06 August 2008

Recruitment in the 21st Century

This article originally appeared in Issue 44 of InSight Published 6th August 2008

I was surfing the Internet this week and came across a fabulous story that is a perfect metaphor for how much things have changed in the world of recruitment since the rise of the Internet coincided with the global shortage of skills. Unusually it's a recruitment story from the work of rock music.

The story revolves around American AOR (adult oriented rock) band, Journey, who have existed in various guises since 1973. I suspect anyone younger than an ‘old Gen X' (like me) won't have heard of them.

Journey were huge in the USA during the early 1980's with Top 10 hits such as Who's Crying Now (a minor hit in Australia), Open Arms and Don't Stop Believing (probably better known to pop culture aficionados as the song Tony Soprano selects from the jukebox in the closing scene of The Sopranos' final episode).

Journey's lead vocalist at the time, Steve Perry, scored a Australian Top 5 hit in 1984 with the single, Oh Sherrie (confession: I have the vinyl single somewhere in storage).

Last year Journey founder and lead guitarist, Neal Schon, was attempting to recruit a new lead vocalist. Frustrated with the options he had auditioned in America, Schon turned to the Internet and spent hours surfing scores of YouTube videos, looking at bands and singers to see whether he might discover what he was looking for online.

Amongst the many wannabes and try-hards, he stumbled upon a video by a popular Filipino covers band, The Zoo.

Schon listened in amazement as 40 year old lead singer, Arnel Pineda, belted out a stunning and note-perfect version of one of Journey's biggest 1980's hits, Faithfully (amongst many other cover versions The Zoo had posted on YouTube).

Schon messaged The Zoo via YouTube and although Pineda initially thought it was a hoax, Schon eventually convinced Pineda he was for real and asked Pineda whether he was interested in auditioning for the vacant lead singer's role.

Six weeks later, a still shell-shocked Pineda was winging his way to San Francisco for a two day audition with Journey.

In December 2007 Pineda was announced as Journey's new lead singer followed three months later by his debut, fronting the band live at a Chilean music festival to an ecstatic fan reaction, glowing reviews and a television audience of 25 million.

Revitalised by their new lead singer, Journey quickly recorded a new album which they released six weeks ago and last month they set sail on a three month tour of the USA with fellow 1980's classic rockers, Heart and Cheap Trick.

What a fantastic story for the new world of recruitment - a story covering globalisation, Web 2.0, and non-traditional sourcing strategies.

What I most love about this tale is that a US rock band, whose fan base is solidly ‘mid-west', resisted the temptation to go for a singer who ‘looked right' and instead they recruited the best performed, most competent singer, even though he was from Manila, speaks heavily accented English and doesn't remotely look like Steve Perry (save the long dark hair) or the band's fan demographic.

It would be easy to dismiss this story as unique to music and not relevant to recruiters.

I believe that would be a mistake.

Consider that in this Journey-finds-new-lead-singer story, the following occurred via the World Wide Web:
  • The employer sourced a potential employee, living in another country, online.
  • The employer contacted the potential employee.
  • The competence of the potential employee was able to be assessed sufficiently well to arrange a live interview (audition) in another country without any need for a resume.

No recruiter was involved in the process.

When you consider the growth of career portals such as LinkMe and the rise of online testing of skills, competencies and motivations, recruitment in the 21st century has only just begun.

As we rapidly head towards the 21st century's second decade, are you ready for what's ahead?
Footnote: If you have a spare 10 minutes you can check out the Arnel Pineda/Journey story in greater detail courtesy of (American) CBS Sunday Morning News.

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