The Internet, with more than 500 million Web pages, is a vast database with few signposts. It’s incredibly easy to lose your way, but searching it methodically is possible. A good understanding of search engines and how they work is essential; it provides the roadmap for finding the people you need. First, what they’re not. Directories aren’t search engines. Places like Yahoo, Newhoo , or the Mining Company are directories, a bit like telephone yellow pages. You can find a category of interest and browse the Web listing. Directories are great if you want a collection of links to a particular subject, but with few exceptions, they’re not too helpful in finding the passive candidates you’re looking for. And, because they’re created by people who review Web sites or receive URL submissions from others, they just don’t have the same number of listings as search engines do. Search engines don’t have built-in categories. And they don’t rely on people. Instead, they use an automated program, often called a spider, that traverses the Web and hunts for pages. It reads them and puts the information into its index. This is a key difference between search engines and directories. The indexes of the major search engines contain millions of pages. When you enter your search query, the software that the search engine uses looks at your keywords and then scans everything in its index. When all the pages are found, they’re ranked in order of relevance and you get the results. But, as you know from experience, a simple keyword search can bring back thousands, even millions of matches – many of which have little relation to the candidates you’re seeking. How come? Much of it has to do with where in the page and how often your keywords were found. Let’s say you look for “resume.” Many search engines will go through their indexes, looking at the title of the Web page, any headers on it, and even the meta tags (which are part of the HTML coding that doesn’t even show up on the page). If the word appears often and in those locations, you get a higher ranking hit. So if a page contains lots of instances of “resumes,” it will rank more highly than will Joe Doe’s simple resume page where “resume” only appears once (if at all) in the title. Instead, you’ll get back loads of recruiting sites looking for resumes; companies offering to write resumes; or career centers with information about resumes. In other words, this page, because of this “resume” paragraph alone, will probably appear higher in the search results – leaving poor Mr. Doe at number 2147. What to do? Learn the quirks of each search engine you use. Understand how they index and what “formula” they use to determine relevancy. You’ll find that some are better for finding certain information than are others, just because of the way they work. Take a look, too, at the Web resumes you already have. See if you can spot a trend in the types of words that appear often. Consider the help sections of each search engine to be required reading for developing your Internet research skills. Over the next few weeks, I’ll talk about individual search engines and how to get the most out of each of them. Next week – Site Visit: AltaVista.
A well-selected workforce is essential to the running of a good business. Crains New York Business in “Giving disabled workers a new start” (June 29, 1998; page 11) addresses “alternative employment” due to the changing nature of disability. The availability of technology that allows disabled people to work with supports has increased opportunities for employers and employees alike. Simple adjustments such as magnetic telephones or magnifying glasses are minimal in cost, contrary to the overall industry misconception that accommodations are high-priced. To overlook the disabled population limits an employer’s pool in terms of selecting qualified employees. “Integrating Disabled Employees”, a research study conducted by The Department for Education and Employment in the United Kingdom took a close look at the cost and benefits of employing individuals with disabilities. Findings released in March 1998 indicated that the financial benefits of hiring disabled workers far outweigh the initial cost. In fact, a large majority of employers incur no additional expense in employing the disabled. The typical cost of an accommodation was $200 while the typical benefit was calculated at $10,000. Often “mainstream” employees reap the benefit of an accommodation as “secondary beneficiaries” of those accommodations. For example someone with back problems takes advantage of a specially designed chair. Screen savers were initially developed in response to complaints from workers who claimed disability as a result of the job. Wrist supports were developed in response to workers who complained of what was later identified as carpal tunnel syndrome. These accommodations are now found in every workplace to the advantage of all employees. When recruiting, it is well worth the effort to seek out people with disabilities. Due to discrimination in employment people with a disability will sometimes seek assistance in finding work from their local Office of Vocational and Rehabilitation, VESID (Vocational and Educational Services for People with Disabilities), and college offices for students with Disabilities. These are all resources available to recruiters. Disabled people are committed and outstandingly loyal and most often a reasonable adjustment takes imagination, not money. It is well worth the investment.
Most of us look at retention as a closed issue. People either choose to stay with our company or leave. As many of you know by now, I always take the longer-term view of a situation and I have learned that staying in touch with people after they leave your company can be your Midas touch. How? When someone decides to leave, make that parting a positive event. I suggest that no matter how difficult it is for you to see the person move on, it is more important that you immediately start recruiting them back. I don’t mean that you become a pest or that you force yourself on anyone. And, I don’t suggest you try to undermine or discredit their new employer. Rather, take a broad and positive approach and invite them to stay in email or telephone contact, invite them to any event that seems appropriate. For example, I once invited a former employee to a bachelor party for a person with whom the employee had worked. These simple acts can keep your database about the candidate up-to-date and improve or even repair any issues the employee may have had with your company. Remember, people usually choose leaders or bosses to work for, not companies. Many of us work in companies that are less than wonderful because we have a great boss! Make sure the former employee stays on relevant mailing lists such as that for the company newsletter. And perhaps once or twice a year make it clear to that former employee that you would consider hiring them back. I don’t know haw many times I have heard a candidate express the desire to return to a former employer but feels that because they resigned, they are not welcome back. If you are NOT making your former employees welcome, you are losing out on good people for pride and principal. Facing the fact that we all have to try new things and experiment makes it easier to accept these employees back. These former employees also have gained in skills and appeal, in my mind, because they have had a completely new experience in another company. They can bring in valuable information about how that company does business and about what its strengths and weaknesses are. The former employee also brings in new viewpoints and can challenge accepted ways of doing things. This is especially valuable because they probably understand why something is being done a certain way in your company and know what to challenge. They understand your internal politics and have a better sense of timing than a completely new employee would. There may be other ways you can increase the appeal of your company, especially if the person has left to start his or her own business or to become a consultant, by using their services on a contract basis. Why not use a known quantity? Sure beats experimenting with some new provider. Offer former employees small favors for referring candidates to you. Use them as part of your extended sourcing network. But, most of all, make them a key part of your overall sourcing and recruiting strategy and don’t just say goodbye when they leave. This can really be your Midas touch in finding great people quickly. Sure would like to hear from all of you about techniques you may have used to keep in touch and lure former employee’s back. Send them to kwheeler@ricochet.
It’s Monday. Again. Maybe this morning you woke up tired of the hunt. And even though thousands of new pages are added to the Web each day, you’re just not inspired to extract the relevant ones this morning. So, don’t. That’s right, don’t. Stop for a while and build something where the candidates you need come and find you. Richard Seltzer refers to this as the “flypaper” technique-a rather apt term. We humans are social beings. We like to find others who share our interests, who speak our language, who think about similar things. The Internet connects us-whether we’re across the hall or across the world. It lets us find others who share our interests, our concerns, our passions. With them we can feed our social needs. The Internet makes it pretty easy to find communities of like minds. Simple searching for keywords– or for concepts that are important to us– leads us to them. But these aren’t communities in the typical sense. There’s not a central gathering place, per se. Rather, it’s a community built by the searcher who finds those who’ve created sites of interest. Who then takes the steps to contact the people associated with those sites. Who, in turn, stay in contact and who share other names. So, think. If you build a page highlighting information that the people you need are interested in, they will come to you. Let’s say you need a programmer with lots of languages and a few years of experience. Think of what she’s interested in, what she might search for. Competent programmers keep up on news related to their profession, sure. But more than that, there are additional interests. Use those, too. Perhaps she’d like to see a directory of all relevant newsgroups, or programming sites. Perhaps she’d like easy access to email addresses of others like her. Or you can also build from what you do know. If the firm you’re hunting for promotes social activism, chances are that their employees share that interest. Find out about what’s going on in that arena. Build a site that talks about programmers’ contributions to activism. Or maybe the company is located in Chicago, land of architectural wonder. Maybe the programmer you’re looking for has a passion for architecture– or blues. So, talk about the wonders of the cityscape and the myriad music venues. Create a guestbook. Invite feedback. Make your email address prominent. The idea is to give your visitors a variety of ways to make themselves known to you. Not all will have the skills you need, but many may. So build away. Forge a path. Create a virtual community where people will flock to you-like flies to flypaper.
It is a simple fact that there are shortages of people with good skills looking for jobs, and a REAL shortage of people with programming and other specific technical skills. We are all scrambling around to find great people, devoting lots of time and energy to sleuthing and marketing, and neglecting the one thing that will probably make all the difference over time. That is to have a long term perspective on staffing and the realization that effective recruiting involves creatively marketing and attracting potential employees, and those who influence them, over long periods of time. What do I mean? Companies with a strategic approach to staffing begin developing candidates when they are in high school and perhaps even sooner. Some companies are embracing a concept of recruiting that goes from kindergarten to post retirement levels with very specific and well planned interventions and activities at each of these levels. At the kindergarten level, companies are preparing teachers and providing them information and resources about their industry and about the kinds of skills and knowledge they seek in employees. This can be loosely translated into activities and information sessions for the youngest of children. As they mature and progress through school, the kinds of activities and information provided become more specific and more targeted at actual professions and positions and even companies. Internships, summer employment, part-time work during the school year and mentoring programs are all integral parts of successful programs. Some cities have established “academies” or special schools dedicated to a specific career vector such as business and finance, health care, technology, or some similar area. These academies provide an opportunity for students to explore professions without commitment, and allow employers to learn what works in terms on effective marketing and training in attracting students to their companies. Certainly not all students who take advantage of internships and other programs will become employees, but enough will to make the approach cost effective. These programs also reduce assimilation time and speed up time to productivity. They are also net contributors to society, enriching the students and the community. This is more than can be said for traditional recruitment activities which, I believe, contribute little to improving the community or its citizens. NAd, the programs continue after employment. As employees take on responsibilities, pre-paid educational opportunities, in-house degree programs, virtual learning experiences and action learning projects continue to develop a more and more sophisticated work force capable of growing faster than the company does. Career development becomes a major tool for growing and retaining a competent workforce. So, rather than have to devote energy to searching for what often turn out to be employees with moderate to lengthy learning curves and spotty records of success, energy can be focused on developing known employees with documented skills and cultural compatibility. Again, this enriches the entire company by continuing to nuture and build a community. Of course, new people need to be added to the mix on a regular basis to prevent “in-breeding” and “group think.” Most of this is not new. IBM, Xerox, HP and scores of other companies have been locating great people early, helping them gain needed skills, and continuing to invest in their on-going education. What IS new is the extension of the concept to the elementary and high schools and often to senior citizens, as well. Senior citizens, recent retirees, and older people looking for part-time work are another source of employees. Smart companies, rather than let good older employees retire completely, offer part time, flexible, and even seasonal work schedules to these people. This lowers payroll costs, provides the older workers with some modest benefit protection, and provides the company with a loyal and trained worker at less cost than it takes to recruit and train a new high school or college graduate. Are you prepared? The demographics say clearly: there will not be enough workers over the next twenty to thirty years to fuel the expected and needed economic growth of our country. Recruiting is a long cycle process, not a short term intervention. Those who understand this and capitalize on it will be the winners in the 21st century.
Complex search queries have their place, to be sure. But so, too, do the advanced search features of Alta Vista . Take a moment to think about what you’re looking for. If you’re after the passive candidate, he or she is often already employed. Through lots of searching you might find an employee directory of a company (or 2 or 3). But, there’s also an easier way. Employed people are often called “personnel” or “staff” or “workers” depending on the HR department. So, start there. Think creatively. Try a search for “title:personnel.” On the first page alone, you’ll see personnel listings from ACVS Personnel– complete with name, email and job function. Overduin Labs and Walworth Labs, also found on the first page, each provide names of biochemists and additional links. On the next page, there’s a link to finance personnel. Okay. This is good for those of us who are curious, but it’s not an incredibly effective use of time since it could take ages to find personnel files in the industry we need. So narrow it down a bit. Maybe you want to do some cold calling for computer people but need to add to your database first. Consider a search for “title:phone directory AND computer.” The first page of Alta Vista returns links to the Navy, computer technicians, computer trainers, and a couple of universities and large health care organizations. A search for “title:contractor +sap -submit -add -post” brings up a veritable host of independent workers, contact info, experience and more. You get the idea. Creative thinking isn’t always easy. It requires looking at something from a fresh perspective. Make a list of the common words that describe what you’re looking for. Then list any similar words next to them. Use a thesaurus if you want. Then, try word association to trigger new ideas. There are millions of pages on the Web. Not all are indexed high in the search engines. Not all are designed so that spiders find them and catalogue them in logical ways. So, think differently. Practice creative searching.
A well-selected workforce is essential to the running of a good business. Crains New York Business in “Giving disabled workers a new start” (June 29, 1998; page 11) addresses “alternative employment” due to the changing nature of disability. The availability of technology that llows disabled people to work with supports has increased opportunities for employers and employees alike. Simple adjustments such as magnetic telephones or magnifying glasses are minimal in cost, contrary to the overall industry misconception that accommodations are high-priced. To overlook the disabled population limits an employer’s pool in terms of selecting qualified employees. “Integrating Disabled Employees”, a research study conducted by The Department for Education and Employment in the United Kingdom took a close look at the cost and benefits of employing individuals with disabilities. Findings released in March 1998 indicated that the financial benefits of hiring disabled workers far outweigh the initial cost. In fact, a large majority of employers incur no additional expense in employing the disabled. The typical cost of an accommodation was $200 while the typical benefit was calculated at $10,000. Often “mainstream” employees reap the benefit of an accommodation as “secondary beneficiaries” of those accommodations. For example someone with back problems takes advantage of a specially designed chair. Screen savers were initially developed in response to complaints from workers who claimed disability as a result of the job. Wrist supports were developed in response to workers who complained of what was later identified as carpal tunnel syndrome. These accommodations are now found in every workplace to the advantage of all employees. When recruiting, it is well worth the effort to seek out people with disabilities. Due to discrimination in employment people with a disability will sometimes seek assistance in finding work from their local Office of Vocational and Rehabilitation, VESID (Vocational and Educational Services for People with Disabilities), and college offices for students with Disabilities. These are all resources available to recruiters. Disabled people are committed and outstandingly loyal and most often a reasonable adjustment takes imagination, not money. It is well worth the investment.
As in print publications, recruitment advertising on the Internet usually has several objectives. Obviously, the first and most important is to locate high caliber candidates for an organization’s open positions at the lowest possible cost. Often, a second objective is to build the public image of the organization, both as an attractive employer and as a high quality provider of goods or services. And increasingly, at least in cyberspace, yet another goal is to cut the time and effort involved in identifying prospective candidates so that recruiters can devote more attention to evaluation and selection. In order to meet these objectives, recruitment Web-sites must capture eyeballs. In other words, they must generate both initial and sustained traffic by visitors to their site. First, they have to promote their location on the Internet as an attractive destination for the kinds of people an organization is seeking to recruit so that these prospective candidates will visit the site the first time, AND then they have to provide an experience at the site that is interesting, educational, entertaining and/or worthwhile enough to get those prospective candidates to return to the site over and over again. Market share is one way to measure a site’s effectiveness in attracting visitors, but there are other factors which should be considered, as well. Indeed, a strong promotional campaign will often get a person to visit a site one time (which is clearly important), but it is the site itself–its design–that will determine if they ever come back. Barb Ruess, the Director of Marketing at E.Span (www.espan.com), puts it this way: “There were three key tenets to our site’s design: functionality, which made it easy for visitors to get to where they wanted to go on the site; graphics, or the look and feel of the site, which made it easy to use and enjoy what they found there; and content, which gave them a reason to pay us another visit.” All of a site’s visitors are important (and measured in market share) as they make up the pool of prospective candidates who will read a recruitment ad, but repeat visitors are the engine of successful recruiting. They are the “loyal audience” to which a site can offer employers ccess… consistently and with confidence, whether an ad is posted this week or next year. So, what determines the number of repeat visitors to a site and the level of their loyalty? Basically, people come back to a site when it satisfies two criteria: (1) they get what they want and/or expect and (2) they enjoy themselves in the process. And the only way to determine which sites meet those criteria (and hence, represent a good potential return on your investment) is to walk awhile in the job seeker’s shoes on the “information superhighway.” For both active and passive job seekers, the key to the first criterion is great jobs with great employers. In other words, one of the most effective ways to evaluate whether or not candidates will visit, stay for any length of time at and return to a site–and thereby give your recruitment ad a chance to work–is to determine the company your organization will keep at the site. Ask the sites you are considering for a list of those organizations which have recruited with them in the last 90 days and for the kinds of jobs (i.e., occupational field, skill level, salary) they posted. Then ask yourself, whether those opportunities with those employers would attract the kind of candidate you are seeking. If the answer is yes, move on to the second criterion; if the answer is no, move on to another Web-site. The only way to evaluate a recruitment Web-site against the second criterion is to pay it a visit on-line. Indeed, I recommend that you never place an ad on a site until you have “test driven” it from a job seeker’s perspective. If you don’t enjoy the experience, chances are the candidates won’t, as well; and when that happens, your ad will either get ignored, or worse, your organization’s image will be tarnished by its association with the site. Here are some other issues you should consider when visiting a site: HOW EASY IS IT TO OPEN THE DOOR? Although seemingly a small point, ease-of-entry can have a huge impact on whether a site is major on-off ramp on the Internet or a back road with much less traffic. As more and more people begin to visit cyberspace for the first time, a site’s appeal will be based on such factors as the length and complexity of the site’s name (e.g., compare www.disserv3.stu.umn.edu/COL to www.occ.com, and it’s easy to figure out which is more “candidate friendly”) and how long it takes to download the site’s content (i.e., you can forget about it if the site takes more than two sips of coffee to move its images and words from the Internet to your–or a candidate’s–computer). HOW EASY IS IT TO FIGURE OUT WHAT’S THERE? Is the lay-out of the first page of the site intuitively obvious to the first time visitor? Does it clearly identify the different sections or areas of the site (e.g., for job seekers, employers) and provide easy access to them? Does it provide a Table of Contents or a “site map” for each or all of those areas so that visitors can quickly determine what’s available on the site (for first time visitors) and what has recently changed there (for repeat visitors)? HOW EASY IS IT TO GET WHERE YOU WANT TO GO? Does the site provide good navigability? For example, if you click on a word or image to go to one area of the site, there should be a clearly identified way to return to your original location. A good Web-site design will make it easy to go “forth AND back.” It will also provide a way (a) to return to the first or home page of the site, so that you can start all over again if you lose your bearings within the site’s content and (b) to move from one major content area (e.g., the database of job openings) to another (e.g., the database of resumes).
Last week we discussed some theories of the causes of turnover. We referred to research done by Peter Hom and Rodger Griffeth. Many of you have asked for more information about them, so here it is: Peter Hom is in the Department of Management at Arizona State University and Rodger Griffeth is at Georgia State University. They wrote a rather academic, but excellent book, called “Employee Turnover” in 1995. It was published by the South-Western College Publishing and has an ISBN number of 0-538-80873-X. If you would like a detailed and very analytic discussion of the literature and research on turnover and retention, this book may be for you. Last week, we also promised to discuss retention tools, or those practices and ideas that could reduce turnover. There are four main practices that every company can use to stem turnover. The first is PAY. Although many have downplayed the importance of compensation, the research continues to show that people who feel well and fairly paid are less likely to leave than those who feel inadequately or unfairly paid. Companies such as Apple Computer in its heyday were well known for paying generously in both cash and in stock options. Many hundreds of employees stayed happily at Apple (and in fact did not want to leave even when times were very tough there) partly because of their perception of very fair pay. IBM retained people easily for decades (perhaps even retained too many) by offering one of the most generous pay and benefit packages in the world. The second is BENEFITS. Personally, I believe that this is one of the most powerful of retention tools, and some research shows that the broader and more extensive the perceived benefit package is, the higher the acceptance rate is for job offers. Those companies with generous time off policies, sabbaticals, dependent care leave policies, leaves-of-absences with benefit retention, and so one are those with low turnover rates. The next is FAIRNESS. Fairness continues to show up in a number of studies as a key determinate of satisfaction and hence the desire to stay. While not being fairly paid may not immediately precipitate a job search, it opens the crack that eventually splits the person from the company. The fourth is ROLE CONFLICT. Increasingly people are torn between family, children, aging parents, and their jobs. Those companies that have instituted policies and procedures for employees to allow flexibility and control over their working time have less turnover. This flexibility can be created by flexible work hours, telecommuting, part-time or job sharing policies, and other similar practices. While many of these practices seem to be just common sense, very few companies have robust practices in these areas. I see many startup companies with stringent human resources policies that are quite restrictive, poor pay but generous stock option packages that are increasingly felt to be unlikely sources of wealth, and unfair and unclear compensation practices where “hot shots” get paid well but others perceive that they are not. Practices such as these are sure to increase turnover and create a dissatisfied workforce ready to churn and change at a whim. Good HR practices and policies are powerful retention tools. See you next week.
If you find that searching the Internet isn’t producing the candidates you want, maybe it’s time to change your ways. Let’s consider two prevailing cardinal rules. First, know what you’re looking for before you start your search. And, second, automate wherever you can. For the first rule, think about the position you need to fill. Talk to the hiring manager or the department manager to find as many specific position-related words as you can. Then, arm yourself with those keywords to focus your search. In the past, you would look for a Cobol person; now, you’ll try adding “mainframe,” “debugging,” “telon,” “cobol-II,” “cce,” “cics,” “mvs/vsam,” and other descriptors that surfaced from your talk. Remember to include the Boolean operators AND NOT to exclude words commonly found in job postings. For the second rule, think robots. For better or worse, these robots can’t roll up their sleeves and do all the legwork for us. But, there are a number of software applications, both free and paid, designed to expedite your searches. The better ones are quick, let you build Boolean searches, save results in a database, and allow you to make notations within the files. The beauty of robots is that while they’re slaving away gathering more names for you, you’re making contact with the names you already have. Whether you’re new to Internet recruiting or a skilled practitioner, you know there’s a skill to constructing effective search queries. For some people, the skill is intuitive; for others, it’s acquired over time or with help. But, once you’ve mastered it, don’t bother doing the actual search alone. Let the robots roam.
We are a society that lives by standard expectations, norms and procedures. You want a job-you write a resume, read the paper, network, fax, call, and interview and with a combination of luck, timing, and talent, you are hired. If you recruit people for jobs-you utilize high tech methods, job fairs, networking, and selling-and voila, you have found the “perfect match”. The hiring of a “welfare to work” population, does not fall within these norms, thus the course of events leading to the recruitment and hiring of individuals who are traditionally difficult to employ must change in order to be successful. Is it worth it to you? Think carefully before attempting recruiting because successful outcomes will follow only if you are willing to think and act in non-traditional ways. Don’t bother making a one shot effort and say – “I tried”. If you do you, as many other before you will feel a tremendous sense of frustration and perhaps even a sense of “I knew this wouldn’t work”. You certainly won’t be alone with this feeling. Recipients of welfare may experience difficulty getting from one place to another. Often they have never left their limited neighborhoods – born raised, grown in the same ten block radius that is “home”. They know the culture, the people the smell and feel of their own environment. To leave these surroundings to go to a conference or job fair is for many a monumental effort causing extreme anxiety – anxiety so great that they never want to repeat the experience, and so often, even when excited about possibilities, will never make it to an interview. This is just the travel – what about when they get to you? Here you are offering them the world on a silver platter – almost guaranteed employment. One minute they are living in a shelter, on public assistance, and here you are giving them a time and place and letting them know that pretty much all they have to do is show up! What a life transition! By now you must be certain that there is no way this is worth it – to seek to hire a person that can’t even get from point A to point B without raising these major neurotic responses! BUT WAIT – remember all the good news, the rave reviews that these employees are getting, the dedication they show on the job, the loyalty they have to an employer who took a chance on them. So if you are ready to take another shot at this consider the following: * Go to the population – rent out a space in the neighborhood and hold a job fair, you can probably get free space from local community groups, churches, local business and not for profit organizations. * Don’t just recruit – understand. Ask questions about how they came to hear about you, what are their goals, their aspirations, and their fears. This is not what you do? – take someone with you who can focus on these issues as they relate to employment – a trained employment counselor perhaps. This will make the next step easier and maybe they will make it to an interview. * Check your approach – are your expectations too high or too low? Did this come across when you met with the applicant? Take the time to explore their expectations and always ask – what is your motivation to work now? * Follow up after you set an appointment. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to say – “Hi, it was really nice to have met you and I am excited about speaking to you further about possibilities in our company”. Remember the chronically unemployed have integrated many of societies negative stereotypes about themselves. Just hearing encouragement in your voice can often make a tremendous difference. * Link up to job training programs in your area that can or may have already complied an initial applicant screening or employee training for you. That way, you are not interviewing random applicants. Consider this an opportunity to “piggy back” on someone else’s work. These programs are ideal for holding mini job fairs. I would close by saying Good Luck – but it’s more than that, it’s good business sense!
“Recruiters spend half their days searching for resumes and not doing the job for which they were hired: to recruit.” That’s the downside of using resume databases, according to Tom Murray, President and CEO of ITTA, the Information Technology Talent Association (www.prorecruiter.com). He calls it the “fishing hole approach” to on-line recruiting. Many recruiters simply aren’t and don’t want to be professional Internet database search experts, so their efforts to find resumes drag on forever and, at the end of the day, often leave them frustrated and, worst of all, empty-handed. The alternative is a class of tools called resume search agents. These tools scurry around the Internet to find and collect the resumes of both active and passive employment candidates. Sometimes called a “robot,” “spider,” “walker” or “crawler,” resume search agents do the grunt work of finding candidates. As Rick Miller, President & CEO of CareerCast (www.careercast.com), puts it, “They give a one-stop shopping capability to recruiters, so they don’t have to spend 8-hours a day running around the Net.” Resume search agents are software programs that either travel to designated sites or wander into any open site along the Information Superhighway. Once inside, they look around for resumes that may be posted there, copy any that are found and bring the copies back to a home location, where they are then processed, usually in one of two ways: (1) they are compared to criteria that you have previously specified and those that match are forwarded directly to your e-mailbox or to your company’s candidate database or resume management system, if you have one; or (2) they are cleaned up–many resumes become garbled in their journey through cyberspace– converted to a standard format and indexed–so they can be easily located and retrieved–and then stored in a database at the vendor’s site. With the e-mail option, you’re likely to be reading tens or even hundreds of messages each day, but those messages will contain the resumes of candidates with qualifications that match the requirements of your position vacancies. With the database option (whether it’s your own or one maintained by the vendor), you’ll still have to develop a working knowledge of Boolean operators, but hopefully you’ll be searching a database with which you’re both familiar and comfortable. In either case, however, you only have to look in one place–on your desktop or in a single site’s database–to find the resumes you want; no more wandering around the Internet, sorting through its multitude of sites to find those which offer the best prospects for your open jobs. Indeed, these agents often search small, niche sites that are not well known to recruiters generally but which often post resumes for very high caliber candidates in select fields, as well as the larger public domain sites, including those operated by search engines, cities, associations, colleges and universities, and user groups. Some of the agents even examine the growing number of individual home pages or mini-personal Web-sites that candidates are launching on the Internet. Equally as important, resume search agents sweep the Internet frequently (some daily, others weekly), ensuring that the resumes they collect are as fresh as possible. Gregg Booth, President of Net-Temps (www.net-temps.com), notes: “We’re finding close to 10% change–either in new resumes added or old ones deleted–on a week-to-week basis, so keeping resumes current is essential to effective recruiting.” There are some downsides to these tools, however. First and perhaps most important, at least a portion of the population of prospective candidates is being missed. Because some sites are open only to clients and others only to those who register with the site, the resume search agents cannot enter every location on the Internet with a candidate database. Second, your candidate search is only as good as the resume search agent. You have to rely on the capability of that software program to read all of the candidate resumes accurately and to match correctly the words it finds with the qualifications you specify. And third, using a resume search agent isn’t free. You pay a fee for the service. Nevertheless, if your hunt for quality candidates on the Internet feels like a seemingly endless process of turning over rocks strewn along the roadside of the Information Superhighway, resume search agents offer a capability that you may want to consider. It is offered by a number of sites, including CareerCast, CareerMosaic (www.careermosaic.com), Net-Temps, PassportAccess (www.passportaccess.com) and ITTA/The Pro-Active Recruiter.
Need a high tech exec? Consider the people finder tool at Corporate Information Technology Services at www.corptech.com. Corp Tech has a database of 45,000 high tech companies and 160,000 high tech executives. Registration is free, but even without registering, you can search their people finder database. The search is easy if you know who you’re looking for. Simply type in lastname AND firstname. But then, if you had the name, you probably wouldn’t need the tool. Without the name, though, the search is a bit more complex. You can’t use keywords, titles, or anything but names. If the search is too broad (e.g., w*), it will return nothing because it limits the results returned to 500. You can tweak it, though, to get some interesting results. For instance, a search for william AND s* brought back 423 names – complete with address, phone, job title, and a brief description of the company. The idea is to enter as common a name-word as you can, add an AND, and follow it with a single letter and asterisk. You could try smith AND p* and get 62 results, richard AND s* for 433 results, or sa* AND ma* for 120. Looking at names as creative puzzles is key.