THE TECHNACIOUS RECRUITER NEWSLETTER

October 21, 2004   view past issues

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Feature: Turning Anti-Candidates Into Pro-Candidates

My father was the quintessential “anti-consumer.” He never saw a product or service he couldn’t walk right by. He bought things, of course, but it took a lot to convince him to do so. When he did decide to commit, however, you could count on him to follow through. To put it another way, when he was sold, he was definitely sold. And, that got me to thinking. What must we recruiters do to sell the “anti-candidates” in today’s labor market, the top quality prospects we normally call passive job seekers?

Passive job seekers are tough to recruit because they’re human, and most human beings hate to make a change. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what we recruiters are trying to get them to do. In most cases, passive job seekers are employed, so we have to convince them to go from the devil they know (their current employer) to the devil they don’t (our employer). That’s a tough value proposition to sell. Most people don’t like the uncertainty and risk that inevitably attend a change and, not surprisingly, are very reluctant to volunteer for it. In short, they are “anti-candidates.” To be successful in recruiting them, therefore, we must be persuasive enough to overcome their natural reluctance even to consider our employer’s opportunities. We must be able to get them to do what, in the beginning at least, they really don’t want to do. In other words, we have to be as good as the salespeople who ultimately sold my father.

How was my father persuaded to make a purchase? As I recall, he was influenced by three factors. Each was as important as the other, and all three factors had to be addressed or he simply would not be moved to buy. These factors were:

  • The trust he had in the provider;
  • The respect he was accorded by the provider; and
  • The enthusiasm he felt for whatever the provider was offering.
  • Let’s explore how we recruiters can put these factors to work in selling passive job seekers.

    The trust he had.

    The best candidates have lots of employers making them offers, so any one offer-no matter how good-is easily lost in the din. The best recruiters, therefore, dampen the noise from the competition first and, then, sell the value proposition of their employer. In effect, they induce candidates to hear selectively, to pay attention to one opportunity while ignoring all others. How are they able to do that? They take specific actions to convince candidates that the organization for which they work cares as much about their making a smart career move as it does about filling an open position. In effect, they earn the trust of the people they want to recruit by creating a win-win situation, one in which both the employer and the prospective employee benefits.

    What actions can create such a situation?

  • Writing job postings that are comprehensive in their description of the opening and the organization. In effect, they envision job postings not as classified ads listed online, but as electronic sales brochures. They contain all of the information a person needs to make a smart buying decision.
  • Answering candidate questions on their corporate career site. While the recruiting function may not be staffed to answer individual questions, it can certainly keep track of those questions that most people ask and move to help them by providing the answers before they even have a chance to.
  • The respect he was accorded.

    All candidates, but especially top performers and those with rare skills, expect to be treated with dignity throughout the recruiting process. They may be applying for employment, but they are also customers-working men and women who are being asked to “buy” the value proposition of an organization with openings to fill. For most candidates, that means an employer where people really matter, and the best evidence of whether people really matter is the way the organization treats prospective employees. As a consequence, recruiters should create a candidate experience that is consistently polite and respectful. It should acknowledge that candidates aren’t cogs in some supply chain, but cognitive beings who have a choice of organizations for which they will work.

    What actions will create such a feeling among candidates?

  • Acknowledging every resume that is submitted to the organization. This message can be transmitted via an auto-responder in your resume management system or by old fashioned postcard, but whatever the medium, it should both thank the individual for their application and tell them what will happen next in the process.
  • Providing timely updates on their status as they move through the recruiting process. Those who are not deemed competitive for an opening should be told that immediately so they can move on, and those who are selected for further consideration should be told what to expect next and in what timeframe so they can prepare.
  • The enthusiasm he felt.

    Employers offer jobs, but candidates “buy” an organization. In other words, they evaluate the quality of an opportunity by assessing both the specifics of an opening and the attributes of the organization in which it is located. Most candidates, however, realize that no organization is perfect. They get excited, therefore, when they interact with recruiters and hiring managers who are enthusiastic about an employer despite its warts. Assuming it is genuine and based on factors that can be identified and articulated (e.g., the quality of a company’s products or services, its commitment to ground-breaking research), the pride that employees feel for their organization is incredibly infectious and predisposes candidates to be equally as generous and positive in their assessment of the organization.

    How can this enthusiasm be conveyed to candidates?

  • By fostering a culture where employees take pride in their individual and collective work and feel comfortable acknowledging and expressing their pride to others. Pride, of course, cannot be established by edict, but organizations can nurture it by celebrating corporate values and achievements that demonstrate the organization’s commitment to excellence.
  • By explicitly integrating this organizational norm into the interactions that recruiters and hiring managers have with candidates. In other words, demonstrating pride in the organization and its employees should be a condition of participation in the recruiting process and, therefore, essential to recruiters’ and managers’ advancement in the organization.
  • Turning anti-candidates into genuine prospects-into pro-candidates-requires that we adopt the best practices of successful salespeople. Their principles must be adapted to our mission and environment, of course, but fundamentally, we have to be as good as they are at transforming reluctant buyers into committed consumers.

    Thanks for Reading,

    Peter

    A Final Request Please tell a friend or colleague (or two) about WEDDLE’s newsletter. Each time they receive an issue, they’ll be reminded that you were thinking of them.


    This Issue’s Sponsor: Yahoo! HotJobs

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

    Get the resource that helps you recruit smarter – the Guidebook to Online Recruiting. It’s yours FREE, courtesy of Yahoo! HotJobs.

    The Guidebook to Online Recruiting can help you:

  • Target qualified candidates
  • Maximize your recruiting dollar
  • Evaluate online vs. newspaper job advertising
  • Write effective online job descriptions
  • This comprehensive resource provides information a business needs to make recruiting more cost effective, targeted and efficient.

    Click here to get your free Guidebook.


    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    The Business Professional Women’s Foundation updated its compilation of 101 Facts on the Status of Workingwomen. According to the study, women’s wages are still less than men’s for the same job. Worse, they actually went down last year from 77% to 76% of men’s pay. Indeed, the wage gap has narrowed by only half a penny a year for the past 40 years. What should you do? First, realize that women today comprise 43% of the American workforce. They occupy every position that men do and bring to the table more than half of all bachelor’s degrees, 57% of all master degrees and 42% of all doctoral degrees. Second, audit thyself. Review the compensation structure in your organization (not the pay scales, but the actual salaries paid) to make sure that gender bias is not lurking in your pay checks. Third, educate hiring managers and recruiters on the fundamental fairness of equal pay for equal work and on its importance in an era of skill and talent shortages.

    CareerBuilder.com polled workers and found that more than one-third had played hooky in the last year. That’s right, they called in sick … and weren’t. Apparently, however, creativity is still alive and well in the workforce. Take a look at some of the excuses that were offered up:

  • “I was sprayed by a skunk.”
  • I tripped over my dog and was knocked unconscious.”
  • I had to be there for my husband’s grand jury trial.”
  • “I forgot to come back to work after lunch.”
  • A hitman was looking for me.”
  • On a more serious note, excessive misuse of sick time can be the sign of a sick organization, one with low morale and/or low engagement. Make sure you periodically survey your employees to determine their satisfaction with employment in your organization and to identify areas where it can be improved.

    LatPro and the National Society of Hispanic Professionals released the results of a survey which found that 84% of Hispanic professionals now have their resume posted online and 64% regularly update it. Most of the respondents were between the ages of 35 and 40. The results confirm the growing diversity of talent on the Internet and underscores the importance of recruiting to ensure diversity among your candidate population. Consider this: if the world were reduced to just 100 people, it would look like the following:

  • 52 female, 48 male
  • 70 persons of color
  • 58 Asian
  • 6 over 65 years of age
  • 10 lesbian, gay or bisexual
  • 1 person with a college degree
  • 6 with half the world’s wealth, all of whom would be U.S. citizens.
  • Naturejobs announced a new wrinkle in online recruitment advertising. The site is a subsidiary of Nature Publishing Group and affiliated with the publisher’s content Web-sites that focus on various aspects of scientific research. Its new feature provides visitors with brief abstracts of job postings that are keyed to the content pages they are viewing. In other words, when a passive job seeker enters one of the content sites to read an article about biotechnology, Naturejobs automatically serves up a number of the postings on its site in that field. According to the site, since its introduction recently, the feature has driven an 18% increase in job applications and a 62% increase in page views of postings.


    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. Your medical practice is growing rapidly, and you want to hire an experienced pediatrician to help handle the caseload. Which of the following sites would be a prescription for frustration?

  • PhysicianWork.com
  • AllHealthJobs.com
  • VeryBestBaby.com
  • DocCafe.com
  • 2. Your high school football coach has just quit, and you need to find a replacement fast. Which of the following sites would make you a winner?

  • CoachingJob.net
  • CoachingJobs.com
  • EducationJobs.com
  • Coach.com
  • 3. Your company has just lost its Accounts Payable clerk. Which of the following sites can you count on to provide great candidates?

  • AccountsPayableNetwork.com
  • IAPPnet.org
  • JobsintheMoney.com
  • HireDiversity.com
  • (answers below)

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

    America’s Job Bank

    www.ajb.org

    A WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Award Winner

    Post full time jobs: Yes

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

    Distribution of jobs: National – USA

    Fee to post a job: None

    Posting period: 45 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 571,429

    Source of resumes: Direct from candidates

    Top occupations among resumes: Administration, Communication, Management

    Other services for employers: Auto notification of resume-job matches, Status reports: postings

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. VeryBestBaby.com, a site that provides information on prenatal care.

    2. All but Coach.com, the site of the upscale leather retailer by the same name.

    3. All but AccountsPayableNetwork.com which does not offer a job board.


    This Issue’s Sponsor: Yahoo! HotJobs

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

    Get the resource that helps you recruit smarter – the Guidebook to Online Recruiting. It’s yours FREE, courtesy of Yahoo! HotJobs.

    The Guidebook to Online Recruiting can help you:

  • Target qualified candidates
  • Maximize your recruiting dollar
  • Evaluate online vs. newspaper job advertising
  • Write effective online job descriptions
  • This comprehensive resource provides information a business needs to make recruiting more cost effective, targeted and efficient.

    Click here to get your free Guidebook.