Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Wonders of Modern Technology? One Wonders

Jeff Peduto, our Director of Recruiting Client Services & Sales, showed me something the other day that struck a chord that began to feel like "Okay, is this finally what it has come to?" I mean aren't we all simply fascinated (and often frustrated) by the wonders of modern telecommunications and other technological marvels that are hawked to us 24/7? All of the gadgets of the wireless world that are going to change our lives for the better and relieve all the stress we get when our PDA, cell phone, and pagers all going off at the same time? I want to know when we get to the "stress reduction" part!

What Jeff had sent along was what appeared to be a job seeker's answer to automated responses and messages that come from many job board postings, which, loosely translated, stop just short of "Dear Occupant." Apparently after this certain piece of software is up and running, the applicant can send out an automatic message to any posting on any site it searches for the key words one sets as the criteria. If true, this would make my list of finalists for the the ultimate recruiter's nightmare and a job changer's time-waster of the year award.

I recall when the Internet first showed up on most of our radar screens, many of the industry pundits were forecasting the early demise of the whole executive search industry, and that what we could expect before too long was all job openings would be filled as we slept. Okay, a bit of an overstatement to make a point, but that is what it was starting to sound like. Here we are a decade or so later, and for sure the death of the industry was, as Mark Twain said, "greatly exaggerated."

Admittedly, at ExecuNet we are focused on only one segment of the market – senior-level executive positions. By observing and interacting with that segment on a daily basis, we continue to see more of an emphasis on human judgment and less on robotic matching, and for all its impact on the speed of research and communications, the search community keeps telling us that the time to fill the assignments really hasn't changed all that much, the Internet notwithstanding.

Indeed, in our 13-year-old annual survey we have always asked search consultants about the time it takes to fill positions. With the exception of the height of the recent recession, when they say it took on average a month longer, the answer has always been between 3 to 4 months.

As I think about this issue, and keep reading about the latest and greatest technological enablers that often literally "pop up" it just keeps reminding me of three things:

1. There is no substitute for quality, and

2. There is no substitute for making qualitative judgments, and

3. As a consumer, no matter what the economic conditions, I am always willing to pay a premium for quality.

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