The Hunger Games of Recruitment

Despite its dark themes, The Hunger Games has become an international bestseller for both young and not-so-young adults.  It recounts the epic struggles of youthful “tributes’ tossed into an arena where they are cut off from all human contact and left to fend for themselves in a deadly contest.  Take away the ensuing violence and you have a disorienting isolation which, sadly, is not all that different from the experience of job seekers in many corporate recruiting processes.

Survey after survey confirms that job seekers are starved for human interaction in their quest for employment.  All too often, their applications aren’t acknowledged, their phone calls go unanswered and their visits to corporate career sites feel like a solitary journey through the wilderness.

Now to be fair, this situation is often beyond the control of recruiters.  They are hostage to their corporate budgets, policy and technology.  They don’t cut the staff so much that each recruiter handles 50 or more open requisitions.  They don’t buy applicant tracking systems that only machines could love.  And, they don’t assign more priority to finding prospects than to building relationships with them.

That said, today’s Hunger Games of Recruitment are harming employers’ brands and employee loyalty.  They leave talented people – but especially top performers – feeling starved of respect and any sense of opportunity.

So, what’s to be done?  How can the desolate arena of today’s recruiting process be transformed into a more benign or, even better, a more engaging environment?

The Power of Personalization

Given the very high probability that recruiting budgets and staff levels will remain depressed, any strategy to enhance the humanity of the recruiting process must, ironically, avoid the requirement for additional recruiter participation.  So, how can it be accomplished?

The answer is to tap the power of personalization.  We may be hostage to corporate budgets, policy and technology, but we do control our content. We can and should revise the messaging that defines our recruiting institutions to make them more respectful of individuals.

Most corporate career sites, for example, treat all visitors as “generic candidates.”  Their content is seldom tailored to the unique aspirations, interests and even vocabulary of the demographic cohorts for which an employer recruits.  Other than a special tab for recent graduates and, occasionally for diversity job seekers, most sites simply ignore the very real differences between sales professionals, HR practitioners, engineers, accountants and the members of every other career field.

The same is true on most corporate Facebook pages and LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.  In fact, the institutions in the vast majority of recruiting processes deny people their workplace identities and, as a consequence, leave them hungry for even a modest level of individual recognition.

Overcoming this depersonalization means restyling the communications of our institutions to create a specialized sanctuary for each of the major demographics for which we recruit.  Whether it’s on our corporate career site or an outpost on a social media site, we must give the individuals in these career fields a place where they can feel at home among their peers.  That means our content should use their language, address their questions and issues and, optimally, translate our employer’s value proposition into a theme that resonates with them.

Admittedly, this strategy is imperfect.  It does require an investment to implement, but that commitment is far less than what would be required to staff a recruiting process for true human interaction.  And, the strategy does not transform a recruiting process into an attentive and caring experience, but it does offer candidates more dignity and respect than they’re getting today.

Obviously, corporate recruiting processes have none of the violence and depravity of the fictional hunger games.  But, all too often, they do starve candidates of their individuality and thus deprive them of the respect they believe they deserve from employers.  Since injecting more one-on-one interaction into the experience is not fiscally feasible, the best way to correct this situation is with the power of personalization – the simple recognition of the differences candidates have worked to establish among themselves.

Thanks for reading,
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Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System and Recognizing Richard Rabbit.  Get them at and today.

© Copyright 2012 WEDDLE’s LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

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Submitted by otavio on April 20, 2012 - 09:05.

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