I want to talk about something that is underneath it all. I want to bring to light the reasons that recruiters often don’t understand or appreciate digital marketing.
Why does this happen? I believe there are three major reasons.
- There is a generational shift component.
- There is an aptitude component.
- There is a visioning component, particularly concerning where technology fits into their company’s future.
Let me explain what I mean.
The generational shift
My two sons were born and raised in a world awash with technology. They cannot envision a lifestyle where personal digital devices are not within their reach at nearly any time: mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and the always-on WIFI access nearly anywhere they go. This is that whole generational shift phenomenon that I want to characterise.
That was not the world that I grew up in. When I was their age, there was very little technology available for individuals and most of what did exist was for entertainment purposes. There was certainly no internet. Technology systems for business were the realm of the super-elite. Mainframe systems filled entire rooms and were only affordable for huge companies. That was not technology for the masses.
If you are of a certain age, you probably remember the gaming consoles that we used to stand in front of inside arcades, you know the ones with the big joysticks. This was one of the first exposures to technology for many people from my generation. Oh the blinking lights and beeping speakers! It was a great way to waste an afternoon.
This was one of our first interactions with technology. Those machines were huge compared to the cell phones we all carry today in our pockets today. 30 years ago I could never have imagined playing Pac-Man on a device that now fits in the palm of my hand while sitting on a plane. Wow. How the world has changed!
Some people, as I started my career, were using computers in the office. But the productivity enhancements that came about as a result of software and ubiquitously cheap hardware were yet to be realised. This meant that IT departments were always trying to sell senior managers on the value and impact of technology.
Many people never bought into that vision. There is a generation of people who don’t understand or like technology and probably never will. They don’t get why they should change. After all, traditional analog marketing has worked for generations for recruiters. Here is a fairly prototypical career path that successful recruiters used to take.
- Become an expert within a given field.
- Build relationships that are valuable and where you are respected by people in positions of power and authority, particularly senior-leaders in companies who need talent.
- Take the leap and start a recruiting firm.
- Leverage your relationships, both inside and outside client circles, to place great candidates in great companies.
- Run your business from your rolodex.
- Reap the rewards.
Notice how none of those steps involve or require technology. That was yesterday. That was the analog world. That was recruiting 1.0. Does it still work? Yes. But it’s slow and it misses out on the amazing opportunities that come from all of this amazing new technology. Digital marketing is recruiting 2.0. It is here. It is now. It is the future.
Many recruiters today love technology. But technology intimidates them. They want the benefits, but they don’t want to be dependent on systems that they don’t understand and can’t control. They worry about what will happen if they come to rely on systems they can’t manage.
I’ll give you an example of what this feels like. When I was a young university student, I had a compact car where I could change the spark plugs and the oil in just a few hours. The car ran great after I did that so I did it every few months. It was cheap and easy for me to maintain it. I loved that car.
But when I graduated and started making more money, I bought a more expensive car with fancy electronics. It was much faster, higher-performing and more comfortable. But I couldn’t work on it anymore. I didn’t understand how all of the systems under the hood fit together. On my old car, I could lift the hood and clearly see how things worked. But this new car looked like a tangled mess to me.
This meant I had to take my car to mechanics who understood all of that technology. I was now dependent on the skills and schedules of people whom I could not directly control. I gave them money and hoped to get a well-maintained car in return. Sometimes I got this and sometimes I didn’t.
This is how a lot of recruiters feel about digital marketing and technology. They want the benefits, but they fear the dependencies. If this sounds like you, I have some good news. I believe you can get all of the benefits of technology while greatly reducing concerns about control. But to do this, you have to have the right plan. I’ll explain more about that in a moment.
Other recruiters simply hate technology. Some people have been burned by technology and it’s left them dubious. It’s sometimes so frustrating for them that they would rather go to the dentist and have a drill in their mouth for hours than to deal with yet another technology issue. I totally get that. As a person who has made a living using and managing technology systems, I know how frustrating they can be at times.
No matter how you feel about technology, I think it’s important to acknowledge that the world has changed and there is no going back. In fact, I believe wise recruiters should embrace Moore’s law. Have you heard of this?
Moore’s law is a guiding principle of modern industry and it goes like this. Every 18 months the compute capacity and speed of a CPU – the central processing unit – will double. Moore’s law, historically, has been pretty close to accurate. CPU’s have consistently doubled. The implications of Moore’s law are nothing less than revolutionary. How so?
It is nearly impossible to name a single industry that has not been transformed by the CPU, the computer chip. The recruitment industry is foremost among these. I describe this in greater detail in my post called What Is Digital Marketing.
So whether you love technology or hate it, I believe it is wise to acknowledge that Moore’s law will only bring about more change, faster change and we cannot anticipate today what that change will look like, just like I could not anticipate playing Pac-Man on a cell phone.
My counsel to you is simply this. If you do not have an aptitude and an appetite for technology – get one. Those who do not embrace and adapt to what is coming next will get left behind. Period.
Envisioning the future of digital marketing in recruitment
I think the primary reason that recruiters struggle with digital marketing is because they don’t get what it can do for them today and how it fits into the vision for their future. This is certainly a problem for today. But the implications for tomorrow are far more damning.
Here is what I mean. Today you can run a successful recruiting organisation with only a half-baked digital marketing strategy. Tomorrow that will not be possible. Why?
Organisations like JXT are absolutely, 100% committed to making digital marketing part of the daily operations of every recruiter. We are not alone in this endeavor. We are one small part of a huge transformation that is taking place right now and the stakes are very high. This is no longer the realm of the super-elite. This is the realm of the new recruiter, the up-and-comer, the college graduate you will hire next year.
They get technology. They like it, maybe even love it. It is as normal for them as switching on a light when the walk into a dark room. They will not understand or align their careers with an organisation who does not embrace and have a vision for using technology to great effect.
Here is the great irony for me. I sometimes meet with leaders of recruiting organisations who have an iPhone, an iPad, a laptop and a digital watch, all in the same room with them. Yet they ask me how technology will really change the way they work?
Here again is my counsel to you. If you do not have a plan to apply digital marketing to your recruitment organisation and reap the full range of benefits that this can provide, get one. Build your plan. Do your research. Envision a future where Moore’s law has changed the way you run your business.
Whether you embrace it or not, it’s coming!
I promised you a moment ago that I would help you with some ideas for digital marketing. In fact, I have a great resource for you and it’s free. I’ve developed an action guide called 6 Steps To Becoming A Digital Marketing Ninja.
If you don’t get what technology, and digital marketing in particular, can do for your business, this is a great free resource to help you build your plan. Across these six videos and downloadable tools, I explain what digital marketing is, how recruiters are using it today to realise competitive advantage and how you can do the same.
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.