So I was watching Love Island and, like, apart from noticing, like, how many times the contestants, like, say, "like" in every sentence, it dawned on me how much IT Recruitment can learn from it. Run with me!
1 - Don't Be Fooled By The Spray Tan!
I wonder how long the contestants spent in the local tanning booth before jetting off to join Caroline Flack? Pretty superficial but it's amazing how many Love Island contestants seem to be seduced by bronzed skin or a flash of impossibly white teeth. Similarly, I'm often surprised how, otherwise savvy, hirers can be seduced by a flashy CV.
Style over substance is regularly the cause of a bad hire. One of my clients tells the story of a candidate who proudly boasted of leading a set of impressively complex IT projects - the back story of the perfect hire, except a little fact check revealed that on the five of the six the candidate was not the leader and the one that he did lead was considered a failure in terms of budget and delivered business value.
Double checking what they tell you (or having someone peer profile candidates) pays off big time!
2 - You're Not The Only One They're Eyeing Up?
On Love Island, one minute the girl he's talking to is the most beautiful thing he's ever laid eyes on, the next he's snogging someone else.
In a candidate driven IT talent market, your ideal candidate has more than likely caught the gaze of other suitors too. You HAVE to sell yourself as a great place to work and target your message in such a way that it is almost tailored to lure the interest of your perfect next hire.
3 - The Language Barrier
I heard a Love Island contestant say that they'd been pied off by one of the others. Now I'm pretty 'street-wise' but even I, just for a second thought, "Oooh I wonder what flavour, hope it was steak and ale”. Turns out that it means being blatantly blanked! Similarly, when a contestant is referred to a being a 'grafter' or 'grafting' - don't imagine them up at 4.30am to run a market stall or do a shift down the coal mine!
The language barrier can prevent you attracting the right candidate, especially now that almost every firm is, at its operational core, an IT business. You and your candidate have to talk the same language - so you have to be fluent in, for example, their project management jargon, they don't have to be fluent in yours! This can be quite a shift in perception, until recently it was expected that a candidate would do their homework about your business in order to impress you, increasingly it is you that has to impress them with an understanding of how their specialism can deliver for your business.
'Talking the talk' has never been more important so subject matter expertise can give you a real competitive edge. If you don't have this, get a specialist partner who will deliver it.
4 - It's Everywhere
You couldn't move for publicity about this show. The production company and ITV2's publicity machine has triumphed here - everywhere a potential viewer might be hanging out they have been exposed to Love Island hype. This time though the word has spread further before a previous series started social media would be buzzing and the red top newspapers and youth-targeted radio station would be full of it. This time, BBC Breakfast news ran a Love Island preview, I even heard Radio 4's ‘World At One’ do a feature on it. This is great P.R. and we can learn from this.
Your talent search has to reach the places where your ideal candidate will see it. Thinking beyond the traditional job boards or industry situations vacant columns, you have to penetrate the places your perfect next hire is hanging out. If you don't know where that is then you should seek a specialist recruitment partner who does.
Tell you what, that Radio 4 feature didn’t half stand out from all the news about Trump and Brexit - it really grabbed my attention. Make sure your recruitment material is equally noticeable!
5 - Know What You Want - But Don't Be Blinkered Or Limited By It.
I recall a few series back this chap had come to Love Island knowing exactly what he wanted and the perfect girl, based on his criteria, was waiting for him in a bikini. He found love but with another girl who 'wouldn't normally be his type'.
In IT Project recruitment, clarity on what 'your type' is and who you're looking for is crucial. You're looking for the right skill-set but also you want a cultural fit with your business for the perfect match. Having said that, being on the look-out or bonus talents can really give you a head start on your competitors, a specialist recruitment partner (who first gets to really know YOU) can help spot these as they are often hidden in the midst of a CV like an 'Easter Egg' hidden in a DVD or computer game.
A pretty good example of this is an IT Project Manager who landed a gig with a rail operator a couple of years back because, in his hobbies and interests section, he had rather timidly included two words - 'rail enthusiast'. There were six or seven candidates, who on paper met the criteria of the hirer, but those two words elevated this CV - after all who will deliver IT infrastructure better for a rail company than someone who REALLY loves trains?!
6 - Partner For Life Or Some Fun In The Sun?
"I'm looking for love", in one form or another has to be one of the most questionable things that Love Island contestants say. Most are looking for some fun or a springboard to a media career. Kem and Amber, Gabby and Marcel, Montana and Alex all hit it off last year but have since gone their separate ways. Dom and Jess, on the other hand, got engaged and seem the real deal. Some contestants are looking for love - others a fling - and both are OK. Just be honest!
Honesty around whether you're looking for long-term commitment or short-term deliverables is also useful in IT recruitment. If you have one really complex and interesting IT Project to deliver and then, after that, it's all 'keeping the lights on' you should approach IT recruitment differently than if you have a never-ending portfolio of roller coaster ride IT. Your specialist IT recruitment partner can help you find the right talent for your needs.
7 - At The End Of The Day - It's Meant To Be Fun!
Some people take Love Island way too seriously. Have you seen the viral video of the Love Island girls debating Brexit? And some of the online comments? Come on - give them a break! They're young people living their best lives.
Ultimately, IT recruitment has to lead to talent working in a place where it's a joy getting out of bed to go each day and where it's a pleasure to stay late! You spend a lot of time at work - it should be rewarding in more than a financial sense, otherwise what's the point?
So, who knew, Love Island is, like, a lot like IT recruitment. At the beginning, the other person is almost too good to be true, clever, charming and interested; the trick is making things last beyond the "honeymoon period". Or, in Love Island terms, avoiding getting mugged off when you're both back to drizzly reality!
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