November 2, 2006   view past issues

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Feature: The Proof of Human Bonds

I think we in recruiting should adopt a suggestion made by the columnist David Brooks. Earlier this year, he opined, with tongue firmly in cheek, that organizations would be more productive and individuals more effective if someone would invent an Oxytocin Meter. In a profession that espouses the importance of relationships, hanging such a device around our collective necks would be a reality check for all to see, a kind of walk-the-talk gauge for one of the principles we hold dear-the importance of building relationships with candidates.

Why oxytocin? This hormone is produced when people and animals relate to one another. For example, female rats injected with oxytocin will nurture newborn rats from another mother when the “normal” reaction would be to attack them. In humans, oxytocin levels rise when good things happen; events such as childbirth and interacting with loved ones pour oxytocin into our systems, providing a measurable indication of just how well we are bonding with those around us.

So, let’s all pretend that we have an Oxytocin Meter hanging around our necks and embark on an imaginary jaunt through our workplace. First, let’s walk into the training room. There, we’ll find a lead recruiter or professional trainer teaching the Best Practices of our profession. Chief among them, of course, will be building relationships; recruiting, they will explain, is a contact sport, and the more personal the contacts, the better your yield. That’s why we recruiters put so much stock in employee referral programs, right? And networking? Both of those sourcing techniques are essentially an exercise in leveraging relationships. The lesson is right on point. Everyone’s Oxytocin Meter is way up in the good-to-go range.

Next, let’s stroll out into the bull pen or recruiter work area. As we wander by the desks and watch all of the activity, what do we see?

Observation #1. New requirements are continuously dumped on recruiters without any warning. In many cases, the hiring managers responsible for these openings had them identified in their annual budget submission months ago. But, hey, they were busy doing really, really important things, so, they didn’t get around to telling anyone in recruiting about them. The net result? Spur-of-the-moment recruiting. Everyone focuses on the 16% of the workforce that is actively seeking a job because there simply isn’t the time to reach out and build relationships with the people who aren’t. The Oxytocin Meter around our necks begins to slip.

Observation #2. Each recruiter is juggling 20, 30, even 40 open requisitions, all at one time. Recruiting, after all, is an overhead function, so we need to be really, really productive. Unfortunately, all of that pressure to do more with less forces recruiters to focus on finding the first qualified person with a pulse, not the best person there is. There’s simply no time for networking or for getting to know candidates well enough to ensure a good fit. Our job is to optimize the supply chain: yee haw, rack ’em, stack ’em and pack ’em in the door. We give it our best shot, but the dial on our Oxytocin Meter falls into the you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me range.

Observation #3. Recruiters are clicking like crazy with their resume management system, but the resume database it creates has cobwebs on it. Sure, everyone routinely checks the database for candidates who might be qualified for their openings, but other than the 5% or so they contact, no one in the database has heard from anyone in the company since their resume was submitted. The company seems to see the database as a collection of documents about people, not as a platform for nurturing relationships with the people those documents describe. But even if that potential were recognized, relationships are hard work, and the staffing team has neither the time nor the corporate support for that. The Oxytocin Meter around our necks plummets into the danger zone.

Observation #4. The Career area on the corporate Web-site has the personality of a brick. There are no separate channels for the vastly different interests of the various workforce segments the company recruits-sales people are lumped together with research scientists-so every visitor gets welcomed as a “generic candidate.” Even worse, the staffing team is, itself, not staffed to answer questions and develop a dialogue with those visitors, so relationships never form, and visitors feel as if they are nothing more than commodities in a corporate store for candidates.

The dial on our Oxytocin Meter now looks like a scarlet letter. If there’s any human bonding going on in the staffing team, it’s all but invisible. Despite our best intentions, we find ourselves acting not as recruiters, but as purchasing agents for carbon-based widgets.

Why is that so? Let’s take a walk down the carpeted corridors of today’s corporate decision-makers. As we pass by the office doors, we hear snippets of conversation. In the first office, an executive is on the telephone talking with someone outside the company, and through the crack in the door, we hear him utter those immortal words: “Our people are our most important asset.” Hope rebounds, and on we walk. At the next office, another executive is talking with a group of his direct reports. There’s a frown on his face as he looks around the conference table: “Our numbers are down for the quarter. We’ve got to cut costs. I’m recommending to the boss that we pare down overhead by 25% and slash the headcount in staffing. We’re not hiring much, so why do we need all those recruiters? What could they be doing?”

Sadly, neither executive is wearing an Oxytocin Meter. It’s not required for executives because they get it … or at least they think they do. To them (or at least many of them), the human bonds we work with are composed of happy talk and numbers and nothing else. Hormones are for sissies, and relationships don’t count at the bottom line. Until you have to lead, that is, and that’s when executives discover that the company behind them is hollow.

Thanks for reading,


P.S. Remember what you learned in kindergarten: It’s nice to share. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!

This Issue’s Sponsor: Arbita

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

Arbita is the leading provider of global jobs cross posting solutions.

Our flexible integration solutions allow you to combine job-posting capabilities with other applications easily. Our platform independent technologies empower you to deploy our systems in concert with leading ERP, HRIS, and ATS platforms. Our streamlined posting, robust reporting, knowledgeable media consulting and experienced vendor management improve recruiting workflow and results.

For more information please contact or call us today at (612) 278-0000.

Section Two: Site News You Can Use released the results of its study which examined the accuracy of applicant tracking systems (ATS) in identifying the source of an employer’s applicants. Such information is essential, of course, to making smart recruitment investments online. If ATS information is inaccurate, you are as likely as not to spend your money on job boards that do not produce the best quantity and quality of applicants for your organization. So, how are ATS doing? In a word, abysmally. Why? Because most of the systems rely on simplistic solutions: they expect the applicant to remember where they saw an employer’s ad and then pick from a drop down window of job boards that is almost always woefully incomplete. The net result? In the study, they surveyed 62,908 job seekers and found that 83% could not correctly identify where they had seen an employer’s ad. That’s the kind of inaccurate data your ATS may be providing to you. And, it’s absolutely irresponsible that they do. Candidate tagging technology has been available for years; it will automatically indicate where a candidate had been online and thus where they saw a job posting. Most ATS don’t use this capability, however, because as one CEO of a major ATS put it, “Our clients haven’t asked for it.” So, what should you do? Call up your ATS and demand they fix the problem. Now.

Littler Mendelson, a law firm that specializes in employment and labor law, published its counsel on what politically active employees can and can’t do in the workplace. It might be a little late for 2006, but it’s definitely an area you should examine before the 2008 presidential election. The firm advises that private employers can:

  • limit political activities that have an impact on the workplace by implementing rules prohibiting various activities such as political campaigning during business hours;
  • enforce general, uniform rules about employees’ personal appearance-such as prohibitions against wearing political campaign tee shirts or buttons in the office-as long as all employees are treated equally;
  • adopt and enforce “no solicitation/no distribution” rules which limit the introduction of literature into the workplace when that literature refers to non-work activities and non-work activities are specifically defined to include political campaigning-be careful here to ensure that the prohibition is no so overly broad as to infringe on protected activities such as the right of workers to discuss union-related issues on non-work time in non-work areas;
  • implement workplace technology policies that preclude employees from using corporate e-mail for political campaigning by restricting the use of e-mail to work-related activities.
  • As clear as this guidance may be, however, you should always seek the advice of legal counsel when drawing up workplace rules. announced the results of its study examining the factors that motivate a worker to leave a job and accept or decline a new position with another employer. The study explored differences in motivation among three demographic segments defined by the following characteristics: age, gender and ethnicity. Among its findings:

  • There were no differences among the three groups when it came to key triggers for accepting a new job. All groups were principally motivated by salary, opportunity for work-life balance, and benefits.
  • “Ethnic job seekers” were particularly interested in opportunities for career advancement. Eighty percent of African-Americans and 77% of Hispanics said that upward mobility was important in deciding whether to accept a new job; among Caucasians, the figure was 63%.
  • More women (41%) than men (26%) placed a high value on work-life balance. However, 40% of men reported that their current employer is not flexible enough in allowing them to balance their work and personal lives, while just 28% of women said that was the case with their employers.
  • Not surprisingly, Baby Boomers expressed more interested in affordable healthcare than did younger workers. That issue will have an even greater impact on job acceptance rates as more Baby Boomers stay in the workforce beyond the traditional age of retirement.
  • launched as an employment Web-site that focuses on the job market in the state of Rhode Island. The site is an initiative of Shaker Recruitment Consultants and 17 community newspapers across the state, including The Newport Daily News, Cranston Herald, East Providence Post, and The Warren Times-Gazette. The site is a member of the International Association of Employment Web Sites, the trade organization representing the best of the world’s job boards.

    WEDDLE’s announced its Fall/Winter Training Series. Delivered by WEDDLE’s Publisher, Peter Weddle, these training programs will engage, entertain and educate you … all from the comfort of your own office or conference room. The Fall/Winter topics and dates are:

    A-to-Z in Best Practices for Online Recruitment Advertising


    Googling, Blogging & Other Sourcing Techniques for Passive Prospects


    Transforming Your Resume Database into a Candidate Gold Mine


    Staffing Metrics That Count in the Corner Office

    November 16, 2006

    Employment Branding-Creating the Image That Sells Top Talent

    November 30, 2006

    Blink Recruiting-Getting to “Yes” Fast With Passive Prospects

    December 14, 2006

    All programs begin at 11:00 a.m. EST, 8:00 a.m. PST and last for one hour. You can listen to each audio-based program (with accompanying PowerPoint course materials) by yourself or invite your entire staffing team. The fee for each program is just $179. Even better, if you sign up for two or more programs, the fee drops to $165 per program. Registrations are limited, so reserve your seats right away. To sign up, please call WEDDLE’s at 317.916.9424 today. Note: Sessions are not recorded and reservations are final and binding.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. Your employer’s strategic planning group has just lost its statistician, and you need to find a replacement fast. Where could you go online to find a high percentage of qualified candidates?

  • 2. Your CEO has just bought a company plane, and you need to hire at least two professional pilots. Which of the following sites would help your sourcing efforts to soar?

  • 3. Your candy company had disappointing Halloween sales, and the CEO has just fired the head of product development. Where could you go online to formulate a search for a replacement?

  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories


    Women in Technology International

    Post full time jobs: Yes

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

    Distribution of jobs: National – USA

    Fee to post a job: $150/posting

    Posting period: 60 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 5,520

    Source of resumes: Direct from individual

    Top occupations among visitors: Information Systems, Management, Sales & Marketing

    Other services for employers: Banner advertising

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: No

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All but, a job board specializing in the healthcare field.

    2. All of them.

    3. All but, an online newspaper for the candy industry that does not publish employment listings.

    Please Support Our Sponsor: Arbita

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

    Arbita is the leading provider of global jobs cross posting solutions.

    Our flexible integration solutions allow you to combine job-posting capabilities with other applications easily. Our platform independent technologies empower you to deploy our systems in concert with leading ERP, HRIS, and ATS platforms. Our streamlined posting, robust reporting, knowledgeable media consulting and experienced vendor management improve recruiting workflow and results.

    For more information please contact or call us today at (612) 278-0000.