Picture is taken by me at Perez Museum Miami and shows a work by Teresita Fernández, a conceptual iconic ‘woke’ female artist.

Last week I treated my clients to this Happy New Year gift: A trend presentation by Jan Agelink with the theme 'WOKE'. The term ‘woke' ( literally the past tense of ‘awakening’ ) grew from a political term of African-American origin referring to a perceived awareness of issues concerning social and racial justice. Now it’s a growing mindset for all of us. We are approaching the limits of the era in which self-interest (success) prevails and we are moving towards a world view where there is a need for forming a ‘community'. My explanation for being ‘woke' when reaching out for talent, is to be alert, socially and environmentally aware and well-introduced to trends and to act appropriately on that basis. So how could this reflect in your recruitment and talent acquisition strategy?

1 Communicate candidate-centric

Today’s job seeker is unwilling to waste time and is focussed on how a company prioritizes and values fashion-tech, sustainability and diversity in their DNA. So if you want to stand apart as an employer, you need to make sure that you address these topics when you reach out for talent and to put your potential candidates first. Make sure your corporate and external recruitment partners are inspiring and ‘woke' communicators who are activists on these topics and who will go the extra mile in connecting with candidates on a personal and deeper level while representing your business. Start right from the messaging in job descriptions, potentially the first point of contact with candidates. From my experience, when I am assigned to recruit for a role, very few companies supply me with an appealing candidate-centric job description. In trying to “stand out from the rest,” companies likely describe their own business and mission and specific job prerequisites in a distant way. Instead, you should focus on information that the candidates themselves will find valuable. Your pitch should sound like a one-on-one communication that is unique for your brand and company and personalized with proof that you know your potential employee and understand what they want from a job and an employer. I mostly use the clients job description as a back up / info document later on in the process and not to make the first contact. No candidate likes to receive an opening pitch that completely misses the point and reads like a spam. To truly connect with a potential candidate and create interest to start a conversation I design a much more personalized and inspiring message. Tailor-made for the specific company and job opening ánd tailor-made for the candidates I am approaching. Because I care about understanding, advising and representing both parties. This is why my agency’s pay-off is ‘ Selecting with great care’. 

2 Choose quality over quantity

Especially in situations where a new hire is required as soon as possible or when budgets for a recruitment partner are low, I see companies choose for a quantity-inclined hiring process and they post their vacancies on different job boards and platforms. The idea behind this is: The more resumes, the more chances of finding the right candidate fast. My idea: As these job descriptions are mostly written quite standard or copy pasted from the one that was out last year, the profile of the applicants will also be ‘quite standard’. Another risk of not being specific and tailor-made in your job posting is that large batches of resumes, mostly from non relevant job seekers reach your HR or hiring manager’s inboxes. Nevertheless, all these applicants demand and deserve a proper screening and filing of their CV and feedback. But for these HR or hiring managers, recruitment is a small part of their job. They need to put their attention and time at their actual job. So all this volume and not having the time or know-how to deal with it is causing them frustration and it all might result in a negative candidate journey. It might seem to be a good move to keep your talent acquisition in your own hands and you may fill the role, but in truth Gartners' 2020 report shows that candidates feel overwhelmed, overlooked and regretful and the result is that 1 out of 2 (!) hires regret their decision. Be aware that 72% of candidates who have a poor experience share it online and also with personal and professional contacts. ( Source: CareerAct ) 

3 Value a ‘woke’ reputation and network

HR and Hiring managers’ networks are limited. Although they may have some connections in their fields, the reach is limited. Also their hands are tied because they can’t be caught poaching competitors’ candidates. In my opinion, the best employees are busy working and not looking on job boards. From experience I know that, specially with toptalent and senior management candidates, they don’t apply directly out of fearing lack of discretion but even more because they just want to be personally informed and invited. Also from a companies view I feel it’s of great value to recruit out of pro-active strategy: “with whom do we want to get in contact and invite to the table? In all this a headhunter and recruitment partner can make the difference. So how to choose a ‘woke’ headhunter? When selecting a recruitment partner, make sure this person has a great reputation in your industry and with your relevant potential talent pool because this is the best door-opener to quality candidates. Having a great relationship with a headhunter you know is a trusted professional is important. Be aware of recruiters who mostly sit in their offices, focussing on filling vacancies for all kinds of different companies, they might struggle with a ‘quantity versus quality’ issue too. A woke headhunter is an authority in your industry, is present at important events and fairs in your sector, contributing in education, panels or advisory boards. That’s the type of recruiter a candidate wants to be connected with and they share intimate details of the market, will know which companies are doing well and most importantly, who is full of crap or not. 

ISRID is an owner-run agency for access to talent, recruitment and change consultancy, serving an exclusive and high-quality portfolio of clients in the fashion, lifestyle and luxury industry.
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