As of late, Israeli startups are flooding the streets of the country's central region with billboards sporting recruitment campaigns, and it looks like the chatter around the topic isn't going to die down anytime soon. Israel's technology companies are in hiring mode and are choosing to use their hard-earned money, or their investors’ money, for intensive human resource recruitment campaigns. For these campaigns, they rely on the advice and recommendations of advertising companies, who are having to reinvent their methods.
Consequently, the public is exposed to broad variety of campaigns sponsored by software companies in their quest for talent. The companies are leveraging the best marketing minds to put forward young, colorful campaigns, and are reverting to more traditional means to succeed at this complex task. In the chase for the next great talent, companies are pulling out all their tricks.
To “sell their wares”, hi-tech companies are turning to marketing activities to recruit new workers, but not in ways that you might expect when turning to the advertising sector. Technology companies are closely familiar with their target audience and know how to use artificial intelligence (AI) based technologies to sharpen their messages. It is no secret that data and AI driven technology companies are also attune to the fact that Facebook, Google, and other players in the digital ad space, provide measurable achievements in the field. This raises questions as to why these same cutting-edge technology companies are choosing the more outdated, traditional methods for their mass media campaigns.
It is my opinion that there is a deeper phenomenon going on here. “The medium is the message” is a phrase coined in the 60s by Canadian communication theorist, Marshall McLuhan. When asked what the phrase means, Mr. McLuhan explained that the message itself is not the main issue, but rather, the medium over which the message is conveyed. In other words, the medium is an integral part of the message. Billboards are a traditional, antiquated advertising medium, and in stark contract to AI based platforms, sponsored content, or sophisticated 'headhunters’ on LinkedIn, they do not target a specific candidate profile. Rather, they are displayed for all to see. Billboards are attractive, accessible, visible to everyone, and create feelings of availability, capability... and temptation.
The choice made by Israeli technology companies to burst out into the public arena, to move the job recruitment discussion from private channels to the public sphere, is interesting in itself. These companies choose to address the general public in Israel’s commercial center, Tel Aviv, for instance in Azrieli Towers. In doing so, they apparently are making the subject, and the proposition of jobs at these companies, accessible to the public at large. This, however, begs the question of the public’s capacity to apply for jobs at these companies?
A quick stroll through the streets of Tel Aviv reveals countless technology companies advertising intensive recruitment processes, technology companies that invite job candidates to join “ the movement”, VC firms attempting to assist their portfolio companies to recruit employees, and even non-tech companies trying to “hitch a ride” on the public discourse.
“The public sphere” conceived by philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas, that refers to the area where the public carries on outside of private or familial frameworks. This sphere is where the “public discourse” take place, which, in turn, is where the various subjects of public interest are discussed. In practice, the public sphere is the space where people engage in one-on-one conversations, but, according to Habermas, is where we see parties from certain social classes or certain public movements, gain the upper hand. He claims that the public sphere is unique as it can also serve as a platform for public discourse.
To change public discourse in order to reflect the State of Israel and not the State of Tel-Aviv, the mechanisms of government must help develop the public to participate in joint discussions. Israeli society must make sure that the public sphere is not commandeered by Israel’s bourgeois and does not promote its grandeur, but that it serves as the foundation for broad discussion.
At first glance, when looking at the public sphere, at the billboards, we get the impression that Israeli startups are accessible, obtainable workplaces for all job-seekers. The reality is a far cry from this and when we are presented with the current numbers of a deficit of 15,000 employees in the Israeli high-tech industry, we understand that the gap is very wide.
The separation of society and state was a cornerstone for the development of modern liberalism, where society is partitioned into several autonomous structures that include family, religion, economy, and more. With that said, it seems that for liberalism to be fully effective, there is a need for government intervention in matters of society.
The State of Israel is still far from helping its economic steam engine, the country’s high-tech sector, to continue to flourish. Public discourse on Israel’s streets, funded by its elite, wealthy corporations, is not readily available to all. It is the political arena’s job, that of the executive branch of government, to preserve and promote the welfare of the general public.
The State of Israel must launch a true national project, with clear KPI’s, that will lay the ground for attaining its goals and increasing the rate of employment in the high-tech industry. Without doubt, by undertaking such actions, Israel will enhance its long-term economic and social capital.
Authored by Elle Taitou Spruch, Hanaco Ventures