January 18, 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. We recently asked the visitors to the WEDDLE’s Web-site to describe themselves for us. Almost 1,500 people replied, providing an interesting window on who’s going to employment sites on the Internet today.

Among the questions we asked respondents was one about their age. Here are the percentages of employment site visitors by age:

  • 20-25 (8.8%)
  • 26-30 (18.0%)
  • 31-40 (26.9%)
  • 41-50 (23.9%)
  • 51-55 (12.4%)
  • 56+ (10.0%)
  • What the Findings Mean

    These results present a counter-intuitive portrait of today’s visitors to online employment sites. Most would expect that the preponderance of this population would be younger job seekers who, according to conventional wisdom at least, are more facile with the Internet. That apparently isn’t true:

  • There are more people over the age of 56 (10%) visiting job boards and corporate career sites than there are people under the age of 25 (8.8%) who do so.
  • There are almost as many people over the age of 50 (22.4%) using employment sites as there are people under the age of 30 (26.8%) who use them.
  • The usage pattern across the entire population is almost evenly split between those under the age of 40 (53.7%) and those over it (46.3%).

    What does all of that mean for those of us in recruiting? Here are the lessons I think we can take away:

    Don’t discriminate in your job postings. Post your senior level positions and those that require a great deal of experience as well as your more junior openings and those that require less experience.

    Be age neutral on your corporate Web-site. Unless you hire exclusively from a single age cohort, avoid language and images that skew young or old. Instead, create an environment in your Career area that is welcoming to everybody.

    Create age-specific channels on your site. Most employers now have a specific channel in the Career area on their site for recent graduates. It is almost always an effective recruiting tool because it provides information and resources tailored to that population. You can get similar results by offering the same kind of channels for mid-career individuals and for “senior professionals.”

    Balance your sourcing efforts. There’s been much blog chatter recently about datamining and other sourcing strategies at sites such as and Clearly, it’s an efficient way to reach younger segments of the workforce. And, it should be matched with a corresponding effort at sites that attract older cohorts of the population. They many not engage in social networking the way their kids do, but they do connect with one another online.

    The alleged deficiencies of “older” workers-they don’t learn quickly, they are Luddites with new technology, they can’t relate to younger workers-have all now been decisively disproven. As a consequence, employers should design their recruiting strategy to ensure they acquire a diversity of age in their workforce as well as a diversity of gender and ethnicity. The best way to achieve that objective is to avoid sourcing practices that (consciously or unconsciously) omit certain segments of the population and focus, instead, on those that extend your reach into all of the best talent online.

    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.

    Mea Culpa Last week, we announced WEDDLE’s 2007 User’s Choice Awards. There was just one problem. We miscounted. The User’s Choice Awards recognize the 30 sites that collected the most votes from job seekers and recruiters during our online ballot each year. We, unfortunately, listed only 29 of the winners last week. What was the missing site? 6FigureJobs. Congratulations to them and to all of the winners for earning the respect of the toughest judges on the Web-you.

    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: Food for Thoughtful People

    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.

    Information Literacy is the Key to Online Recruiting Effectiveness

    Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at Stanford University, is conducting research that focuses on the differences between computer literacy and information literacy on the Internet. Both are important, of course, but his work suggests that the latter-the ability to identify the best information online-is the secret to effective use of the medium. For students, information literacy means being able to differentiate between fact, fiction and wild speculation at potential sources for a term paper; for recruiters, it’s the challenge of determining which recruiting Web-sites have the kind of information that will attract the best prospects for a specific opening.

    Lots of recruiters know how to find and use a job board these days. That makes them computer literate, according to Nunberg. The goal, however, is not only to reach the sites and use their functionality, but to achieve the greatest possible benefit from that activity. There are more than 40,000 job boards in operation, so each recruiter must be able to evaluate the alternatives and identify those sites that will maximize the return on their investment of time, effort and organizational money. And, the key to making that determination, Nunberg’s research indicates, is the caliber of information provided at the site.

    Many recruiters, however, use a different criterion. They select a job board based on its brand. In essence, they select a site because it is well known or is among the first to come to mind. We all know the sites that have established such strong brands, and they deserve the visibility and recognition they receive. In fact, the best known sites are among those that are the best performing, at least according to the most recent WEDDLE’s User’s Choice Awards that were announced in my last newsletter.

    Brand-building and marketing prowess, however, do not necessarily equate to recruiting value. That’s why we use job boards: to gain the sites’ access to the kinds of candidates that maximize our recruiting effectiveness. And, the caliber of candidates on a job board is not determined by its brand. Oh sure, advertising and promotional campaigns may bring them to certain sites once, but recruiting value depends upon the best candidates (for your requirements) coming back to those same sites over and over again. What makes that happen? The value of the information the job board provides for the job seeker.

    But how do we measure that value? How do we know if the information on a site is of a caliber to attract the kinds of candidates we most want to recruit?

  • Some say that the best measure of merit is a site’s traffic, the number of people who visit the site in a given period. All of the dueling press releases about which job board is #1 in visitors is a direct response to this view. While traffic can be generated by good content, however, it can also be the product of good marketing. More importantly, traffic defines recruiting value in quantitative, not qualitative terms. While candidate flow is definitely important to good recruiting, “largest” or “busiest” does not necessarily equate to “best.” Why? Because undifferentiated candidate flow is not the same as useful candidate flow-the flow of truly superior candidates in the specific career field for which you are recruiting.
  • Another common criteria used to evaluate a job board, at least implicitly, is an employer’s own brand. Here, of course, the job board to which I’m referring is the one in the career area on your corporate Web-site. If you’re lucky enough to be recruiting for a company with a world class consumer brand, then there’s no better source of recruiting value than your company’s own Web-site. At least, that’s the mantra these days, and it is certainly a possibility. All but a very small handful of company career sites, however, never make that possibility a reality. Why? Because the information that’s typically provided at corporate career sites-all those job postings and benefits descriptions-has value to only one kind of prospect-active job seekers. And, according to at least one recent study, they account for just 16% of the workforce. The other 84% of the population that isn’t looking for a job-the prospects we call passive job seekers and “A” level performers-is not only uninterested in such information but often goes out of their way to avoid it.
  • The best recruiting value is not achieved by sites that fashion themselves as the electronic equivalent of either the classified ad section in newspapers or the old fashioned employment application. The sites that will give you consistent access to qualitatively superior prospects in the career fields for which you recruit use different information differently. In the process, they provide an entirely different (i.e., more rewarding) experience for their visitors and, as a result, generate a better yield for the recruiter.

  • Different information. The site provides information that is helpful to prospects when they aren’t looking for a job as well as when they are. It enables them to change jobs and manage their careers. Sure, they can check out the job postings, but they can also expand their knowledge in their field, get exposed to new developments and issues in their industry, learn about the work of their peers, and even share the results of their own work.
  • Used differently. The site offers information in more than one format. It engages prospects by giving them the opportunity to read and to write. In other words, the site provides great content and great interactive, information-based activities (e.g., listservs, blogs). These activities enable prospects to meet their peers online and develop relationships with them. They can read about the state-of-the-art in their field, and they can converse with others to find a mentor, to get advice on a thorny issue with their boss, and even to point out a great opportunity that has just opened up with their employer.

    The different experience that occurs at sites that use different information differently is a sensibility, an aura that emerges among visitors. Such sites have recruiting value because they create a place where non-job seekers feel welcomed and valued. They attract the passive job seeker and the “A” level performer because they build a bond-a “unitness”-between them and the site and between them and all of the others who visit the site. In a world that seems increasingly fragmented and disjointed, these sites create a virtual community or village-over-used words for a seldom realized creation: A Web-site that encourages anyone, but especially the most reluctant and most accomplished prospects among us, to feel at home and special.

    Sadly, such an experience is not the stock-in-trade at many employment-related sites today. There is absolutely no reason why that has to be the case, however. All that’s required is a change in the information that such sites provide, a change in the way they provide that information, and a change in the information literacy of recruiters. If we can accomplish our change, the other two will follow shortly.

    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

    CareerBuilder raised its rate for posting a single 30-day ad from $389 to $419. According to reports, the increase does not affect what the newspapers in the CareerBuilder network charge their clients. The increase is based on improved site performance. Applications are up 50% year-over-year, and traffic is up 15% during the same period. As it has done in the past, CareerBuilder also offers posting packs that enable customers to reduce the price-per-posting. For example, employers and staffing firms that post at least 18 jobs during a year can lower their price-per-posting to $270.

    The Conference Board released the results of its survey of job seeker behavior online. Despite the doomsday prophesies for the newspaper industry, 70% of the respondents in the survey said they used both newspapers and online ads in their search for employment. In addition, those two media ranked above other oft-cited methods for connecting with candidates, including networking and the use of staffing firms. What lesson should we take from these findings? I think they suggest that multimedia ads may well represent the best way to improve the quality of your yield. A multimedia ad integrates a print classified with a job posting. The purpose of the first ad is to use the limited (and relatively expensive) space on the printed page to capture the attention of top prospects and direct them to the online ad; the purpose of the online ad is to use the greater (and relatively less expensive) space of the Web to provide a complete and compelling description of your opening. The combination-if well integrated-reaches more prospects with a stronger message than either ad can achieve by itself.

    The Human Resource Outsourcing Association reported the principal reasons why employers choose not to outsource their recruiting function. According to the association, the top five reasons are:

  • The employer doesn’t want to lose control of its process-52%
  • The employer wants a return on the investment it’s already made in people and technology-32%
  • The cost of recruitment process outsourcing-25%
  • The employer’s unfamiliarity with how recruitment process outsourcing works-19% and
  • The employer or a key executive had a bad experience with outsourcing in the past-17%.
  • All of these responses make sense, but in my opinion, they do not represent the single most important reason for not outsourcing-losing control of your employment brand. An e-brand is not some cute advertising jungle or even a compelling statement in the Career area on your corporate site. It is the sum of the experiences a candidate has when interacting with your organization and its representatives. It’s hard enough to optimize that experience when you’re dealing with your own employees and hiring managers. When you turn the activities that define the candidate experience over to an outsourcer, however, the potential for harming your e-brand escalates exponentially.

    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.