Recruiting like Radiohead

It’s Monday night and I’m listening to the new Radiohead album for the 10th or 11th time, yet last Monday I didn’t even know that there was a new Radiohead album about to become available. I then got an e-mail directing me to a website where I could pre-order a download, or a box set with vinyl, CD and artwork. It all felt very personal and exciting… even though several hundred thousand of us probably got the e-mail! No long marketing build up, nor critics or reviewers shaping your expectations. 

As some of you will probably know, a few years ago the band decided not to renew their recording contract and have since released new material themselves when it’s available. They make more money, and they keep a community of fans very loyal. I’m mainly interested in the music and the gigs, but for others there are regular activity updates, sometimes with new film or information.

I’m a fan of the band, and if there is a large community of Radiohead fans, then I’m in a smaller group who have remained with them as they’ve moved from a more mainstream rock sound to the experimental direction that they take nowadays.

At last week’s TruLondon unconference there was a lot of talk about talent communities, how important they are, how necessary they are and why they represent the future for companies looking to attract, engage and retain the best talent. I happen to agree with that view…and for some reason I kept thinking of Radiohead.

There’s been a lot written about how the music industry models need to adapt or die, and many bloggers have drawn parallels between that and the recruitment industry. So maybe Radiohead have the answer…

Is this what being in a talent community feels like? Quite exciting, really! Moving along in your current role and then up pops an invite from a company that you really rate, that you so want to work for, and they’ve got a brand spanking new position that could be just right for you!

Mind you, it also got me thinking about a different type of community…maybe one that grows around the individual. If companies can create their own talent communities with potential employees, alumni, recruiters, contacts, interims etc then maybe individual jobseekers can do likewise.

Why not? Develop a community containing recruiters/sourcers who specialise in your sector, contacts in companies that you would like to work for, ex-colleagues, coaches, mentors and confidants.

Like Radiohead you can keep them in touch with what you’re doing, blog updates and postings, new projects, CV revisions…even let them know when you’re ready to talk about a new role.

Let me know what you think…   

(PS I love the new album)

15 thoughts on “Recruiting like Radiohead

  1. I like the idea, but my only reservation would be that many people, once they find employment in a new job will switch off from recruiters and stop visiting job sites etc. So how do you keep people interested and engaged? Maybe im looking at this in a too simplistic way?

    1. Thanks Matt and no, I don’t think you’re looking at it in a simplistic way. I guess that the answer lies in the way that the individual uses social media. Whilst they may not actively seek employment, the chances are that they will remain engaging with the community/network that helped in some way to deliver the role.
      I suspect that the future jobseeker will see a career as a journey, not a destination…hence will continue being part of the conversation, whether it’s for development or to help others.

      1. I think your right, the Gen Y population will see a career as a path to future things. Perhaps it should not be called a career then? Perhaps there is a more appropriate word?

  2. Isn’t this something that could essentially be built into Linkedin, I mean you can already follow companies…? So would it be possible to set up a ‘community pool’ of people interested in working for that company as part of the Linkedin profile? Or what that be too much to manage for the big brands?

    1. Thanks Oli. Could become too like a database less like a community. There needs to be more interaction and engagement…too many LI groups are more static and invite broadcast over conversation.

      1. I agree that LI tends to sway towards broadcasts rather than conversation. An independant site that allows people to post blogs, ideas and thoughts….ask for help and advice on the market place they are in would be great.

  3. Hi Mervyn.

    I think its a good idea and I’d imagine that many proactive people will already be doing this, especially if they are interims, consultants or people who want to adopt a ‘portfolio’ approach to their career.

    Have you read ‘Tribes’ by Seth Godin – I think you could almost view what you’ve outlined above in a similar context. The individual creates a following – those being recruiters, companies, mentors, peers in this context.

    I think the difficulty is making sure the companies, recruiters etc remember the ‘individual’ when they do have that opportunity. I suppose this will demonstrate whether their talent community is effective or not.

    Some may say – well isn’t this just good old fashioned networking?

    1. It’s similar Alex but I was envisaging something more interactive and sharing than pure networking. If there is proper conversation, with real relationships developed, then I believe that whoever is managing the community should ensure that no-one falls through the net.

  4. Yes of course… Look at the HRockstar. An individual with a community and brand… Who says there’s no such thing as personal brand?
    Good one Merv x

  5. I think I fall into the category that you mention. I currently find myself out of work, but with over twenty years of Procurement experience I find all to often that I am ‘over qualified’ for a lot of positions on offer. My belief is that I know how good I am at my Profession but a lot of recruiters do not offer the personal touch. I would like to reach a point where I am treated like more of an individual, rather than someone who is one of hundreds of thousands who receive these E-Mail shots. I would be willing to try and establish the independent site mentioned. I don’t think my situation is unique with regard to job hunting, but I would certainly, for example, like Balfour Beatty to know I would be very keen to secure a position with their organisation.

  6. I love this whole debate around recruitment and social media. Where is it all going to go and how are we really going to keep up and find the time to do all this? LinkedIn are clearly sitting in a very powerful position when forming communities with recruites and potential employers are concerned, and I believe this is how it is already starting to be used.

    I know when I was last looking for a role I had very little success with the more traditional big players such as Hays and Michael Page, in fact I’d go to say that I was extremely dissapointed with how they opperate as it appeared they tick boxes and purely looked at the written word on your CV, rather than understand what makes you tick, your culture and attitude. I had the most success going back to trusted recruitment contacts and my own personal network and ended up getting my role at Thomsons Online Benefits when my sister referred me to the role.

    Interesting post Merv, thank you.

    1. Thanks Emily, your story is not uncommon. More job seekers seem to be profiting form their networks and the increased exposure that it can provide. In your case there is an extremely good learning point…your sister made the connection! Too many people overlook family, friends and neighbours as being part of their network. Good luck with the new role!

  7. Merv – interesting theory. I guess Radiohead are in the lucky position that they are able to work in this way. The critical mass they built up whilst on the label enables them to release music without the record label. A lesser known band would still require the aparatus of a label in order to flourish commercially. I guess the larger, better known recruitment brands will be able to build up a loyal candidate pool. But to the smaller recruiter, they may need to rely on traditional methods.

    1. A fair point Russell and certainly one that is often aired during debates over Talent Communities. It certainly favours the big, well known brands who have the necessary reach and glamour. I was looking from the candidates…and it is true to say that I also subscribe to updates from some fairly obscure bands. I’ve normally been alerted to them by music bloggers or word of mouth reputation so maybe there is a way that smaller brands can leverage traditional and new methods.

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