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Don't Put a Good Message In a Bottle" A Prelude to "Medium Madness"

If you have gotten to know me through The Human System, you know that I love metaphors/analogies.  I believe they are one of those “picture paints a thousand words….” things.  So instead of keeping you wondering when it is coming, I’m going to jump right into one today:

Do you know what chumming is?  It is when you throw a bunch of bait in the water to attract fish.  Then, you put a hook in similar bait and cast it amongst your chum.  You hope the fish randomly feeds on your hook along with all the chum.  Not very deliberate is it?  The fish may get full before your hook gets bitten, and you really don’t know or have a lot of choice in which fish you catch; if you catch one. How many recruiting practices are no more artful or strategic than chumming?  Argument:  Chumming IS the strategy, and it HAS caught fish for you. So is it wrong?  It depends on what you want to catch.  If you are happy with that group of fish, fine.  I would contend, metaphorically, that those are the fish that you are going to end up throwing back a higher percentage of the time (low performers and higher turnover).  Also, a lot of bait was wasted.  The point is that more deliberate fishing, yields more keepers (retention), and expends less effort and bait (resources).  I think we could all agree that it is only by pure chance that you get a true trophy by chumming.

I hope you have seen how “The Human System” has been progressively building.  We are now at a point that we are going to explore M#3, or Mediums.  This is the Achilles heal of recruitment.  Here we are, now at the critical juncture of this whole recruitment thing, the very thing we agree is the foundation of your human system.  (Can you hear the suspense music in the background building?)  You can know who you want, your target market; you can know exactly what you want to tell them, your message.  However, if you don’t understand and make deliberate choices about the medium, the vehicle to get that message to your target market, it may never, ever get there.

Example:  You live in Chicago.  You know you want to go to Hawaii on vacation.  Then you buy a bus ticket. You get to L.A., the bus stops, but you haven’t reached your destination.  (The bus can’t get there through the water.  Not that I really thought anyone would miss that, but you may not have had your morning cup of java yet.) Or, you are hungry. Instead of getting up and fixing something to eat, you flip the TV to the cooking channel. You sit for hours; you see the cooking and the eating, but can’t figure out why you are still hungry. Yes, I know how ridiculous this sounds, but I would bet 98% of organizations have done the equivalent to this in recruiting.  Not you, right?  (I have 4 kids. “Not Me” gets in more trouble at our house.)  As we go on in the next few weeks, think of just how stupid this sounds to you now.  Hear me now, believe me later, but I will show you how this really is happening, and with your budgets/resources. Bottom line:  activity/effort does not always mean results.

Remember, we are about “maximizing” not just getting by.  We want you to be in that top quarter.  Putting this back in the context of “the foundation”, if you goof this thing called recruitment, all of your other programs and resources are minimized.  So I feel compelled to spend sufficient amount of time on medium dynamics.  Don’t worry, not all today.  This isn’t going to be another multi-pager-marathon.  Today, I want to give you a context, a preview, of how I want to frame this, how we will evaluate different mediums.  One of the things that clouds this is the fact that people want to sell you mediums.  This makes sorting through them difficult.  Think about it.  You are in a relatively desperate situation, a lot of pressure, and there are multiple parties with different products/services to sell you.

Aside:  (I had to have one)  If you ever perceive anything I say as less than objective, please let me know.

The following are some criteria we will use to evaluate mediums:

  • How long does it last?

  • How interactive is it?

  • How much does it cost?

  • What is your expectation? Is it real or not?

  • Is there accountability?

  • How much action must your target market take to get your message with this medium.


This list could go on, but it is enough for you to get the essence of where we are going.

Again, realize that you must constantly be thinking of your target market and its demographic, psychological, and sociological characteristics.

Choose to think the good thoughts!

Don Rottman

HR Evangelist

P.S.  I hope by this point in our journey into “The Human System” you will give me the benefit of the doubt in having a good heart, but I am getting ready to take off the gloves.  I am getting ready to embark on some things that will be challenging, condemning, and who knows, I may just get outright rude.  Well, lets hope I don’t push the envelope too far, but I won’t be shy.  My intention is to tell you what I believe needs to be heard, to give clarity to this whole recruitment thing.  When you consider the billions of dollars expended in recruitment I hope you will see the value of this.  It also just miffs me that people sell things that don’t produce the result you expect or believe it will, but they know your back is against the wall and have minimal choices.  I want to change that, make you an informed consumer.

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