Rambo: First Blood Pt. 2: The End of “Post and Pray”
We write the resume and post it. What’s left to do? Nothing, as the cursor hovers over the refresh button. Then we pray it gets noticed. Do we forget this method of job searching? No –– instead, we never forget it. But still, it’s time we go Rambo on the myth that “prayer is the answer.”
I’ve been an Executive Search Consultant across multiple industries. In my time, I’ve become aware of stories from many, many industries that cross relate. The interconnectedness of these stories has taught me something. For a fresh perspective on our modern economy, let’s take one of my favorite stories: that of First Blood (i.e. Rambo). We’ll start with a question: How much was the screenwriter of Rambo paid? This is a film that went on to gross over $125 million.
What’d you guess? A million? Lower? At least $100,000, right?
He was paid $80,000.
The franchise went on to gross over $726 million.
How could that be? Was he ripped off? Nope –– and we know that because we can track the story all the way back to the start. The screenwriter sold the rights for a thrilling $80,000 –– in 1972. That’s right. Rambo came out in 1982. The screenwriter sold the rights and spent ten years in waiting before the movie was finally made. Columbia Pictures originally purchased the rights, then they sold them to Warner Bros. The story would go on to pass through three different companies. The story would pass through eighteen different screenplays. All during that ten-year wait.
Were these Hollywood producers geniuses for saving production costs on the making of the film? Maybe. These producers also let inaction become their rule of thumb. They let this million-dollar-or-more property die on the vine all because of one reason: they were afraid of risk. Two different companies passed on a $726 million property! (I theorize that those same individuals –– eventually ran out of Hollywood –– went on to pass on the publishing rights to the Harry Potter franchise because “it wasn’t what they were looking for right now.”) There are dozens upon dozens of examples of this in Hollywood. An idea gets pushed into public and once it has been floated around enough, there’s hardly any chance it gets made. Everyone figures it’s a bad idea.
So what does this have to do with “post and pray”? What can you learn from Sylvester Stallone to push your job-searching to the next level?
Post and pray method
I wonder how many times an otherwise-well-run company goes with the “post and pray” method just to avoid a fee –– only to miss out on the candidate they want the most. They constantly overlook the person they are really looking for. How many companies paid HR representatives for weeks or months or years? These generalists were looking over resumes submitted through their website that were not at all what they were looking for –– near-qualified or qualified but not the right fit? How many hiring authorities and low-down executives wasted hours or days interviewing the wrong people? And I know for a fact that a substantial portion of these lackluster hires were let go before they even contributed to the bottom line.
A top employee is typically making many times for their company what he or she earns. Maybe two times or three times or five times their compensation. Each month that one of those positions remains empty because of the flawed “post and pray” mentality. That’s money lost –– money that eventually outgrows the size of a recruiting fee. In more practical terms: Every film that Columbia Pictures and Watern Pros. Released between 1972 and 1985 which made less than the $300 million, in a sense, “lost” them money. When you look at the big picture, there is no other conclusion to be reached other than that the best method is a firm that helps the client find and attract the top talent in a reasonable time.
Finally, consider this: A good Executive Search Consultant acts like a good literary agent. They are ensuring that both parties benefit from the connection. They guarantee mutuality. In 1985, the sequel to First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, was produced. The screenwriter was not as downtrodden as one might think. In fact, decades earlier, his agent had thought ahead enough to make sure that his client retained the Ancillary rights.
“What are Ancillary rights?” he asked his agent after the deal.
“You know –– things like action figures and lunchboxes,” the agent said.
“Action figures and lunchboxes?” the screenwriter said. “Everyone dies at the end of the book.”
“I’ve dealt with Hollywood before,” the agent said. “Just trust me on this.”
The writer trusted. He profited. So should you, and so should your clients.