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Sunday, April 25, 2004
Purge The Mavericks
The Internet economy is booming – Internet Advertising accounts for more than cinema in the UK, and grew by 62% year-on-year in 2003. An acquaintance recently remarked to me that getting a job in the industry is pretty difficult today. This beggars the question: “Why is it so hard to get a job in a booming economy?”

Before I attempt to answer this, let us first take a trip back to the nineties. The big boom and resulting bust was caused by a gold rush phenomenon – too many prospectors came along that were only interested in how to make lots of moolah very quickly.
These people were only identified as maverick during the bust-times. During the lull we were able to sit back and purge the mavericks from our system. AOL is going through this process rather painfully with the help of the SEC. We had so little history of best practice there were no benchmarks to judge them by in the boom era. The industry was so obsessed with revenue, that little attention was directed to the methods of gaining revenue.

Recruitment Consultants had little time to screen candidates, due to the urgency of the need to hire. This meant that the mavericks slipped through the net. Hiring managers got their fingers burnt as a result. They are now more wary of all candidates.

Hang on – shouldn’t the recruitment consultants be vetting for us, using all that they learnt from the previous bust? My friend made the following observation: “When I got my first post-grad position – the consultant screened me – “do I know this, how would I handle that, etc.”. In his recent job-hunt the screening he was subjected to was almost done as a formality, with little depth in any case. Instead he found himself in the opposite position more recently where he screened the recruitment consultants on these very same questions. In order to help the recruitment consultant understand him better. Those that he did not screen directed him to jobs he had no reason otherwise to interview for.

Hiring mgrs use consultants to help source suitable candidates, thus reducing their workloads. As a result they tend to prefer candidates use the recruitment agencies, than apply direct. If they cannot rely on the consultants to do their homework – what is their value in the hiring process? Is it about time the consultants went back to basics screening candidates, and maybe “purge the mavericks from their system too”?

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