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The Piven Principle--A Fish Story for Recruiters
By Peter Weddle
Jeremy Piven is an actor. You may have seen him in Entourage or heard about his role in the Broadway play Speed the Plow. It's the later experience that got him into trouble.
The recession has hit Broadway as hard as Main Street. Numerous shows have been cancelled, and the rest are hanging on by a curtain thread. So, fellow cast members were less than thrilled when old Jeremy stopped showing up for rehearsals of the play. His subsequent announcement that he was leaving the cast for good made him even less popular and caused the producers to file a grievance against him.
To defend himself, Jeremy created the Piven Principle. The actor claims that he was too sick to perform because he engaged in too much of a good thing. He ate so much fish--a healthy food group--that he got sick.
According to Mr. Piven, he was addicted to sushi and ate it twice a day. As beneficial as fish are for humans, pollution of the world's oceans has tainted almost all species with at least trace amounts of mercury. In moderate diets, fish consumption is completely safe, but Piven's excessive regimen led to mercury poisoning and that, he argued, depleted his physical strength and ability to perform. Since he didn't know you could do too much of a good thing, he was not at fault for his condition … or so he claimed. (The arbitrator has yet to rule on the case.)
What's that got to do with recruiting? Simply this: too much of anything—even a good thing—can kill your career. It may not be apparent immediately, but over time, a hyper ha bit acts just like mercury. It poisons your performance.
What could pose such a risk in recruiting today? Take a look at what's happening at the conferences and on the blogs in our profession. All you have to do to draw a crowd is mention “LinkedIn” or “Twitter.” Then, make sure you stand back a safe distance because you can get trampled by the ensuing horde. Recruiters are fascinated by these new tools and worried that they'll be left behind if they don't hop on the bandwagon.
Now, there's nothing wrong with using LinkedIn or Twitter or Facebook or any of the other social and professional networking sites to source prospects for your openings. But they are just some—not all—of the tools you have available to you. The talent acquisition tool box also holds recruitment advertising online and in print. Search engine marketing. Old fashioned face-to-face networking. Employee referral programs. Virtual as well as brick and mortar career fairs. Campus recruiting visits. Corporate career sites. Radio and TV spots. Bill boards and flyers. Search optimization and much, much more.
Not every tool will work for every employer or even for every opening any one employer is trying to fill. But the key to success is to use a carefully integrated and multifaceted approach that taps the full range of sourcing and recruiting methods. You must make the best use of all of the best tools by selecting and then effectively applying the best specific tools for each of the vacancies you are trying to fill.
It's a strategy, I fear, that has been lost in the irrational exuberance over this particular tool or that. The tool of the moment, of course, is social and professional networking sites. Before that, it was Boolean search strings only a computer could love. Before that, it was something else. Yet all the while, job postings are so poorly written, only a “C” level performer would apply. Corporate career sites are so ill designed they would put off all but the most desperate of job seekers. Employee referral programs are so ill conceived, they touch only the people employees know best, not the talent that can make the best contribution. And so on.
Does that charge apply to every employer and recruiting team? Of course not. But far too many of us have been so busy chasing the latest tool du jour that the caliber of our work in many if not all of the other facets of sourcing and recruiting has declined. Precipitously. If you have any doubt about that, just go online and read some of the job postings at any job board or corporate career site. They're the 21st Century cure for insomnia.
That reality is now hidden by the low volume of recruiting and the high volume of candidates forced into transition by the recession. But the recovery will come, and when it does, it will quickly expose the perilous state into which we've put ourselves. For this is certain: we cannot compete—and hence, we will not succeed—if we are not equally adept with and do not make the best use of each and all of the sourcing and recruiting tools at our disposal.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is setting you up for a fish story … the one where you're sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake that's teeming with spectacular fish, and you come home empty-handed.
Thanks for reading,
Visit me at CareerFitness.com
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