March 31, 2005   view past issues

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Feature: Untie Recruiters’ Hands

The Conference Board has just released a study entitled Measuring More Than Efficiency: The New Role of Human Capital Metrics. I’m not sure what’s so “new” about measuring such things as the return on investment in recruitment advertising and new hire quality, but the results of the poll were certainly depressing. According to Bain, only 22% of the 104 HR executives they heard from believe their staffing units are able to identify strategic talent pools. If we generalize that finding, our leaders believe that four-out-of-five of us are shooting in the dark when it comes to sourcing the top talent our organizations need to compete.

Whether you agree with their assessment or not, there can be no doubt that most recruiters are doing the best job they can to source high caliber talent-within the constraints imposed by their own organizations (you know, little things like insufficient headcount and inadequate budgets). Our latest survey at WEDDLE’s, however, suggests that we may not be using the resources that we do have, to best advantage.

We polled over 3,900 recruiters in the first three months of this year, and here’s what we found:

  • 11% never post a job online, essentially ignoring the 166 million U.S. citizens who use the Internet. I’ve heard all the justifications for such backward behavior, but our survey also underscores just how harmful it is to organizations when recruiters source everywhere but online. Better than six-out-of-ten employers-their competitors-are now hiring more that one-quarter of their new employees on the Internet.
  • 13% post their openings at only a single job board each month. Now, I know that the green eyeshade crowd is often the culprit here-they negotiate a deal with a job board and then try to justify what they’ve done by forcing recruiters to use that board exclusively. Since no single job board can meet every requirement, however, the results are depressingly predictable … you get quantity, but not quality, from your job postings.
  • Add those two groups together and one-out-of-every-four recruiters is not taking advantage of the most powerful talent acquisition medium since Ben Franklin started printing classified ads in The Pennsylvania Gazette.

    On the positive side, many of the respondents to our survey are making a sizable investment in their online sourcing efforts. Over half are spending 11-30% of their recruiting budget online. No less important, they have very strong opinions about where best to post their jobs to find the best candidates:

  • 84% said niche sites provide access to the best talent,
  • 11% gave the nod to general purpose recruitment sites,
  • Just 3% thought association sites had the best prospects, and
  • An all-but-invisible 2% said their corporate career sites were the answer.
  • How can these data points be reconciled with the depressingly pessimistic views of HR executives? They think we don’t know where to look to find top talent online. I think the real problem is that our hands have been untied … with more than one rope.

    The first rope around our hands: When organizations do spend money recruiting online, too much of it is devoted to the corporate career site. It’s easy to get caught in that trap; after all, the site is one of the few areas where HR can actually strut its stuff. The problem is that corporate career sites-at least as they are currently designed and operated-attract only one cohort of the candidate population-active job seekers. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, except passive job seekers include a higher proportion of the best talent. To reach that cohort, you need Web-sites that develop and promote a value proposition that appeals to people who aren’t looking for a job. That’s a category of recruitment site that I call career portals-they surround their job postings with rich content and interactivity so that their visitors can perform effective career self-management. Passive job seekers are now using these sites because they can no longer rely on their employers for career direction, and all too often, recruiters aren’t there waiting to meet them. Thanks to their corporate career site, they can’t afford to.

    The second rope around our hands: Too many companies have no clear and consistent definition of “a quality hire.” They let hiring managers get away with such obscure notions as “I’ll know it when I see it.” Unfortunately, that approach is dysfunctional on at least two levels: (1) Most hiring managers don’t know it when they see it. According to a University of Michigan study, they select the best candidate in an interview only 54% of the time; to put it another way, they’re only 4% better than flipping a coin. (2) When “a quality hire” doesn’t happen, the hiring manager’s vague definition makes it all too easy to blame the recruiter. If you don’t know what constitutes success, you’re practically guaranteed not to achieve it. And, the irony is that quality is undisputedly measurable … if the organization is willing to do so and to enforce that definition throughout the organization.

    The third rope around our hands: Too many recruiters don’t know how to assess the potential value of a recruitment Web-site. We talk to friends and colleagues about which sites work best for which requirements, but in my view, that’s simply another example of “I’ll know it when I see it.” I think we need to be much more rigorous than that, and I’ll suggest a way to do so in my next newsletter.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. WEDDLE’s Newsletter grows only by word-of-mouth. So, please … tell a friend or colleague (or two) about the newsletter. We’d be very grateful, and they will be too.

    This Issue’s Sponsor:

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

    The Employment Guide(R) offers the nation’s most comprehensive recruiting solution for hourly to mid-management jobs. offers online hiring solutions and candidate search options across all industries on a nationwide basis. The Employment Guide publication offers traditional print and more than 150 job fair resources for employers across 56 major hiring markets. Let us be your Guide to hourly and mid-management recruitment.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Bain & Company released the results of a recent study of outsourcing among large and medium-sized companies in Europe, Asia and North America. It found that 82% of large firms have outsourcing programs of some sort, and 51% use offshore vendors. Talk about a trend; this could be the pet rock of contemporary corporate management. Unlike your favorite chunk of calcite, however, there is a dark side to this fad-it often doesn’t work. Almost half of the Bain respondents said their outsourcing efforts fell short of their goals, and only 10% were “highly satisfied” with the costs they’re saving-the primary rationale for such programs. Further, just 6% were “highly satisfied” with their offshore vendor. What’s the bottom line? If your friends in the Finance Department are beating the outsourcing drums for HR-related functions, check their assumptions and their math. In many cases, it’s now clear, outsourcing simply doesn’t add up.

    Kennedy Information announced that it is hosting my workshop entitled “Optimizing the Candidate Experience” at their Conference and Expo in Las Vegas on May 9-10. The concept behind the workshop is simple: The better the candidate’s experience during the recruiting process, the better the quality of your hires. The session will explore the critical touch points that shape a candidate’s opinion of a prospective employer. You’ll learn the best techniques for positively shaping that opinion on your organization’s Web-site, in your recruitment advertising, through candidate communications, and during the interview and evaluation process. To register, call Karen Bison at 603.924.0900, ext 631.

    MBA GlobalNet teamed up with to launch, a job board for the 20,000 MBAs in the GlobalNet community. In addition, job postings on the site are also listed at the following business schools: Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Stanford, Columbia, New York University, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, UCLA and Dartmouth. Postings cost $225 each, and the system tracks responses by source so recruiters know which works best for a particular opening.

    People IQ released a study of internal performance management programs and found more depressing news. According to the survey, only 13% of employees and managers and just 6% of CEOs think their organization’s performance appraisal system is useful. And, although an organization gets the performance appraisal system the CEO demands, 88% of the respondents say their current performance appraisal system negatively impacts their opinion of the HR Department. What should be done? First, every performance appraisal system should get a comprehensive audit of its own performance at least every three years. Once you know how well it’s performing and what areas need improvement, go to work on making the necessary changes. Rather than keeping the project in HR, however, position it as a corporate-wide initiative. Get the CEO’s support for a task force composed of key managers and employees/thought leaders from around the company and his or her commitment to implement the necessary improvements, once they are identified.

    The Pew Internet and American Life Project completed a new survey in January of this year and found that 26% of Americans 65 or older are now using the Internet. That’s up from just 15% in 2000. Why is that important to you? Because a growing number of organizations are turning to “senior workers” or even to those who are retired to fill part time, temporary and-yes-full time positions. Even AARP, the grandparent of all seniors organizations, is promoting employment opportunities on its site. (They’re only about two years behind a number of job boards that now serve the employment aspirations of this population.) Anyway, what should you do? Take advantage of this talent by connecting with them online. But first, make sure that your corporate Web-site is “senior friendly.” Seniors should see a face or two of people who are older than twenty-five on the site and be able to find information quickly that is tailored to their unique interests and needs. If you don’t take that step first, it almost doesn’t matter where you post your openings; the senior talent you attract will probably not hang around long enough to apply.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. Your database administrator just pulled a less than tasteful April Fool’s joke on a co-worker, and you’re now looking for their replacement. Which of the following sites would turn your search into yet another bad joke?

  • 2. Your company is opening a new store on Madison Avenue in New York City, and you need to recruit a seasoned store manager. Which of the following sites would cause your search in the Big Apple to turn rotten?

  • 3. Sales are up, and your company wants to hire more workers fast. Where could you look online to find a great new recruiter?

  • (answers below)

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

    Post full time jobs: Yes

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

    Distribution of jobs: International – USA and Canada

    Fee to post a job: $125/posting

    Posting period: 60 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 1,100,000

    Source of resumes: Direct from candidates

    Top occupations among resumes: Engineering, Finance & Accounting, Information Systems and Sales & Marketing

    Other services for employers: Discussion forum, Assessment instruments, Automated resume agent, Banner ads, Status reports on banners & postings

    Answers to Site Insite

    1., the site of a company that represents professional talent for broadcast, film, industrial and interactive media productions.

    2., the site of a talent scout company in New York City.

    3. Only; is a job board in the automotive industry, is the site of a training company for real estate recruiters, and is the site of a company that sells investment advice.

    This Issue’s Sponsor:

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

    The Employment Guide(R) offers the nation’s most comprehensive recruiting solution for hourly to mid-management jobs. offers online hiring solutions and candidate search options across all industries on a nationwide basis. The Employment Guide publication offers traditional print and more than 150 job fair resources for employers across 56 major hiring markets. Let us be your Guide to hourly and mid-management recruitment.