February 15, 2004   view past issues

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Feature: The Interactive Electronic Sales Brochure

The biggest complaint about online recruiting these days is the volume of unqualified responses you get from a job posting. Post a job for an engineer, for example, and you’ll get hundreds, even thousands of applications. Some will be from engineers, of course, but many-too many, in fact-will be from sushi chefs and truck drivers. Why? Because we’ve made the application process as easy as clicking a mouse.

So, here’s what happens. Job seekers decide to apply, and we recruiters do all the work. They click, and we sort. They e-mail their resume, and we screen. And screen. And screen.

Which begs the question: why did we set up the process this way in the first place? Why did we make it so easy for job seekers to apply? The answer, of course, is our assumption that any perceived impediment to application will turn off the best qualified applicants and drive them away. And, the most problematic of such impediments, we believe, are assessment instruments-tests that measure a candidate’s ability.

Well, guess what. The best qualified candidates are the least bothered by such tests. In fact, “A” level performers don’t view assessment instruments as impediments at all. They love to strut their stuff, so for them, tests of their abilities are a stage, a platform on which to perform. And, perform they will, IF:

  • You’ve piqued their interest in a position and
  • They believe the assessment is a relevant and reliable way to determine their qualifications for it.
  • So, here’s my proposal for dealing with the tidal wave of unqualified resumes: let’s reverse the process. Let’s make being qualified a condition of application. In other words, job seekers screen themselves first, and then, we recruiters decide. They do some work so we can do our work better.

    How might the process work? I think it can best be implemented within the structure of a new kind of job posting, an advertisement that is most accurately described as an interactive electronic sales brochure. Creating such an ad would involve three steps:

    First, write a job posting that is both confusion proof and compelling. It has to contain enough information to ensure that those who are clearly not qualified will comprehend that fact and enough sizzle to attract even the most passive among those who are potentially qualified. It has to encourage opting out by those who have no business applying, while holding on to those you most want to apply. In short, the job posting has to be carefully crafted to sell the unqualified on not applying and to sell the super stars on taking that step.

    Second, replace the standard, old Submit Your Resume link with a Credentials Confirmation link at the end of the job posting. This link should connect to a brief assessment instrument (5-7 questions) that tests key skills and knowledge for the position. Now, don’t misunderstand. This assessment is meant to be an initial screen only. It is not a substitute for rigorously evaluating candidates during the remainder of the recruiting process. It should, on the other hand, be demanding enough to determine who is and who is not likely to be a viable candidate. Those who complete the assessment satisfactorily should receive an e-mail message announcing that they have been found qualified for application and inviting them to submit their resume or complete a brief qualifications profile online; those who do not pass the assessment should receive a message that thanks them for their interest in the position, indicates they were not found qualified for it, and encourages them to apply for other openings with your organization.

    Third, introduce the link with an explanation. Prepare the candidate for the assessment by inserting a rationale for it in the job posting (not on your Web-site). The explanation might run something like this: “To help make sure that you make best use of your time and that we focus on only the most qualified applicants for this exciting position, we are asking potential applicants to take a brief assessment online. This assessment is a quick way for you to demonstrate that you have the knowledge and skills to succeed in this position. Everyone who takes the assessment will be privately informed of their results, and those who are qualified for the position will be invited to apply.”

    Clearly, the interactive electronic sales brochure requires a bit more work up front. Just as clearly, however, it will dramatically reduce your work out the back end. Not only will you be evaluating fewer candidates, all of whom are minimally qualified for an opening, but the time and work that you formerly devoted to keeping records on “graffiti applicants” will be eliminated altogether.

    The most important benefit of this approach, however, is its psychological impact on prospective candidates. The message such an ad conveys is that the employer clearly understands what is required for success on-the-job and that the measure of merit will be demonstrated ability. For a skilled person who takes pride in their work-the quintessential “A” level performer-that’s a siren call which is all but impossible to resist.

    Thanks for reading,


    This Issue’s Sponsor: Dice

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

    Why try our FREE job posting? Dice is where you will find the best tech candidates available. But don’t just take our word for it… Try Dice for yourself-at no risk. Click here today!

    The Free Job Posting offer is available to first time customers only. Jobs must be posted by February 29, 2004.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Hcareers has launched two industry-specific sub-sites or channels on its site: Restaurant Jobs and Hospitality Jobs. A third sub-site-Retail Jobs-is due to launch later this year. Although the sub-sites are designed to help employers find job seekers with specific skills, resumes and jobs posted in one channel will be cross-posted in all of the others to ensure maximum visibility.

    Right Management Consultants reports that 95% of companies conduct exit interviews, but 42% of that group say their interview process is flawed and another 30% don’t do anything with the information they collect. That’s bad enough, but it’s like waiting for a fire to erupt before you do anything about the gas leak in your kitchen. The time to conduct such interviews is before people leave, not on their way out the door. And, the person to conduct them is not someone in HR, but each person’s manager. I call these interactions Stay Conversations, and their purpose is three-fold: (1) to identify the key factors that will influence a person’s decision to stay with an employer; (2) to find out if those factors are being satisfied by the organization; and (3) if not, to work with the HR Department to fix the problem … before it becomes one. Now, I believe that good managers will hold Stay Conversations with every subordinate at least once a year, but if that’s impossible for some reason, make sure that, at the very least, they have this chat with the “A” level performers they can least afford to lose.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released the results of a study which indicates that benefit costs have risen to 42.3% of total payroll, up from 39% in 2001. A large majority of the responding employers (85%) in the survey offered prescription drug coverage, with almost the same number offering dental insurance. Half of the companies offered vision or chiropractic care, and 44% provided medical spending accounts. What does that mean for recruiters? First, it means that benefits are a fundamental element of your value proposition as an employer. Second, you must make sure you position those benefits to best advantage. Include them in your job postings and feature them on your corporate career site; they’re an investment your employer makes in its workers and should be touted as such. Do more than just list the kinds of benefits that are offered, however. Sell the benefits that matter most to your target demographics and spotlight any that are unusual or special and will, therefore, differentiate your employer from its competitors.

    WEDDLE’s is pleased to announce Peter Weddle’s upcoming public seminars and presentations:

    March 10, Tampa, FL-HR Leadership (click here for more information);

    March 17, Dallas, TX-Recruiting for the Recovery (click here for more information);

    April 9, Portland, ME-HR Leadership (click here for more information);

    May 11, Las Vegas, NV-HR Leadership and Best Practices in Online Recruiting (click here for more information);

    May 14, Kingston, Ontario, Canada-Best Practices in Online Recruiting (click here for more information).

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. The weather forecaster for your North Dakota radio station just predicted a sunny day with temperatures in the 90’s. so you’re looking for a replacement. Which of the following sites would rain on your efforts?

  • Meteorological Employment Journal (
  • National Weather Association Job Corner (
  • 2. February 24th is Mardi Gras, and two members of your in-house accounting team are going to the Big Easy for the whole week of the party. If you wanted to hire temporary workers to fill in, what site would give you the blues?

  • 3. Need a research toxicologist for your pharmaceutical division? Which of the following sites would poison your sourcing efforts?

  • (answers below)

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


    A WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Award Winner

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – Contract, Consulting

    Distribution of jobs: National: USA

    Fee to post a job: None

    Posting period: 45 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: No

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: Not Reported

    Source of resumes: Direct from candidates

    Top occupations among resumes: Finance & Accounting, Information Technology/Systems, Sales & Marketing

    Other services for employers: Special area for HR professionals, Status Reports: job postings

    Answers to Site Insite

    1., a sham site that automatically links you to an online survey company.

    2., a site for finding discounts on “luxury vacations.”

    3., a site that posts telecommuting jobs.

    This Issue’s Sponsor: Dice

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

    Why try our FREE job posting? Dice is where you will find the best tech candidates available. But don’t just take our word for it… Try Dice for yourself-at no risk. Click here today!

    The Free Job Posting offer is available to first time customers only. Jobs must be posted by February 29, 2004.