New Year thoughts: Why HR marketers need to learn to say no

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Signal or noise

As a market research firm for online trends, you might think that we from Potentialpark love the hypes… hurray everyone, get your job ads up on Instagram, invest in a Glassdoor profile, use a Tinder app for jobs… Being a data-driven company, “Big data” should make our hearts beat faster. But no, I we really need to differentiate more and more between substance and hype, signal and noise. More isn’t always better.

I was so happy to read this: “Personally I hope that the excess of IT supported control will decrease” and “I wish common sense took over again”. (Swiss HR blogger Jörg Buckmann on how we will live in 10 years, interview on in German).

Today our world is full of things that we don’t need and that clog up our day. And guess what, most of them won’t be with us in 10 years. And in the meantime, this is becoming a core competency: know how to filter and choose what you really need.

Key employer branding competence: saying no (but to the right things)

Spontaneous desires are immediately fulfilled. If someone says “Sydney is the Capital of Australia”, we can’t wait to pull out our smartphone and prove them wrong on the spot. Later we realize we just ruined another dinner by spending more time looking at a screen than at one other’s face.

When I went to school, the saying was, Germans watch 3 hours of TV per day on average. It sounded horrendous to me. Who has that kind of time for TV? Now, ask your friends how much time they (honestly) spend watching: 1) TV + 2) streamed or downloaded American TV shows + 3) YouTube.

(Side-note: Notice something else? This is not what you disclose to your friends because it’s embarrassing. Everyone says “you got to watch this great new TV show about the CIA” or “did you see Game of Thrones last night”. But no one posts on Facebook “hurrah – watched another 7 hours of videos this weekend”. We’re not proud of it, and that says something. (Side note no. 2: people do post when they finished a good book or ran a marathon, which is both not tech dependent.))

This can easily be applied to Employer Branding communication: technology is not a self-purpose. Choose well which tools, channels and information sources you invest your energy on, and invest it wisely.

How long will Facebook live?

The Lindy effect, as described by Nassim Taleb in his books “The Black Swan” and “Antifragile”, says: everything will last for as long as it has already existed. This is not an exact mathematical formula. It’s a heuristic, a rule of thumb that you can apply to estimate the life expectancy of things.

If Facebook has been there for 10 years, it will likely stay with us for another 10 years. Maybe more maybe less, but this is what’s most likely. Book shelves have existed for thousands of years, so they will be with us in a thousand years. Why? Because time is the ultimate test of what survives and what doesn’t, which is pretty much evolution at work.

If you follow TechCrunch or Mashable in your daily newsfeeds, it seems like we live in a time of daily technological revolution. In 10 years, however, few of these announcements and hypes will have survived, but many things from our childhood will still be there.

Trial and error beats following every hype. Being curious and open for new trends is as important as evaluating them before committing to them entirely.

DangerTechnology – just another fashion?

Another interesting way to look at it: technology itself is a fashion. In 10 years, we will have gotten used to supportive communication tools and technologies in our pockets, cars, offices and homes. But we won’t necessarily talk about it as anything special, like we do today. (Like landing on the moon was a real cocktail party hit for a while, in the 1970s, I’ve been told.)

There are online channels that have proven to be valuable for talent communication, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, but only if used for the right purpose. If answering questions that candidates actually have on these platforms. And, there are channels that are becoming very promising for hosting and spreading content and campaigns to more candidates and in a more fashionable way, like Pinterest or Instagram. Some that are trying to change ownership and control of the employer brands, like Glassdoor and Kununu. And there are many more channels, apps and sites we will evaluate during 2015 as to their sustainable employer branding and talent communication value.

We need to understand the true value of a technology or a communication channel, e.g. its effect on candidate experience, reach and awareness, recruiting, costs… I think it’s only possible by understanding the candidates’ perspective and testing their reactions (as you might realize, one of my favorite topics) and with a good portion of common sense. It also means, to keep your options open and not place all your chips on one card, but stay dynamic and constantly try what works for you.

Last but not least: my 2015 New Year resolution to un-clog my day

  1. Not to consume news that are typically outdated within less than a week (randomly browsing daily newspapers and online news),
  2. To spend more time with people than with multimedia every day,
  3. To be open, curious and spontaneous when it comes to trying new things, but strict and rigorous before committing and spending time on them or recommending them to anyone,
  4. To “happily waste” time on non-efficient, non-productive, mind-clearing activities every day, without measuring them.

Because nothing beats a day that you spent on things you really care about rather than things you were told you should care about.

I wish everyone a great, fulfilling, enthusiastic and insightful New Year with lots and lots of new things to learn and be amazed by, and even more time for whom and what you really care about!


Julian Ziesing, Berlin

Julian Ziesing, Berlin


Julian Ziesing ist verantwortlich für die Studien-Entwicklung beim internationalen Marktforschungs-Institut Potentialpark und bloggt hier seine Meinung und Erfahrungen zur Candidate Experience.
Connect with me on Xing and LinkedIn

One thought on “New Year thoughts: Why HR marketers need to learn to say no

  1. Pingback: Datentaucher 2015, Teil 1: Jobsucher wollen nicht mehr suchen | Applying Online & Loving It

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