August 4, 2005   view past issues

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Feature: Use the Whole Brain Approach to Recruitment Advertising

I’ve noticed that job postings are getting better. There are now fewer classified ads and position descriptions repurposed online. Said another way, there aren’t as many job postings with too little detail or too much bureaucratic language. Instead, more and more of these employment ads provide all of the detail necessary for a top prospect to make an informed choice between their current employer and a new one. They are clear, comprehensive and complete. Unfortunately, they are also often far from convincing.

Why is that? Because the advertising message connects with only a part of the prospect’s brain. It supports careful analysis, but nothing else. The most effective job postings, in contrast, interact with the whole of a person’s brain. Here’s what I mean.

Successful advertising has both an intellectual and an emotional impact. Said another way, it connects with both the left side of the brain, which is the seat of thought and logic, and the right side of the brain, which is the home to sensing and feeling. A good job posting, therefore, will include content that both:

  • supports a prospect’s careful analysis of an organization’s value proposition
  • and

  • stimulates the first stirrings of an emotional contact between the employer and the prospect.
  • It will explain why (a talented person) should consider your employer and motivate them to believe and be influenced by those facts.

    How does it do that? By following the age-old prescription for effective sales literature. That’s precisely what a job posting is, after all; it’s an electronic sales brochure. To do its job, therefore, it must detail the features and describe the benefits of your employer’s value proposition. It must answer the two most important questions for top talent: What’s in it for them? and Why should I bother?.

    What’s in it for them?

    Traditionally, recruiters have presented the tasks involved in performing a job by detailing its “responsibilities.” “In this position, you will be responsible for doing this and doing that.” It was the right information, but the information was conveyed in the wrong way. Why? Because such statements articulate what the employer wants to get out of a position. It needs to know that, of course, because the position must make a meaningful contribution to the execution of its mission or it’s not worth doing (or paying for). But top performers (and that’s who we should always be trying to recruit) don’t evaluate the attractiveness of an employment opportunity by looking at what it will do for the employer. What they want to know is what the position will do for them. Said another way, they will use the logical side of their brain to assess “What’s in it for them?”.

    How do we help them make that judgment? First, we must recognize that the value of a position to a top performer is based on their answers to five critical questions. And second, we must write job postings that provide the information necessary for a top performer to arrive at answers that will interest and engage them. What are the questions?

  • “What will I get to do?”
  • “Whom will I get to work with?”
  • “What will I get to learn?”
  • “What will I get to accomplish”
  • “What will I get to earn?”
  • Why should I bother?

    The best talent never looks for a job; they look for a career advancement opportunity. In other words, even the most passive of prospects will consider another position if they believe it will enable them to do their best work and feel comfortable doing it. They want to stand out and fit in. Therefore, the culture of an employer as well as the vision and values of its leadership are just as important to great talent as the information that details a specific position with that employer. It’s those factors that touch the right side of their brain and establish an emotional link between them and the organization. That link assures them that their employment experience will aid and abet their career success. It answers the question, “Why should I bother?”.

    How do we create that emotional link? We must connect the description of our organization’s culture and leadership with the principal motivator of top talent. In other words, we must show them how our employer provides them with a genuine, sustainable opportunity to feel pride. Their goal is to be the best they can be in their profession, craft or trade. Our job postings, therefore, must show how our organization will uniquely enable them to experience:

  • Pride in their work,
  • Pride in their colleagues, and
  • Pride in their employer.
  • Whole brain recruitment advertising recognizes that most of the best talent is already employed and generally well taken care of by their current employer. From their perspective, therefore, making a change in employers is neither rational nor appealing. And, our job as recruiters is to get them to change their minds. Incomplete and half-hearted job postings won’t do that, but ads that are both logically powerful and emotionally compelling will.

    Thanks for reading,


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

    This Issue’s 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.

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    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Harvard Business Review published an article entitled “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success” by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce. The article discusses the results of a survey of almost 2,500 women in the workforce. Of this group, 37% reported that they had, at some point in their careers, opted-out of the workplace. What drove them out the door? Not the rationale given by most observers today: the pressures of juggling family and work outside the home. Only 6% cited that as the primary factor in their decision to leave. Of far greater consequence was “understimulation and lack of opportunity.” Said another way, our employers are engaged in a War for the Best Talent, and many are boring some of their top performers into resignation. What does that mean for us? We have to make sure our employers understand that we can’t win the talent war on the front lines if we don’t have a strong home front backing us up.

    Market10 launched as a new employment resource. The creation of founder, Rob McGovern, and a number of veterans, it is being tested in the Washington, D.C. market and will likely roll out nationwide by the end of the year. What’s different about the site? According to Mr. McGovern, it offers three important benefits: intelligent or precision matching, feedback and confidentiality. He and his team believe that the opportunity to be matched with precisely the right position in a confidential environment and to receive feedback on your competitive position will naturally attract a significant number of the passive candidates that employers most want to recruit. And, the site has raised over $7 million in venture funding to prove that point. was introduced as the new name of CareerSite, the job board of PowerOne Media. Although the site is apparently still a work in progress, it expects ultimately to offer targeted variations of its moniker (e.g., and the applicant screening tools of its subsidiary, the Center for American Jobs. Currently, you can use the self-service functionality on the site to post a single job for $195.

    Parenting interviewed Chris Komisarjevsky, the co-author of Peanut Butter and Jelly Management. One of his most intriguing points addresses an issue that’s been getting more and more visibility these days: the confusion that currently exists in many HR Departments around the difference between treating employees fairly and equably and treating them exactly the same. As Mr. Komisarjevsky describes it, “Just as you value your kids individually, respect the different backgrounds and skills of those in your workplace. The more you appreciate individual strengths, the more you can take advantage of them.” To put it more bluntly, respect and support all of your employees, but recognize and reward those who make the greatest contribution.

    Watson Wyatt released the results of a survey of employers’ use of HR Business Process Outsourcing. It found that while just 7% of the respondents described themselves as “mostly outsourced,” another 29% were “equally insourced and outsourced.” In other words, over a third of the organizations that were polled were well on their way to relying significantly on outsourcing in their HR function. What were their objectives? Typically, the number one reason cited for outsourcing is cost savings. (After that, organizations say they want to improve the quality of a service, itself, as well as its delivery.) Focusing on saving money, however, is a slippery slope, because it is subject to the Law of Diminishing Returns-over time, there will be fewer and fewer costs to save. Hence, it’s best to set a series of goals timed to when they are most likely to be achieved. For example, you might set cost savings as a near term goal, better customer service as a mid term goal and better outcomes (e.g., more employees participating in the 401(k) program) as your longer term goal.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. One of the lifeguards at your resort has just quit, and the sign you posted in the lobby hasn’t yielded a replacement. Which of the following sites would save you further effort?

  • 2. Your company needs a new trainer with expertise in the financial services industry. Which of the following sites would help you learn about top prospects?

  • 3. The sales manager in your company’s most profitable territory has just been hired away by a competitor. Which of the following sites would help you find and sell another top performer fast?

  • (answers below)

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

    FEI Career Center

    Financial Executives International

    Post full time jobs: Yes

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

    Distribution of jobs: International

    Fee to post a job: $300/posting

    Posting period: 60 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: No

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 610

    Source of resumes: Direct from individuals

    Top occupations among resumes: CFO, Controller, Treasury

    Other services for employers: Listserv/discussion forum for networking, Assessment tests (fee-based), Banner advertising

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All but, the site of an equipment catalog for lifeguards.

    2.; is the site of a company that provides logistics support for in-house trainers, is the site of a telecommuting job board, and is the site of a software training company.

    3. All but, the site of an agency for manufacturers’ reps.

    Please 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?