It's Okay to Say BullshitIf you're a reader of my blog or if we've ever spent any time talking about the Recruiting and Staffing industry, then you know that I'm an advocate of constant change. Yes. Constant.
You'd also know that I enjoy pushing the envelope in regards to just about anything considered "status quo" and that phrases like, "because we've always done it that way" make me want to stick a fork in my eye. Yes. A fork.
As a person that pushes constantly for evolution and change, it's no wonder that I run into people within our profession that are less than receptive - or excited - about change. In fact, on occasion I even have the pleasure of bumping into someone that lives and dies by the "if it ain't broke.." mentality. Ladies and gentlemen, that's when we have to step up to the plate and politely say, "bullshit."

I say politely because calling someone out on an antiquated or lazy process doesn't have to be like pointing a finger at them and telling them that they're doing something wrong. I say, "bullshit" because in Texas we don't say, "baloney" - and quite frankly, you're more apt to read an article with the word bullshit in the title. It's okay... I am too. So when do we lay down this polite and conservatively obscene call-out that encourages the recipient to get to what matters? When is it that we ever-so-gently tell a vendor or Recruiter or client or even our leadership that what they're peddling is crap? Well at the risk of sounding like I don't understand the value of picking my battles, we tell them every single time it matters. Of course, it's "how" we tell them that keeps anything from becoming a battle at all.

The key to knowing the difference between fear of change and laziness or cultural issues and valid business needs is relevant data. Valid and relevant data helps us to understand not just what is "wanted" but what is "needed" regardless of the situation or challenge we may be faced with. It's that search for the data that can often ruffle a few feathers and where care should be taken - especially if we're required to press a bit harder than usual to gain the knowledge we desire. So here's an example or two that might resonate with more than a few of us...

"We need to recruit from College X because those are the best college hires!" - Vice President of Y (coincidentally a College X Alum)
While we can understand VP of Y's passion for his Alma mater, without proof of this claim or a member of his team willing to say "bullshit," we could be looking at a significant increase in spending on College X campus with a very minimal return. A simple approach might be to bring back a data sample related to the top college hires brought in over the last year showing your true list of "top schools." Your judgement call around whether or not to sprinkle in some time on College X is your call - and in all likelihood very dependent on how well you show the ROI around a more strategic and less emotional approach.

"Our number one source of hire is Source 1." - Veteran Recruiter
This is a fantastic thing to know when creating recruitment and recruitment marketing strategies. Knowing the best source of hire for each type of job or recruiting team is a powerful bit of information to have when making decisions around media buys and budget allocations. So when a Recruiter or Sourcer makes a claim like this it is important to vet through why Source 1 is their 'numero uno' resource. Often times many Recruiters are manually tracking sources - and depending on their workloads and volume of candidates this data can get skewed. Of course there's also the very challenging question we have to ask that Recrruiter, "Is this the number one source of hire for you because it's the best... or because it's the one you use the most?"
With manual tracking or scenarios of "comfortable use," we do our business disservice by not saying "bullshit" and looking for more reliable ways to track hire sources.

"Social Recruiting doesn't work." - Skeptical Recruiter/Sourcer
We've all met and/or heard of more than a few people that talk about how "Social Recruiting" doesn't work. What strikes me as funny is that those screaming the loudest typically seem to be seasoned Recruiters that are having trouble adjusting to something that is no more than a change of communication and marketing tools. Calling "bullshit" to these naysayers is no more difficult than asking them what "Social Recruiting" they tried that returned less than favorable results. After all, simply throwing up a Facebook fanpage and waiting for job seekers isn't 'Social Recruiting' - Heck, it's barely "social" at all.

When we say "bullshit" in a hunt for valid and relative data it's important that our call-out is relative as well. There needs to be an objective that is directly related to the business rather than an objective related to proving who is right and who is wrong. While it's important to our industry that we're on a passionate hunt for information and change, it's just as important that we listen to what's being said and actually partner in a search for what was meant and what is truthful - and learn to cut through/past what is unrelated. Watching how our teams function and listening closely to requests and understanding objectives are key to learning when it's okay to ask tough questions and demand valid answers.

Originally posted on

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Comment by Bill Ward on August 3, 2010 at 5:04pm
I'm a big fan of constant IMPROVEMENT. The term "change agent" used to be a very popular phrase in the IT world. You don't see it used much these days since it tends to have a negative stigma. The challenge with the scenarios you describe is gaining buy in from these "process owners" who have a habit of protecting their turf and reputation. When it's all said and done, you ultimately own the data and determine what's important and what is not based on your recruiting objectives. The days of management by consensus is over. Input is great and should be encouraged as along as it does impede the decision making process. If improvement/change is going to happen, decisions need to be made whether or not everyone agrees with what the data is telling them.
Comment by Bobby Whitehouse on August 4, 2010 at 10:30pm
Not all change is good change. Many organizations "change for changes sake" or change to produce a short term gain that ultimately produces negative long-term results. Where did innovation and change lead our economy? There are some fundamental laws that are irrefutable. The law of gravity, supply and demand and something about death and taxes.

College X type logic is pure bias. A number one source it statistically impossible and social recruiting may be the "flavor of the month" but there are no stats on it producing better quality hires.

I believe your argument is for candor and of that I am a staunch supporter. This is at the core of hiring a-players because if you have "the right people on the bus" then you do not waste time on turf protection or ego. A good idea does not need a master and if we put what is best for the company ahead of what is best for ourselves then we have arrived.

Daily discipline is the key to constant improvement but it is with a focus on fundamentals. Good recruiting is based on strong relationships with proven performers. I may source on various medias but I need to meet the candidate if I am to see if they are truly an a-player. The more I read the more I know and the more I realize how much I do not know. And of course cutting a tenth off my best time is always great. Go prudently into that change, agent.


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