What has the Cuban Missile crisis got in common with recruitment?

The purpose of this post is to look at the essential components of strategy in a recruitment context focussing on the digital aspect.  As recruiters we need to question why we do things and align them with business objectives or needs. At the moment digital strategy seems very focussed on the “what” as opposed to the “why”. For example a lot of people are talking about social recruiting and doing it, but perhaps not fully understanding why.

By looking at JFK’s approach to the Cuban Missile Crisis we can identify 3 core elements of his strategy in his public address to the U.S nation on 22nd October 1962 :

1. Diagnosis:

“This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba. Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.”

2. Guiding Policy:

“Our unswerving objective, therefore, must be to prevent the use of these missiles against this or any other country, and to secure their withdrawal or elimination from the Western Hemisphere.”

3. Action Plans:

First among seven numbered steps was the following: “To halt this offensive build up a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation or port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back.”

These 3 core areas were identified by Professor Richard P. Rumelt in 2011 and described as a “kernel” (the most important part) of strategy. He further explains strategy as a type of problem solving. It’s these 3 core elements that we can use in recruitment and specifically digital strategy.

One major challenge that is coming more and more prevalent, is how recruiters use digital and it’s advancement in order to achieve their aims and overcome their challenges. So lets look at  a strategy for recruiters approaching the internet using the 3 core areas:

1. Diagnosis:

“The web is unstable. It is a medium of rapid change and exponential growth. New techniques, tools and challenges emerge on almost a daily basis. It is fluid and unpredictable.” Paul Boag. 

2. Guiding policy:

Predicting the future of the web or anything digital is precarious to say the least. Don’t look for an objective such as to “future proof” as you will fail before you begin, trying to predict the unpredictable is a waste of time. Look to put procedures and resources in place to adapt to changes as they happen.


3. Action Plan:

Keep up to date with latest developments and adjudicate whether they are relevant to you and your target candidates, don’t be scared to do something because no one else is or not to do something because everybody else is. Stay true to your target candidates, in other words research them and know them inside out. Okay, strictly speaking that is not an action plan, but the point is a relevant one; that your actions should be based on your potential recruits not the latest technology developments.


So the link is,  you can use JFK’s component’s of strategy used in the Cuban Missile Crisis for today’s recruitment challenges.


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