The Recruiting Aesthetic

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Recruiting is an art, so it’s not only appropriate but essential that it be conducted in accordance with an aesthetic. Unlike a strategy or tactic, an aesthetic is neither a game plan nor a set of actions. It is, instead, a guiding principle that shapes the formation and implementation of strategies and tactics with a core value.

While much is said and written about strategy in today’s War for Talent, only one game plan can actually yield true victory. If talent is the key to success in the global economy, then “capturing an unfair share of the best talent” must be every enterprise’s goal. And if that’s the objective of recruiting, then the choice of tactics must be based on a single, complementary criterion: which actions provide the best assurance of achieving that goal.

An aesthetic, in contrast, must provide an ethos to which both the strategy and tactics adhere. If a brand differentiates an employer by characterizing its culture, an aesthetic does so by extolling its character – its dominant organizational value. If brand describes the “what” of its employment experience, its aesthetic describes the “why.”

And, why has never been more important. One of the most famous maxims in employment states that “Talent joins an organization, but leaves managers.” It is usually cited to underscore the importance of leadership. However, if the first part of the maxim – joining the organization – isn’t achieved, the quality of leadership is moot. And for top talent, the decision to accept an offer is based first and foremost on an organization’s core value.

So, what should be an organization’s recruiting aesthetic in a War for Talent? It should be its own tailored version of Universal Mutualism – providing a win-win proposition for every working person.

Implementing Universal Mutualism

To understand the meaning of the term “universal mutualism,” it’s necessary to deconstruct it.

The first word – Universal – indicates that an employer consciously seeks to engage 100 percent of the workforce. While most organizations think they do so, the reality of their strategy and tactics says otherwise. For example, visit virtually any employer’s career site and you’ll find the term “job seeker” or “candidate” used to address those who visit. Yet, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, at any point in time, just 16 percent of the workforce is actively in transition. As a result, 84 percent of the population doesn’t think employers are talking to them.

Similarly, look at the content on corporate career sites. Once again, it’s almost entirely devoted to soliciting applications. While information about an employer’s facilities and benefits is helpful to active job seekers, it provides nothing of value to the other 84 percent of the workforce who aren’t looking for a job (at that moment), but are looking for help advancing their career. It optimizes the candidate experience, but does nothing to optimize the experience for everyone else.

That reality is what makes the other word in the aesthetic – Mutualism – so important. Employers that are guided by Universal Mutualism provide a win-win experience for everyone. They provide job application support for active job seekers and job advancement support – for example, tips on setting career goals and dealing with career roadblocks – for the rest of their site’s visitors In effect, they develop a symbiotic relationship with those who aren’t looking for a job (right now) as well as those who are.

Universal Mutualism is a critically important aspect of the art of recruiting. It enables small and mid-sized employers to compete with large organizations, and large employers to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Is it possible to survive in the War for Talent without such an aesthetic? Yes. Is it possible to win the War for Talent without it? Absolutely not.

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