Insights into the forces shaping our industry.



We’re in the communications business; and for what we do, the clarity and depth of the content of those communications is imperative. We have new clients who tell us that they’ll send a job description and expect us to go ahead and send candidates. We have candidates who tell us to set up a meeting, but they don’t have time to speak in depth with us. This isn’t what we do; our value proposition is to strengthen our clients’ companies through enabling the addition of strong talent. We’re not a transactional ‘agency’; we’re consultative advisors. And our value doesn’t end with a placement.

We have a long tenured client who has changed their hiring process and advised us that speaking with the direct hiring authority is too big of an intrusion into their time, so just ‘send resumes’ in. We’re not in the resume business; we’re in the communications business.

A client of ours called last year to tell us that their new sales rep had resigned. As we pride ourselves on the retention of our placed candidates, this was a concern for us. This was a true ‘new’ sales organization, reps and sales manager. The sales rep spoke to our recruiter on several occasions and remarked that the communications with her supervisor were not productive. We advised her to talk to the president. The president remarked that the rep had the opportunity to talk to him at any point in her tenure, but she never took the responsibility to do so. Company communications are never as ‘open’ as someone believes them to be. The ‘open door’ policy of leaders… seldom is perceived as truly open.

Large corporations have formal silos of departmental responsibilities. Silo walls can be permeable if a ‘peer’ of one silo can comfortably talk with a peer of another silo, as long as it’s an information exchange. Any hint of behavioral influence; especially if it involves a silo leader directing another silo functional person… is a violation of the handbook on How to Play Nice in your Silo. Going around your supervisor to the next level is frowned upon, and generally discouraged. It most certainly causes the direct supervisor to be cautious with that employee if they tend to talk to their boss too frequently. For most new employees, it would be considered outrageous to walk into the president’s office and tell him that his supervisor has a weakness of any sort.

We talk to a lot of people, every day. In 1999, over 90% of our phone calls were answered… it was the nature of business to answer phones; it could be an order! As voicemail became more and more engrained, the answering of phones dropped significantly. Today, if we make 100 calls, we will likely speak with around 11 people; the rest goes into voicemail.

And then email became the mode of communication. In the early 2000’s, we would get a response to about 45% of a bulk email campaign. Today, we will likely receive around 15-18% honest replies (i.e. actual responses, not out of office messages or bad address warnings, etc.). And then texting came to be. 5 years ago we’d get a response to about 85% of all texts; that’s now dropped to under 50%. If we can’t communicate, it’s hard to talk about the future.

When we start a search, we schedule a 30-45 minute conversation with our client to detail the exact specifications of the position. Job descriptions have never completely covered the actual duties and responsibilities of a new position; and they don’t add the color of talking with the direct supervisor on how and why people succeed or fail under them. We don’t start a search unless we have that conversation… we can’t afford to waste our clients’ time by sending candidates in that don’t meet the expectations of the supervisor.

Texting has led to a significant drop in communication skills with bad spelling and the demise of a fully developed, cogent thought. Millennials are physiologically addicted to ‘social media’; without benefit of social skills. Discourse is a dying art… where politicians and even friends seem unable to cordially discuss large issues with the goal of learning something that may be new or interesting or better than their own ideas.

If we’re not learning, we’re receding.

Hiring new people is difficult; resumes are now readily populated with misspelled words and grammatical errors. Determining whether that’s an intellectual limitation or simply a reflection of the laxity in professional communications standards, takes time and attention to discern whether your new employee has the quality you expect. With the time and expense required to train and onboard new people, why wouldn’t there be an interest in building a trusting communication with a new employee at all levels of the organization? Why is the breakdown in communications always the other person’s fault?

As we head into the full assimilation of a generation that has been trained to communicate solely with electronic devices; with very poor phone skills and limited written communication skills, how do we assess the bad from just the bad speller? Will the P/L statements of the future be presented in infographics format? How many jobs have been created for assessing the degree of fake, in fake news? And how can fake news, exist; knowingly?

I never believe that the good old days were better; I believe that’s just a byproduct of a fading memory. I believe the days to come are better… but the regressive change in communications has made us less prepared for those better days.


Quote: ‘I am still learning’ Michelangelo