One of the presuppositions of NLP is “The map is not the territory. The words that we use are not the event or the item they represent.” In other words, there is an underlying order of the world and many perceptions of reality.
Over the summer I had a couple of map moments. Moments when I realised that my map wasn’t the territory, not even near it. Moments, when once I realised the limitations, it altered my map.
At Evenbase we recently have done a lot of research into different countries and their recruitment markets (we’ll share this soon over at Evenmore). That in itself is highly interesting as the UK is looking really like a market that one wouldn’t want to enter in the near to medium future. But for me, it is important to visit countries, speak and listen to people to get a real feeling behind all the research.
The first moment came when I visited Argentina and Brazil.
Brazil only has a 6% unemployment rate and businesses struggle to recruit the right staff at the right time. Highly skilled professional positions are looked for abroad. Last year over 200,000 professional positions were covered by foreigners. The most successful model so far seems to be around charging candidates to get a better listing in the CV searches, which seems odd given the low unemployment rate. As a result the current market leader Catho is changing its model as the business is struggling to maintain its leadership. Employees are incredibly well protected, to the point that there is an industry of people making a living out of suing for wrongful dismissal and apparently always win.
On our trip, we saw two digital recruitment models, amongst many others, that use SMS to target the casual workers at the bottom of the chain (Empregoligado and TrabalhoJa.com). Interestingly they are both set up by non-Brazilians with a non-recruitment but management consultancy background that identified Brazil as a growth country. Apparently all Brazilian-born entrepreneurs are very young; once a Brazilian has embarked on employment it is unlikely that he or she will make the switch to becoming an entrepreneur as all the salaries are increasing significantly and many opportunities with other companies exist. This is a recent trend -most successful Brazilian businesses so far have been local and it has been incredibly difficult for a foreign business to become successful in the Brazilian market, unless it was done through acquisition.
This is completely different to Argentina, where the current state of play (25% inflation, nationalisation of many entities and very protective import regulations) drives the intelligent and ambitious people to build their own business and therefore get around some of the regulations and restrictions (e.g. through registering companies in other countries, to the switch from Peso to Dollar). Entrepreneurism happens out of necessity. As the market is relatively small, the rest of the Spanish-speaking region, Brazil and/or the USA are the big countries of interest. It is apparently quite common that the development is happening in Argentina, whilst the commercialising happens abroad, many also looking straightaway at the USA.
This produces a creative, curious and determined mind-set and people leave employment to set up their own businesses. The start-up scene in Argentina is rawer, more down-to-earth, more genuine yet more innovative, more pragmatic and more international than what I have seen in the other more developed nations at the moment. We often look for innovations in the USA, when actually we are better off looking into emerging countries.
Brazil and Argentina are less formalised markets in terms of HR technology, for example; ATS are only being used by big global operations, social media and mobile penetration is much lower than in the USA and the UK and some parts of the candidate set still use paper CVs and are easiest reached by SMS. These differences in the external environment need to be considered in all cases. Globalisation and localisation certainly go hand in hand and in a fascinating way reinforce each other.
To understand these differences, let’s view developments from a new perspective. To benefit from the talent pool, it is very important that we engage more closely with people from and/or living in the region. We are often still too UK and US focused in our outlook, in our inputs and in the influences we take on board.
Let’s take Workana as an example. They are a new start-up that focuses on freelancers, remote employment and casual work market, like oDesk and Elance. They have built a neat solution but what stood out most is that their market entry strategy into the US is via the Hispanic/Latino/ Spanish speaking community. When we, from Europe, look at the US, we often just think about one monolithic country, instead of the eleven nations, as well as one language instead of several ones.
This trip certainly widened and changed my perspective, not only on other countries, but also our own. As a consequence, whilst in Europe we have different cultures and languages that need to be considered, the difference between the European nations seems less now than they seemed before (and are clearly more accentuated due to the different languages). I could even see the UK joining a closer European set-up. After all you first need to differentiate to integrate.
The second moment of understanding a cultural difference (therefore altering my map) was not driven by geographical difference but by generational difference. It was actually triggered by an A&N Media/Tech Hub pitch event and resulted in me meeting Jack Tang, the founder and CEO of TheStudentJob.com. I was impressed by the simple yet impactful – and in a way – natural way they integrate into Facebook and how they’ve started developing mobile. This is what social recruiting is all about.
Whilst I’m not a fan of Gen Y platitudes – I believe the difference within generations are often wider than the difference between generations – it has to be said that people like Jack just know what to do, instead of having to learn what to do. They don’t go down the awkward integration route. Their route seems elegantly effortless.
I have to admit, this second moment made me feel old – for just a short moment – and then excited, as it shows that we are moving from ‘cool’ to ‘useful’ and ‘theory’ to ‘practice’ when talking about the rule of the casual work and that the social web is now beginning to show it’s true, deep colours, also in recruitment.
So, my map of the world has shifted significantly over the last couple of months, but there are a couple of items that remain in place, such as the knowledge that I still feel like 28 inside.