Employment agencies used to advertise jobs and filter applicants.
Then LinkedIn arrived and suddenly everyone was a "headhunter" by debasing the term so that it became anyone who could search and write a "connection request" to whoever came up. It wasn't entirely indiscriminate but it was close. It's a quick and cheap way of building lists of potential candidates which, if placements are hard to come by, is a way of agents showing their own employers that they are at least working towards an improved situation. And that's fine.
Then the FinTech and TechCo bubbles started to burst with mass redundancies and rescinding of job offers. One or two employment agents were quick off the mark and posted messages saying something like "That's awful. We're here to help." Well done on being quick, even if it is a bit like ambulance chasing.
But now, six months or so into the near daily announcements of redundancies, there are more and more #metoo posts.
Is it lazy copycat action, is it lack of imagination or a fear of missing out? Did they wait until, they hoped, less agents would be posting similar messages? That hasn't worked at all. Did some think it was just a little undignified to post a generic "we feel sorry for you" message to thousands of people then to seek to capitalise on their misfortune, a bit like a coffin salesman hanging around a hospital mortuary?
I have no idea. But I find the cultural implications fascinating and I'd like to find out why those who are doing it now didn't do it sooner.
Why? I find it difficult to believe that agents didn't see early examples and think "that's a good idea." Is there safety in numbers? Is there some unrecognised peer pressure? Have we now moved from a single bird to a flock, landing and taking off in concert?
The way these groups form, move and disperse is interesting because if it can be understood and harnessed - in a way that is much more subliminal than peer-group pressure or fear of disciplinary action by an employer or regulator - then we might be able to better understand how to create an ingrained compliance culture that, largely, takes care of itself.