Where Politicians (And Recruiters) Get It Wrong

Who likes politicians? Answer - nobody. Ok, maybe you have a favorite, and there are certainly some who really like specific candidates. It’s safe to say as a group, politicians are generally despised and, at best, tolerated – with a few good ones sprinkled in. (Depending on your view, of course)


The disdain we feel for these public servants comes to the forefront in an election year. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing someone bashing someone else. Politicians run on a never ending platform of “I’m better than that guy”. It seems that most political ads focus more on what that candidate’s competitor has done / not done, as opposed to why we should vote for the candidate running it! My two oldest children will be old enough to vote in this year’s presidential election, and watching it through their brand new voter’s eyes is even more depressing.


Here’s a sad truth – some recruiters don’t market all that differently. Go ahead; look at some agencies’ websites. It’s all “our core principles distinguish us from our competition” (how?) or “we have distinguished ourselves as a personable and professional firm” (compared to what exactly?). Here’s one of my favorites – “we are not just another ‘temp agency’ ” (what's wrong with temp agencies?). How many times have you heard “I’m not just another politician” from a candidate? The underlying message is that being a politician (or temp agency, in this case) is somehow bad - therefore I'm not like the other ones.


Clearly there is no magic marketing bullet. Or if there is, no one has shared it with me. What I do know is that I’m sick to death of all the negativity in our political process AND in our profession. I work with a handful of agencies because I genuinely like the people that run them in addition to the great service & candidates they provide. They’re not that different from their competition.


You want my vote? Talk about things that matter to me. Tell me how you’re going to solve my problem. If you start talking too much about the other guy, all that’s going to do is cause me to take a second look at him. Maybe he’ll have something of substance to say instead of just tearing someone else down.

Views: 623

Comment by Sean O'Donoghue on March 14, 2012 at 11:19am

(sorry, I mean thanks for sharing your views... great to read them!) 

Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 14, 2012 at 11:44am
Marty, while I do not totally disagree with you that negative is done because it works, what I am seeing and hearing is that people are generally sick to the gills of negative bad news, attack ads, lies and high blown rhetoric. If we think in terms of comfort and safety I think people are more drawn to positives instead of negative comparisons at this point in time than they have been in years.
Comment by Martin H.Snyder on March 14, 2012 at 11:54am

Sandra, the economy is most certainly improving and politically speaking, Obama feels to me like a "safe" leader.  I happen to believe that he is a conservative, slightly right of center politician, regardless of what the roar from the other side wishes to project.  People are feeling a bit safer right now, and while that can change in a moment, it does help move the needle toward the positive.  I hope it lasts...... 

Comment by Kyle Schafroth on March 14, 2012 at 11:59am

Just because I know eventually someone will say something...I hope we can keep this from becoming a political flame war - we have enough controversial topics in this industry as is :)

Comment by Martin H.Snyder on March 14, 2012 at 12:03pm

Baked into the title of the post Kyle !

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on March 14, 2012 at 12:08pm

Thanks all for the comments... and yes Kyle I intentionally left my personal political views out for that reason!

Comment by Bill Schultz on March 14, 2012 at 12:42pm

Amy, Amy Amy.....sigh.

The marketing material that most headhunters use is not geared to be attractive to the internal gate keeper.  It is  (and rightly so) geared towards the hiring manager who actually feels the pain.  S/he is not scrutinizing this material for flowery prose.  S/he wants to know if this firm has the tylenol for my headache.  

Comment by Christopher Perez on March 14, 2012 at 12:51pm

Good advice for all of us. We may not think we're guilty of some of these things but the strong gravitational pull of the status quo and the subconscious need to use "marketing-speak" may sneak in if we're not careful. Just be yourself. Read and listen to your elevator pitch (or website copy or whatever) through the ears of your clients and candidates. If you're really feeling brave (and if you have sufficiently thick skin), ask a few clients to rate the impact of your spiel. If it's lowest-common-denominator tripe, ditch it for something that is authentic and reflects your real personality.

Good thoughtful post as always, Amy.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on March 14, 2012 at 1:01pm

lol Bill how silly of me. You'd think I was the one feeling pain and also the one being told by hiring managers "hey I got budget for fees, take care of it" meaning I have to now find/engage the search firm. Sigh...


But then we've already established how unique I am :)

Comment by Bill Schultz on March 14, 2012 at 6:12pm

Good comeback, Potsie.  :0)

i meant you are not the target consumer of this marketing.  If I were to market to Internal recruitment, my message would be quite different - and filled with pretty rainbow colors with clouds and unicorns ;p


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