Good human connections trump technology every time

An intriguing blog post has me reflecting on the value of social media, and LinkedIn specifically.

Amongst my industry peers, as well as amongst my age group, I was a very early adopter of LinkedIn. When I started playing with it, I remember thinking:

If this thing takes off, it will be the end of the recruitment industry.

My thinking was that LinkedIn would make it easy for the talented and the talent seekers to connect directly, thereby making the recruiter unnecessary. Cut out the middle man. Makes sense, right?

Eight years along, and nothing of the kind has happened. Recruiters have taken to LinkedIn like ducks to water. Most employers, the people actually needing the talent, have stayed on the sidelines. If anything, roughly two-thirds of the unsolicited connection invitations I receive on LinkedIn are from recruiters, seeking to expand their pool of possible candidates.

Just goes to show, you can’t predict human behaviour.

In hindsight, it does makes sense.

Most employers of any size above 25 have developed procedures to govern their human interactions, thereby turning them into machines. Social machines, to be sure, but machines nevertheless.

Machines that lose parts by wear, failure or attrition, want those parts replaced by more parts, identical if possible.

The fact that the part comes wrapped in a human being is, well, coincidental.

The machine’s control system would rather throw money at the problem (read: hire a recruiter to source the necessary people, sorry, parts).

The programme manager who’s short 15 engineers wants engineers in here now. I don’t care if they’re male, female, green, blue, black, what they look like, what their names are. They just have to be reasonably likeable, have skills x, y and z, and fit into our salary structure. Hurry up, go get ’em.

Time spent networking and building human relationships is, well, time wasted. (Or just plain scary.) Much easier to throw money at the problem, and get someone to do our networking for us. (I’m not sure it is, actually, but I can’t prove it.)

This rant is not to be critical of recruiters whatsoever. They deliver a service that their customers don’t want to do themselves.

What IS now clear is that it’s foolish to think that social media, or any other technology, can dig us out of a hole that only the patient building of valuable human relationships can solve.

The ones who invest that time and energy are the ones who win.

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