June 10, 2005   view past issues

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Feature: The Switching Hour

You’ve heard of the witching hour. It’s the time of night when supernatural powers are unleashed, when extraordinary phenomena occur, and the course of human events is most likely to be affected. Well, now there’s a recruitment version of this auspicious moment. I call it “the switching hour.”

WEDDLE’s has just analyzed the responses from its ongoing survey of job seekers’ activity on the Internet. For those of you who may not be familiar with this poll, we’ve been conducting it since 1996, asking job seekers where they go online and what they do there, what they like about their online job search experience and what they don’t, and which resources and techniques they find useful and which they find a waste of time. This year, an astonishing 13,361 people responded to our survey between January 1 and May 31, 2005. While they told us many things, their most important single point was this: recruiters have just over one hour per month to connect with and sell the talent their organization needs to hire.

There is no doubt that recruitment sites-job boards, career portals and corporate career sites-enjoy a strong reputation with passive as well as active job seekers. More than two-thirds of the respondents to our survey (69%) said the Internet was “very helpful” in their job search, while just 3% were disappointed in what they found online. Positive as that news is for recruiters, however, it does not mean that all recruiting online will be equally as helpful. Indeed, the key to using this medium effectively is to understand what job seekers do online and then to tailor our activities to their behavior. In other words, if we want to affect the employment choices of top talent, we have to create a powerful force at just the right moment and in just the right place for them. Here’s what I mean.

The largest single cohort of our respondents (30%) told us that they visit recruitment sites 2-4 times per month. Almost as many (28%) said they visit recruitment sites 5-8 times per month. In other words, stopping by job boards, career portals and corporate career sites is now an integral part of the online experience of most people. It’s not something they do sporadically or when they must; it is as regular and important as listening to the traffic reports before heading out on a commute.

The time they spend online, however, is devoted to a limited number of sites. The largest group of respondents (16.2%) said that they visit just 2-5 sites each month. Almost as many (14.6%) visit just one site. What does that mean for recruiters? We must know in advance where our target demographic cohorts will spend their time online and be there when they arrive. In these days of resource constraints, the only way to maximize the investment of our scarce time, effort and money is to (a) identify the exact sites that will attract the exact kinds of talent our organizations need and (b) prepare the exact kind of experience that will recruit them once they get there.

What kind of experience is that? It’s one that can exert its influence in the blink of an eye online. Our respondents told us that, on average, they spend a total of just over one hour (64 minutes) during their visits to recruitment sites each month. That brief interval is “the switching hour.” It is all the time we have to create a supernatural event: to convince passive, “A” level performers that they should switch from their current employer to ours.

How can you create an experience with enough power to do that? The following ideas will get you started:

  • Use sites with good navigability. The best talent-passive job seekers, “A” and “B” level performers, people with rare skills-have the attention span of a gnat, so it’s important that they be able to find a site’s job database easily and get there quickly (i.e., in one click), whether that site is a job board or your corporate career area.
  • Use sites with an online tutorial for searching the job database. The best talent is also largely Boolean illiterate. In other words, they don’t have a lot of experience searching job databases, so the best sites will provide instructions to show them how to do so. No less important, they will write those instructions in English, not techno-babble.
  • Be out front with your brand. The best talent pays the most attention to what they see when they first arrive on a site, so promote your organization’s employment brand on the Home Page of the job board or on the first page of your corporate career area. On a job board, the goal is to get the job seeker to use your company’s name as their first keyword in a search of the job database; in your corporate career area, the goal of such promotion is to get them to stick around long enough to search your database of openings.
  • Lead with your strength in job postings. The best talent is impatient and easily bored so craft the first five lines of your job postings carefully. They are the key to engaging top prospects. What should those lines include? Enough information to convince them that it’s worth their while to read on. They want to know what makes the job special, what distinguishes your employer from others, what financial advantage the position offers (since you’re asking them to switch from their current employer to yours) and what you will do to protect their privacy.
  • The number one reason that job seekers visit recruitment sites today is opportunity. When asked what they liked best about such sites, over half (56.5%) said it was the quantity and quality of job postings they found there. For that opportunity to work for recruiters, however, we have to appreciate just how fast it comes and goes and design our online strategy to sell within that limitation. In short, we have to be masters of the switching hour.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. June is Random Act of Kindness Month. Do something nice and totally unexpected for a colleague. Tell them about WEDDLE’s newsletter. They’ll remember your kindness in June and every time they read the newsletter in the months that follow.

    This Issue’s Sponsor: Yahoo! HotJobs

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

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    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    LinkedIn and Simply Hired announced a partnership that will integrate the job postings indexed by Simply Hired with LinkedIn’s relationship network. The firms believe that this arrangement will enable their users to find “inside connections” at the companies which have posted the jobs, in effect setting them up to network to recruiters and other contacts inside organizations with jobs to fill. From my perspective, this arrangement is a potential disaster for recruiters. Why? Because the flood of resumes with which we are already contending will now be swelled by a stack of e-mail messages and phone calls set up by those “inside connections.” It’s hard enough as it is to hear the most talented voice in the chorus, adding to the volume will simply make it even less audible.

    Nurses Lounge introduced its print-online recruiting solution in the Chicago market. Nurses Lounge offers what it calls an “upside down classified business model.” Basically, the more recruiters and employers spend on job postings and banner ads at company’s nursing portal, the less they pay to appear in its print magazine. In Chicago, for example, this free, 32-page monthly publication will be mailed to approximately 60,000 local RNs. It promotes the Web-site which offers continuing education, a forum, a chat, shopping links, free e-mail accounts, and a nursing job board. It is one more indication of the growing recognition that stove-piped advertising doesn’t work, at least with passive job seekers and “A” level performers. The best way to reach those groups is with integrated, multi-media advertising that packs enough content and selling power to get them to change (i.e., to move from the devil they know-their current employer, boss and commute-to the devil they don’t-a new employer, boss and commute).

    The Robotic Industries Association launched a new job board called the Robotics Online Career Center. It is designed to connect employers and recruiters with the association’s members. These robotics automation professionals have experience in sales, manufacturing, design and application engineering and also annually commit to “uphold the highest standards of professional conduct.”

    The U.S. Federal Trade Commission released regulations designed to implement the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act passed in December of 2003. According to the new regulations, any employer-even individuals employing nannies and yard workers-who conduct a credit check prior to hiring the employee must destroy the personal information before they throw it out. The Government defines the word destroy as “shredding or burning” paper documents and/or “smashing or wiping” computer disks. Obviously, awareness of and compliance with these regulations will be particularly important for staffing firms and corporate HR Departments given their growing use of credit checks for employment candidates. For more information, please visit the U.S. Federal Trade Commission site.

    WEDDLE’s announced the publication of a new, free periodic newsletter for employment Web-sites. The newsletter will report on Best Practices, developments, trends and news in the online employment industry. Registration is open to the owners, operators, managers and staff of job boards or career portals (i.e., sites representing commercial companies, newspapers, societies and associations, alumni organizations, affinity groups) as well as to the employees of organizations that provide products and services to those sites. The newsletter will be written by WEDDLE’s Publisher, Peter Weddle, and be delivered electronically. To register, please send your name, the name of your job board or career portal, its URL, and your e-mail address to

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. If your company’s corporate communications manager has just resigned, which of the following sites would help get your recruitment message out to good candidates?

  • 2. Your chain of automotive service centers is growing like crazy, and you need a parts inventory manager to keep up. Which of the following sites would supply you with all of the candidates you need?

  • 3. Your hospital has just lost its staff clinical psychologist, and you need to find a replacement fast. Which of the following sites would shrink your prospects of success?

  • (answers below)

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

    Telecommuting 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: None

    Posting period: 60 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 1,930

    Source of resumes: Direct from individuals

    Top occupations among resumes: Administration, Communications, Information Technology, Programming

    Other services for employers: Assessment instruments on-site, Banner advertising, Status reports: Yes – Not specified

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All but, the site of a company that provides training in public speaking.

    2. Only, the Web-site of the Institute for Supply Management; is the site of an online inventory management company, is the site of a talent agency, and is the site of a paintball supply company.

    3., the site of an online mental health clinic.

    Support Our Sponsor: Yahoo! HotJobs

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

    Local Candidates. Attractive Local Prices. Post a Job on Yahoo! HotJobs!

    Place your job ads on Yahoo! HotJobs in minutes to start receiving resumes. It’s fast, flexible and easy – with the ability to reach candidates beyond your local newspaper.

    Where do you want to post jobs? Click here.