Making assumptions. Is the creative recruitment process broken?

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A friend of mine applied for a job last month. He's a talented creative professional with many years' experience in the advertising and media industries. Currently in demand as an independent consultant, he didn't apply out of necessity or desperation, but because he felt the role would match his skills perfectly and he could bring real value and benefits to the company.

The job was a serious proposition, with considerable responsibility and a substantial remuneration package. It was advertised in at least one national newspaper and across several well-known recruitment websites . It was clear real time, effort and money had been invested in the process of attracting the right candidate.

Having carefully compiled his application, prepared his CV and ensured the details he was presenting were accurate and organised, he submitted the required documentation online.

Immediately, an auto-responding email pinged back to him from the server of a recruitment agency. This informed him that the consultant dealing with the job was on holiday for the remainder of the week. Reading on, the email told him that a high volume of applications was expected and therefore, unless he had been successful, he would hear nothing further and should assume he had failed on this occasion. And indeed, thus far, all has been silent.

So, here's my question:  why on earth would my friend ever offer his services to this company again?

The creative industry sells nothing but talent. No plastic injection moulding here; no rivets, screws or bolts; no fabrics, timber or brick. The clients pay for ideas, for insights, for experience and knowledge. This is a brains business - and those brains reside in people. The talent required to operate can only be found in human beings. And yet, in defiance of any logic, the very people the industry requires for success, are treated with contempt when they put themselves forward.

In such impossibly straitened times, the competition for jobs at all levels is fierce. In many instances, the supply of talent outstrips the demand - any intelligent person knows this. Nobody is taking their career progression for granted. But it is truly depressing to find the creative sector using this as an excuse to dismiss highly capable people with such casual disdain.

Of course, it could be argued, my friend's poor treatment didn't emanate from the employer, but from the 'consultant' tasked with finding the right candidate. However, that 'consultant'  represents the hiring company. His or her actions reflect the attitude and culture of his or her client - and the impression given is one of arrogance and conceit.

In past columns, I've discussed the shabby nature of somerecruitment consultancies and the way they 'farm' candidates with little regard for their time, money or ambitions (this isn't true of every provider, but there are far more thorns than roses).  It would appear this tendency for laziness and unprofessionalism continues unabated and in some instances has become automated.

For the record, when I was a recruiting Creative Director, I always  considered every application carefully - and those I rejected received a proper explanation and a message of thanks. I certainly would not have tolerated a system which sent an automated message stating I would only bother to communicate further with those applicants I was taking forward. That would have been unacceptably rude.

Perhaps I was naive, foolish or old-fashioned. Or perhaps I simply realised that without enthusiastic, adept and creative  people, we have no industry. 

Magnus Shaw is a blogger and copywriter



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