April 19, 2007   view past issues

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Feature: WEDDLE’s Research Factoid

WEDDLE’s continuously conducts both primary and secondary research on Best Practices in employment excellence and HR leadership. Among the issues we’ve regularly probed is the nature of the experience that job seekers have in an employer’s recruiting process. While our investigation is broadly based, one of the questions we are seeking to answer is what employer actions and inactions bother candidates the most.

The responses below were posted between March 1 and April 15, 2007 for the following question: “What is the single worst thing that has happened to you in a job search?.

  • 4.5% said the hiring manager, recruiter or an employee was rude or hostile during the process;
  • 5.7% said the hiring manager who interviewed them was poorly prepared;
  • 22.1% said they received no information or feedback from the employer during the process;
  • 32.4% said they had no negative experiences; and
  • 35.3% said they submitted a resume and heard nothing back from the employer.
  • What the Findings Mean

    As my long-time readers know, I believe the key to winning the War for the Best Talent is optimizing the candidate experience. The organization which accomplishes that feat-and it’s hardly a trivial challenge-both differentiates itself in the labor market and dramatically enhances its perceived value as an employer. Indeed, our research indicates that it’s the candidate experience, not some cutesy jingle or ponderous proclamation, which defines an organization’s employment brand. That’s why these findings are so troubling.

  • The glass is half (and more) empty. Barely a third of the respondents said they had no negative experiences as a candidate. Said another way, we’re displeasing two-thirds of the candidates who are considering our organizations as employers. Since it’s the best and brightest who have the most choices, that means many of us are turning off and turning away the very people we most want to hire.
  • The black hole still looms large. Over a third of the respondents said they were neither acknowledged nor thanked for submitting their resume. To them it felt as if the document had disappeared into a gaping black hole. This observation is hardly new, and yet, it’s repeated year-after-year. The customers we want to “buy” our organization as an employer are treated to a customer service experience that is the equivalent of being told to go pound sand.
  • The supply chain is so smooth, it’s silent. Add the respondents who heard nothing when they submitted their resume to those who heard nothing throughout the rest of the recruiting process, and the total equals more than half of the candidates (57.4%) who are interacting with employers today. We’re treating people as if they were cogs in a machine, not cognitive beings. Widgets don’t care about communication; people do. And, the best people don’t want an experience that has the look and feel of an efficient transaction; they want one that involves the dialogue of a genuine relationship.

    Fixing these problems will clearly take time and staff resources. Unfortunately, the reality in today’s corporate climate is that it’s easier to achieve efficiency by cutting costs than it is to achieve effectiveness by making smart investments. The War for the Best Talent, however, represents the advent of a scarce labor market. There simply aren’t enough candidates who have critical skills and/or who are superior performers to go around, and in that kind of situation, there can be only two kinds of employers: winners and losers. It is cut throat competition, and it can’t be won by cutting the budget.

    Please Note: As a part of our ongoing research, WEDDLE’s has been surveying both job seekers and recruiters on the Web since 1996. We’ve amassed hundreds of thousands of data elements probing:

  • what they do and what they don’t do,
  • what they like and what they don’t like,
  • and most importantly,

  • what they think works best.
  • To add your insights and opinions to our research, please visit the Polling Station at the WEDDLE’s Web-site.

    This Issue’s Sponsor: RES

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

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    Section Two: For Your Consideration

    Peter Weddle has been writing columns for his own newsletter and for the interactive edition of The Wall Street Journal since 1999. The following column has been drawn from that work and updated for 2007. For a complete collection of Peter’s writing, please see our book Postcards From Space.

    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. To do that, it engages 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 connection between the employer and the prospect.
  • It will explain why a talented person should consider your employer and it will motivate them to believe and be influenced by those facts.

    How does an online ad 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 that information was conveyed in the wrong way. Why? Because such statements articulate what the employer wants to get out of a position. An employer 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 whom 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 the answers that will interest and engage them. What are these questions?

  • “What will I get to do?”
  • “With whom will I get to work?”
  • “What will I get to learn?”
  • “What will I get to accomplish”
  • “How will I be able to advance?”
  • 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 single, most important motivator of top talent. 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 organizations 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. Remember what you learned in kindergarten: It’s nice to share. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!

    Section 3: News You Can Use

    BestLife magazine published a story on setting priorities at work. We’re all too busy with too many #1 priorities, so how can we better organize our days? The article cites the following tenets of good time management (with our annotations):

  • Ask yourself what will happen. If a particular task doesn’t get done, will there be any significant consequences? Will, for example, your boss care? Or, even notice? If not, its priority is too low to worry about. Move on to something else.
  • Balance what’s important with what’s urgent. Obviously, it’s important to deal with hot issues, but you won’t succeed if you spend all of your time putting out fires. Make sure you devote sufficient time to long term priorities as well as short term crises.
  • Be personal rather than in person. Face-to-face interactions are the best way to build good working relationships, but they are also time sinks. If a task can be accomplished effectively by e-mail or telephone, do so, but only if you’ve already invested the time to get to know your coworkers.
  • Send a sub if it’s not substantial. Some meetings are important in and of themselves and others are important because your boss says they are. All others are perfect opportunities for you to send someone else. That way, you can focus your time and talent where they will provide the greatest benefit both to your employer and to you.
  • The Institute for Corporate Productivity released the results of its survey of employee recognition programs. While 73% of the employers in the poll said they had such a program, almost four-in-ten (37%) did not know how the programs were being received by their employees and more than 15% actually reported that their employees were unhappy with the recognition they were getting. The most prevalent form of recognition was financial, which was offered for:

  • personal performance (cited by 48.9% of the companies in the survey);
  • extra effort (cited by 34.9% of the companies); and
  • corporate performance (cited by 26.4% of the companies).
  • The size of the reward varied, but over half of the respondents (54.5%) pegged it at 1-3% of the employee’s annual salary. Does that matter? Is it enough to influence individual performance and retention? It’s impossible to know without continuously surveying workers. An employee recognition program is a corporate investment, and it’s the HR Department’s responsibility to spend that money wisely. You can easily conduct such a poll using your own organizational intranet or by subscribing to such online survey tools as SurveyMonkey ($19.95/month, $200/year), ZapSurvey ($20/month, $200/year) and Zoomerang ($599/year).

    Market10 introduced its new name-JobFox-and tagline-Be the hunted. In addition, the site announced its plans to expand its service area beyond Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, GA. It will begin operations in the San Francisco Bay area in May and in Boston in June. According to the site, its growth is being fueled by its Job Fit Compatibility System which uses technology to match job seekers and employers. It avoids the tedium and potential inaccuracy of reviewing resumes and focuses employers on the specific candidates who best fit their job specifications.

    WEDDLE’s conducted the first training program in its 2007 Spring-Summer Training Series and is now accepting reservations for the remaining five programs. All of the sessions are delivered via toll-free audio conference. You get the PowerPoint slides for each program in advance, and on the day of the training, you simply dial in and have the presentation delivered right to you. All of the programs, which are presented by WEDDLE’s Publisher Peter Weddle, are listed below:

  • Completed: Best Practices in Sourcing Passive Prospects Online
  • April 24, 2007: Building a Corporate Career Site that Will Attract Top Talent
  • May 15, 2007: The Sum & Substance of a Great Employment Brand
  • May 29, 2007: Blink Recruiting-Getting to “Yes” Fast With Passive Prospects
  • June 11, 2007: Transforming Your Resume Database into a Candidate Gold Mine
  • June 21, 2007: A-to-Z in Best Practices for Online Recruitment Advertising
  • These are great learning opportunities that are within the reach of everyone’s budget. Even better, if you:

  • Sign up for two programs, you get a discount.
  • Sign up for four or more programs, you get an even bigger discount.
  • Registrations are limited, so reserve your seats now. To get pricing information and sign up, please call WEDDLE’s at 317.916.9424.

    Please Support Our Sponsor: RES

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

    Request Your Complimentary Staffing Scorecard

    Do you have a World Class Staffing Function?

    There are five (5) cornerstones of Human Resources and Staffing that when fully optimized will create a world class staffing organization.

    RES has developed a unique scorecard that will enable you to see where your strengths and areas of opportunities exist.

    By analyzing the results from this scorecard, you will see what areas your company performs well and where initial focus is needed to drive the organization towards becoming world class.

    To request your complimentary staffing scorecard, click on RES.