WEDDLEs

May 26, 2005

Feature: Recruiting Relationships for the Resource Challenged

In the War for Any Talent-the labor market during the late, unlamented dot.com bubble-speed won. The demand for workers was so great, we had to change the definition of victory. Our new goal was to find the first qualified person with a pulse. Whoever achieved that objective first was the victor.

Thankfully, that crazy environment has passed into the history books. The War for Talent, however, has not. It changed into a War for the Best Talent. Our clients now want us to find the rare skill holders and rare performers who will differentiate their enterprise and power its success. We can't rely on speed to do that; we need relationships, instead.

Why relationships? Because the Best Talent is almost always employed. That means we recruiters must convince them to do the one thing humans most hate to do: change. We must talk them into moving from the devil they know-their current employer, supervisor and commute-to the devil they don't know-our employer, a new supervisor and an altered commute. Although there are exceptions to every rule, in most cases, people will not make such a significant shift based on sparse information (hence the need to write complete and compelling job postings) passed to them by a stranger (a recruiter who cold calls or e-mails them). They want information and advice, to be sure, but they want it from someone they know and trust ... from someone with whom they have a relationship.

Now, if you've ever been in a relationship, you know there are two truisms about their evolution. They don't happen over night or by serendipity. They take:

  • time

  • and
  • hard work.

  • And there's the rub. In today's world, most recruiting functions are handcuffed. They simply don't have the staff resources necessary to devote the time and effort required to build relationships with the top talent their organizations need. At least, that's been the case up until now.

    A recent development on the Web may finally be changing that situation. It is not a silver bullet. It does not make up for understaffed and under-resourced staffing teams, but it does provide a way for even the leanest teams to make a start on building talent relationships. I call it recruiting relationships for the resource challenged. What am I talking about? In a word: blogs.

    As you may know, blogs are individual Web logs or diaries. They are written by anyone who has anything at all to say about anything at all. There are blogs authored by the fans of specific TV shows, celebrities and sports team and by political junkies and those who watch the media watching the rest of us; blogs are also written by soldiers in Iraq, by housewives and househusbands, kids and grandparents, consumers and companies and at least one recruiter.

    Heather Hamilton is a recruiter for Microsoft and a blog author. Every day (unless there's a crisis that needs attention), she devotes 30 minutes to an hour writing about what it's like to work and apply for a job in the marketing and finance fields at Microsoft. That investment of time and effort has enabled her to put a human face on a large and seemingly impenetrable (at least if you're a job seeker on the outside looking in) company.

    When prospective candidates read her blog, several good things happen:
  • They hear about the company in something other than corporate speak or generic boilerplate. The information that Heather provides accurately describes Microsoft's policies, procedures and culture, but it's done in her voice and reflects her personality.

  • They can respond to what she writes and even ask questions. Unlike the experience that visitors have at most corporate career sites, a blog doesn't make candidates feel as if they are being talked at. It is not a soliloquy; it is a dialogue.

  • A relationship emerges. A well written blog can make it seem as if the author is speaking to each reader individually, covering the topics that are important to them, providing information that is helpful to them. In effect, a blog can build familiarity and trust.


  • No less important, a blog is not hard to launch. Heather's blog is hosted on the Microsoft server, but is separate from the company's corporate career site. (You can read it by clicking here.) It's almost as easy to set up a blog on your own, however. There are any number of sites, including Blogger.com, Tripod (www.tripod.lycos.com) and BlogBud.com, that will provide a template for creating and launching your blog and host it for free. There are many other sites that will charge you a fee to do so and there are clearly qualitative differences between all of them. So, as with any other service that you use on the Web, caveat emptor.

    Finally, here are a couple of tips to make your blog an effective recruiting tool:
  • Be diligent. Blogs get read only if they're interesting and helpful. Write daily if you can, but no less than 3-4 times a week ... or don't bother.

  • Publicize your blog. Make sure it is listed with all of the major directories of blogs so that people can find you. You can only build relationships with talent if the talent shows up to read your blog.

  • Set ground rules. Tell readers right up front that you intend to moderate comments posted to your blog and reserve the right to eliminate those (or the portions of those) that you find offensive. Don't be the commentary police, but do set standards of civility and enforce them.

  • Answer the mail. If people ask questions, answer them. Be honest and accurate in your response, but try to generalize what you say so that it is applicable to all or many readers.


  • We can't win the War for the Best Talent with the tools we used to wage the War for Any Talent. Speed doesn't win with rare skill holders and rare performers. Relationships do. In a perfect world, we would have the time and staff to build relationships effectively. In the real world, blogs can get us started.

    Thanks for reading,
    Peter

    P.S. May is Make a Colleague Smile Month. How can you do that? Tell them about WEDDLE's newsletter. That'll get them smiling in May, in June, in July and every month after that!



    This Issue's Sponsor: Golden Key International Honour Society

    This issue of WEDDLE's newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Golden Key International Honour Society.

    Premier College Recruiting Event: Golden Key Career Expo, August 13, 2005

    Golden Key International Honour Society, one of the largest collegiate academic honor societies in the world, is offering a unique opportunity for corporate recruiters to meet some of the highest achieving university student talent at one time and in one location. If academic achievement is important in your talent acquisition strategy, you will DEFINITELY want to learn more about the Golden Key International Conference and Career Expo being held August 11-14 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.

    This annual conference brings together over 1,000 of the Society's chapter leaders and best and brightest from around the world for leadership training, personal development and networking opportunities. The Career Expo, held on Saturday, August 13, is an opportunity for recruiters to engage Golden Key's academically accomplished members as well as university advisors within the conference environment.

    To learn more and register for the event, click here or contact Lara Stegman directly at 678-420-6723 or lstegman@goldenkey.org.



    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    CollegeGrad.com reported the results of a recent poll on internships among college students and recent graduates. It found that 87% of the respondents would be willing to accept a summer internship at lower pay than they might receive at other jobs in order to gain experience that would look good on their resume. With more and more kids reporting their intention to live at home after graduation let alone before, this finding is no surprise. Be that as it may, I think it underscores the importance of designing internship programs with care. All too often, they start off with the best of intentions, but with employee vacation schedules and the press of other demands, fall into busy work and boredom by summer's end. The research shows, however, that internships are one of the very best ways to "try out" prospective new hires and accomplish project work that wouldn't otherwise ever get done. Carefully designing an internship program to meet specific work goals and assigning each internee a mentor who will be around all summer long not only provides a meaningful work experience for a college student, but it can be a boon to recruiting, as well.

    ComputerJobs.com launched the ComputerJobs.com Community, a place where IT professionals can gather to discuss careers, technology, current events and other topics. Discussion forums and content cover everything from how to deal with being over qualified to the pros and cons of the new dot-jobs domain. This development is a good example of what the best job boards will be doing over the next 12-18 months; they will be moving from a transactional model that is based on employment to a relationship model that is based on careers (of which employment is a subset). In short, job boards are dinosaurs; these career portals are the future. Why? Because they attract people who aren't looking for a job as well as those who are. We have another phrase for such visitors; we call them passive job seekers. If you want to win the War for the Best Talent, post your ads at a site that attracts those who are already employed but willing to consider a better opportunity.

    ExecuNet released the results of a survey of compensation practices among employers. It found that a growing number of companies are eliminating unearned bonuses and stock options and relying, instead, on performance-based incentives for executive compensation packages. Specifically, there has been a 22% decline in the use of stock options and guaranteed severance, a 17% decline in a guaranteed first year bonus, a 15% decline in the use of employment contracts, and a 7% decline in sign-on bonuses. In a good example of organizations failing to walk the talk, however, the respondents also reported an 8% decline in six-month performance reviews and a 5% decline in performance bonuses ... so much for "performance-based incentives."

    FEjobs.com, a United Kingdom-based site that specializes in the "further education" industry, announced an agreement with The Independent Newspaper in which its online listings will be simultaneously advertised in the print publication. This arrangement provides a good illustration of the vector ad concept I discussed in earlier columns. The basic premise is simple: passive job seekers seldom visit job boards and thus have little experience searching the online job databases located there. They are, for all intents and purposes, "searching illiterates." To help them find your job posting, therefore, you have to give them directions ... in print, in the professional and news publications they are most likely to read. As is the case with FEjobs.com, that means including, in a classified ad, a discrete identifier for a specific posting that the job seeker can then enter into a job database search engine-thereby eliminating all of the hassle with keywords-and find the exact position they want with the complete and compelling description that only an online posting can afford.

    Kennedy Information has launched an educational program on optimizing the candidate experience. I developed and will be presenting this four-part series of audio conferences (with handouts). The basic premise is that the better your candidate experience, the more powerful your employment brand's appeal to the best talent. There are 16 touch points in every organization's recruiting process that influence a candidate's perception of their experience. I'll cover some of the most important in this series, including:

  • Posting Jobs for Passive, "A" Level Performers, to be held on June 9th

  • Finding Prospects Online Who Aren't Looking for a Job, to be held on June 30th

  • Convincing Passive Prospects to Pay Attention and Say "Yes," to be held on September 8th

  • Creating a Process That Sells Even the Most Passive Prospects, to be held on September 29th.

  • One fee covers you and as many colleagues as you would like to have listen in. Plus, you get a free copy of my 2005/6 Guide to Employment Web Sites. For more information and to sign up, please click here or call Karen Bison at 603.924.0900, ext 631.



    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. All of a sudden, everyone needs new marketing materials, and your Marketing Department needs a new graphic designer to keep up. Which of the following sites would erase your progress in finding candidates?

  • GAG.org

  • NFYA.org

  • ArtistResource.org

  • ArtTalent.com


  • 2. You need to find a loan coordinator for your bank. Which of the following sites would cause you to "lose another one" to the competition?
  • CareerBank.com

  • MoneyMovers.com

  • jobsinthemoney.com

  • iHireBanking.com


  • 3. Your IT Department wants you to recruit a Help Desk UNIX technician fast. Which of the following sites would give you the support you need?
  • JustUnixJobs.com

  • Tech-Centric.net

  • s6000.com

  • DevBistro.com



  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite ... from the pages of WEDDLE's 2005/6 Guides and Directories

    Sciencejobs.com
    www.sciencejobs.com

    Post full time jobs: Yes
    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes - All
    Distribution of jobs: International
    Fee to post a job: $195-$275/posting
    Posting period: 56 days
    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes
    Resume database: Yes
    Number of resumes: 8,000
    Source of resumes: Direct from individuals
    Top occupations among resumes: Research-related, Postdoc, Technician
    Other services for employers: Automated resume agent, Banner advertising, Status reports: banners/postings

    Answers to Site Insite
    1. ArtTalent.com, the site of an art gallery in Amsterdam.
    2. MoneyMovers.com, the site of an electronic funds transfer company.
    3. All of them.



    Support Our Sponsor: Golden Key

    This issue of WEDDLE's newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Golden Key International Honour Society.

    Premier College Recruiting Event: Golden Key Career Expo, August 13, 2005

    Golden Key International Honour Society, one of the largest collegiate academic honor societies in the world, is offering a unique opportunity for corporate recruiters to meet some of the highest achieving university student talent at one time and in one location. If academic achievement is important in your talent acquisition strategy, you will DEFINITELY want to learn more about the Golden Key International Conference and Career Expo being held August 11-14 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.

    This annual conference brings together over 1,000 of the Society's chapter leaders and best and brightest from around the world for leadership training, personal development and networking opportunities. The Career Expo, held on Saturday, August 13, is an opportunity for recruiters to engage Golden Key's academically accomplished members as well as university advisors within the conference environment.

    To learn more and register for the event, click here or contact Lara Stegman directly at 678-420-6723 or lstegman@goldenkey.org.



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