October 15, 2003   view past issues

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Feature: Are You Spamming Your Prospects?

Americans are consuming spam at a record rate. Not the little tins of processed meat, but the junk e-mail that now arrives almost hourly on the Web. According to one survey, 92% of us report that we receive spam at work. Worse, 47% of us say that spam now constitutes more than 10% of our e-mail, and 7% say it now exceeds 50% of the messages we receive online. It’s not only irritating, but the stuff interferes with work and spreads viruses and worms that can harm and even close down our employers.

But what makes spam spam? Why are these commercial messages considered intrusive and even offensive by so many people? They are simply advertisements, after all. They provide information about a range of subjects that at least some of us might consider interesting.

Indeed, the survey cited above found that most of the messages we consider spam describe:

  • commercial products (33%)
  • financial services (24%)
  • health issues and products (4%)
  • leisure products (3%) and
  • spiritual subjects (2%).
  • The other major category, of course, is adult entertainment, but it makes up less than one in five of the messages arriving in our e-mailboxes (18%).

    So, why do so many of us consider these messages so irksome? Because they are mass communications. They are sent out to everyone, regardless of our interest in the topic. The senders simply collect a bunch of undifferentiated e-mail addresses and BAM!, out goes the messages. It doesn’t matter whether we are male or female, very young or middle aged or old, an engineer with an advanced degree or a blue collar worker. Everyone gets the same e-mail, and for most of us, it misses the mark. It is an inappropriate and, therefore, unwelcome irritant that forces us to take an action (deleting it) in a day that is already filled with too many other required actions.

    For all of those reasons, of course, no recruiter in his or her right mind would ever consciously spam their prospects. But are we doing so unconsciously? Consider the evidence:

    Most of the content presented on corporate Career sites is general in nature. It provides every visitor with the same information, whether they are an entry level prospect or a senior executive, whether they are an IT professional or someone seeking a job in sales. Everyone gets the same discussion of benefits, whether they are 45 or 25; and everyone gets the same description of the work environment whether they will work in a mill in Georgia or in the corporate headquarters in California.

    Every job posting is written as if every prospect is the same. It doesn’t matter if the desired candidate is someone with 15 years of experience or 15 minutes. The posting will indicate the expected experience level and then provide a description of the job that is not even remotely tailored to the unique attributes and perspective of that candidate. It is a boilerplate of requirements and responsibilities that could only appeal to the least discerning among us and certainly not to the top talent we most want to attract.

    In short, a lot of the messages we’re sending out look an awful lot like spam … at least to their recipients.

    Don’t believe me? Well, think about this: we’ve been surveying job seekers on my Web-site for over 7 years. We’ve collected a couple of hundred data elements about what they do online and what they like and what they don’t about their experience. We tally the results every year, and every year since the inception of the poll, job seekers have told us that their #1 preferred destination on the Web is the Career area on corporate Web-sites.

    No less important, every year since the inception of the poll, they have also told us that the corporate Career site was the most useful resource they had on the Internet. At least, that was the case until two years ago. In 2001, job seekers suddenly dropped company Web-sites from their #1 destination in terms of usefulness to #4, below commercial job boards and other employment resources. Why? Because the information they found at the corporate sites was so general as to be all but useless to any specific person. In other words, it has the very same irritating properties of spam.

    How can we correct that? First, we have to do our homework and identify the attributes and perspectives of the specific cohorts of the workforce we want to recruit. Then, we have to modify our advertising messages to align them with the information needs of those unique groups. To put it another way, we have to be more sophisticated marketers than the spammers. Now, I know what you’re thinking. All of that takes time, and you’re already understaffed and over committed. Just where are you going to find the hours in the day to accomplish those two tasks? I’ll address that issue in my next column.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use, a leading job board for banking and financial professionals in Europe, has acquired, based in Stamford, CT. has been among the most highly ranked sites in its category, based on audience reach measurements by Alexa, a Yahoo! company.

    In a list only lawyers could love, the Employment Law Alliance has announced its top five hotspots for workplace litigation in 2003. The winners are (1) layoffs and other reductions in force, (2) family and medical leave requests, (3) whistle blower claims, (4) age discrimination claims, and (5) national origin discrimination claims. Litigation is up overall this year, and 80% of the increase has come from layoffs and reductions in force. That shouldn’t be surprising: according to a book entitled The Disposable Worker: Living in a Job-Loss Economy, compiled by the faculties of Rutgers University and the University of Connecticut, 64% of all workers who were laid off in the last three years did not receive the advance notice required by Federal law. What does that mean for you? Make sure this lawyer-happy list does not apply to your organization; train your CEO and business unit leaders to know and respect the law when implementing workforce reductions. has joined an international network of online recruitment sites, co-created by two leading European sites, StepStone ASA and The network now includes job boards in 27 countries throughout Europe and North America, enabling employers and staffing firms to post jobs across multiple geographies from a single point of contact. The network can be accessed through any of the member sites.

    WEDDLE’s has announced additional results from its recruitment site research conducted for its upcoming 2004 Guides and Directories. The following sites are no longer in operation:, Jobs in Fashion (under never-ending construction),, (now a part of, and In addition, the job board of the American Chemical Society, has been re-named

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. Which of the following sites would be a good place to communicate your opening for a bilingual sales representative?

  • Asia-Net
  • LatPro
  • 2. Where might you look to recruit an information management specialist with a background in the healthcare industry?

  • 3. Which of the following sites might help you connect the dots with a Web graphic artist for your IT Department?

  • 3D Café
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2003 Guides and Directories

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time/consulting jobs: Yes

    Distribution of jobs: National: USA

    Fee to post a job: $101-200/posting

    Posting period: 60 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 2,164

    Source of resumes: Direct from candidates

    Top occupations among resumes: Pension/401(k) Plan Administrator

    Other services for employers: Banner ads, Status Reports: banners, job postings

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All of the sites.

    2. All of the sites, but, a site for general healthcare information

    3. 3D Café