Q: Mr. Wheeler, thank you for your time. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you end up being one of the leading and smartest voices in recruitment?
A: I was lucky to be the right age and in the right place to be hired at the beginning of the Silicon Valley tech boom. I worked in a startup semiconductor company where we were all learning by doing. A lot of what I know about recruiting is from experience, trial-and-error, and from making lots of mistakes and fixing them. It was challenging and exciting because there were no rules, no body telling me I couldn’t do something. I fell in love with the Valley and recruiting and have stayed with it for a long time now.
“I fell in love with the Valley and recruiting and have stayed with it for a long time now.”
Q: Has talent acquisition always been in your blood?
A: No, not really. I never thought I would be in recruiting. I started my life as a teacher and a university lecturer. Recruiting was more or less accidental.
Q: It’s been a tumultuous year for recruiters. Beyond a lack of jobs to fill, what do you think has been the biggest thing to come out of 2020?
A: Remote work is the key to the future. I believe that we will not go back to the office full time but will work mostly from a remote location with occasional trips to the office or to socialize with friends. Recruiting is now open to the world and geography is not important.
Recruiting is now open to the world and geography is not important.
Q: You have been active in one of the most admired areas in the world: Silicon Valley. For those that haven’t been in and around The Valley in the last few years, how would you describe that particular area of the world in a few sentences?
A: Over the past 30 years it has been the center of creativity. Why? Because there were no rules or established ways of doing things when it began. There was freedom to invent and try new things. Founders did things the way they wanted and there was lots of personal freedom. We pioneered the open office, most firms had very little hierarchy, we honored the people who were weird or different, and we broke the rules that other companies followed. This allowed people to think and act differently and try out ideas that were rejected elsewhere. The result is Silicon Valley, which is really a way of thinking and a way of breaking conventional rules and patterns in order to find new ones.
“We pioneered the open office, most firms had very little hierarchy, we honored the people who were weird or different, and we broke the rules that other companies followed.”
Q: Your masterclass on November 4th will zoom in on the outlook for recruitment in 2022, where do you see the sector heading?
A: I will let you know on the 4th. No sneak preview allowed!
Q: If you were to speak to a small recruiting firm, what would be your advice for them? In which direction should they go?
A: Try something no one has tried before. Look at where the pain and problems are and try to make them go away. Do not do what other firms do – that is just wasting time and effort and not adding any value.
‘Do not do what other firms do – that is just wasting time and effort and not adding any value.’
Q: Finally, without giving away too much, what do you think will be the biggest takeaway for recruitment or those working in talent acquisition?
A: I will let you decide that on the 4th.