Onrec: How did you get started in recruitment and how did the idea of Recruiting Brainfood surface?
The Internet got too big. The quality content was there but I found myself increasingly struggling to separate it from the clickbait - it seemed that you were clicking on 10 links to find the 1 thing that was worthwhile to read. I started to collect these links, order them into a database so it could be something I would be able to refer back to and before you know it, I found I had a great resource which was super valuable to me. My next thought after that was how I can share it to other people in industry, as I'm sure they had the same problems as I did. That's basically it - recruiting brainfood was is simply a way for me to share the cool stuff I've come across that week.
Onrec: What exciting new trends are you noticing?
There is no shortage of excitement in the world of work. Fractional work, interview analytics, DAO, open hiring.....there are some real radical innovations which are seeing light of day and whilst not all of these experiments will become established practice, I think they each have a chance of carving out a niche in the market where it would suit enough employers to align with it. We're in a Pre-Cambrian era of work innovation, we can't not be excited.
Onrec: What do you think will be the next big thing in online recruitment?
interview analytics - the shift to interview from in-person to video is simultaneously a shift from the analogue to the digital. Suddenly we have all kinds of data which we never had access to before - interview length, speaking time, interrupt frequency, sentiment analysis. All of this will become invaluable in improving hiring manager and recruiter interviewing competence, as well as reducing bias at a critical stage in the recruiting process. Once the full DEIB implications are realised, it will become mandatory in business.
Onrec: Biggest challenges we face going in to 2023?
Stagflation. The world is undergoing hostile and chaotic de-globalisation, where globalised supply chains will be reconfigured into regional supply chains. That will mean everything will be more expensive, than it was before. The impact on consumers is the cost-of-living crisis, but the greater significance will be the impact on business. If input costs go up across the board, we will find many businesses operating at narrow margins will quickly turn into making losses and will withdraw from the sector or go under. Impact on recruitment will be downstream of this, but will manifest soon enough
Onrec: Where do you see the recruitment industry in 5 years?
Recruitment needs to expand scope to go beyond the classic perm / contract binary. The emergence of new types of working, driven as much by the people as by the organisations, means that recruiters need to diversify their offering and position as a resource delivery function regardless of the precise details of the employment contract. Think about fractional working for example - can recruiters provide this type of worker? Right now, no, but the opportunity is there for smart recruiters to get in on this diversification.
Onrec: COVID hit the industry hard. How did you manage and adapt?
Recruiting Brainfood is fortunate in that it is an online only business which effectively trades in information. Hence Covid did not provide any serious interrupt to business operations; in fact, given that the entire world went more online than every before, demand for more brainfood meant that this period turned out to be strong years for the business.
Onrec: Do you have any other plans to expand? And if so, where?
Planning is not really what I do at brainfood. Mainly I am feeling my way forward, based on how able I am to deliver and what the audience seems to want next. I'm always experimenting with new channels and new spaces - there's a new Thursday newsletter for example, called Brainfood Open Kitchen, which is where I am doing more long form original writing. I felt that there was a demand for this, and some subjects deserve more of a considered treatment than I'm able to give in the observational commentary I provide on the Sunday Recruiting Brainfood newsletter. Hopefully this too will become a success and people might get some value around it.
Onrec: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
Think less, do more
Onrec: What do you enjoy outside of work?
I think I'm addicted to playing chess. I got into Chess.com a few months ago, just playing with whoever you were matched with online and I now find myself checking the app for the next move as much as I scroll through TikTok or Twitter. I've usually got half a dozen games on the go.
Onrec: What is your career low and how did you overcome it? And what is your career high?
Plenty of career lows, including multiple failed businesses. Overcoming it was really just getting a bit of success next time round. I've been fortunate that perhaps my failures did not occur consecutively, but were separated by success. I think that oscillation basically gave me a grounding that whatever is good is a good, and whatever is bad is bad - neither is definitive and both are temporary!