“Social Realism” It is Recruitment Today.



Social Realism was an art movement and aimed to represent real people at work and play……..

I was talking with a close pal of mine James Whitelock the other day about doing some video interviews with him for my Newsletter The Buzz and I used the term “social realism” to describe my flip camera method of working. James’s response made me both laugh and think, Social Realism = Content On the Cheap Keith, was James’s response

So my thoughts – and a bit of “my life in this blog” in 76 as a snotty but shy 16 year old I became a punk, saw bands like the Pistols, Dammed etc, ripped up my cloths and just loved it….but what I liked was the DIY ethos.

The” if you can play 3 chords them get up on stage and form a band” resonated with me. I was in a band, formed a record label (Alternative Music, plus a fanzine of the same name) put gigs on and for me this was “social realism”.

A DIY culture where anything was possible, a white van an amp and you were on the road…no 48 juggernauts’ with lighting rigs etc.

Now my second influence was my politics, I was a Trotskyite, I believed in continuous revolution. Once anything becomes the “status quo” inertia sets in and structures get created.

My third influence was the Social Realist art movement, the took art from the rich and those who could afford a portrait and decide to paint real people in real work and social conditions. Real people in real place!! not beautiful created “artifical” portraits that flatter those being painted.!!!

Now I’m 51 and yes I’ve mellowed but some of those two influences persist and that is why I find our industry so fascinating at the moment we have in my opinion three powerful forces driving change and demanding “social realism”;

1) We have new tools that make a DIY recruitment culture possible – social media tools are driving “social realism”.

2) We have new technologies and tools kits that are forcing constant change and reappraising “what we do” and “how we do it”.

3) We have a sociology change in society – we want and demand information, we seek insight, we like transparency and most of all we appreciate honestly and we dislike secrecy. We want “social realism”.

These are both huge opportunities as well as challenges for us in recruitment but even more challenging for those in HR.

These manifest themselves in many ways;

1) The much used word the Employer Brand is defined by what is said outside the corporate walls despite all the attempts to control it internally.

2) Job seekers now meet and exchange views of companies and opportunities and not just job seekers – those employed are way more likely to “share” their views of the company with others.

3) People see through the “company brochure or corporate video” messaging – they want nay demand “social realism” – what is it really like at that organisation.

4) We connect and access information “real time” and we connect no longer to one person but we connect and share to multiple people and groups at the same time.

5) We are a visual generation and video and visual messaging will become the key communication method…within one generation the written word in recruitment will have almost disappeared.

BUT a big word of warning when my pal talked about cheap – yes it “appears cheap” but like punk it seemed cheap but the time and effort put in was huge, being in a studio and 4am was cheap but we were there at 4am. Yes we sold record cheap but our motivations were not based on the :profit” motive.

Social media recruiting strategies are the same…the channels maybe be “cheap” but the time and effort in generating content, in engaging, in being truly social has a cost attached.

My final thoughts are;

In anthropological terms “ we are a culture on the move” we are creating new groups and structures at a rapid pace and we adopt knew technologies and tools ever more quickly.

We seek and crave engagement and acceptance but equally we are frightened by what we see around us a in that we seek some form of security but with flexibility when it comes to the workplace.

So for me we are in a period of true “social realism” and what a wonderful period it is full off DIY opportunities. So as with any period of revolution remember what Marx and Engels said “those that control the means of distribution control the state.

If people and talent are at the heart of your business then you need to “work hard to control that channel and the relationship you have with that talent” because if you don’t others will and you will either pay a premium to “access” that talent or you loss out to your immediate competitors who have understood the opportunity and their own “channels to talent”.

So as the Pistols said “never mind the (corporate) bollocks” rejoice and embrace the opportunity. Be a true “social recruiter”.

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