October 19, 2006   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. Recently, we uncovered a study linking HR activities and an organization’s financial performance. The two-year project was conducted by a Cornell University professor on behalf of the Gevity Institute, an affiliate of the HR consulting firm by the same name. It will come as no surprise to most of us (but will be an eye opener for many CEOs, CFOs and line managers) that there is a positive correlation between doing things right in recruiting and retention and the bottom line.

Specifically, the study found:

  • Companies will good employee selection and retention practices outperformed those with less effective strategies by 39% when measured in financial terms.
  • Companies with good employee selection practices-defined as hiring based on organizational fit as well as job performance capability-saw revenue growth improve by 7.5% and profit growth improve by 6.1%.
  • No less important, companies with such practices also saw employee turnover decline by 17.1%.
  • What the Findings Mean

    Recruiting excellence, which encompasses good selection, can only be achieved by optimizing the candidate experience. Research shows that the single most important factor for top talent when they evaluate an employment opportunity is the prospective employer’s culture and values. In essence, they want to know what it will be like to work inside the organization. Since they can’t “test drive” your employer, however, they use a surrogate: the experience you provide during the recruiting process.

    How do you optimize a candidate’s experience? For the best talent, it involves creating an expectation that comes true. Because top talent is almost always employed, they have to be attracted to your recruiting process. That’s the purpose of your employment brand: to convince people who aren’t active job seekers to check out your employer and consider doing what they almost never want to do-change. To get them to take that second step, your organization then has to deliver on the promise it made in its brand advertising.

    If your brand positions your organization as one that promotes individual development and advancement, it has to demonstrate that during the recruitment process. For example, it might have topical blogs in the Career area on your corporate Web-site in which some of your most talented employees write about their daily experience on-the-job. If you think that sounds far-fetched, check out the bloggers at Honeywell. Or, if your company’s brand emphasizes individual entrepreneurial opportunities, then the Career area on your corporate Web-site might offer a game that would attract even passive candidates and let them test their business-building instincts. If that sounds crazy to you, pay a visit to the Give Me the Business game at Enterprise.

    Bottom Line: Optimizing the candidate experience is the key to recruiting excellence, and recruiting excellence can have a significant impact on your employer’s financial performance. To achieve a candidate experience that will differentiate your organization and sell even the most passive prospect:

  • Develop and promote an employment brand that articulates the organizational values and attributes that successfully attracted your employer’s top performers and thus will attract its top prospects;
  • Design the 16 candidate touch points in your organization’s recruiting process so that they represent and reinforce the brand’s expressed attributes and values; and
  • Make it everyone’s job-not just HR or the recruiting team’s-to ensure that the promise incorporated in your brand comes true at all of those 16 touch points.
  • Final 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: Arbita

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

    Arbita is the leading provider of global jobs cross posting solutions.

    Our flexible integration solutions allow you to combine job-posting capabilities with other applications easily. Our platform independent technologies empower you to deploy our systems in concert with leading ERP, HRIS, and ATS platforms. Our streamlined posting, robust reporting, knowledgeable media consulting and experienced vendor management improve recruiting workflow and results.

    For more information please contact or call us today at (612) 278-0000.

    Section Two: Insights From In-Sites

    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 2006. For a complete collection of Peter’s writing, please see our book Postcards From Space.

    Pay Attention to “Career Advancement Moms”

    It’s the political season in America, and the pundits are busy coining terms for population groups that will have an impact on the vote. The best known example of these designations, of course, is the “soccer mom,” a genus whose power at the polls is legend. And more recently, we’ve heard of “national security moms,” a group that remains concerned about hearth and family but also raises questions about the country’s foreign policy and war on terror.

    In the spirit of such anointments, I’d like to recognize another group that also has a powerful vote, not at the polling station but in the homes of the best candidates for your open positions. I call this group the “career advancement moms,” although I acknowledge that a more politic term would be “career advancement spouses.” Anyway, you get the point. This group includes the partner of the person you most want to hire.

    In many cases, “career advancement moms” will influence the evaluation of your opportunity, and you’ll never even know what issues they raised, what concerns they emphasized, or what position-pro or con-they took. And because you don’t know any of that, you lose all control over the dialogue. In essence, you’ve spent all of your time and money convincing a person to come to work for your employer, and that person is only one-half of the decision-making team. The other half-those “career advancement moms”-haven’t heard a word from you and thus form their impressions of the opportunity from incomplete or, worse, inaccurate information.

    What should you do? I suggest that you turn the dialogue into a conversation. Here’s what I mean.

    First, find out what issues are top of mind for those career advancement moms who are the partners of your best employees in the career fields for which you are most heavily recruiting. Don’t assume that you or even the employees have a good fix on this information. Sociologists spend long hours and considerable effort probing the hearts and minds of voting blocks. We in the real world, however, don’t have the luxury of such leisurely investigation. Therefore, I suggest that you ask a small group of top employees if you can explore employment issues with their spouses. Explain why you are doing so and that all of the information will be collected without attribution. While this approach will get you started, I also suggest that you make the exploration of these areas a more regular and permanent part of your annual assessment of employee satisfaction (assuming you do one).

    Second, analyze the insights you acquired to determine the major concerns and their relative priority among the career advancement moms you surveyed. Why did they encourage their partner to accept your organization’s offer or, at least, stay neutral in its evaluation? And, why do they support their staying at the organization in the present? Use this information to develop a value proposition that is distinctive to your organization and clearly articulates why employment with the organization will serve the best interests of the employee and their partner, their family, and their collective future. While this proposition is all about selling, it should be plentifully supported with details and facts to corroborate its claims and give them power.

    Third, embed the value proposition where it can be seen and evaluated by the career advancement moms you want to reach and influence. As a minimum, this message should be an integral part of every job posting and recruitment ad and be fully expressed in the Careers area of your organization’s Web-site. As always, keep in mind that people do not read on the Web; they scan. Therefore, make sure that your content is expressed in headlines and bullets so that the reader-the prospective employee and their spouse or partner-can quickly look over it and still get the essence of the message.

    Fourth, consider setting up a special section or channel on your organization’s site that is designed specifically for candidate spouses and partners. In other words, this area would not be open to the general public. Rather, it would be made available to a select group-say, to those selected for second interviews-with a specific, by-name invitation to visit issued to their spouses/partners and access controlled by password. This area should offer much more detailed information to support the value proposition and even the opportunity for partners and spouses to ask questions of the HR Department. It might also have links to resources that spouses and partners would find helpful, including those for child and elder care, fitness and even employment. By making the career advancement mom feel a part of your organization’s “family” in advance, you’re likely to have a much stronger ally in their family when the employment offer is discussed.

    Top quality candidates are almost always employed and exercise great care in managing their careers. They know that change is unsettling and, these days, also often fraught with risk. As a consequence, it is very difficult to convince them to leave the familiarity and security of their current employment situation in order to take another opportunity, no matter how appealing. To give yourself the best chance of success, craft a recruiting experience that is persuasive and compelling to both of the parties who will evaluate an offer: the individual you want to hire and their spouse or partner.

    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

    craigslist will begin charging for recruitment ads in four more cities on October 22, 2006. Currently, it charges $25 to post an ad in New York City and Los Angeles and $75 in San Francisco. The four additional cities where ads will no longer be free are:

  • Boston
  • San Diego
  • Seattle
  • Washington, D.C..
  • It will now cost $25 to post recruitment ads in these cities. The site is making this move, it explained in its feedback forum, to cull out the growing number of get-rich-quick schemes and duplicate or extraneous postings it was receiving. The low-paying day-labor jobs listed in the site’s “Gigs” category, however, will remain free to post. So will posting ads in Craig’s other 316 cites/markets worldwide (at least for now).

    Hudson Highland Group, Inc. released the results of a survey on employee telecommuting. It’s hardly a surprise, with roads ever more clogged during rush hour and gas still not cheap, that over half of the respondents (59%) described telecommuting, at least part time, as the ideal work arrangement. Of that group, however, only 23% were working for companies that permitted them to telecommute. And worse, in yet another example of organizations taking care of management and nobody else, the survey also found that managers are twice as likely to be given the option to telecommute as those who work for them. What happened to leadership by example?

    Merrill Lynch announced the results of a survey about retirement. It found that almost three-quarters of its respondents (71%) said that their “ideal retirement” would involve some kind of work. Moreover, almost half of these working retirees say they never intend to stop working. These findings recall the seminal research done by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in his 1975 book, Flow. Based on interviews with everyday workers and grand chess masters, with traditional professionals in the workforce and professional athletes, he determined that people achieve their optimal experience in life, not in leisure, but in work. Work presents us with headaches and horrible commutes to be sure, but it also provides the unique opportunity to test ourselves against meaningful challenges and to develop and grow as a result. Balance is also important, of course, but without work, we have less chance of interacting with situations that will push us to excel and be the best we can be.

    Please Support Our Sponsor: Arbita

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

    Arbita is the leading provider of global jobs cross posting solutions.

    Our flexible integration solutions allow you to combine job-posting capabilities with other applications easily. Our platform independent technologies empower you to deploy our systems in concert with leading ERP, HRIS, and ATS platforms. Our streamlined posting, robust reporting, knowledgeable media consulting and experienced vendor management improve recruiting workflow and results.

    For more information please contact or call us today at (612) 278-0000.