September 15, 2003   view past issues

Our newsletter is
brought to you by

Feature: Pay Attention to “Career Advancement Moms”

It’s the political season in America, and the pundits are busy coining terms for population groups that will have an impact on the vote. The best known example of these designations, of course, is the “soccer mom,” a genus whose power at the polls is legend. And more recently, we’ve heard of “national security moms,” a group that remains concerned about hearth and family but also raises questions about the country’s foreign policy and war on terror.

In the spirit of such anointments, I’d like to recognize another group that also has a powerful vote, not at the polling station but in the homes of the best candidates for your open positions. I call this group the “career advancement moms,” although I acknowledge that a more politic term would be “career advancement spouses.” Anyway, you get the point. This group includes the partner of the person you most want to hire.

In many cases, “career advancement moms” will influence the evaluation of your opportunity, and you’ll never even know what issues they raised, what concerns they emphasized, or what position-pro or con-they took. And because you don’t know any of that, you lose all control over the dialogue. In essence, you’ve spent all of your time and money convincing a person to come to work for your employer, and that person is only one-half of the decision-making team. The other half-those “career advancement moms”-haven’t heard a word from you and thus form their impressions of the opportunity from incomplete or, worse, in accurate information.

What should you do? I suggest that you turn the dialogue into a conversation. Here’s what I mean.

  • First, find out what issues are top of mind for those career advancement moms who are the partners of your best employees in the career fields for which you are most heavily recruiting. Don’t assume that you or even the employees have a good fox on this information. Sociologists spend long hours and considerable effort probing the hearts and minds of voting blocks. We in the real world, however, don’t have the luxury of such leisurely investigation. Therefore, I suggest that you ask a small group of top employees if you can explore employment issues with their spouses. Explain why you are doing so and that all of the information will be collected without attribution. While this approach will get you started, I also suggest that you make the exploration of these areas a more regular and permanent part of your annual assessment of employee satisfaction (assuming you do one).
  • Second, analyze the insights you acquired to determine the major concerns and their relative priority among the career advancement moms you surveyed. Why did they encourage their partner to accept your organization’s offer or, at least, stay neutral in its evaluation? And, why do they support their partner’s staying at the organization in the present? Use this information to develop a value proposition that is distinctive to your organization and clearly articulates why employment with the organization will serve the best interests of the employee and their partner, their family and their collective future. While this proposition is clearly a sales theme, it should be plentifully supported with details and facts to corroborate its claims and give them power.
  • Third, embed the value proposition where it can be seen and evaluated by the career advancement moms you want to reach and influence. As a minimum, this message should be an integral part of every job posting and recruitment ad and be fully expressed in the Careers area of your organization’s Web-site. As always, keep in mind that people do not read on the Web; they scan. Therefore, make sure that your content is expressed in headlines and bullets so that the reader-the prospective employee and their spouse-can quickly look over it and still get the essence of the message.
  • Fourth, consider setting up a special sub-area on your organization’s site that is designed specifically for candidate spouses. In other words, this area would not be open to the general public. Rather, it would be made available to a select group-say, to those selected for second interviews-with a specific, by-name invitation to visit issued to their spouses and access controlled by password. This area should offer more much more detailed information to support the value proposition and even the opportunity for partners to ask questions of the HR Department. It might also have links to resources that spouses would find helpful, including those for child and elder care, fitness and even employment. By making the career advancement mom feel a part of your organization’s “family” in advance, you’re likely to have a much stronger ally in their family when the employment offer is discussed.
  • Top quality candidates are almost always employed and exercise great care in managing their careers. They know that change is unsettling and, these days, also often fraught with risk. As a consequence, it is very difficult to convince them to leave the familiarity and security of their current employment situation in order to take another opportunity, no matter how appealing. To give yourself the best chance of success, craft a recruiting experience that is persuasive and compelling to both of the parties who will evaluate an offer: the individual you want to hire and their partner.

    NOTE: I am pleased to announce that is hosting a complementary breakfast series around the country at which I will present my seminar on 3rd Generation Online Recruiting. The sessions are open to the public and the first 30 registered attendees in each city will receive a free copy of my 2003 Recruiter’s Guide to Employment Web Sites. For a complete list of locations and dates and to sign up, please click here. I get a chance to visit with you every two weeks via this newsletter, but here’s a way for us to meet face-to-face. I hope to see many of you there.

    Section Two: Site News

    Christian & Timbers, a global executive search firm, polled 148 executives at public companies and found schizophrenia in the executive suite. On the one hand, 46% of the respondents reported that their companies were understaffed; on the other, 42% say they do not expect to do significant hiring for U.S. operations in the next year. Just as sobering, only 23% thought their company was staffed correctly and an astonishing 31% held the view that their companies were overstaffed. They clearly haven’t visited the HR Department lately. Anyway, those numbers may, in part, explain why this has been a “job loss” recovery.

    ExecuNet, a site specializing in executive-level job and networking opportunities, announced the launch of RecruitSmart, a suite of services for companies seeking senior level talent. The feature includes (a) a Talent Bank with the resumes/profiles of candidates earning an average of $195,500; (b) a Sourcing Network comprised of executives who have volunteered to help recruiters source candidates and clients in specific companies, industries and functions; (c) a Job Manager that enables recruiters to post jobs on the ExecuNet site; (d) a Toolbox with salary reports and other research resources; (e) the Market Trend Watch, with proprietary information on the latest trends in the executive labor market; and (f) RecruitSmart Today, a monthly newsletter about the recruiting industry.

    HotJobs, the Yahoo! employment site, has launched a Diversity Center to help companies attract and hire job seekers from diverse backgrounds. The new Center is linked off the HotJobs home page and offers a range of features, including corporate diversity profile pages, brand spotlights, studies and articles on diversity topics and message boards for networking. The Center was established in response to the growing importance of diversity in organizational performance. Indeed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of all new additions to the labor force between now and 2010 will be diversity candidates., the site of the Society for Human Resource Management, announced the results of a recent poll of employer-supported vacation days. It found that companies, on average, offered 6.28 days of paid vacation and 13.24 paid days off to people who had been with the organization less than one year. People who had been with the organization five to less than ten years earned 15.18 days of vacation and 22.04 paid days off, while employees who had been with the organization ten or more years accumulated 18.65 days of vacation per year and 25.30 paid days off. Wall Street has taken to patting corporate America on the back for its “impressive productivity gains.” Compare these figures to companies in Europe, where employees regularly earn 60 or more days of paid vacation, and it’s not hard to figure out where those productivity gains are coming from. Now, don’t get me wrong … I’m not saying that the European model is better-we work in a competitive global economy after all-but I am suggesting that you can wear people down and out, if you don’t give them a meaningful level of time away from the job.

    WEDDLE’s, a research and publishing firm specializing in human resources, released the latest results of its job board and career portal research. It found that the following sites were no longer in operation:, Mechanical Engineering (, Industry Week Career Center (,,,,,, and

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    If you were looking to recruit a dentist for a growing dental surgery practice in Detroit, which of the following sites would likely give you a pain in the jaw?

  • When recruiting an auto repair technician for a major garage in Boston, which of the following sites might leave you spinning your wheels?

  • If you had an opening for a scientist in your fast growing agribusiness, which of the following sites might leave you starving for candidates?

  • Weed Jobs
  • AgCareers at
  • (answers below)

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

    (a part of the McGraw-Hill Construction group)

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time/consulting jobs: Yes

    Distribution of jobs: National: USA

    Fee to post a job: $151-200/posting

    Posting period: 30 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 4,000

    Source of resumes: Direct from candidates

    Top occupations among resumes: Engineering, Management

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

    Answers to Site Insite:

  •, a site specializing in the oil drilling industry
  •, the site of the Association of ex-Lotus Employees
  •, a finance and accounting site