It’s deep summer here. Temperatures are climbing and the beach is beckoning. Not much time or motivation to read (or write) long columns about staffing or recruiting. So, here is my list of summer reading. While I realize most of these books won’t make it with you to the beach, I hope you find a quiet moment in the day or evening when you can scan through them. I used only three criteria for picking these books. They had to be recently published, had to be somewhat unusual or interesting, and had to get some sort of reaction from me ó either good or bad. I hope they do the same for you. Whether you read a single one of them or not, I hope you have a restful summer and use it to prepare for what I predict will be an exciting fall. Back in 2002, Regis McKenna published a book called Total Access: Giving Customers What They Want in an Anytime, Anywhere World. McKenna is a well-known Silicon Valley marketing expert and guru. He was responsible for the “Intel Inside” marketing effort that really branded Intel and the invisible microprocessor. He has had a hand in the marketing efforts of Apple, Electronic Arts, and many more companies. In this book, McKenna argues that the traditional marketing function is disappearing and much of it is being taken over by technology. Customer interaction, branding, much of the customer communication outreach, data gathering and interpretation, and customer relationship building can be automated today. Ultimately, marketing is the systems integrator and is responsible for merging all the elements of the company to serve the customer. Why do I include this is an article for recruiters? Very simply because everything he says about marketing can be directly applied to recruiting. The candidate’s knowledge of your organization and interaction with it will increasingly be through the website and other technology. Your communication with the candidate is becoming more automated, and screening and assessment can be automated. The recruiter becomes the candidate’s final and perhaps first “personal touch point” with the company. And the recruiter’s real job is to integrate all the elements of the company to serve the candidate. Much to be learned and thought about from this very timely book. Another book in a different vein is called, The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, both of whom are writers for The Economist magazine. They have written a few unusual books over the past years, and this one continues in that tradition. It is a fairly easy read and gives a short history of how the corporation (public stock company) came in to being and how it became the dominant way of conducting commerce. It discusses how the corporation displaced the sole proprietorship, the partnership, and other forms of ownership ó despite being out of favor with economists and governments alike. As we enter the 21st century, many are wondering if the corporation will survive and, if not what might replace it. The final chapter presents their thoughts on where we are headed and gives a very up-to-date view of globalization and the opening of international markets. For those of you who work in corporations, the history and facts presented in this book will lead to many stimulating conversations. Some of you may have heard Libby Sartain speak at a conference, and some of you may have even met this vivacious lady. Today she heads up HR at Yahoo!, but she spent a big chunk of her career at Southwest Airlines, also as the chief of HR. Her recent book, called HR from the Heart, is a must-read. In it she tells stories and explains why she believes that within any organization both the head and the heart have to be considered. Libby loves people, loves making organizations successful through people, and she believes that HR can provide a company with a competitive advantage by helping it build a great culture, by insisting that everyone is treated with respect, and by ensuring that people get to do all they can and want to do. This is a light book, an inspiring read, and one that you actually might want to take to the beach and then pass on to someone else. Pick one of these and enjoy a day or two of mind stretching. You’ll feel smarter, recharge the batteries, and get a chance to talk about something new with your colleagues. Happy reading.
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