Kill Your Unicorns

Bigger. Faster. Stronger.

Recruiting is evolving. Fast. Faster than any time in my 15+ years in corporate recruiting. There are many contributing factors: social media, the maturation of employer branding, the prevalence of mobile devices (and their ability to reach a new ‘always on’ generation), advances in HR technology – just to name a few.

These changes in the recruiting marketplace are happening at a pace most corporate recruiting teams struggle to keep up with. It’s created a new crop of consulting firms (like mine) who help them navigate these new waters. There is a lot of opportunity in this new world.

These industry shifts have also spawned a new crop of hyperbolic statements, unicorn statements, about the state of recruiting. Views I feel are beginning to become more and more disconnected with the trench recruiting realities on the ground for most companies. These unicorn views aren’t rooted in the realities most recruiting teams face.

The Resume Is Dead.


No, it’s not. One of the most popular unicorn statements is that the resume is dead. That in the age of social media the resume is a stagnant relic from recruiting’s past that has outlived it’s utility. There are three glaring flaws with this point of view.

This unicorn statement assumes all the prospects our organizations might hire are active on social media. Not just active, but so active they leave enough breadcrumbs for hiring teams to understand what they do, how well they do it, and ideally whether they’re a cultural fit for good measure. That’s just not reality for the across all industries and the universe of prospects we might hire.

Let’s assume there is enough accessible social data to make an informed decision on all prospect’s suitability (there isn’t). How are companies who hire at scale supposed to manage that approach? 50,000 global hires in a fiscal year? Super, fire up the social media aggregator!

Another point, but certainly not least in sheer sexiness of subject, is compliance.

Big Data And Algorithms Will Replace Recruiters Soon.


No, it won’t. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for technology (with the podcasting bona fides to prove it). I do think algorithms will enhance corporate recruiting capabilities over time. If you drink the kool aid, that “over time” is allegedly next year. Really? There will definitely be companies and new HR technology that will enable this in 2015, but to think it will be mainstream is naïve. To sell it as truth is irresponsible.

Most corporate recruiting teams aren’t even mining their ATS for talent. They’re just beginning to incorporate social media and employer branding into their talent strategy. CRM is something that’s beginning to gain traction as we continue to adopt more marketing tactics and sensibilities into corporate recruiting. That’s the real reality most corporate recruiting teams face. We’re getting there, but our evolution and adoption curve is iterative and we’re still a few stages behind.

There’s never been a better time to be a recruiter.

I believe this. There are a variety of career paths, tools, and techniques that recruiters can pursue. There’s room for “old school recruiters” who just want to make placements with their rolodex and phone. There’s room for more creative types with a marketer’s DNA who want to lead branding efforts. There’s room for analytic types who want to crunch talent management numbers, find correlation, and develop strategy. Let’s kill these unicorns and celebrate this diversity of recruiting career possibilities. There will be a time in the future when these unicorns are commonplace, but it’s not today.

What’s your take on these unicorns? Or others? Am I missing something? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

12 thoughts on “Kill Your Unicorns

  1. Pete Radloff

    “Most corporate recruiting teams aren’t even mining their ATS for talent.” Right there. You nailed it Lars. Until we’ve got teams exhausting the basics before jumping to fancy, shiny things, we can’t say that the death of anything is coming. Well said.

  2. “Job Boards are dead.” From a recent Jobvite survey, job boards are still relevant and that’s good news for Indeed.

    Now, do job boards need to change? Yes, there are better (or enhancing) ways to do it, but people still go to job boards to see what’s out there, plus social media can be a black hole for jobs after lost in a see of posts, tweets, and others.

  3. Great post, Lars! I agree with you 100%. You’ve picked a couple of my favorite unicorns!

    The market is evolving and the way in which candidate represent themselves and find jobs will continue to evolve. The way recruiters and talent acquisition teams leverage data and algorithms to make life easier will evolve, too. However, the timeline is long on this. Many iterations of trends addressing both of these unicorns will emerge, have impact, move the transition forward and then dissolve while the next innovation emerges before any new standards take hold.

    Here’s my take on the resume unicorn. I wrote it about 1 year ago…

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Over the course of my 20 year career in recruiting, the esteemed unicorns have predicted the demise of the recruiting profession, HR in general, ATSs, job boards, job postings, resumes, ad agencies, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, behavioral interviewing, sourcing, cold calling, etc, etc. Stopped listening to the unicorns long ago. Long live the unicorns! 🙂

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  6. Ewa

    Hi, I wouldn’t say that social is or isn’t the only way… I believe that social alone, just like job boards alone, is not a complete solution. Recruiting is about (among other things) trying to reach the right candidates… So it will depend on the industry. I believe that the company has to be present on all the channels which candidates might want to use to search for jobs. For Millennials, social media can be an important channel, but to hire the next CFO… only some will make a point of being very active and sharing knowledge on Twitter, but that’s a limited percentage… My point- we should have a good overview of the tools and make decisions based on the role, seniority level and industry.

    • Thanks for your comment Ewa. Social is a way, certainly not the only way (or even best way for some orgs). I think the it’s important for corporate recruiters to consider and assess all tools, particularly where and how to reach their desired targets, and build their talent strategy around those means.

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