Media Workforce Recruiting Strategies

To get a sense of how companies and firms make hiring decisions, it is useful to read specialized magazines like Workforce Management (Online). Their newsletters are completely uncritical HR-fests, profiling companies and their 'successes' in managing the changing demands of the market. In their rhetoric many clues can be found for both the 'permanent impermanence' of the new capitalist culture, as well as how firms and organizations have remained the same over time - thus effectively homogenizing the workforce, especially in higher-paid, prestigious, managerial or otherwise decision-making positions. Parallels with the media industry - especially in older and well-established companies like certain advertising agencies, movie studios or newspaper chains for example - can be drawn.

In the April 2006 issue, an article on recruiting strategies for professionals shows how hiring decisions involve "a lot of gut feeling", with interviewers placing "a heavy emphasis on firm culture", and often relying wholly or in significant part on "employee referrals" and "in-house efforts" to fill vacancies. These are all 'social maintenance' tactics, keeping the firm essentially the same over time.

However, this belies the dynamics of the 'new' capitalism, with its emphasis on flexible work, fast-paced product differentiation and workforce flexibility. The same article outlines the contours of this trend as well, articulating the need for companies to counter "sharp upswings in product demand that require infusions of new labor", or to deal with "a sudden rise in the need for a particular skill set."

There is a tension here, one that seems to open up creative opportunities - quick infusions of new labor, skills and ideas - as well as chances for firms to unreflectively reproduce themselves over time - by relying on their 'gut feeling' and standards of self-similarity to select candidates for new jobs. It will be interesting to see how media industries in particular resolve these issues... would it breed conformity (more of the same) or deviance?