80's fashionIf you pull out of a picture of any of my friends in the 80’s or 90’s, there’s a moment of fear. Fear of side pony-tails, daisy dukes and other fashion trends of the 80’s and 90’s that leave us feeling like a spectacle or some character from an “old” movie. We quickly try to explain to our children using standard phrases like “that was the fashion at the time” and “we were cool!”

What was cool back then, isn’t cool today to these young generations of man buns and plaid. Which, by the way has already been fashionable at one point in my lifetime (see Nirvana era). Hell, even bell bottoms have made their appearance in the fashion trends twice in my time on earth. How, I do not know.

Kids don’t get the trends. They don’t understand how these fashion faux-pas become fashionistas in just a few years, or just how hip we were with our side pony tails. They just care about the now, ignoring what worked way back then.

Just as unpredictable as fashion trends that weave out of style just after we’ve taken that box to Goodwill, so goes human resources trends. Every blog is stacked with another round of predictions for top performers and top talent trends you must know in whatever year is coming up. I mean, they’re cut and dry, pretty cliche and they’re on most blogs about recruiting annually.

Editor’s note: Yes, even this one – we just tell the story with better gifs.

Talent Trends are Tiring

Experts keep telling us that everything is changing, and if you don’t keep up, it will be the death of you as a recruiter. When I see hyperbolic claims of tectonic shifts in recruiting and disruptive disruptions disrupting all things deemed disruptable, I merely yawn. That’s a bit dramatic for my taste, considering I know for a fact there are still companies that against the trends and odds, survive with 40 minute apply processes and paper applications.

I’ve lost track of how many industry related things supposedly died or are on the brink of dying. One minute, phone fanatics are all the rage. The next thing you know, e-mail enthusiasts are winning the war for talent. Next, mobile moves ahead. Oh let’s not forget social recruiting sliding in on the action.

Claiming one method or tool is better than any other is like debating whether sweats, bell bottoms, daisy dukes, skorts or cargo shorts are best. There’s so much stuff allegedly going in and out of style that not even the fashion police can tell the difference between a normal nerd and a haughty hipster.

Making a decision on what kind of pants you wear usually depends on the situation, perhaps as much as your physique. That’s probably exactly how decisions are made about which recruiting techniques make the most sense in any given scenario. In other words, your taste, sense of style and whatever flatters your figure fashion-wise is quite similar to figuring out how to find what fits when you’re trying to recruit the right fit.

So go ahead, try everything on for size, but don’t become a fashion victim – just chasing trends. I enjoy observing the latest developments as much as the next person. I try to keep up, but don’t recommend blindly adopting each new thing that comes along. Sometimes being old-fashioned is wiser and more cost-effective than trying to be in fashion. Just like building a wardrobe, invest in the timeless search and selection staples that serve a purpose. Getting the basics right will never go out of style.

Sure, runway super-models look chic wearing items that would appear outrageously hideous running errands. How about those high-waistline trousers? Nothing but unflattering mom jeans reincarnated.

There’s something refreshingly avant-garde about rebelliously sticking with what works.

That’s So Last Season

But, that’s not a favorite of the business publications. Instead of focusing on what works, they’re perpetually pushing out snippets of the trendiest ideas, a few of which I wish would fade away, like those jeans you swear still fit.

  1. Hot start-up interview questions: The questions rarely seem to have any discernable job-relatedness, but that doesn’t deter anyone from deciding to use them when making hiring decisions. Just like gowns, interview questions run the gamut from red-carpet worthy to thread-bare thrift-store rejects. It’s not just that the questions themselves are dubious (at best) but it’s the interpretations the leaders provide for how they decipher important information from the answers that I find so questionable. When they strive to catch someone off-guard or put people in an awkward power-play disadvantage it doesn’t prove anything other than arrogance. Ultimately, regardless of whichever “curveball” questions any given leader relies on, they always tend to believe what their gut tells them. These smarty-pants leaders somehow seem to think they have woven together a tell-all talent tapestry simply by asking candidates “gotcha” questions.
  2. Time to put on the big girl or big boy pants: Bias is everywhere. Why isn’t anyone trying to kill it off? Death to discrimination! There’s a lot of talk about discrimination but there are even more examples of ridiculous and even discriminatory hiring criteria. Certain recruiters (internal and external) apparently believe they are entitled to ask intrusive non-job-related questions whenever the mood strikes. I’ve seen some recruiters proudly proclaim that they are expected to do so on behalf of their client or hiring manager. Those same interviewers make snap decisions based on nonsensical assumptions and presumptions. Big-billers aren’t shy about boasting about their hard-core style which they justify in braggadocious psychobabble. What those recruiters should be realizing is their actions are a direct reflection of their client. If they cross the line, it not only establishes a negative candidate experience, it creates a liability for the hiring company. Third party agents are not exempt from professionalism or employment laws.
  3. Who wears the pants in this relationship? Such an old-fashioned concept about pants wearing, but alas the sexist mentality behind it keeps making a comeback. In fact, there’s a plethora of topics arranged around all things ending with ist. Much of the recruiting $#!+ show revolves around treating people poorly. When a recruiter or someone else involved with a hiring process maintains bigoted or biased beliefs, the relationship is unbalanced. That person is the pants wearer. The rest of the participants in the process, especially applicants and candidates, end up at the mercy of Mr/Ms bossypants. Bullying others and enabling or excusing that behavior is an ugly, mismatched, ensemble that needs to be pulled out of the closet and thrown in the dumpster.

Fashion Forward

You don’t have to be a fashionista to know apparel changes with the seasons. That same idea could apply to recruiting practices. However, there’s no shame in your game if you aren’t a trendsetter. No need to lunge toward the latest fad like paparazzi pounce to capture celebrities’ nip slips. Instead of worrying about the instagramiest must-have “accessory” as featured by HR-famous-twitterati types, how about purging the shelves and racks of outdated habits?

In this profession we have an obligation to enlighten, educate and hold hiring parties accountable. If some @$$hat struts in with his/her stereotyping, shut that sucker down. If some nincompoop spouts off ding-a-ling ditch the ring advice, set ‘em straight. If a hiring manager picks people apart for some imagined faux pas, put that person on notice to notice what matters.

As a “brand”, recruiting does not fare well in the image and reputation department. Some people in this field need to pull themselves together. Maybe we can help them. Maybe not. L’Oréal’s updated slogan “because we’re worth it” seems fitting for this effort.

Behaving professionally and treating people with courtesy, dignity and respect will always be stylish.


About the Author: Leveraging her unique perspective as a progressive thinker with a well-rounded background from diverse corporate settings, Kelly Blokdijk advises members of the business community on targeted human resource, recruiting and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs.

Kelly is an active HR and recruiting industry blogger and regular contributor on RecruitingBlogs.com. She also candidly shares opinions, observations and ideas as a member of RecruitingBlogs’ Editorial Advisory Board.

Follow Kelly on Twitter @TalentTalks or connect with her on LinkedIn.