Headhunting in an Oligopoly

I’m going to liken my current impressions and findings within headhunting to a well-known TV show and see how far I can take the analogy…. I will reveal my age along the way but this is an important piece of analysis so it’s worth it.

Chegger’s Plays Pop – Keith is dead (some say prematurely) so you can see how long ago I’m asking you to cast your minds back, assuming of course you were even born, but for those of you who are old enough to remember Keith Chegwin’s game show, it offers a reasonably accurate analogy of today’s digital recruitment market. In this pop music quiz show, we saw kids running across a studio as fast as they could to jump onto brightly coloured circular mats that represented one of three answers to a music question. You could change your mind before the buzzer went, so there was a lot of dashing backwards and forwards and some pushing when one mat got crowded, but when the time was up, those who had landed on the wrong mats were out of the game, plunged into darkness, quietly shuffled off stage left by a TV runner, presumably to return to living with their parents……

Call those three mats currently lit up Google, Facebook and Amazon and you pretty much sum up what it can feel like to be a candidate in today’s commercial digital marketplace. Without stretching the analogy to breaking point, there is a mad dash at the moment to any one of those three mats, to follow the flow of ad spend and to future-proof one’s career (if there is such a thing). You have to be quick, you have to be clever and you have to be ballsy, and you have to have the courage of your convictions. In Keith’s game only one mat stays lit, the one that represents the ‘correct answer’.  With its development of visual search the mat that is receiving the most attention right  now is orange and you can buy it with next day delivery, but you still may not be that safe and secure having reached a mat at all, it might not be the right move for you.

We are often asked if we can offer the opportunity to interview at any one of these three, (the answer is yes for two of them) but we then always try to spend time evangelizing about all sorts of other opportunities and destinations that may not be on an initial priority list for a lot of people but that we believe in and that have tangible merits to joining. Some of the seasoned candidates who have done a stint at the pointy end of ad tech look like they’ve come in off the battle field, and, usually with young kids at home, are desperate to gain an element of security. But joining any one of the oligopoly companies doesn’t suit everyone, and doesn’t guarantee happiness and fulfilment or career advancement just because your clients are spending money with you.

So this consultant is going to continue to suggest one of the aforementioned mats if it would be a the right answer for that particular candidate but is also going to highlight and represent a number of other amazing roles and companies that need some genuine consideration.