THE TECHNACIOUS RECRUITER NEWSLETTER

April 22, 2008   view past issues

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Feature: The Carbon Rule

There are some fundamental rules of life that you just don’t break. We’ve all heard of the Golden Rule, of course, and increasingly there’s even been chatter about a Platinum Rule. For the field of recruiting, however, I think the preeminent guide to enduring success is something I call the Carbon Rule. It’s very simple: Candidates are carbon-based beings called people, and we should treat them that way.

What does that actually mean? I think the Carbon Rule requires that we treat our candidates to behavior that acknowledges and compensates a bit for their condition. Anyone who’s ever been in the job market-and who amongst us hasn’t-knows what a humbling, even overwhelming experience that can be. Looking for a job is a process of purposely exposing ourselves to the one thing most of us would rather avoid: critical evaluation. While we can certainly ignore this reality, I think recruiters do better (and are better) when they strive to counterbalance it. In essence, we should try to shape our behavior to recognize and celebrate the value of candidates as people. Whether it’s the way we design our Web-sites, the way we write our recruitment ads, the way we contact prospects once they’ve been sourced or the way we arrange for their visits to our facilities and interview them, I think there are five hallmarks to the kind of treatment candidates deserve and we should provide. They are the five pillars of the Carbon Rule.

Humanity. The metaphor du jour is to see our work as the operation of a supply chain. It’s not. Despite what the bozos in the Purchasing Department may think, we do not rack ’em, stack ’em and pack ’em into jobs. Candidates are not cogs; they are cognitive creatures. They think. And for that reason, they deserve to be fully informed about the openings for which they are being considered and continuously informed about their competitive position in the selection process. Said another way, our job postings should be more than a classified ad or a bureaucratic position description, and our candidate management systems should provide more than a logistics platform for storing resumes and scheduling interviews. Sure our first responsibility is to our employer, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do whatever we can to help candidates make the right decisions and take the right actions to find work that will be meaningful and rewarding for them.

Personalization. Candidates rightly view themselves as individuals who belong to a discrete profession, craft or trade. They are not generic workers; they are sales professionals or engineers, clinical scientists or java programmers. Therefore, when we ignore those differences in our email and other communications and in the content on our corporate and staffing firm sites, we signal that we don’t see candidates as uniquely talented beings, but rather as interchangeable bodies in seats. The best recruiting messages, therefore, speak to each recipient on a personal level. They are targeted, relevant and informative. They are read by thousands or even tens of thousands of people, and each person feels as if the message was crafted just for them. They give the individual candidate a persuasive reason to invest some of their limited time to read and, more importantly, seriously consider what we are saying about our organization and its opportunities. That kind of mass one-to-one communication used to be extraordinarily expensive; with today’s technology, it’s more a matter of caring enough to do it.

Courtesy. Very few recruiters are ever purposely discourteous to candidates. However, our machines-especially our applicant tracking systems and Web-sites-often are. They force people to fill out application forms that require hours to complete or they suck up resumes and never acknowledge them. And, if they do communicate with candidates, the message that’s sent has all of the emotional connection of … well, of a machine. Some of us think we’re too busy to address this problem. I think adding a little of the oil of human kindness to the process is a part of our job. When we treat candidates as fellow members of the workforce and not as supplicants for work, we send a powerful message about our priorities and our culture. In today’s labor market, an organization’s employment brand isn’t what it says, but rather what it does and how it does it. Every interaction that occurs with a candidate during the recruiting process-whether that interaction involves some system or a hiring manager, our company Web-site or the receptionist in the HR Department, the resume database or a recruiter-must be polite, thoughtful and, to the maximum extent possible, pleasant.

Respect. If you’ve ever been ignored when you tried to get service in a store, you know what it’s like to be disrespected. When sales people can’t bother to pay you the time of day or answer your questions, they make it very clear how little they think of you. The same is true when we fail to thank candidates for visiting our organization or to pay attention to them during the visit. For some candidates, of course, that visit will be to an actual facility, and there, everyone-recruiters, interviewers and receptionists alike-must be informed, prepared and engaged. For others, the visit will be to our organization’s Web-site. In other words, that site isn’t, as it’s often described, the front door to our employer; for people on the Web, it is our employer. Hence, we must design the experience provided on the site to treat each individual as a welcomed guest and worthy candidate. Since that perspective is conveyed implicitly as well as explicitly, we must pay careful attention both to what we say-in our subject matter and choice of words-and to what we suggest or imply-in our pictures and tone.

Collegiality. Some say we should treat candidates as customers; the rationale being that we are trying to “sell” them on our organization’s value proposition as an employer. It just makes good business sense, they opine, to treat candidates to the same special consideration we reserve for the consumers of our organization’s products and services. While well intentioned, however, such a view also has an unintended consequence: it establishes a buyer-seller paradigm-a transactional interaction between recruiter and candidate-that all too often puts off the person we are trying to recruit. Why? Because the pressure to close the “sale” transforms recruiting from its historical reliance on relationship building to a mechanical process of making a deal with a stranger. A better alternative, I think, is to see candidates as colleagues. That perspective makes more sense for at least two reasons. First, candidates are, in fact, our colleagues in the workforce. And second, if they join or our organization, they will, in fact, be our colleagues on-the-job, as well.

The Carbon Rule and its five hallmarks aren’t meant to be yet another “best practice” in our profession. While it does encourage certain behaviors, its real purpose is simply to get us to pause and think about what we are doing when we reach out to and interact with others during our day-to-day recruiting. Despite all of our advanced technology and sophisticated stratagems, notwithstanding all of our complex sourcing techniques and computerized data manipulations, at the end of the day, ours is a profession that is centered on people, and we must, as a consequence, shape our actions to that high standard.

Thanks for reading,

Peter

P.S. Please tell your friends and colleagues about the WEDDLE’s newsletter.

P.S.S. Don’t forget to send us your new e-mail address if you move.


This Issue’s Sponsor: WEDDLE’s Public Training

This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of WEDDLE’s Public Training Programs and its 2008 Spring-Summer Series which is just now underway.

WEDDLE’s 2008 Spring-Summer Series provides a full curriculum of training programs that are delivered by toll-free teleconference. You get the PowerPoint slides for each program in advance, and on the day of the training, you simply call a toll-free number and have the presentation delivered right to you. All of the programs are presented by WEDDLE’s Publisher, Peter Weddle, and draw on WEDDLE’s 10+ years of research into the Best Practices for online sourcing and recruiting.

The 2008 Spring-Summer series is sponsored by Bernard Hodes Group. It includes:

  • Completed: Online Networking: More Than a Pretty Face & an Address
  • April 23, 2008: Data Mining for Rare & Valuable Talent
  • May 7, 2008: eBranding: the Key to Attracting Passive Prospects
  • May 21, 2008: Juicing Up Your Corporate Career Site’s Yield
  • June 10, 2008: “Precruitment” Planning for Recruiting Excellence
  • June 18, 2008: Transforming Supervisors into CROs: Chief Retention Officers
  • These are great learning opportunities presented by one of our industry’s most highly rated speakers. In addition, you can’t beat the price; it’s hundreds, even thousands, of dollars less than comparable programs elsewhere.

    As noted above, the next course is Peter Weddle’s highly popular session on “Data Mining for Rare & Valuable Talent. Registrations are limited, so reserve your seats now. To sign up, please call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768.


    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    The American magazine published an article that underscores why academicians should not be involved in developing compensation programs for employers. It is basically an apologia for the record levels of pay received by CEOs even as the employees they “lead” are seeing the buying power of their take home pay decline. The author, Xavier Gabaix is a professor of finance (that figures) at New York University. He does acknowledge that CEOs are now very highly compensated. In fact, according to the Corporate Library, the take home pay of the average CEO at a Standard & Poor’s company was $15.06 million in 2006. That figure is roughly 700 times the average take home pay of their workers, up from the historic norm of 40 times the average. To justify this obscene “me first” approach to pay, the author opines that “the median worker, sadly for him or her, just manages a very small part of the economy,” a part that “has not grown by that much-just 2.5 percent a year or so.” And yet, every management and leadership textbook on earth acknowledges that it is an organization’s employees who enable these captains of industry to manage their larger segments of the economy successfully. Perhaps the professor would do well to read one.

    Blessing-White, a consulting firm based in New Jersey, released the results of a survey of current career management practices by employers. It found that fewer than three-out-of-ten employees (29%) felt that their employer’s programs for career development met their needs. That finding was as true for Generation X workers as it was for Baby Boomers. What’s behind this dissatisfaction? Since the early 1990’s, corporate America has been telling workers that they’re on their own when it comes to managing their careers. The shorthand term for this development is the oft-quoted phrase “the days of the gold watch are gone forever”. Unfortunately, many workers heard that phrase and thought they would still be getting at least a silver watch or some sort of guidance and assistance with the management of their careers. What should companies do? Not permit this misunderstanding to continue-it only hurts morale and that, of course, can impact retention and performance. What are your alternatives? In my mind, there are just two: Either provide career management support to employees through outsourcing (as the Blessing-White survey indicates, it’s not a core competency of most HR Departments) or be absolutely explicit in telling employees that they’re on their own (and then provide a guidebook to resources they can tap to do the things they need to do themselves).

    WEDDLE’s announced that it has negotiated a special $200 discount for its readers to attend Kennedy Information’s Recruiting 2008 Conference & Expo. The conference will be held in Las Vegas, NV on May 14-16, 2008. And, if you decide to attend, consider coming in a little earlier and attending my day-long Recruiter’s Boot Camp on May 13, 2008. I’ll be covering strategies and tools for the entire life cycle of the recruiting process:

  • requirements forecasting and pipeline development;
  • candidate sourcing, especially among passive prospects;
  • recruiting and relationship building with high caliber talent;
  • retention best practices, especially for “A” level performers.
  • For more information about the Kennedy Conference, please click here. To register and receive your WEDDLE’s discount, please click here. To register for my Recruiters Boot Camp, please call Beverly Poirer at Kennedy; here telephone number is 800.531.0007, extension 656. Seating at the boot camp is extremely limited so sign up right away.

    WEDDLE’s offers a wide range of training programs that can be delivered on-site in your own facility or in a toll-free audio format similar to WEDDLE’s public programs. You can select a single 75-minute program, pick two programs for a combined 2.5-hour seminar or three programs for a half-day workshop. All programs are delivered by WEDDLE’s Publisher, Peter Weddle. The training programs include:

  • “Precruitment”-Planning for Recruiting Excellence
  • Transforming Supervisors into CROs-Chief Retention Officers
  • Blink Recruiting-Getting to “Yes” Fast With Passive Prospects
  • Optimizing the Candidate Experience: The Secret to Recruiting Top Talent
  • A-to-Z in Best Practices for Online Recruitment Advertising
  • Best Practices in Sourcing Passive Prospects Online
  • Building a Corporate Career Site for Top Talent
  • The Sum & Substance of a Great Employment Brand
  • Transforming Your Resume Database into a Candidate Gold Mine
  • HR Leadership-The Antidote to Management-by-the-Numbers
  • Staffing Metrics That Count in the Corner Office
  • For more information and to schedule your private, in-house WEDDLE’s training program, please call us at 203.964.1888.


    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guides and Directories

    There are 40,000 job boards now in operation in North America and an equal number operating elsewhere around the world. The key to recruiting top talent online, therefore, is knowing where to find and how to select the best sites for each of your requirements. WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide identifies 350 of the top sites worldwide and provides the information you need to determine which job boards will deliver the optimum yield for you. For example:

    Dice

    http://www.dice.com

    Post full time jobs: Yes

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

    Distribution of jobs: National-USA

    Fee to post a job: $429/posting

    Posting period: 30 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 1,500,000

    Source of resumes: Direct from individuals

    Top occupations among visitors: Software/System engineer, Technology, Those with a security clearance

    Other services for employers: Discussion forum, Assessment instruments, Automated resume agent, Banner advertising, Status reports on advertising.

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes


    Please Support Our Sponsor: WEDDLE’s Training

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of WEDDLE’s Public Training Programs and its 2008 Spring-Summer Series which is just now underway.

    WEDDLE’s 2008 Spring-Summer Series provides a full curriculum of training programs that are delivered by toll-free teleconference. You get the PowerPoint slides for each program in advance, and on the day of the training, you simply call a toll-free number and have the presentation delivered right to you. All of the programs are presented by WEDDLE’s Publisher, Peter Weddle, and draw on WEDDLE’s 10+ years of research into the Best Practices for online sourcing and recruiting.

    The 2008 Spring-Summer series is sponsored by Bernard Hodes Group. It includes:

  • Completed: Online Networking: More Than a Pretty Face & an Address
  • April 23, 2008: Data Mining for Rare & Valuable Talent
  • May 7, 2008: eBranding: the Key to Attracting Passive Prospects
  • May 21, 2008: Juicing Up Your Corporate Career Site’s Yield
  • June 10, 2008: “Precruitment” Planning for Recruiting Excellence
  • June 18, 2008: Transforming Supervisors into CROs: Chief Retention Officers
  • These are great learning opportunities presented by one of our industry’s most highly rated speakers. In addition, you can’t beat the price; it’s hundreds, even thousands, of dollars less than comparable programs elsewhere.

    As noted above, the next course is Peter Weddle’s highly popular session on “Data Mining for Rare & Valuable Talent. Registrations are limited, so reserve your seats now. To sign up, please call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768.