Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Job Boards - Misconceptions and Realities: Part 2

OK, so my view on Job Boards have changed lately. Why? Much of it has to do with how I view the workforce today. This past year, there has been much debate about 'Active' and 'Passive' job seekers. 'Active' job seekers are the only ones that spend time on the job boards and are generally low in quality. 'Passive' job seekers are the "holy grail" and must be found at all costs as the best talent is represented there. I don't buy that, too black-and-white to me.

Instead, I prefer the way that Lou Adler segments the workforce. According to Lou, the workforce is split into four categories: Active, Less Active, Semi-Passive, and Passive. Those in the Active category need a job, are on the job boards every day, have their resumes posted there, and although good candidates can be found here, the quality overall tends to be low. Active job seekers represent about 15% of the workforce (note: the numbers that Lou uses do vary depending on industry, market, etc. So for in the NYC Public Accounting market for example, the proportion of the Active market is probably more like 5%, less than 1% during the 'busy season'.

The next, and most relevant category is the Less Active category. These people have a job and actually might be content in that job. If they visit the job boards, they do so sporadically, probably when they have had a bad day at the office, or possibly when they feel they can do better in their career than they are currently. Less Active job seekers are looking for a Better job, and represent about 15% of the workforce (again, a variable number, when the Active percentage goes down, the Less Active percentage goes up). Less Active job seekers are less likely to have their resume posted anywhere (although it could be one of those 'confidential' ones you see out there). According to Lou, quality talent is well represented in this category.

The final two categories, Semi-Passive and Passive, account for the balance of the workforce. Those in the Semi-Passive category are unlikely to ever visit a job board, you need to find them, they are not looking for you. They will make a change for a Much Better opportunity, and it is this category I believe that most refer to as 'Passive' candidates. Those in the Passive category are not open to making a change at all.

Why is this important? When you get past the Active vs. Passive myth, and segment the workforce out further (Lou's segmentation is just one of several I have seen), the true value of the Job Boards comes into play. You see that as much as one-third of the workforce uses the Job Boards, and that there is actually alot of good talent represented there. That siad, what I have come to realize is just how important well written, compelling job postings are.

The resume databases on these job boards filled with Active job seekers don't add alot of value IMO as a source of quality candidates. Quality can be found there, but you have to sort through alot to get to who you really want, and even then you are competing against the rest of the world for that talent. As mentioned earlier, there are good Active job seekers that will apply for your jobs, the key is to maximize attracting the quality candidates while discouraging unqualified candidates from applying.

But the true value is in appealing to the Less Active category. This category is what makes using the Job Boards worthwhile. There is alot of great talent to attract, but you have to know how to attract that talent better than anyone else. This is where you, the recruiter, has the most impact. Less Active job seekers tend to be more discriminating in which opportunities they choose to consider. Your opportunities need to speak to their skills and interests, deliver a compelling message, and then engage them to want to be considered for those roles. This is where most recruiting organizations fall short.

The Job Boards are to blame for not delivering on their promise of 'better candidates faster'. When all is said and done though, you the recruiter has the most impact on your success with the Boards. More on this in my next post next week.

Until then, have a happy and safe New Year!!!

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Job Boards - Misconceptions and Realities: Part 1

A new year is upon us and I'm now two months into my new job. I'll be putting in a couple of days this week, organizing, reading, and thinking. One of the subjects I've been thinking alot about lately is Job Boards. I admit that I've been all over the map on this subject the past few years. 4-5 years ago, I was thriving on the big job boards as there were great candidates in my industry everywhere, applying daily for the jobs I had to fill. It wasn't a matter of finding great talent to apply, it was more of a challenge of trying to 'separate the wheat from the chaff'. I was 'Pro' Job Board all the way.

When I moved from Telecom back into the world of government contracting in 2003, my view on job boards quickly changed course. The job market in the gov't contracting sector was radically different, and job boards were not nearly as effective. I saw the same candidates on any of the major and/niche job boards day-after-day. I learned to rely on more on strategies to attract less-active/semi-passive candidates such as employee referral and other networking techniques. Job Boards still provided a trickle of quality candidates, but as a source the Boards were unreliable at best. I had gone from 'Pro' to 'Anti' very quickly.

As much as I was moving away from using Job Boards, I was still hearing the demand from colleagues for more access to more job boards, more resume databases, thinking that 'More' was the answer. The Job Boards had effectively sold 'More' as the answer to the Corporate Recruiting world over the past decade, and that is a promise that has largely gone unfulfilled. The Job Boards created a model where 'post it and they will come' was the mantra, whereas the reality is much more 'post and pray'. As I watched my colleagues continue to struggle with the Job Boards, my view of the Boards as a source continued to sour.

At my current employer, I am hearing a variety of views from those in our recruiting organization as to their opinions of the Job Boards, ranging from those who want more access to more Job Boards to those who have almost wrote them off completely. I am a centrist in my thinking, and believe that the answer to most questions typically lies somewhere between the extremes. The more that I have thought about the value of the Boards in today's recruiting environment, the more that my view of the Job Boards has begun to change, from that of having 'written them off', to gaining a better understanding their true value in the recruiting source spectrum.

Although Job Boards will likely never provide a sizable yield of quality candidates as a source, there are still good candidates to be found there. Overall, I have come to realize that it doesn't concern me as much where the candidate came from, whether they were 'active' or 'passive', I only care if they are a 'quality' candidate or not. Relying on the Job Boards as a key component to your recruiting strategy won't get you what you need, but dismissing them as a source does not help you either.

In my next post, we will explore some of the current misconceptions about job boards in greater detail, and in future posts, I plan to explore further how Job Boards can be a more effective part of your recruiting strategy.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

NRT: Desperation Gift Guide

A Non Recruiting Topic (NRT) for you this holiday season with a little holiday humor, via Dave Barry's Desperation Gift Guide. This ranks right up there with the video as one of the funniest things I have seen of late. My personal favorites include the 'Snow-thrower cab', the 'Toilet Monster', the 'Pee-pee teepee' and the 'Marie Antoinette Action Figure'. So, if anyone is still looking for a gift for me...or if anyone is expecting a gift from me for that matter ;-)

Happy holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

First, Become a Tipping Point Maverick To Be Great In a Flat World

I’ve been a big business-book reader of late, learning how to Break the Rules, then go from Good To Great, why the World Is Flat, and how Tipping Points create epidemics. Each of these books have been fascinating reads, and all have implications on talent acquisition. I was even inspired to write an article on ERE this summer while reading one of these books.

In my new role, I am consumed by the need for us to A) differentiate ourselves, and B) achieve greatness in our recruiting capabilities. Earlier this year at the ERExpo in San Diego, I saw Bill Taylor, founding editor of Fast Company Magazine, speak about what great organizations did to differentiate themselves from the competition and succeed in markets where everyone else was failing. Much of what he spoke about that morning has stuck with me, so much so that today I finally went out and bought his newest book, ‘Mavericks at Work’.

My new employer has significant competitive challenges when it comes to talent acquisition in our industry. To succeed, I need to know what our competition is doing, not to model and replicate, but to exceed and differentiate. It’s not going to be reasonable for us to build similar talent acquisition models to compete, so we need to find other ways.

Over lunch, I read the introduction to ‘Mavericks’ and a couple quotes hit me right away as being a dead-on match for how we need to think and operate moving forward, including:
“You can’t do big things as a competitor if you’re content with doing things
only a little better than the competition”
“The strong take from the weak”, according to Hall-of-Fame basketball coach Pete Carril, “but the smart take from the strong”.
We are just getting started here. To attract, engage and hire great talent in our industry, we need to find smart ways to do recruit much better than the competition with the resources we have available. The good news is that we have a great employment value proposition, we have clear differentiators, we are growth oriented, we are focused on being the best in our market-niche, and we are open-minded. So the proper mindset appears to be in place. I’m excited about where this might lead, so stay tuned for more on what will come from us as we build for the future. More on the book as well. Can't wait to read more!

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Meeting People Is Easy

Starting my 5th week here at the new gig, and I'm meeting some great people every day. At the end of the day yesterday, I bumped into a fellow 'newby' (just starting her 3rd week) whose expertise is in CRM. We chatted for a few minutes, I mentioned and she gave me an 'bleh' look. Not a fan obviously. We agreed that we had much to talk about in the future though.

We are starting an ATS RFP here, and I'm going to be looking into other recruiting technologies for the firm as well (this is not an invite for vendors to start spamming me, thank you). I think I know what CRM is from the sales perspective, but that is just based upon what I have read, primarily through recruiting-related articles. It will be interesting to get the perspective from someone who really understands how this software works and how it can and should be applied in a variety of situations. During our brief discussion, I mentioned how most ATSs have been lacking in their CRM capabilities, despite the outcry for this functionality from the recruiting world. I told her how this has limited recruiters abilities to communicate more effectively with candidates, to which she then added "prospects too". She gets it. I smiled.

As I explore sourcing-function options for the firm, CRM capability will be a key ingredient to our success. It's great that I made this internal connection and that someone outside of recruiting recognized that Candidates are Customers, and that CRM technology is critical to engaging both.

* BTW, this blog post title comes from a brilliant concert movie by Radiohead from 1998. Not as big of a Radiohead fan as I once was, but there's unreleased material ("Big Boots", "Follow Me Around", "Big Ideas") from that film that is some of my favorite work by them.