Recruitment, Rock & Roll, and Relevance

Recruitment, Rock & Roll, and Relevance

Neil Young was big when I was at school! The guy was at Woodstock for goodness sake!  (Look it up if you have to. You should know about it).

He had a mega-hit record (and it was a vinyl record) in 1974 with Harvest, followed by a string of other huge sellers, and he is considered one of the biggest influences on contemporary music… ever.

In the 70’s and 80’s no party was complete without Neil Young. No joint went un-smoked when Neil was telling us about ‘The needle and the damage done”.

As the years rolled by he went out of favour, but continued to drift back into the mainstream with innovative, fresh music that took on the tone of the times, often with strong political or social content.

Indeed you can listen to a country song from Neil Young, and you can hear him punk it out with the best of them. He can rock your socks off, and he can kill a ballad in his weird wavering voice, that sometimes has you questioning whether the guy can actually sing at all!

In the early 90’s he roared back into prominence with ‘Rocking in the Free World’, an album with overtly political and social justice overtones.

His ‘Rust never sleeps’ album foreshadowed the rise of ‘grunge’ music. The rising stars of the genre, including Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, frequently cited Young as a major influence.

Every now and again he brings his band ‘Crazy Horse’ together and they hit the road as they have done for 5 decades. Yes that is right, Neil Young may be closer to 70 than 60.

And so it was I found my way to The Sydney Entertainment Centre, along with 13,000 others and I think, like them I was looking forward to a nostalgic night hearing all his old hits.

And man the crowd love this guy. Many there were Neil’s age, but a whole new generation in their 20s and 30s were there too, screaming for ‘Heart of Gold’, ‘Southern Man’ and all the rest of his mega-hits

And Nell came out and played and played and played… all new stuff.

He played almost his entire new album ‘Psychedelic Pill’ (which is superb IMO) and he played stuff I had never heard, and nor had the crowd. At times I think the band were just jamming!

And for a while I sensed restlessness. Certainly I heard plaintive cries for ‘Cowgirl in the Sand’ and ‘Alabama’.

And after an hour Neil threw the crowd a bone and played a whimsical, acoustic version of ‘Heart of Gold’, his biggest ever hit. But he played precious else from his back catalogue.

But the music was so good, so fresh, so ‘now’, that soon the crowd stopped calling out for the ‘hits’, and were on their feet rocking along with whatever Neil threw at them from his uber-creative mind and fluent fingers.

In the end the whole throng was on their feet, screaming for more, and even three encores could not satisfy them.

I have seldom been to a gig where the crowd was so energised as they left.

And so what has it got to do with recruitment?

The clue can be found in this quote from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website.

“Young has consistently demonstrated the unbridled passion of an artist who understands that self-renewal is the only way to avoid burning out. For this reason, he has remained one of the most significant artists of the rock and roll era.”

Rock and Roll and Recruitment? Well, it’s to do with evolving. It’s to do with learning new skills. Adding to the repertoire. Not taking the safe route. It’s about knowing that what was great before, is stale now. It’s about courage to be yourself and explore fresh innovative ways of doing what you have always done.

It’s about remaining relevant to your customers of today. Maybe changing even before they ask you to.

Plenty of old ‘rock stars’ tour the world playing their vintage stuff to expectant crowds, living on long past glories, but not Neil Young. He is still doing what he loves and doing it superbly. But on his terms, and in a way that gels with the era we are in NOW.

Are you doing your job that way? Or are you dragging out all your old stuff from bygone eras and hoping it will fly in the new age?


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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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11 Responses to Recruitment, Rock & Roll, and Relevance

  1. Jane Reddiex March 25, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Excellent aricle Greg I was at NY’s Wellington Concert last year and I concur. I too was at Grammar school when Neil released Harvest and I have followed his musical career with interest through the past 40 years

    I am also something of an old rocker in the recruitment stakes having survived the past 2 decades. To quote Neil’s ex bandmate Stephen Stills “we have had our ups and downs but we are still playing together” Recruitment continues to excite me and it is still a game of relationships and strategy but it needs to be played on a fresh stage with new and exciting technology to keep our audience engaged.

  2. Ty Brennock March 25, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Couldn’t agree more. And he is still innovating, and even changing the atmosphere in which he works essentially, with Pono… NY’s answer to the iPod (all hi-res/loss-less sound).

  3. Howard Searle March 25, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    Evolution in recruitment is an important theme at the moment, Greg I am with you on that. I am not with you on the concert without hits however, i’d be well and truly let down. Think it is important to remember where you have come from to give you perspective on the future.

  4. Francesca March 25, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Aaah, memories! Old man look at my life, I’m a lot like you were!!

  5. Alison Downey March 25, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    A great reflection to share Greg, relevant within and outside of the recruitment space.

    You have me running through an impromptu self assessment checklist in my mind…..

  6. Alan Allebone March 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    I still drag out the old stuff like telephoning clients, going out to meet them face to face and NOT emailing, not using Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

    The “old stuff” works for me Greg!.
    Contacting up to 20 clients a day by phone and then getting round to visit them and have a good old discussion. Then coming away with the assignment!

    I am very old fashioned but after 38 years in the business it still works for some of us.

    Sometimes many of us can be complacent can not be bothered to pick up the phone and then go visit the client. Email, email, email and no real personal touch. Some just can not be bothered to go and earn their keep.

    Some of the old groups and rock bands and old recruiters do not select their audiences or clients because the audience and client follow the oldies because they know they will be satisfied in the good old fashion way.

    Thanks Greg

  7. Jef Miles March 25, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

    Hey Greg,

    Excellent message, plenty of great message and metaphors come through music..

    I even enjoyed Neil Young’s “Old Man take a look at me now” song and can really relate to this..

    Your point is good though that staying relevant to the customer is vital..

    Any tips how we can do this in our careers? Keep evaluating what is relevant?

  8. Freyja White March 26, 2014 at 5:05 am #

    I remember those 70’s days too – he is one of most treasured Canadian Hero’s with a capital “H”! And we are relying on him again to help keep the oil tankers off of our western coastline.

    Love the latest blog – and as I understand you – you are saying keep your core but always be refreshing and learning your tools and attitudes to keep up or even better stay ahead of the times.

  9. Greg March 26, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    If you enjoy Neil Young and Bruce Spingsteen et al – I can’t recommend a band called The War on Drugs , highly enough .Their new album Lost in a Dream is fantastic.

    • Greg Savage March 26, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

      Thanks..always looking for fresh sounds. I will look them up

  10. Paul Slade April 12, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Hey Greg,

    Great comparison!

    Loved your comment on change. “Sometimes before your customers do”.

    Keeps me motivated to keep doing what we’re doing at

    Keep up the great content!


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