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Rogue one: a recruitment story

Derek Mackenzie Managing Director of Onezeero.

Derek Mackenzie

Managing Director

A Recruitment Rebellion Built on Hope

If you are a Star Wars enthusiast like me, you no doubt have seen the latest offering: Rogue One, where a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star. Essentially it’s a statement about ordinary people choosing to do an extraordinary thing, and in doing so, they become part of something greater than themselves.

But, in what way can a recruitment story possibly resemble a Star Wars story!? The link isn’t as tenuous as you might think….

I believe there’s a common theme between ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,’ and the battle that recruiters wage on a daily basis to deliver effective recruitment solutions to their clients. In this subtext, the recruitment process itself is the killer weapon when it comes to securing the best talent.  The process is like the Death Star in the galaxy of search and selection, as it were. But how does managing this process end up being the difference between recruitment brilliance and a recruitment black-hole?  Like Jyn’s mission in Rogue One, if the super-machine that is the hiring cycle has an in-built flaw, then the whole enterprise could be exposed. The Empire was oblivious to the flaw in their ultimate weapon the Death Star, and so, I feel, are some HR departments and hiring managers.

Now I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest this is a rebellion in any shape, way or form. Moreover I’m not waging any war on HR departments and hiring managers here, as that would be a suicidal mission (which is something that wouldn’t be entertained in any Star Wars or recruitment story alike)!  I’m highlighting the ongoing need for key stakeholders to work in partnership with specialist recruiters. As successful hiring ‘missions’ prove time and time again, consultancy around process is when recruitment agencies really prove they’re worth by delivering valued input to prevent avoidable weaknesses, and ultimately safeguarding the process from any threats.

And whilst this is not a rebellion by any stretch of the imagination, I would liken it more to a revolution built on knowledge: the knowledge specialist recruitment businesses like ourselves, bring to a search and support the ultimate mission being: finding and hiring the best tech talent.

“Be careful not to choke on your aspirations, Director.” Darth Vader, Rogue One 2016.

Spoiler Alert

Having been in the recruitment business for over 20 years, I appreciate there is an ever increasing sense from businesses of: what can you do for me that we can’t do for ourselves?

What with fully integrated HR teams, skilled in-house recruiters and web enabled CV sourcing – what actual value can specialist recruiters offer?

The answer is that truly specialist recruiters will always be needed, even by the most adept in-house recruitment teams. Expert recruitment providers can penetrate slivers of the niche tech market that no in-house recruiter could ever reasonably be expected to achieve, particularly in the colossal realm of technology, with its vast array of skills and ever-changing demands.

Simply put:

  • Akin with the rebellion donning disguises to gain the upper hand in covert missions – we infiltrate and create relationships with the ‘out of sight’, passive, niche skilled tech talent
  • Like the gang of ordinary people trying to do an extraordinary thing: we form and nurture relationships with our niche tech talent, with the joint bond of a successful end mission
  • We don’t stop at good for our clients, but aim for great – much like Lucas himself, who worked endlessly and never gave up trying to better the original trilogy.

Surrounded by ever evolving technology, the one that’s working with the candidates that few others can find is the one you want on your side, and that’s how value is delivered  to our clients – which is most definitely the onezeero. path

In embedding ourselves in specialist niches, we can be like Jyn and expose the ‘flaw’ in a recruitment process, not to destroy our customers’ chances of hiring, but to fully support them.  Often this ‘fatal flaw’ in the hiring process is time: and that’s where recruitment consultants remain a valued partner to the hiring community. As experts in our chosen fields, we should know when a customer runs the risk of short-circuiting their own process, through unrealistic expectations as to how long a candidate will wait for feedback or how many hoops they’ll be prepared to jump through in a space where they’re literally spoilt for choice. 

Is an experienced UI Developer going to be on the market for more than a week?  No.  Our job, whatever the niche, is to ensure the client works with that reality, not against it, thereby expending precious time only to find the mission is a failure.

So the spoiler alert for me in the plot development of Rogue One: a Recruitment Story? For me, our networks of tech professionals and our clients, I’m very happy to say, openly give it all away.

Go Rogue: The End Story

With the hiring process likened to the Death Star (in-built flaw/s included), those recruiters worth their salt quickly recognise when it has the potential to ‘go rogue’ pretty quickly.

And I believe this can be highlighted and managed up-front by solid conversations around the intended schedule to hire.

Questions like:

“What’s the date that is the absolute latest you can work to as a start date for this person?” can unearth all manner of flaws or strengths, depending on the answer!

The client who answers, “Oh, this is very urgent, we need someone yesterday” but can’t articulate why or give a specific date, is potentially exposing myriad flaws that could undermine the entire process later on. 

To prevent a campaign ‘going rogue’ I believe everyone should be working to an agreed start date and planning around this.  Why?  Even if the job needed to start last week, accepting that won’t happen and scheduling in a plan to secure the person in a realistic timeframe will optimise how the process runs. This will also reduce the chances of the search continuing to spiral in an unstructured, reactive way.

Our job as recruitment specialists is to ultimately, ‘do a Jyn’ not to exploit the flaw but to identify and eliminate it: only then can we deliver valued service to our clients.

As we all appreciate: tech talent won’t hang around for very long. So being laconic with information in any hiring process can lead to mission meltdown.

I urge candidates and clients alike to trust in specialist recruiters, as ultimately their covert duties have your recruitment mission at the very heart of what they do.

And the best amongst them are always striving to be part of something greater than themselves, after all:

“We are on the verge of greatness.” Orson Krennic, Rogue One.

A recruitment doyen and a Star Wars devotee; Derek has specialised in tech recruitment since graduating over 20 years ago, and has an uncanny ability to commit each Star Wars narrative to memory!  He is the driving force behind onezeero.’s tech candidate-centric approach, and the mastermind behind our ethos: trusted, valued and connected. A keen blogger, he’d love to hear what you think.

Derek Mackenzie is MD of onezeero.