THE TECHNACIOUS RECRUITER NEWSLETTER

January 19, 2006   view past issues

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Feature: There is a Free Lunch

There’s a story making the rounds of late about a senior human resource executive in Ikea, the global home furnishings company. Ikea apparently has a database of over 1,000,000 resumes that it has compiled from applicants over the years. As is the case with many employers, this database resides on a computer somewhere and may be checked when new openings arise, but otherwise sits unused and untapped. Despite the considerable cost in recruitment advertising required to establish contact with the people whose resumes reside the database, Ikea basically ignores it and them.

That’s where this HR executive comes in. He’s reputed to have said something to the effect, “We don’t need candidates, we need customers. Why don’t we send a lunch coupon to everyone in the database so we get more of them into our stores?”

The idea is wonderfully simple. Ikea stores also have a restaurant, and the candidate database is also a customer database. If someone was interested enough in Ikea to apply for a job there, they are probably also interested enough to be a customer … especially if they’re offered a discount on lunch. It’s not a completely free lunch for them, but it definitely is for the company.

Whether the story is true or not, it’s instructive on several levels. While not every organization’s potential employees are also its potential customers (e.g., hedge fund support staff, luxury car salespeople), this 1:1 relationship is true in enough organizations to suggest that we should adopt a very different view of our resume databases. To put it as succinctly as I can, it’s not an archive of documents, but an address book of people. For that reason and for most organizations, the resume database is a key corporate asset, if we’ll only use it that way. Here’s what I mean.

Your resume database is a direct marketing program waiting to happen.

More often than not, recruiters will tell you that they don’t have the time or, in some cases, the skills to build a relationship with the applicants whose resumes are stored in their databases. They know the value of such relationships, of course, and they would certainly support a program to develop them. In today’s climate, however, it’s tough to build a persuasive business case to get one started. But, if that candidate database is also a customer database, we now have an ally-our colleagues in sales and marketing. You know them-they’re the ones who never see their budgets cut, even as we’re being asked to do more with less.

Your resume database is every sales and marketing person’s dream: a pre-qualified pool of prospective customers (i.e., they’ve already demonstrated their interest in your organization) assembled at no cost to their departments. Why not approach them to collaborate-they provide the funding, you provide the database-on a program of online communications designed to sell former applicants on the organization as an employer and as a vendor of goods or services. Such a program would stretch organizational dollars and, in essence, put them to work twice. It’s enough to give the CFO goose bumps.

Direct marketing for candidate-customers is an act of customer service.

If candidates are customers (or potential customers), we should treat them that way. Customer service, however, is an active, not a passive verb. If we want to convince talent that they should consider “buying” our organization as an employer, we can’t afford to ignore them. We have to be in touch with them regularly and use those communications to win their trust and loyalty. That means doing something for them, not talking at them. Simple as it was, the Ikea coupon idea is a good case in point. It promoted the company (as an employer and a vendor) by providing something useful and with perceived value for the recipient. That’s customer service.

Successful customer service involves creativity and persistence. It means relatively frequent interactions that surprise and delight, intrigue and inform, differentiate and, ultimately, sell our organization to customers and candidates alike. You can’t create good customer service as an ad hoc task performed in the tiny breaks during an already over-full business day. It demands the same level of effort, the same sophistication and the same quality of innovation as the very best direct marketing programs. That’s why a collaboration with your sales and marketing colleagues is so potentially helpful. Yes, of course, we want access to their budget, but equally as important, we want to tap their (or their vendor’s) marketing savvy and experience. To put it another way, the best customer service is an action verb performing at peak levels.

Great customer service delivered through innovative direct marketing is extraordinarily viral for both customers and candidates.

The key to great customer service is influence multiplication. In other words, customer service must be so positively differentiating that people want their friends and colleagues to experience it, as well. The impact of the interaction, therefore, is not limited to a single potential customer or candidate, but is, instead, multiplied many times over. In effect, your resume database (of people contacts) now has a virtual adjunct of employment and consumer prospects, all of whom have had a positive experience with the organization. If you have a database of 250,000 resumes, you now have 500,000 or more connections, all of whom are predisposed to listen to your message. That’s viral.

Once again, the Ikea situation provides a good illustration. When you give someone a discount lunch coupon, they are likely to take their spouse or a friend or even several friends with them when they visit the store. The impact of the customer service experience, therefore, is multiplied by a factor of two or more. That’s two or more people who have now been treated unusually well by Ikea. True, the discount coupon isn’t that big a deal, but the unexpected receipt of it is. And, that surprise good will is what will induce its recipients to see themselves as both Ikea customers and candidates. It’s your ROI multiplied by two.

In most organizations, the resume database is a forgotten asset. It includes an incredible amount of voluntarily provided-or more precisely, free-information about people who have already expressed an interest in an organization. Yet, this database sits untended and unexploited on organizational computers, even as recruiters and marketers struggle to connect with talent and customers they don’t know and must pay to reach. Which begs the question: Why are we ignoring the free lunch?

Thanks for reading,

Peter

P.S. Please tell your friends and colleagues about WEDDLE’s newsletter. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and benefit from your recommendation.


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    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    CareerJournal.com and TheLadders.com formed an exclusive two-year partnership recently. Under the agreement, CareerJournal.com readers will now be able to subscribe to TheLadders.com and its job postings through an exclusive offer, while Theladders.com will feature the content of CareerJournal.com on its site and in its weekly newsletters. Why should recruiters care? Because the information at a site is what determines whether it will attract active job seekers to your job and brand ads or active and passive prospects. If you want to source in the entire workforce-and who wouldn’t when the goal is to acquire the best talent-you should select sites that provide information that appeals to passive individuals (i.e., career success) as well as to active job seekers (i.e., employment opportunities).

    InfoLink Screening Services, a company that provides background checks, released its “hit ratios” for candidates screened during the first six months of 2005. It found that 26.4% of job applicants had discrepancies in their reported employment record, 8.3% had criminal records, and 3.3% tested positive for illegal drugs. Applicants in the automotive, retail and food services industries had the highest hit ratio for criminal records. Applicants in the transportation, business services and automotive industries had the highest hit ratio for positive drug tests. And, the business services and automotive industries recorded the highest hit ratio for previously filing a worker’s compensation claim. Who knows whether these findings indicate a higher occurrence of such activities in the population or just better record keeping. Whatever their cause, however, they underscore the importance of background checks, as long as they are performed with appropriate consideration for the individual and according to all state and federal guidelines.

    Landed.fm and its host Peter Clayton interviewed WEDDLE’s CEO and Publisher Peter Weddle recently. The interview covers a wide range of current topics including WEDDLE’s recently announced 2006 User’s Choice Award winners, the U.S. Federal Government’s soon-to-be-implemented regulation defining an online candidate, the International Association of Employment Web Sites and more. You can hear the interview at the Internet radio’s Web-site.

    Mercer reported that employers continue to offer only modest pay differentials between their best and brightest and their lowest performing employees. According to its 2005-6 survey, the top 22% of employees are expected to average a 5.2% increase in pay this year, while the bottom 8% will average 2%. Even worse, the difference in raises between those at the top and those in the middle 70% of an organization’s employees is just 1.8%. At that level of remuneration, it literally doesn’t pay to demonstrate the commitment and capability required to be a superstar. If executives are authorizing pay increases of 15% or more for themselves-and they are-surely employers can find the money to pay their top performing employees a double digit raise. Those that don’t are likely to experience a perfect storm: their attrition rates will rise even as the competition for the best talent sharply intensifies. Lower the life boats.

    Pharmaopportunities announced its launch as a recruitment portal for the life science and healthcare industries. The site is a partnership with Mediwire, a syndicated online resource for healthcare professionals that publishes information from such journals as Medical Economics, Drug Topics, and Managed Healthcare Executive.


    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. Your chain of convenience stores can’t seem to keep chips and dip in stock during the football playoffs, so your boss has decided to look for a new logistics manager. Which of the following sites would supply you with some great candidates?

  • JobsinLogistics.com
  • LogJobs.com
  • LogStock.com
  • SupplyChainRecruit.com
  • 2. Your TV station’s viewers are complaining about the weather forecasts, so the manager has decided to get a new meteorologist. Which of the following sites would bring sunshine to your search?

  • Met.PSU.edu/Jobs/jobs
  • NWAS.org
  • AMETSOC.org
  • WeatherPeople.com
  • 3. Your local District Attorney wants to investigate corruption in the business community and needs to hire a sharp private investigator to work the case. Which of the following sites would help you uncover a stash of top prospects?

  • ICUinvestigations.com
  • 77Investigators.com
  • IPIU.org
  • InvestigatorsAnywhere.com
  • (answers below)

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

    6FigureJobs

    http://www.6figurejobs.com

    A WEDDLE’s 2006 User’s Choice Award Winner

    Post full time jobs: Yes

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

    Distribution of jobs: International

    Fee to post a job: $375/posting

    Posting period: 30 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 12,000

    Source of resumes: Direct from individuals

    Top occupations among resumes: Management

    Other services for employers: Listserv or discussion forum, Assessment instruments, Auto resume agent, Banner advertising, Status reports

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All but Logstock.com, an online stock photography company.

    2. All but WeatherPeople.com, a “weather consultancy” based in the United Kingdom.

    3. Only IPIU.org, the site of the International Private Investigators Union.


    Support Our Sponsor: ZoomInfo

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

    Straining for superstars? Simplify your search with ZoomInfo!

    Find quality candidates quickly, build a better candidate pool, and develop stronger relationships.

    Nine out of the top 10 executive recruiting firms and tens of thousands of recruiters use ZoomInfo. Why?

  • Comprehensive summaries on more than 28 million business professionals and 2 million companies
  • Search by multiple fields such as title, industry, location, revenue, education and many more
  • Extend your reach deep into organizations to source top passive candidates
  • Bottom line: More ROI with more quality placements in less time

    Try ZoomInfo Today!