THE TECHNACIOUS RECRUITER NEWSLETTER

September 1, 2004   view past issues

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Feature: It Takes a Community

Online communities sell stuff. That’s why eBay recently bought a 25% stake in craigslist, the homegrown community site that began in San Francisco in 1995 and is now flourishing in 45 cities in the U.S, Canada and the United Kingdom. Not only does craigslist help people sell refrigerators and used cars, it helps recruiters sell their employment opportunities, as well. In fact, the site was selected as a WEDDLE’s User’s Choice Award winner in 2004, which means that it is among the 30 top job boards based on balloting by job seekers and recruiters.

Outside the Internet, almost everyone participates in a community, so we all have at least a vague idea of what they are. Whether it’s a small town or a city block, a neighborhood or a college dorm, we know where our community begins and ends and what to expect inside it. But, do those familiar notions also define a community on the Internet? And, why are online communities so effective at bringing buyers and sellers together? If we recruiters can find the answers to those questions, we’ll be better able to put online communities to work in sourcing top talent.

An online community creates the same sentiment of membership at a spot in cyberspace-a Web-site-that a traditional community creates in the real world. When people are present in the community, they feel as if they are interacting with others whom they know and trust. Although they may actually be acquainted with only a few of the community’s members-their neighbors in the real world and those with whom they exchange e-mail online-they believe that all or most of its members share a sense of belonging to the community and that most will do what they can to help and support the group’s members. In other words, the community gives those who participate the experience of being connected in a beneficial relationship.

That experience is what makes an online community such a powerful recruiting platform. The familiarity and trust that a community’s members feel for one another extends to whatever happens there. They don’t give up their consumer savvy or their self interest, but they are willing to give more attention and credence to the advertising they read and the offers that are made inside the community. It is a “safe” environment, and that sense of security predisposes them to pay attention to and consider a job posting they would probably have ignored someplace else.

How is this experience created? On the Internet, communities often evolve from pre-established relationships in the real world. Some of the most effective online communities, for example, occur at the Web-sites of professional associations and societies. Others, however, have sprung up on the Internet and exist only there. These include newsgroups and Web-sites that focus on a specific cohort of the population, such as veterans or those who share a common ethnic background.

Regardless of their origin, all of these groups have three characteristics in common. These characteristics create the foundation for the community’s relationships; they are the source of that sense of connectedness. To be an online community, then, a site must be:

  • tribal-a place where people share and appreciate a common outlook, background, interest, set of beliefs or passion;
  • helpful-a place where they can get information and support that is unbiased, candid, free and with no-strings-attached; and
  • non-judgmental-a place where people believe they can be themselves without the risk of criticism or embarrassment.

    When a Web-site establishes a “brand” that has all of these characteristics, it is transformed into an online community, a place where even the most passive of candidates feel as if they have beneficial relationships. That’s why association, college alumni, affinity and other niche or specialty sites can regularly connect us with high caliber candidates we can only occasionally reach at a traditional job board. And, that’s why some of the more progressive job boards are developing communities of their own so that the best and brightest will feel right at home on their sites.

    How can recruiters use this information to improve the quantity and quality of their yield online?

  • First, we can use the characteristics to find and evaluate a whole new set of online communities for our use in sourcing. While surveys now show that recruiters normally post their openings on a number of job boards, they also indicate that recruiters have yet to tap a wide range of community sites. As with anything else, however, there are good communities, and there are lousy ones. Knowing what makes a successful community, therefore, will help us to identify other craigslists on the Web, where we can effectively sell our organization to prospective employees. Sometimes that selling will be done with job postings, and other times, it will be done by online networking. Whatever the method, the more top-flite communities we use, the greater our reach into high value cohorts of the candidate population.
  • Second, we can use the characteristics to build our own communities. While online communities operated by associations and affinity groups will always be helpful in sourcing good candidates, we have to share them with other recruiters, including our competitors. We can eliminate that disadvantage, however, by bringing some of our most important communities in-house. For example, if an organization is always looking for good salespeople, it can give itself access to a continuous flow of top prospects by creating a community for them on its own corporate Web-site. To be genuine, of course, the community must be tribal, helpful and non-judgmental, so the recruiting staff will need to involve select co-workers (i.e., some of the “A” level salespeople in their organization) who can help to make those characteristics the norm. That involvement represents an investment, to be sure, but it is modest compared to its return: a private, gated community where you can sell your employer to the best and brightest in the field.
  • Communities work because they provide an experience that is familiar and comfortable. That experience, in turn, creates a “halo of trust” which diminishes the impersonal feel and potential risk of buying online. Recruiters who understand and respect the core characteristics of that environment will reach and sell cohorts of the population that other recruiters can only dream of.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    A Final Note I hope you’re finding your WEDDLE’s newsletter to be thought-provoking, helpful and informative. If that’s the case, please tell a colleague about it and encourage them to subscribe, as well. I’d be very grateful for your support.


    This Issue’s Sponsor: Yahoo! HotJobs

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

    Find the right candidate right now.

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  • Post Jobs,
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    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    HealthandFitnessPros.com launched its job board for lifeguards, pilates and yoga instructors, acupuncturists, weight loss specialists, estheticians, massage therapists, coaches, personal trainers, instructors and other professionals and managers in the health and fitness industry.

    Pew Research Center released the results of a February, 2004 survey which found that 58% of Americans aged 50 to 64 and 46% of those aged 59 to 68 now use the Internet. In the War for the Best Talent, this cohort of the workforce offers a powerful combination of workplace experience and savvy and, among those online at least, a gender ratio of 50% male and 50% female. How can you use your corporate career site to reach this population? Their interests and information needs (especially in the area of work scheduling and benefits) are very different from those of the rest of the candidate population, so set up a special area on your site to address them. This channel should also include testimonials from other “seniors” employed by your organization and a question and answer feature (that actually provides answers).

    Researchers from Tufts University and UCLA surveyed 1,600 manufacturers and found that 45% of their annual economic growth was due to workforce management techniques; 55% was due to capital investment. Not surprisingly, the single most effective workforce management technique was found to be skills development. What’s that got to do with recruiters? If we want to see the return on investment we expect from our shiny, new applicant tracking and candidate management systems, we’re going to have to upgrade the skills of the recruiters who use them. In too many organizations today, a significant percentage of the recruiting staff practices the VCR principle. As they do with their VCR at home, they use only about 20% of the capability built into the system at work. Why? In some cases, it’s undoubtedly due to a lack of corporate support, but in others, the culprit is simply a lack of skill. At home, that means someone can’t record the Sopranos while watching a movie; at work, it means they undercut the potential productivity gains and effectiveness possible with advanced technology. What should you do? Set up continuous training regimen and a peer-to-peer mentoring program and then raise the minimum acceptable bar in the performance appraisal process. Ultimately, make skill in using your organization’s technology a condition of continued employment.

    WEDDLE’s and ExecuNet are pleased to announces a Webinar series for recruiters and HR professionals. The three-session series is entitled

    Unfair Advantage: Tactics, Strategy & Leadership for Winning the War for Talent. Each session is a stand-alone program that promises to pack plenty of learning into 90 minutes. Session 1 covers best practices in online recruiting; Session 2 explores key strategies in winning the War for the Best Talent; and Session 3 addresses the secret weapon for winning the talent wars-leadership. All of the sessions will be delivered by WEDDLE’s Publisher, Peter Weddle. You can sign up for one session or for all three. There is a registration fee of $195 per session/$390 for the entire program, but it provides site access, so you can have as many colleagues as you want attend the program. Best of all, WEDDLE’s subscribers get a whopping 39% discount. For more information and to register, please call ExecuNet Member Services at 1.800.637.3126. Make sure you identify yourself as a WEDDLE’s subscriber to get the discount.

    Yahoo! HotJobs launched a new homepage for its site. Designed to enhance the user’s experience, the new page has a warmer and more inviting feel, easier-to-use features (e.g., the new My Resume” module simplifies the process of creating and submitting a resume) and easier-to-locate services and information. The upgrades were developed in the Yahoo! Usability lab where they were tested with actual users prior to implementation.


    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. You need a seasoned programmer who will feel comfortable in the culture of your IT department. Which of the following sites would likely provide candidates who can fit right in?

  • GeeksonCall.com
  • Slashdot.org
  • GeekGirls.org
  • GeekFinder.com
  • 2. Classes are about to start, and you’re still recruiting for a grade school teacher. Which of the following sites would help you ace your search?

  • TeacherJobs.com
  • RecruitingTeachers.org
  • K12jobs.com
  • Reap.net
  • 3. You’re looking for an experienced physician assistant to fill a position at a urban medical center. Which of the following sites would be a prescription for failure?

  • MedicalWorkers.com
  • AdvancedPracticeJobs.com
  • PApeople.com
  • AAPA.org
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2004 Guides and Directories

    Net-Temps

    www.net-temps.com

    A WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Award Winner

    Post full time jobs: Yes

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

    Distribution of jobs: International – USA, Canada

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

    Posting period: 30 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 27,000

    Source of resumes: Direct from candidates

    Top occupations among resumes: Administrative, information systems/technology, management

    Other services for employers: Auto notification of resume-job matches, Banner advertising, Special area for HR professionals/recruiters, Status reports: banners, postings

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. Only GeekFinder.com; the others do not post job openings.

    2. All of them would help your search.

    3. PApeople.com, the site of a professional audio services company in Australia.


    This Issue’s Sponsor: Yahoo! HotJobs

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

    Find the right candidate right now.

    Combine Yahoo!’s reach and cutting edge search technology with HotJobs’ career expertise and let Yahoo! HotJobs go to work for you.

  • Post Jobs,
  • Search Resumes, or
  • Post and Search with a custom solution.
  • To speak with a representative, call 1-877-HOTJOBS (468-5627).