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The Existential Angst Of Recruitment

By July 5, 2018One Comment

Hello again.  It’s been a while.  What have you been up to?

Me?  Oh, this and that.  You know.  Well maybe not, but I’ll explain later.  For now, I want to tell you about something that happened last Friday, when I was fortunate enough to be the guest of a friend in their company’s corporate box to watch the rugby at Eden Park.

Fortunate, in the sense that I got to hob nob with some (mostly) wealthy and (occasionally) smart individuals.  And eat free food.  And drink free beer Steinlager wine.

Less fortunate to be watching Blues v Reds, a sporting spectacle of such meandering irrelevance that I decided to start manually counting the numbers of people attending in the stands opposite me instead.

I got half way along the sparsely populated North Stand (about 53 human souls) when my wife asked me if I’d seen the pictures of the kids she had loaded onto Facebook earlier that day.  “No”, was the answer and so, mildly irritated at the interruption to my people-counting exercise, I pulled out my phone and pressed my thumb to the ubiquitous blue square.

Before I could gaze with paternal pride upon the digital images of our offspring I was instead presented with a quite stunning survey question:

“Jonathan, We’d Like To Do Better.  Please agree or disagree with the following statement:  Facebook is good for the world…”

FB Good for World

Before I could even begin to think about answering a question of such metaphysical proportions, my mind went to poor old Mark Zuckerberg, a fabulously wealthy young man so clearly riddled with existential angst about his social network platform that he had resorted to back to a nerdy teenager asking if his friends still liked him or not.

It’s such a subjective question that I very much doubt the answers this question generates will provide Facebook’s moral compass with any magnetic pull one way or another.  I mean, they’re good because you can see pictures of your kids, but they’re also evil because they enable powerful people to influence voters and broadcast live streams of people getting murdered.  But that’s just my opinion…

I’m sure Mr Z is equally amazed at what his college student communication platform has evolved into, but none of us should be that surprised given it was placed in the hands of the human race, supported to attain unlimited growth, and then turned over to money-hungry investors keen to monetise the beast it had become.

Which brings me to my own reasons for handing the Rice Consulting desk and Whiteboard blogging reins over to Sean, Scott and Tash this year.  I suppose, in a much smaller way, I’ve been working through my own existential angst, but in my case about the recruitment industry.


Trust me, a decade of rec-to-rec will do that to you!  A decade of encountering the good, bad and downright ugly of our quirky, fascinating and maddening industry.  You can learn a lot about an industry in that time, and the people within it, and I’d reached a point where I felt I’d learned enough about what did, and didn’t, work in recruitment that I could forge a different path, a different way, a better way.

So, last year Sean and I conceived, built, developed and launched JOYN.  We were already providing “Recruitment-as-a-Service” through our virtualRPO brand but JOYN was the birth of the next stage of that model, with a greater degree of technological smarts to go along with the human expertise already in place.

I’ve had to go quiet this year while growing JOYN, developing the product, hiring and managing talent, opening offices and continuously improving the concept.  But it’s alive.  It’s out there.  It’s working and, more importantly, it’s working for clients (who get a better hire at half the cost) and recruiters (particularly those looking for more flexibility in the way they work).

I did think, in several knuckle-gnawing moments, that the release of this new model would kill off the decade of (mostly) goodwill built up by Rice Consulting in the NZ agency sector.  But that’s the funny thing with bouts of existential angst.  It’s nearly always worse in your own mind than in other people’s, and confronting it, and doing something about it, is always better than just ignoring it.

We have even had some recruitment agencies employing the services of JOYN to help fill gaps in their resourcing functions.  It’s been a fascinating exercise to see the agencies that have such confidence in the quality of their delivery, that truly provide valuable expertise to their particular niche, rather than those that don’t, and who consequently fear the impact of JOYN the most.

And so, ultimately, I felt kind of sorry for Zuckerberg and his plea for approval, his moment of doubt.  I could kind of see where he was coming from.  But hey, Mark, if you’re listening, don’t sweat the small stuff.  Maybe dial back on the election-fraud stuff, the abuse of private data, and the live streaming of really nasty stuff, if you can, but remember, it’s us who are to blame really.

Meanwhile I’m now proud to be leading both Rice Consulting which is very much business as usual thanks to Anastasia, Scott and Tash, and also leading a totally innovative new approach to recruitment with Sean Walters, in JOYN.  All thanks to a bout of existential angst that I’m sure many others of you in recruitment will have felt at moments too, just like me.

It’s what you do about it, in those moments, that really matters and will shape where we go as an industry in the future.

Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

One Comment

  • Good to hear from you, Jon. Good on your for forging a new path. It’s great to see innovation being driving by those from within the recruitment industry than those from outside. I look forward to reading future updates.