April 15, 2005   view past issues

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Feature: Finding the Best Sources of the Best Talent

This is the second in a two-part series on recruiters’ ability to tap the best sources of the best talent. To read the first column, click here.

Why this topic? Because a recent Bain & Company survey revealed that only 22% of surveyed HR executives believe their staffing units are able to identify (and therefore use) strategic talent pools. If we generalize that finding, these leaders are saying that four-out-of-five of us are shooting in the dark when it comes to sourcing the top talent our organizations need to compete.

Now, whether you agree with these executives or not, it’s important to understand why they might think this way. In my first column, I discussed two different factors that I believe are playing a role:

  • Recruiters can’t afford to use the best sources. Their employers have spent so much money on the corporate Career site, there’s only the bare minimum left for online advertising. As a consequence, instead of posting ads at the best sites, regardless of cost, recruiters post at the cheapest site or not at all.
  • Recruiters aren’t allowed to use the best sources. The CFO has negotiated a special rate with a single job board, and they’re determined to maximize the company’s return on that deal. They dictate that recruiters use that site-and in many cases, only that site-for every requirement, regardless of its capability.
  • There is also a third reason why recruiters do not always use the best sources of talent: they don’t always know how to evaluate alternative job boards effectively. It seems like a fairly straight-forward exercise, and it is … if you use a methodological approach. Here’s what I mean.

    Selecting a job board for a specific requirement is a lot like buying a television set or a CD player. It’s not enough to know about certain sites, you have to know enough about them be able to identify the specific sites that will work best for you. And, there’s the rub. The only way to make a rational choice is to compare one site to another using a common set of data. That data should detail their capabilities, services and fees.

    WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guide to Employment Web Sites, for example, provides 21 different data elements to describe the recruiting capabilities of a job board. They range from when the site was founded (because the longer its track record the more reliable its service claims) and the fee to post a job to the number of people who visit the site each month and how long they stay on the site (because they longer they remain there, the higher the probability that they will see your job posting).

    These 21 data elements can be organized into a single formula that captures the essence of each site and enables you to compare one site to another:

    (Reach + Outreach + Customer Service)Persistence

    The Price of the Site’s Service + Recruiter Input

    This fraction represents the return on investment you are likely to achieve from any one job board. The denominator, of course, represents your investment: the money as well as the time and effort you must devote to use a site’s services (e.g., posting a job, searching its resume database). The numerator consists of the elements that determine the value of those services. They are:

    Reach. Reach is used here to mean the site’s traffic in your target demographic. If you’re recruiting engineers, it may be useful to know a site’s total traffic, but what you really need in order to assess its potential utility for your requirement is its traffic in engineers. Most general purpose sites tend to attract more traffic than niche sites overall, but it’s an open question whether they attract more of the specific kind of traffic you need to identify qualified applicants for your specific opening.

    Outreach. Outreach is used here to mean the steps the site takes to attract passive job seekers. Job boards that simply post position openings and content for job search (e.g., how to write a resume, interviewing tips) attract only active job seekers. Sites that provide functionality, content and/or community for those who aren’t looking for a job (e.g., professional and industry news, guidelines for career self-management, a job agent) attract the passive candidates that most organizations most want to reach.

    Customer Service. Customer service is used here to mean the experience the site provides to employers and recruiters. In my view, customer service encompasses everything from the site’s willingness to provide all of the information you need to evaluate the potential utility of its services to the actual range of the services, themselves (e.g., does the site offer assessment instruments or a networking feature). In other words, the more a site can (and does) do for you, the better its customer service.

    Persistence. Persistence is used here to describe how long you have access to the site’s reach, outreach and customer service. It is the duration of the services for which you pay. Some sites, for example, limit job postings to a week, while others post them for 30 days; some offer a one-time search of their resume database, while others permit searching for a month or more … for the same price.

    Recruiting online is now more than a decade old. Back in the early days, it almost didn’t matter which job board you used: there were few of them and almost all of them offered the same array of services. Today, however, the recruitment Web-site population numbers over 40,000 sites, and the range of their services and levels of performance is wide and growing wider. To be successful, therefore, you and I must become as expert at shopping job boards as we are at shopping for any other consumer service. We must be rigorous and methodical in our evaluation of sites and fully informed in our selection of those in which we choose to invest. That’s the only way to be in charge of our online recruitment advertising rather than its victim.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. WEDDLE’s Newsletter grows only by word-of-mouth. So, please … tell a friend or colleague (or two) about the newsletter. We’d be very grateful, and they will be too.

    This Issue’s Sponsor:

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of

    The Employment Guide(R) offers the nation’s most comprehensive recruiting solution for hourly to mid-management jobs. offers online hiring solutions and candidate search options across all industries on a nationwide basis. The Employment Guide publication offers traditional print and more than 150 job fair resources for employers across 56 major hiring markets. Let us be your Guide to hourly and mid-management recruitment.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    ExecuNet released the results of a survey of 505 employed executives, and guess what … companies should worry as much about senior level attrition as they do about attrition in the ranks. According to the poll, 61% of executives are not satisfied with their current job, and of those, 77% plan to change jobs in the next six months. What’s driving the exodus? Lack of challenge/personal growth, limited advancement opportunities, and inadequate compensation make up the top three reasons the executives cited. What should the HR Department do? Ironically, the same steps that companies can take to address employee attrition will also work with executives-more frequent and supportive interactions with the person’s boss, greater corporate investments in programs promoting self-development, and better succession planning.

    Hospitals Online announced its launch. The company has absorbed the assets of its previous site,, and is now providing hospital employment branding and recruitment marketing services. This shift notwithstanding, it continues to offer job seekers its patent-pending side-by-side hospital comparisons, developed through an exclusive arrangement with Billian’s Blue Book. recently found that American executives may be outsourcing in China and doing deals in Europe, but when it comes to picking a second language, they’re betting on the fastest growing language right here at home: Spanish. In a recent survey, 61% of the respondents felt that Spanish would be the most useful second language for an American worker to learn; 16% gave the nod to Chinese, French got 8% of the ballots, and Italian came in last with 2% of the votes. While the question of which language to learn is important, the larger issue may be that corporate leaders now believe a second language is a key element of career success in our increasingly global economy. That, in and of itself, is a key development. Now, if we could just get those same executives to write their memos in English, rather than corporate-speak, we’d really be on to something.

    The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) succeeded in getting the approval of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to approve the .jobs designation (as in to indicate the Career area on corporate Web-sites. The new extension is the first to have very strict restrictions on who can use it and for what. SHRM will be responsible for accepting and approving requests for the new extension, but does not expect to be ready to do so until the fall. However, it is reported that companies may begin reserving an extension as early as May or June. Be all of that as it may, I don’t think it’s such a good idea to do so, at least from a strategic recruitment perspective. Under the current model, all visitors (including job seekers) must enter a corporate site through its Home Page. This approach ensures that everyone begins with at least a common experience and set of information about what the organization does and stands for. Enabling job seekers to bypass this critical branding foundation may actually hurt recruiting because it could lead to more misapplications by misinformed candidates. If job seekers are having a hard time finding the job postings on corporate Web-sites (the apparent justification for the .jobs designation), then a more effective solution would be to simply improve the labeling and positioning of the site’s Career area. provided WEDDLE’s with the results of a recent survey of visitors to its site. It found that 15% of almost 700 visitors were employed, but just window shopping; 49% were employed, but motivated to move; 9% were unemployed and had been so for under 90 days; and 27% were unemployed and had been so for more than 90 days. What do these data tell us? Admittedly, it’s just a sample of one. But, it clearly suggests that commercial job boards are the source of the kind of candidates recruiters want. Two-thirds of the visitors were precisely the passive candidates most of us long to reach. That finding supports the results of our own survey here at WEDDLE’s. In that poll of 3,500+ recruiters taken in the first three months of this year, 98% of the respondents said that niche or general purpose job boards were the best source of the best candidates, while only 2% gave the nod to their own corporate Web-sites.

    Yahoo! HotJobs entered into a job posting distribution agreement with The new partnership enables those posting openings at HotJobs to reach the 6,000+ local and industry-specific sites in the network at the same time. For example, a Philadelphia hospital looking for nurses can post its openings on Yahoo! HotJobs, and the listings will also appear on, and other healthcare-related sites in the network. There will be no extra cost for the expanded distribution and, the site says, no extra work for the recruiter.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. Your company has recently had to fire a number of stock brokers for improper activities, and you need to find replacements fast. Which of the following sites would make you bullish on your prospects?

  • 2. The baseball season has started, business is booming at your trading card company, and you need to recruit a trainer to help upgrade employee productivity. Which of the following sites would cause you to strike out with candidates?

  • 3. Spring has finally arrived, and you need to hire a new landscaper for your Oregon-based lawn care company. Which of the following sites would sow the seeds of success in your search?

  • (answers below)

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


    Post full time jobs: Yes

    [MG, OP, SM positions in the seafood industry-not commercial fishing]

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: No

    Distribution of jobs: National – USA

    Fee to post a job: $250/posting

    Posting period: 45 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: No

    Number of resumes: N/A

    Source of resumes: N/A

    Top occupations among resumes: N/A

    Other services for employers: None Reported

    Answers to Site Insite

    1.; the other sites represent yacht and real estate brokers.

    2., the site of a software development company.

    3.; all of the other sites focus on employment in the United Kingdom.

    Visit Our Sponsor:

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of

    The Employment Guide(R) offers the nation’s most comprehensive recruiting solution for hourly to mid-management jobs. offers online hiring solutions and candidate search options across all industries on a nationwide basis. The Employment Guide publication offers traditional print and more than 150 job fair resources for employers across 56 major hiring markets. Let us be your Guide to hourly and mid-management recruitment.