July 26, 2005   view past issues

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Feature: A Greatly Exaggerated Passing

I’m sure you’ve heard the ominous forecasts recently delivered by at least some recruiting commentators. In their view, Yahoo!’s recently announced move into vertical search is the end of job boards.

Vertical search involves the use of a search engine-in this case, Yahoo!-to collect a specific category of information-in this case, job postings on both job boards and employer sites-so that the collected information can then be posted at another site-in this case, HotJobs. The commentators opine that this free collection of postings from other sites eliminates the need for employers to pay to post their jobs on job boards and thus removes the only viable source of revenue these sites have. The net result: job boards are toast. History. Kaput.

This fatalistic view makes for good media copy, but lacks the one element required for credibility: fidelity with the real world. It is based on two false assumptions that combine to form what I call the Pleasantville approach to recruitment advertising:

  • all job seekers are the same and will act the same online, and
  • all job seekers will read and believe a job posting regardless of the caliber of its content or where and how it is published.
  • Anyone who’s recruited for more than fifteen minutes knows that those two assumptions simply do not track with the reality of today’s labor market. That’s why I think these funereal reports about job boards make as much sense as a similar and famously inaccurate announcement regarding the passing of Mark Twain. To borrow from his immortal response: The reports of the passing of job boards have been greatly exaggerated.

    In fact, exactly the opposite is true. Job boards are fast becoming the online “career community centers” of professional elites. Unlike corporate Career sites (at least as they are presently imagined), job boards-whether they are operated by commercial enterprises, newspapers, associations, alumni organizations or affinity groups-are now attracting the passive “A” and “B” level performers who are most highly prized by corporate and third party recruiters.

    They are doing so by transforming themselves into career portals, the natural online occupational home of top talent. These sites provide an engaging mix of:

  • career advancement (as well as job search) content,
  • community building functionality, and
  • peer-to-peer dialogue
  • for bright, upwardly mobile career activists. In other words, they offer a value proposition that appeals to those who aren’t looking for a job but who are interested in being the best they can be.

    In most cases, these passive prospects don’t act like active job seekers. They visit job databases only as an ancillary activity to acquiring professional expertise and networking with peers. In fact, they aren’t interested in a new job at all and will only consider an alternative employment opportunity when they are convinced it affords them a way to advance in their career field. For that reason, they expect advertising to provide a very different kind of experience than a classified ad. And, it’s that expectation that ensures the future of job boards cum career portals.

    These sites provide a venue where employment opportunities can be properly tailored for and communicated to the best and brightest. To take advantage of them, however, we recruiters will have to advance to a second generation in recruitment advertising. We must move beyond the simple job posting-whether individually posted or collected in a vertical search-and create a new advertising regime that involves some or all of the following:

    Vector ads. Short print ads in newspapers and professional journals that hit the key motivators of top talent and provide them with easy directions to the more detailed descriptions of the specific opportunities they want to see in an online database at a site where they hang out anyway (i.e., their online career community center).

    Interstitial ads. Vector ads that appear online, keyed to and embedded within relevant professional development content and/or peer-to-peer dialogue on career portals.

    Employment brand advertising. Ads that transform the experience of employment advertising from that of a transaction to that of a relationship by communicating the culture, leadership style and vision of the employer as the foundation of its value proposition.

    Electronic sales brochures. Employment advertisements that can be archived in a job database, but which establish a strong professional connection with the reader through the use of graphics and automation (e.g., an embedded virtual testimonial from a peer, an embedded tour of the research center in a facility) as well as the detailed and compelling articulation of a specific employment opportunity.

    Vertical search won’t kill off job boards, but it will hasten the demise-thank goodness-of the barely animate job postings that now appear all too frequently online. To reach passive prospects and top talent, therefore, we will have to devise a new kind of recruitment advertising. This new form of employment promotion might best be described as “whole brain selling.” It taps both the left or analytical side of the brain by providing all of the content a person needs to make an informed career change and the right or emotional side of the brain by piggybacking on professional and affinity connections that are nurtured and enriched at job boards that define themselves as career portals.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. July is Pitch In and Help Out Month. Tell your colleagues about WEDDLE’s newsletter. They’ll appreciate your interest in them and how the newsletter fills out their skills and knowledge.

    This Issue’s Sponsor: Yahoo! HotJobs

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Yahoo! HotJobs.

    Local Candidates. Attractive Local Prices. Post a Job on Yahoo! HotJobs!

    Place your job ads on Yahoo! HotJobs in minutes to start receiving resumes. It’s fast, flexible and easy – with the ability to reach candidates beyond your local newspaper.

    Where do you want to post jobs?

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    America Online and released the results of a recent survey of America’s work habits. Their conclusion? Workers are wasting 2 hours per day. The number one culprit was surfing the Internet for fun or personal business. Almost half of the respondents (44.6%) admitted to spending time online for other than work-related reasons. What can you do about it? Have a clearly articulated policy regarding the use of the Internet at work for personal matters. In my opinion, it’s best not to ban such activity altogether-according to the poll, one-out-of-two employees will probably ignore such an edict; instead, position the use of the company’s computers and Internet access as a benefit and specify when and how long employees may use them (e.g., during the lunch hour). In other words, rather than trying to stamp out such behavior, focus on controlling it. Move it from bad to good on-the-job behavior. partnered with The Securities Institute of America to provide the Institute’s educational offerings to its site visitors. These include live and online classes for securities professionals’ pre-licensing and continuing education needs. Why do you care (unless you’re going to get your own Series 7 license)? Because such career advancement content is one hallmark of a career portal, and as I’ve explained in my column above, career portals are where passive “A” and “B” level players hang out. To put it another way, a key criterion in your selection of sites for brand and job advertising-and remember, you have more than 40,000 choices-should be the quality of the content a site offers for people who aren’t looking for a new job. announced that it would power the online job search centers for the 40 television stations in the Clear Channel Television network. These stations are located in 25 mid-sized markets and reach 11 million households per day. It’s yet another example of an emerging Best Practice in online recruiting. The ultimate expression of your value proposition will probably always appear online-because the Internet does not have the space and time constraints of print publications and television-but the initial contact with prospective candidates will often occur in those and other media. In short, the best recruitment advertising will integrate multiple media into a single, highly focused and compelling message. It will be tailored to individual lifestyles, but broad enough in scope to reach all or most prospects.

    The Destiny Group introduced a new feature that enables business leaders to volunteer as “mentors” for military personnel transitioning into the private sector. The new functionality will automatically match both mentor and veteran based on similar interests and skill levels. It’s a great way to help out those who have served their country and, potentially, to identify “outside-the-box” prospects for some of your openings. To volunteer, click here.

    Yahoo! HotJobs launched a new feature called Premium Placement. It enables employers to pay for the placement of their job ads at the top of the search results pages a job seeker receives in response to their query of the HotJobs database. The placement is based on the industry and location a job seeker selects, the keywords they enter, and other factors. Employers that purchase the feature will see their ad(s) appear in one of the top two positions on the first page of job seeker results, although postings may rotate if multiple employers with comparable positions use the service. The ads may also include company logos and links to company profile pages on Yahoo! HotJobs and the employer’s own corporate Career site.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. Your company has just lost its Controller to a competitor, and your CEO wants a replacement fast. Which of the following sites would likely account for your best prospects?

  • 2. Thanks to Harry Potter, your local elementary school has decided to expand its library and needs to hire another librarian. Which of the following sites would add magic to your search?

  • 3. Your Marketing Department needs a manager to oversee it annual calendar of special events. Which of the following sites would help you attract a big crowd of great prospects?

  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories

    MOAA’s Career Center

    Military Officers Association of America

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: National – USA

    Fee to post a job: None

    Posting period: 30 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 2,500

    Source of resumes: Direct from individuals

    Top occupations among resumes: Engineer, Management, Operations

    Other services for employers: Automated resume agent, Banner advertising, Status reports: postings

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All but, the site of a financial consulting company.

    2. All of them.

    3. All but, the site for a talent agency in the entertainment field.

    Support Our Sponsor: Yahoo! HotJobs

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Yahoo! HotJobs.

    Local Candidates. Attractive Local Prices. Post a Job on Yahoo! HotJobs!

    Place your job ads on Yahoo! HotJobs in minutes to start receiving resumes. It’s fast, flexible and easy – with the ability to reach candidates beyond your local newspaper.

    Where do you want to post jobs?