Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's Still Personal

Okay, I admit it, I am a bit of a "machineophile" or maybe in the current era and vernacular a "gadget geek."  I love the apps, the widgets, and the QR stuff.  I have no idea what most of it does, worry to death about which ones come preloaded with a virus and then end up deleting the vast majority about every 6 months to make sure I still have disk space on my PC and cell phone.

Well, yesterday when I needed something to take my mind off of how badly I had done in this week's office football pool I decided it was deletion time again, and it was during that process that I came across reference to an app that if you believed what they were saying, was supposed to be the 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 the 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 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 couple of decades or so later, and for sure the death of the industry was, as Mark Twain said, "greatly exaggerated."

Admittedly, at ExecuNet be it career issues or business issues, we are focused on only one segment of the market (i.e. C-level executives and their direct reports) but by observing and interacting with that segment (as well as the executive search community) 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 19 year old annual survey (Executive Job Market Intelligence Report) we have always asked search consultants about the time it takes to fill positions. With the exception of the height of the '08/'09 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, and so, by the way when it comes to talent, are companies - even in this market.