The rise of recruitment marketing

Popular groups/companies no longer need to recruit, because they're inundated with candidates applying via industrialised communication. Yet they still put money into recruitment. Why?

The clue is in what they put money into. They are not attempting to entice candidates into joining in any meaningful way, and not interested in what they can offer to the candidates. For example, hiring managers are interested in where to advertise, rather than what accommodations a company must make to be attractive for diverse hires. (This was a conversation on Twitter and I can't find it now, sorry.)

There are other tells: optimising for vocabulary in job ads. Whining about lack of good candidates ("look, we're so exclusive!"). Sponsoring event booths. Low-cost and low-investment diversity initiatives.

So what we call recruitment is no longer that - it's marketing. Companies are striving to market themselves as popular in order to keep a steady stream of applicants coming, who they then can filter out at leisure. They pay recruiters to spam random accounts on LinkedIn for the same reason that Coca-Cola pays for banners: to maintain brand awareness in general populace. Sooner or later, everyone applies.

Initiating interaction is now a losing move, which seriously fucks up human relationships. When you initiate, you position yourself as an applicant / supplicant / candidate. The other side can now pretend they have a lot of other options, and make you jump through hoops to prove yourself.

Consequently, the only way to initiate and not be treated like a disposable person is to demonstrate you don't need them, because you already have what they might provide anyway (a job, or competing offers, or clients, or other dates.)

Except if you already have a satisfactory (job, partner, friend, etc), you likely wouldn't be seeking another. It follows that most people on the market are unsatisfied, but are forced to present themselves as satisfied in order to have a chance at fulfilment. IOW, they are masking.

If you are bad at masking, you have to make a huge initial effort (build momentum) to become an acceptable candidate. But industrialised communication (specifically, the automated filtering) means that you have a significant chance to be rejected as a false negative even after making the giant investment.

So if you do have to pay the price, the winning strategy is to hedge your bets and apply to multiple groups - first playing to their superiority complex and pretending they're the only one / the primary one, then playing them one against another to achieve the best result. In other words, you judo them into being candidates / supplicants.

In such a setup, initiating in a cooperative, honest way is now likely to get you victimised and exploited, so we've all stopped doing it. If someone approaches you, they're likely attempting to judo you into doing something for them, so we're now also permanently suspicious of any initiation attempts.

However, we still have an opportunity to get inundated with them if we only open the door. So if you're dissatisfied with a (friend, lover, job, group) that you already have, there's a seemingly never-ending stream of alternatives tempting you to ditch them.

"Always be leaving." This is disposability culture. Any relationship or group affiliation can be replaced.

As people are increasingly more likely to leave you, it makes no sense to invest in a long-term relationship with them. Instead, we optimise for short-term games and relationships. This means investing in yourself only, to keep yourself permanently attractive, to keep applicants coming.

And this is why everyone does recruitment marketing these days.

Categories: marketing · value · momentum · relationships · work