Digging Into RecruitingBlogs.com v1.10

Happy Interdependence Day

A community is forming in this little outpost called RecruitingBlogs.com. Somehow, the space is overcoming its very name. Imagine trying to sell houses in a town called "Ya Gotta Be A Writer To Live Here".

While the moniker implies one kind of involvement, the reality is quite different. RecruitingBlogs.com (RBC) is a place for experimentation. Its inhabitants are trying new things every day.

The first experiment is the one Dave Mendoza calls "Recruiters helping each other". The visible interactions are just the surface of the community. Over time, RBC has become a place where relationships are nourished and support provided. When I walk across the Denver prairie with a friend I made here; when I spend an hour on the phone generating some business advice for an RBC colleague; or, when I discuss the merits of this prospect or that I am immersed in the RBC mutual aid society.

The second kind of experiment involves community itself. Paul DeBettingies is doing some amazing things. He is methodically exploding the foundation built by the Recruiting Roadshow's first event in Minneapolis. Once the seed of a network is established, it is possible to grow it with the various tools of social networking. Like any toolset, you use different tools for different objectives. Paul is successfully experimenting with the tools.

That's the thing about online communities. Once they are established, they can be cultivated and developed using a range of approaches. In some circumstances, static content really works. In other cases, the flittering, twittering reality of short burst chat messages really works. Blogging, while not something everyone is interested in, is useful for developing sustained corners of the universe.

That's the trick, really.

First you establish the community. It's not page views or advertising contacts, it's people who work with and talk with each other. Once the community is showing, you use the other tools to build and expand it.

Community requires a balance of stability and change. People feel that they have community when there are predictable landmarks. Sometimes, the grumpier the landmark, the more intoxicating the community. Sometimes the more noble the landmark, the more exciting the community. Each landscape requires its leading figures. Each system has its vetting and membership process..

It is very tempting to jump on the next technology horse that passes your way.

I spent a remarkable day recently at Jason Davis' home in Toronto. He lives within blocks of his father. They live close to his grandfather's house. The kids go to the same school Jason went to. The local Starbucks is a hangout for friends of 40 years.

Jason knows how to build a community because he has lived in one for many generations. Things change slowly in community land. The public trust is won and lost on small issues, not big ones. You should be able to count on RBC to demonstrate community because it is built on other communities.

Community is defined by stability. It moves slowly and lasts a long time.

Views: 73

Comment by Joshua Letourneau on July 3, 2008 at 8:13pm
John, I continue to be impressed by you, the way you write, and the way you think. Like I told you at Kennedy, your delivery is so rich that you have had to master the art of the "pause" durign a presentation. Seriously, your 1-liners are like 10-liners . . . and your ability to engage both left and right brain hemispheres is second to none.

You make me think . . . digest . . . consider . . . ponder . . . and better, grow. And I read so darn much, that's saying something. Your content is like a trek between "The Tipping Point" and "The DaVinci Code" . . . good stuff, Brother.

So are you still coming to Atlanta ("The A")? I'm looking forward to helping you make The A a success in every sense of the word. We're pretty insulated down here - great minds, great recruiters . . . myopic tendencies.

P.S. I can tell Jason Davis knows community, and I'm not saying that because of this RBC one here. It's his personality - like I said when I got back from Kennedy, he exudes integrity. The black hat becomes quite the irony once you meet him :)
Comment by Maureen Sharib on July 6, 2008 at 7:54am
Reflecting on the idea that communities require "a balance of stability and change" I can't help wondering if they don't also need nosy neighbors and village idiots too? Just a thought.

John I think this is way more than "just a thought". There are things always to be learned in
the lunatic fringe.


Maureen Sharib
Telephone Name Sourcer/MagicMethod Trainer
513 899 9628
TechTrak.com, Inc.
maureen at namesourcer.com
Comment by John Sumser on July 6, 2008 at 10:23am
Village idiots are REALLY important. Nosy neighbors even more so. Working out of territories and the building of fences, strong disagreement and the development of sub groups all provide flavor and diversity.

All things in nature happen with regularity and in repeated cycles. Community is like that. It needs the predictability of the seasons and the variability of the weather. (Am I sounding like the village idiot yet?)

The foundation of community is respect. The idea that we're in this together is where it starts. To build it out requires members, participation, novelty and stability.

What's really interesting is that what we learn how to do it here is repeatable. RBC can be a training ground for great 21st Century Recruiting. The very same skills and techniques that work to build this community are what ot takes to build others. In the long haul, the development of talent pipelines will be based in community.
Comment by Joshua Letourneau on July 6, 2008 at 1:26pm
John, good point on the developing of talent pipelines - too many refer to this as 'Sourcing' . . . when Sourcing 1.0 is really nothing more than commoditized name generation. The issue is that the development of talent pipelines (building of community) is a fluid and lengthy process . . . much more than a 1-off list of names from a telephone-name-scrubber or off of Spoke/Jigsaw, etc.

The issue here is one of investment versus transaction - purchasing a list, paying a search fee (or an employee referral) is a transaction . . . while building community and/or developing talent pipelines is an investment. For this reason, it will always be a tough sell for HR. The lack of a true decision framework in our space (much like used to be true of finance, marketing, etc.) has created an transactional atmosphere and cost-center mindset.
Comment by John Sumser on July 6, 2008 at 4:09pm
One of the reasons we need better educational infrastructure is that the language in our industry is so weird. Some sourcing experts (Shally comes to mind) use the term to describe a comprehensive talent pipeline development process from workforce planning to hiring. Others focus squarely on the name generation piece.

While I don't think either is wrong, it's pretty confusing if you're trying to learn about sourcing. The two approaches are nearly opposite ways of thinking about the problem.

I recently met with a group of senior executives in the Steel Industry. The median age in their organizations is about 55. 60% of the organizations had no employees under the age of 35. All were having trouble attracting new workers. (No HR People were in the room)

None had a retention issue. That is a big part of the problem. Great retention in a slow growth industry makes it impossible to compete for new employees. Retention is the problem, not the answer.

When you have bad organizational demographics, employee referral programs simply make things worse faster. The last thing these companies need is more of the same kinds of people they already have.

They cannot attract new workers because their cultures are full of old people, full of seniority and unfriendly to the young. In order to make room for new blood, they are going to have to let go of employees who are clogging the opportunity pipeline. Otherwise, the organizations will simply disappear in about 10 years.

They are ready to invest. Their story is one to tell when investment is the question. The way that you get to decision frameworks is by talking about situations like this.


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