Selecting versus recruiting in the design industry

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Kevin Stolarick points out something I’ve been wondering about for a while over at Creativity Exchange:

Employers want the employees and the skills they provide … but don’t have any real understanding of what they really want.  Failing to develop that understanding means retention is an issue.

This chimes with my guess that when employers claim that graduates aren’t as good as they could be (something that drives Creative and Cultural Skills’s agenda to replace academics with practitioners in design education) what is really happening is that their recruitment policies are at fault. (If you recruit someone and they’re not very good, look at your recruitment procedure before you blame the teachers).

Hiring graduates without firstly thinking what you’re going to offer them beyond a job you think they should feel lucky to get is not a way to recruit talent, and I can’t help feeling that people who complain there’s a lack of quality graduates only have themselves to blame – those quality graduates do exist but are giving them a wide berth.

Certainly I’ve known a few former students of mine turn down ‘opportunities’ (read ‘unpaid work experience with no guarantee of a job at the end of it’) at supposedly ‘good’ agencies in return for jobs that offer decent money, responsibility and – most importantly – a life.

In universities there is a difference between a ‘selecting’ course (one which has more applicants than places and can filter through to get the most promising students) and a ‘recruiting’ course (one which has to offer more places than there really are in order to fill it because a certain proportion will turn them down).
I wonder if this is what’s happening in industry? It’s not a lack of talent, and therefore the fault of courses and teachers, but a lack of appreciation of what it takes to get and keep quality employees. And a lot of businesses aren’t used to making the switch from the filtering and selecting method of finding staff to that of active recruitment and retention.

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