August 2, 2007   view past issues

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Feature: The Long Front in Successful Recruiting

The Long Tail theory of product sales, popularized by Wired editor Chris Anderson, provides a good explanation for the success of such businesses as and Netflix. Unlike traditional businesses, which concentrate their sales effort on the most popular 20% of their inventory, these two and a growing number of other enterprises use the power of mass online distribution to generate substantial sales from the other 80% of the products that most vendors ignore. In other words, they still capture the large sales generated by the most popular items, but to that they add a continuous stream of small volume sales of less popular and, therefore, harder-to-find items. And, it’s that long tail of subsequent sales which ultimately produces the best yield.

What does that have to do with recruiting? The Long Tail theory is a good description of an effective strategy for winning the War for the Best Talent, only in reverse. I call this tail-first approach to recruiting the Long Front theory. Basically, it posits that most recruiters focus their recruiting efforts on the most available 20% of the workforce inventory-the cohort we typically call “active job seekers.” These candidates come to our corporate career areas and respond to our job postings without much prompting or effort on our part. They put themselves right where we need them, and thank goodness they do because the average corporate staffing function or staffing firm is not resourced or budgeted to spend a lot of time looking for prospects and getting to know them.

Reasonable as this approach is, however, it means that we surrender the opportunity to recruit the other 80% of the workforce inventory that is potentially available to our employers or clients-the cohort we typically call “passive job seekers.” By definition, however, the members of this group aren’t job seekers at all-passive means they aren’t seeking a job-so it should come as no surprise that they have very different characteristics from traditional job seekers. For example:

  • these “passive prospects” are almost always employed and treated well by their employers-they aren’t so desperate that they will take the first job offer that comes along;
  • they are successful, at least in part, because they have carefully managed their career-they collect a lot of information and talk to a lot of people before they make an employment decision;
  • and

  • when they do decide to move, they don’t look for a better job, they look for a career advancement opportunity-they want an employer that fits their values and personality as well as a dream job.
  • These differences are real and important. The only way to recruit “passive prospects,” therefore, is to adjust our recruiting strategy to respect and leverage them. We have to invest sufficient time and effort to convince passive prospects to do the one thing we humans most hate to do: change. We must devote the necessary institutional priority and individual recruiting talent to persuade these reluctant consumers to go from the devil they know-their current employer, commute and boss-to the devil they don’t know-our employer, a new boss and a different commute. To put it another way, recruiting active job seekers is an exercise in advertising and selection; recruiting passive prospects requires that we build relationships and then sell, sell and sell some more.

    And, that’s precisely what the Long Front theory describes. It takes the Long Tail theory and turns it around. Here’s what I mean; imagine a graph with sales on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal axis:

  • With the Long Tail theory, the curve would start high on the vertical axis, reflecting the large volume of sales for the most popular items, then drop precipitously to a very low level and run for some distance on the horizontal scale representing the long tail of subsequent sales of less popular items.
  • With the Long Front theory, in contrast, the curve begins low on the vertical scale to indicate the small number of passive prospects that will change employers without significant information and trust. The curve then runs for some distance on the horizontal axis to reflect the long front-end investment required to build relationships with candidates until it precipitously rises to signal a substantial increase in yield among passive prospects who have been sold on the employer’s value proposition.
  • Why go to all of the trouble involved with the Long Front? For the same reason that, Netflix and other vendors have adopted the Long Tail in sales. We can use the mass distribution power of the Internet to decrease the staff time and costs involved in capturing large demographics of untapped customers. In other words, we can now use e-mail and other online communications capabilities to build more relationships more quickly with the 80% of the workforce that is passive. That will dramatically increase our yield among such talent and put our employers well ahead of the pack in the War for the Best Talent.

    Thanks for reading,


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    Diversity is an important component of any online recruiting campaign. Achieving a diverse workplace is not merely a destination, but an ongoing process. offers a variety of diversity job posting, resume database and branding packages to meet your online diversity recruitment needs. For more information please contact or call us today at (973) 992 7311.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use published the results of a survey exploring the vacation plans of senior level workers. Contrary to a number of previous polls, it found that almost eight-in-ten (78.9%) of the respondents intend to take a vacation this year. Assuming those plans actually turn into reality, these results could mark a turning point in worker-employer relations. The War for the Best Talent shifts the center of power toward those workers who possess rare skills and those who are exceptional performers. Indeed, in TheLadders survey, an astonishing 75.4% of the respondents said they did not fear their vacations would put them in jeopardy on-the-job-a far cry from the prevailing view just a year ago-and over half (58.6%) said their employers were supportive of their taking time off. Why should we recruiters care? Because evidence of an employer’s commitment to its workers’ actually taking the vacation time they’ve earned is likely to become and may already be a key factor in selling top talent on your organization’s value proposition as an employer. How can you provide such evidence? One easy-to-implement idea is to highlight, in the career area on your corporate site, the percentage of your employees who took a week or more off in the previous year.

    LRN, a consulting firm that specializes in corporate ethics and compliance issues, released the results of its recent analysis of the ethical climate in corporate America. It found that almost three-out-of-four (73%) U.S. workers had observed ethical misconduct at work. While such situations are clearly inimical to an organization’s business interests, they also have the potential to undermine our recruiting. An organization’s employment brand is only as good as what its employees say about it to their friends, professional colleagues and even strangers. In this study, almost half of those who saw an unethical act told a coworker, and those who were most bothered by such acts actually told eight other people. As a result, the ethically challenged organization probably has nine workers who are likely to say something negative about their employment experience whenever they have an opportunity to do so. All too often, ethical behavior gets wrapped up in the mechanics of compliance, but in reality, it is a central feature of an employer’s culture, and therefore, it must be managed as carefully as it is reported.

    SHRM conducted an evaluation of small and medium-sized U.S. business to determine which are the best to work for. Its analysis, supported by input from the Great Places to Work Institute, uncovered a set of data that may be helpful in benchmarking your organization’s HR practices. The study found that:

  • 80% of small companies and 88% of medium ones allow employees to take paid leave to volunteer;
  • 76% of small companies and 72% of medium ones have a succession-planning program;
  • 68% of small companies and 92% of medium ones pay an employee referral bonus ($1,500 was the median maximum bonus in small companies, $500 was the median maximum bonus in medium ones); and
  • 88% of small and medium companies have their top HR professional report to the CEO.
  • If your employer is equal to or better than the norm in these areas, make sure you promote that fact in your recruitment literature and in the career area on your corporate Web-site. And, if your employer has fallen off the pace, make sure the senior leaders recognize the shortcoming and correct it.

    Yahoo! Answers offers tips on the best time to buy something or take a specific action. Need a plane ticket cheap? Shop on Wednesday mornings as that’s when the price competition among airlines tends to reach its peak. Want to drive away with a new car? Shop on Monday as that’s when foot traffic is so low you’ll be in the driver’s seat. It’s important to understand, however, that the answers to your questions are provided by other site visitors, so you’ll have to assess their validity carefully. For example, one person asked, “What is the best day of the week to post a job on Monster or” The best response, as voted by the other visitors to the site, was “Any day is fine.” And, we would beg to differ. Our research here at WEDDLE’s indicates that Friday is the best day of the week to post an opening on any employment Web-site, including Monster and Why? If you post your opening early Friday morning, you have time to proof read and edit your ad-posting engines do make mistakes-and position it to be read by two important cohorts of the workforce: Those who won’t visit job boards while at work and are too tired to do so in the evening and those who spend the weekend deciding that their boss is an idiot and are more than willing to visit a job board from the office the first thing on Monday morning.

    WEDDLE’s announced that its Publisher, Peter Weddle, will be offering two public workshops this fall:

  • Recruiting Alchemy: Transforming Passive Prospects into High Quality Hires will be presented on September 17, 2007 in San Francisco, CA. The workshop is being offered in conjunction with OnRec’s Global Summit for Online Recruitment. For more information and to register, please click here.
  • Improving the Quality of Your Yield: Best Practices in Online Recruitment to be presented on November 12, 2007 in Orlando, FL. The workshop is being offered in conjunction with Kennedy Information’s Recruiting 2007 Conference & Expo. For more information and to register, please click here.
  • Peter is one of the most popular trainers in our field. As one course participant put it, “WOW!! I had the opportunity to listen to Peter Weddle speak last week at a conference and ‘WOW!!’ does NOT do justice to how I felt after listening to him!”

    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:

    The Write Jobs

    Post full time jobs: Yes

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

    Distribution of jobs: National-USA

    Fee to post a job: $75/posting

    Posting period: 35 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 visitors: Technical writer, Copywriter, Editor, Freelance writer

    Other services for employers: Banner advertising

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: No

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    Diversity is an important component of any online recruiting campaign. Achieving a diverse workplace is not merely a destination, but an ongoing process. offers a variety of diversity job posting, resume database and branding packages to meet your online diversity recruitment needs. For more information please contact or call us today at (973) 992 7311.