I think I have heard the expression “people are our most important asset” a thousand times. And, every time I wince twice. I wince the first time because I know that most executives really believe that labor is a cost, just like steel or semiconductors, and want to get it as cheaply as they can. I wince a second time because an asset is by definition a possession or something we can own and control and we can do neither (legally) to people. So what are our employees? Our employees are really investors in the firm. They just choose to invest their talents, skills, time, and energy in the organization instead of dollars, and they expect a return on that investment just as the dollar investors do. In recruiting terms, this mindset is important for several reasons. First, when you recruit an investor you probably take a different perspective than when you “purchase” an asset. Most companies spend time and executive level attention courting investors, speaking to investor clubs, writing letters and articles in publications aimed at prospective investors and so on. Do they expend the same energy for recruiting top-notch employees? I doubt it. Yet, what would the benefits be if they did? Second, investors can choose to make their investment elsewhere at will, as we all know so well. People who do not feel that they are fairly rewarded for their investment will find somewhere else to invest. They will put their skills and energy to work for whoever understands this need to separate assets from investments. Third, investors need to have a sense of expected return. They want to know what kind of earnings they will get for a given input of funds. An employee instinctively seeks out whatever it is that equates to value to them. That may be job security, salary, flexible benefits, or time off. It may simply be a culture that they find comfortable and lets them express their individuality. Organizations that understand this need for a clearly defined return on investment have low turnover and find it easy to recruit people. Fourth, many people are choosing to become contractors because they then have a contract that spells out the reward they will get for delivery of a service within a certain time frame and at a certain level of quality. We should learn from them that all of us have a need to understand what we will get for our investment. Unfortunately, we often do not make the expectations or rewards clear for regular employees. There is a company in the Midwest that has become well known over the years for its lack of “normal” benefits for workers. This company, Lincoln Electric, has been in business for more than 50 years and yet has no real human resource benefit packages. Employees are paid by the piece, for the work they do; earn as much or as little as they want and are capable of; realize that by gaining more skills they can earn more money; get paid no sick time or vacation time, and vote on the distribution of profits each year. They can vote to improve the physical plant with amenities such as air conditioning or take the profits as cash. They usually vote to take the cash, even though working conditions can be pretty brutal in the middle of the summer. Turnover rate? Virtually zero. Absenteeism? Almost none. Recruiting issues? Standing room only. How does a company with almost no benefits and few amenities get such dedicated employees? Simple. The employees get a clearly understood and fair return on their personal investment of time and energy. Their raises don’t come from who likes them, but from their performance. It is a simple system, but one that works very well. Let’s assume that the top executive team of your firm, whether it is a single individual or ten, invested a few hours each week in activities aimed at marketing the firm to prospective employees. Let’s say that they laid out clearly the return on investment an employee could expect and what their input expectations were of the employee. I believe that the recruiting quality would improve exponentially and that you would have found a way to differentiate your company from the pack. However, you also need to assess candidates as investors as well. Do they have the skills and talents and energy that your firm needs to compete? Do they have the capital to invest that you need? The selection of potential employee-ivestors is much more complicated than that of cash investors because the employee-investor gives us his or her innate abilities, accumulated skills and personal energy rather than an external object like money. Assessing candidates as investors is different, I think, than assessing them as assets. I will devote a column to this topic later. For now, focus on getting management to think of people as investors. Spring is a great time to revitalize, re-educate and re-evaluate. Take a look at your recruiting strategies and messages and try to ensure that you are taking an investor approach and not an asset approach to your employees and candidates.
A cool idea to say the least. Register – for free – with Resume Blaster and you become one of more than 2,800 recruiters who get targeted resumes emailed to them each day. Resume Blaster charges candidates between $49 and $89 to submit their resumes. You aren’t charged anything and you get the resumes you want each day for free. True, you’re not getting passive candidates, but you are getting ones who are ready to talk seriously about new opportunities. How It Works: You can sign on to receive all resumes that are submitted or, more wisely, you can sign on for your targeted markets. Doing this puts you on a discipline-specific list that includes 32 specialties such as sales, IT-programming, healthcare, IT-systems, software engineering, IT-consulting, Telecom, and IT-hardware. The advantages to being on the discipline-specific list are twofold. First, chances are better you’ll get only the resumes that are relevant to your needs. Second, a candidate spends more money to target the recruiter, further ensuring that the resumes you get are suited to your discipline. Considerations: Savvy job hunters know that one need not pay to get a resume into a recruiter’s hands. A visit to Recruiters Online Network and some research time can give anyone the names of respected recruiters and their discipline. Resumes can then be sent free directly to those recruiters. When a recruiter receives a resume this way s/he knows that the candidate has done the homework and can take initiative. So why would a job hunter use Resume Blaster and pay for a service s/he could get for free? They may want to move fast so they can get their resume to a recruiter quickly and easily. Or perhaps they’re willing to pay to take advantage of a very targeted resource. Or they may simply not have the time to do the research that would give them access to the free resources. There’s also a very specific reason. For an additional candidate charge, Resume Blaster includes the ability to conceal the identity of the resume holder. Instead of spreading the name, address, phone number and “real” email address to unknown recruiters, the candidate can pick up a resume blaster address – certainly a plus for (and often used by) higher-level candidates. In the End: When all is said and done, Resume Blaster seems well worth a try. The only bad thing that could happen is your email box gets full-to-overflowing.
Part I of a 3 part series on “Developing A World Class Employment Function” I know dozens of employment directors that claim they want their function to be world class or to become “an employer of choice” but talk is cheap and few seem to have a plan on how to get there. If you are wondering why you are having difficulty recruiting talent, look no further than the tools you use. Just like you can’t compete with Window’s 3.1 software and an Intel 386 processor you can’t recruit the best using 1960 employment tools and strategies. Unfortunately 90% of all employment functions are living in the “old” recruiting world of “placing ads, going to job fairs, and reading resumes.” A few breakout firms (Cisco, Trilogy, World.hire, and Icarian, to name a few) have broken the mold and moved into a higher plane… shifting to web tools, continuous relationship recruiting, and focusing on the quality of the hire. If you are serious about shifting into “WOW” recruiting here are the steps you need to take and the principles you need to adopt. Indications Your Employment Function “Doesn’t Get It” – Do A Quick Audit To Find Out: You can do a quick audit to see if your employment function is “part of the problem or part of the solution!” You are not on your way toward a world class employment function if you can not answer yes to at least 10 or more of these items
- Do you have a continuously updated competitive analysis of your direct competitors employment practices?
If you work for a small to medium-sized company, you feel disadvantaged when it comes to competing for the best candidates. You don’t have dedicated staff to pursue them; you don’t have applicant-tracking systems, and you don’t have the time or budget to invest in sourcing. You may also be limited by a management team that doesn’t understand the changing marketplace and the need for more competitive salary and benefit packages as well as more liberal polices around vacation, flextime, and tuition reimbursement. Many people who work in small companies and who have the recruiting charter see themselves as victims of the “big guys.” They say, “What can I do against the money and people of Microsoft, IBM or Intel? How can I compete?” Here are five tips and ideas, based on the Chinese general Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” that may help you be competitive and even win a few battles in this talent war! Tip #1: Do Not Be A Victim! Refuse to fall into victim thinking and feel that there is nothing you can do. There are many ways to compete no matter your size. Sun Tzu, a Chinese general, wrote a series of essays between 320 BC and 400 BC which have been assembled into a book. Even though it was written for warfare, it has a lot to teach us about any kind of competition – national or corporate, private or public. The lessons he teaches are universal. And his first and perhaps most important lesson is to always prepare well for battle, know the enemy thoroughly and then prepare a strategy that will play to your strengths and to the enemy’s weaknesses. Competing head-to-head with an Intel for candidates, for example, can only lead to failure if you cannot offer the kinds of opportunities or salary that they can offer. To compete against a larger enemy, one has to use cunning and style. A good general will know the chink in the armor, so to speak, and then use that knowledge to gain an advantage.
Tip #2: Lay Out A Plan of Attack. Study your situation and learn exactly what techniques and tools the large organizations use to recruit. Know your competition thoroughly then spend time to plan a strategy that offers you advantages. If you believe that your largest competitors are winning candidates because they offer larger salaries, find something your organization can offer that may be perceived by some candidates as a better deal than just a big paycheck. Strive to lay out several plans of attack in case the larger firms counter attack. In other words, always have a contingency plan or two, ready in case your initial strategy isn’t working. Very few of us spend enough time in planning and in gathering the data we need to make good decisions. Do you really know what IBM or Microsoft is doing to recruit people? Do you have facts or anecdotes? Do you have benchmark data? If not, you should spend some time to figure this out. Tip #3: Differentiate Yourself Figure out what makes your organization stand out. Why do YOU like your company? Once you have defined the unique qualities, promote those to the candidates you are seeking. Go to places where these types of people go. It is probably not necessary to compete where your competition recruits, and that would violate Sun Tzu’s rule of never engaging an enemy on their own territory or on territory where they have familiarity. Find ways to AVOID the competition by seeking out the unusual or more niche areas to recruit. For example, in college recruiting you can choose to go to smaller schools where the big guys don’t go. They can probably provide you all the people you need, at lower cost. Find pools of candidates that are not normally tapped by large companies: people from the welfare-to-work programs or the elderly. As a smaller company, you could offer a recently retired person some part-time work with flexible hours and less formality and bureaucracy. That would most likely be an appealing combination for many people. Tip #4: Play To Your Advantages. Small size can mean you are able to act fast, make decisions sooner, and offer more flexibility in structuring an offer. Use this to your advantage. Figure out how to do your recruiting in the least bureaucratic way possible. Make it FUN to get an offer and EASY to accept. Many start-ups in Silicon Valley use this technique to their advantage. They leave all the background screening and all the “administrivia” to outside firms who specialize in this or they do it AFTER a person is hired. There is a little risk here, but they feel making it easy and fast to get hired offsets the risk. Smaller organizations can appeal to those who do not want the corporate life with its politics and bureaucracy. Small companies can play up the “family” nature of the work place and can stress the informality and ease of decision making and the access to the top management that can only be found in small organizations. Intel and IBM can’t compete on these things and that can be used to your advantage. Tip #5: Leverage Resources. Outsource the administrative side of recruiting using services such as those offered by Hire Systems or I-Search. Don’t get bogged down by tactical details when you have strategies to implement, modify, and develop. Learn to focus. Develop an administrative approach that is both effective and that can grow as your company grows. Develop a few good sources of candidates, not lots. Be a rifle and not a shotgun in your approach. Know what your advantages and resources are and then exploit them. As warfare has taught us for millennia, the largest armies do not always win and frequently lose. Rome was lost to bands of uncivilized raiders, Britain lost the colonies to a tattered band of rebels, and we lost in Vietnam to a vastly inferior army. Why? The little guys developed careful strategies, focused their efforts, knew their strengths and weaknesses and those of the opposing armies, and never gave up. The bottom line is simple — even the smallest organization can be a winner in this talent war.
Ever think there’s got to be a better way to use the Internet? Wish you could organize all those bookmarks so you know what you’ve saved? Need immediate ways to track and organize contact information? Want to browse offline or search automatically? No problem. Take a look at TUCOWS, a massive software distribution site aimed at enhancing your Internet use. TUCOWS (an acronym for The Ultimate Collection of Winsock Software) provides the most recent releases of virus-free Windows and Mac software designed to make your use of the Internet easier, faster, more organized and yes, even fun. All software is reviewed, checked for viruses, and categorized according to its use. All the software is downloadable and available as either freeware or shareware – so you can try it before you buy it. Perhaps the two most relevant categories for Internet recruiters are “Browsers and Accessories” and “E-Mail Tools.” The first category includes extensive listings of bookmark tools, browser add-ons and searchbots. The email category includes email add-ons and spam-fighters. Using TUCOWS is simple. Go to their home page and choose the region you’re in (US, Canada, Europe, etc.) Then select a location that’s close to you within that region – that’ll take you to a mirror site, saving you download time. Once connected to one of these mirror sites, choose your machine’s operating system. You’ll be brought to a page listing the categories of programs you’re looking for. In addition to those mentioned above there are also utilities, security tools, connectivity enhancers and more. Don’t worry if you’re not up on the latest software names. Choose your programs by what you want them to do and then use the TUCOWS rating system to figure out which is best for you. A five-cow rating is best; it signifies an easy install and uninstall, documentation and help files, and does what it says it will do. While TUCOWS also awards three and four cows for perfectly decent software, we tend to stay away from them. After all, we’re not software experts and TUCOWS is. Why use anything less than the best?
Developing a “Bring a Friend To Work Program: Many companies have adopted programs like bring your daughter/son to work. These are fine programs, but they “miss the boat” as recruiting efforts because unfortunately most “daughters” are too young to be viable candidates! A more strategic approach, which can have an immediate impact on recruiting, is a “bring a friend to work” program. The premise is simple?a firm needs to get candidates “in the door” if they are going to have a real chance of “closing the sale.” Car dealers and realtors have used this strategy for decades. A “bring a colleague or friend to work program” gets potential candidates to come to your facility (to “test drive the car” or to “see the house”) and talk to your team. It targets employed, “passive” job seekers that wouldn’t actively apply for the job, but might come to an event to see what it’s like where “my friend” works. Bring a friend to work is a “high-touch” variation of the traditional employee referral program. It is less impersonal because instead of giving a “name” to HR, you get to bring a “friend” to your work site, so that they can “look us over” first hand. It differs from “open house” programs (that are open to the public) in that individual employees invite people they know on a professional basis and who have the competencies we need. If the “friend” is hired, the employee gets the standard referral bonus. The primary reasons for getting “friends” to come “on-site” include:
- Meeting your team is a great selling tool and it helps convince candidates that “these are the kind of people (friends) that I would like to work with”
Most organizations have sought out some type of tool to help them manage and organize the administrative side of recruiting. Over the past decade, as applicant tracking systems have debuted and matured, the goal for many organizations has been to buy one. Almost all of these systems are client-server based and cost quite a bit. They also require a large volume of resumes to be economical and need support staff and expertise inside the organization. Many firms have between 2 and 10 people directly involved full-time with feeding and caring for the beasts. Smaller companies are left with simple, but often quite effective tools, such as GoldMine and Act and other contact management programs. While these tools do not have scanning capabilities and only rudimentary keyword searching, they can meet the basic needs of organizations that receive only modest numbers of resumes and do limited hiring. However, today everything is changing because of the Internet (what else!). I have written about numerous products that are emerging because the Internet, for the first time, allows vendors to develop software that either eliminates the client (which costs quite a bit and requires installation and maintenance) or allows the client to be much “thinner” and hence less expensive and easier to install and maintain. Many companies like Restrac, Resumix, Personic, Greentree, and others have created web-enabled tools that make the entire recruiting process more accessible and more customized to the needs of individual organizations. But, whether you choose a full-blown client-sever system, a web-enabled tool with a thin client, or a simple contact manager you have to buy, install, and maintain software and hardware. This can be expensive but there are many benefits, as well. The pluses of these systems are many: you own and control all the data which sits safely on your hardware within your buildings. You can set up whatever internal processing systems you desire and can use these systems to extract data in a wide variety of ways. If you have many recruiters, they all have access to the databases and can control distribution of data, add personal comments, and purge resumes and other data whenever they want. They offer security, speed, and predictability. But, what if you didn’t want to buy and maintain a system? What if you wanted to outsource the entire administrative side of recruiting – all the resume scanning, keyword selection, database maintenance, and reporting? What if you just wanted to buy a service that would give you access to all of this and you didn’t have to pay for hardware, software or people to run it? Well, there are a number of choices today. Each of them gets better all the time as technology, the Internet, and users become more sophisticated. Hire Systems is one of these firms. Owned by the Washington Post, it is a fast-growing supplier of outsourced recruiting administration via the Internet. It offers you a resume scanning service, a personnel requisition system for internal use, tools to post to job boards automatically, resume search capabilities and reporting for one monthly fee plus a price for each resume. Another company with a slightly different approach is called Interactive Search, Inc. or I-Search which was founded on 1994. It offers a variety of services including applicant tracking, resume input into your proprietary database, and management of your job postings on your web site. Both of these companies insist that your data is secure and protected, and I haven’t heard any complaints about their security. They both promise to quickly input all resumes and to have redundant hardware so that there are no “crashes” or “outages” in service. While these service-based organizations can save you money, they do have a downside. You do not directly control your resume flow and are subject to any delays that might occur in inputting the data into the system. You have to develop a strong relationship with these organizations and design systems for communication and quality control that are mutually sustainable and beneficial. And, obviously, there is always the possibility of a system failure or crash. Here are some questions to ask yourself. If you answer mostly YES, then think about purchasing a client-server systems such as Personic, Restrac, or Resumix. If you answer mostly NO to these questions, take a look at outsourcing options such as those offered by Hire Systems or I-Search.
- Do you have a moderate volume of resumes (<4,000/month) flowing in from a variety of sources (email, paper, your web site, and so on)?
Each day hundreds of resumes are posted in Usenet newsgroups. And while that’s great news for many of us, finding them isn’t so fun. They’re mixed in with the more than 300,000 other daily postings and can be in any one (or several) of the more than 50,000 groups. Manually searching for the resume you need is time-consuming and frustrating. Often you get little in return except an abundance of spam and competitors’ job postings. A number of programs are available that can help you sort through all the newsgroups to get directly to the information you need. One such program is NewsMonger from TechSmith Corporation. It lets you specify what you’re looking for and then automatically conducts your searches. Use it to:
- Find the exact resume you need
There are basically 4 ways businesses motivate workers. They include:
The most important aspect to gaining advantage from your network, is to never miss an opportunity to use it. To do this you must manage your network, just as you would any other project in your professional life. It will not just “be there” for you when you need it. To do this you need the right tools, an over-all plan, and personal commitment. For me, until a few years ago, the right tool was an ever- growing table top of business-card rolodexes. Business cards broken down by category, frequency of use, and cross-indexed by alphabet. Each with notes jotted on the back of the cards, or in a corresponding index file. It was cumbersome, labor intensive, and all I knew. That’s how it was done in the dark ages. It ultimately consisted of seven rolodex files and a small fortune investment in plastic card sleeves. But for the front 12 years of my career it served me well. I began, and to some extent still am in the process, of converting all this data to Microsoft Outlook. It was a product I was comfortable using and had some exposure to through work. It gave me the flexibility I needed. Other products exist of equal value. It is what you are comfortable with that make the tool good. I am not endorsing one over the other. But the key elements of an effective automated personal network support tool are:
- Ease of use on the Internet.
Organizations that try to use resumes to screen candidates quickly discover that they do not adequately represent a person’s career or ability. How can a list of positions held and degrees earned equate to ability to accomplish the goals of your organization? Recruiters use the resume primarily as a way to gather a superficial layer of information. If the resume has been carefully constructed, it may generate enough interest to lead to an interview. But when a dozen or so resumes for a given position are carefully examined, what do you find? Almost identical qualifications with some minor variations and twists. Too often, it’s these twists that generate the interest that leads to the interview, not some demonstrated capability. When I was recently looking at six resumes for a recruiting position, I found that all the applicants had a college degree, one with a Master’s degree. All had between 3-5 years of recruiting experience at an average of 2 companies. Four of the applicants appeared to be women. All met the basic requirements for the position. What I had in front of me was no more revealing or valuable than 6 business cards. Yet, the heart of virtually all recruiting and applicant tracking systems is the resume. We spend all kinds of money and time entering, retrieving, coding and distributing almost worthless information. Why? Because convention and habit say that is what an organization should look at. Managers expect it. Candidates expect it. But what if you could develop a system that would help an applicant assemble a portfolio representative of his or her achievements, accomplishments and abilities? Or even better, perhaps, from the organization’s point of view, why not create a system that would ask questions which would reveal the skills and abilities of a candidate? An ideal system could help an organization describe a position in terms of what needs to be accomplished. An interested person could respond by giving evidence and examples of how they have already accomplished those things elsewhere or how they would go about doing it in this new position. They could assemble a portfolio of things that they have accomplished and the activities they have completed. After all, isn’t this what we are seeking in an interview? Isn’t this the heart of all assessment centers? And isn’t this what we rely on references to testify to? What any organization or hiring manager really wants to know is: Can this person do the job I need to get done in the manner and in the timeframe I need? When I was having lunch with a friend the other day, he said that he only hired people who came with a reference from someone he knew. He used that referral as a verification of ability and competence. He figured that his friends would not send him someone incompetent or unable to perform because their reputation was on the line. There was a sense of accountability and responsibility that can be gained no other way. A small start up called World.hire down in Austin, Texas has launched a product that could be the beginning of a great relationship between organizations and potential candidates. They have already convinced IBM and a number of other companies that there is better way than screening resumes to find good candidates. They combine software for attracting people to an organization’s job pages with software that screens a candidate online, helps them construct this portfolio we have been discussing (although at this point the portfolio is rudimentary), and delivers a short list of screened candidates directly to a hiring manager. Their software focuses on finding candidates and screening them immediately rather than focusing on the administrative tasks of scanning, coding, storing, and distributing vague and marginally-useful information. It is even possible that many organizations could dispense with the recruiter altogether with a system like this, and have an administrative person take care of legal and routine paperwork until that, too, is automated. But, the bottomline is that tools like this can make the hiring process much more effective, efficient, and fun. It makes intuitive sense to look at what people have done and can do — to look at outputs — rather than to look at what they have learned in school or at where they have worked, which is really just focusing on inputs. Take a fresh look at what you are doing and where you are spending your scare resources. Are you really going to get what you are paying for from your investment? This new class of tools may be your answer and are probably what will dominate the recruiting world over the next decade.
Not all of us can earn Bill Gates’ salary. But, many prospective candidates we speak with sure seem to want to try. So when you’ve got them on the phone, have aroused their interest and are just about to draw them in, be prepared when they ask “how much will I get?” After all, salaries in Boise don’t often compete with those in Silicon Valley. Then, too, it doesn’t cost as much to live in Boise. But how much less in Boise – and how much more in Santa Clara? Before you offer the magic number, do some research. Use a salary calculator to “translate” Boston earnings into Boise dollars. Then you’re armed with far more than just a number; you’ll be ready for those “quality-of-life” type questions. We looked at a few salary calculators to figure out how much a hypothetical techie in Boston would need to earn to enjoy a similar lifestyle in Boise and London, UK – just to give her a choice, after all. Our first port of call was The Job Factory The “calculator” looks like – well, a calculator. Using it is a two-step, easy process. First select the countries/states, your prospect is moving from and to. The site then whisks you to a city list for each state and asks whether your prospect will rent or own her accommodations. The results? A $100,000 salary in Boston need only be $55,194 in Boise and a whopping $98,614 in London according to The Job Factory. Datamasters (Since 1971): specializes in recruiting for IT positions. Their salary calculator is a snap to use – another simple two-step selection process. And, according to them, a $100,000 salary in Boston offers the same buying power as a $80,031.70 salary in Boise. Hmmm! Seems considerably higher than the previous calculator. To decide among the various calculators out there, you may want to review the criteria by which each determines its salary information. Unfortunately, Datamasters doesn’t offer international comparisons, but we suspect that a Datamasters salary in London could leave you a few shillings short of a good seat at the theater. The site, incidentally, contains salary survey comparisons across regions for a comprehensive list of positions. This is worth checking out Datamasters Survey from either side of the equation. There are other calculators floating around the cybersphere, including the CCI Salary Guide – an interactive, multi-step calculator that also figures a candidate’s worth based on location and expertise. So where does this get us? Not very far, really. Salary calculators are slaves to their underlying formulae. Job candidates may prefer the Job Factory and CCI. On the other hand, recruiters might find Datamasters a better choice because of its offerings. In the long run though, perhaps you’ll do better using two or three calculators and averaging the results. Or run the numbers through a couple of these calculators to open a window on reality – and to be able to give your candidate a favorable, but realistic response.
Recruiters have been “placing ads and reading resumes” for decades. As an HR professor I get to review hundreds of resumes and I never have understood why any HR professional would rely on it as an accurate source of information about a candidate. If you really want to find out about a candidate go beyond the resume and ask for a “professional portfolio.” As a candidate for a position, you might also find that a portfolio gives you a competitive advantage above others who merely provide a resume. The difference is obvious. Can you imagine how easy it would be to miss an opportunity for calling in Michelangelo, based on a resume (word) description of his picture…Mona Lisa? As they say “a picture is worth a thousand words!” Why Resumes Stink:
- They are shallow and dull to read
You may have just come into the business, and want to get started building your network. Or, you may have been in the business for years, have a pile of old business cards, e-mail addresses, and book-marked web sites sitting in a paper or electronic pile doing you absolutely no good. In either case, it is time to build your network. The first question is what do you want you network to do for you? It is both a simple question and it is an important question. For example, if you are a recruiter, you probably want your network to give you:
- Access to potential candidates in your chosen market.
A significant percentage of college graduates spend the first few years after graduation in a sort of never-never land. Rather than seek a job right away, they debate between graduate school and employment, or both part time. Some may just enjoy the relative freedom for a while. After a few months most of them are ready to find a job and move on, yet this talented group of potential candidates goes pretty much unrecruited. Just this week I have been approached by two fathers of recent grads who, because they weren’t sure what they wanted to do, failed to actively seek jobs during their senior years. Now they are out in the cold world of job seeking without the skills to do it well. They submit resumes endlessly to company after company and get the postcard thanking them. They rarely land an interview. They don’t really know how to target their searches, or make calls, or build networks. Yet, they are graduates of great schools and have majored in areas that are heavily sought after. One of these students has a double degree – one in fine arts (including web design) and the other in biology from a top 10 school! They are smart, presentable and are now more than ready to join the work world and contribute. They don’t mind travel or relocating. They are not seeking sing-on bonuses or special benefits. They just want meaningful jobs. What surprises me is that no company that I am aware of has a program to attract these people. By offering a bit of career counseling (maybe an hour with a recruiter who understands this level of candidate), many of them could be recruited at bargain salaries and with little hassle. So how to go about finding and attracting them? Here are a half dozen ideas of how you can do yourself and them a huge favor.
- Put out the word among your employees that you are looking for new grads with majors in whatever fields you are seeking. Probably many employees have a friend or neighbor with a child who fits this category and who might be interested in an informational interview.
You’ve heard it before. Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself or chanted it to your team, “The best recruits are passive candidates. After all, who wants some disgruntled employee?” And you’ve left no stone unturned in your search for them. You’ve made use of every association and organization on the Web, looking for those rare but wonderful pages of links to COBOL people, software whizzes and sales icons. You’ve canvassed competitors’ pages, dissected and analyzed incoming links, and sent out targeted, professional emails. And now your well is dry. It needn’t be for long. Take a look at Personal Pages on the Web, a service from the University of Texas. There is a listing of 250 personal page collections at colleges and universities worldwide. Now, think about this. You may not be interested in the pages of Britain’s Anglia Polytechnic University, but consider how they’ve organized (yes, organized) the personal pages of their students. You can locate them by school or department (law, applied sciences, chemistry, research, IT services, etc). Bucknell University, on the other hand, uses the typical alphabetical listing – by students’ last names. Sure, they have thousands of pages indexed, but unless you know who it is you’re looking for, you’ll probably be digging for a while. But then, there are places like the computer science department at North Dakota State University – which indexes the pages of faculty, students and alumni. And lets you search by keyword. And if you’re looking for more than entry-level workers, consider the alumni page at Yahoo!. It leads to such fascinating and lucrative places as the New York Institute of Technology’s Techlink Alumni newsletter – complete with names and occupations… And to the message boards at the University of Iowa’s alumni center that house a job search section (okay, these folks aren’t passive, but they do understand networking). The above search tips won’t bring you to the golden candidate automatically. It still takes a bit of tenacity, and a willingness to look at your search form varied perspectives – some of which are even out of the box.