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February  2009 RSS feed Archive for February, 2009

Dismal Science

by Feb 17, 2009, 12:01 pm ET

It’s not news to ERE readers that recruiting is a cyclical business, and that times are tough.

This morning, Indeed released data that they are calling Industry Trends, which compare the current number of online job postings in the United States today with the same data from a year ago.  It’s no longer news that there’s fewer jobs out there, but even with that in mind, the numbers are grim.

On the job seeker side, Google searches for the keyword “jobs” had a seasonal dip in December, followed by a huge spike in the new year. At one point in January, they were up over 50% over the historical average, an indication of just how many people are now looking for work. keep reading…

Teaching the Private Sector About Social Media Recruiting

by Feb 17, 2009, 5:03 am ET

I’m thinking you’ve got a branding challenge if you’re trying to attract people to work in the inner-city — as public school teachers.

The New York City school system, a 2009 ERE Recruiting Excellence Awards finalist, is doing something about it. The department of education, which has to hire 4,000-7,000 teachers every year, or about 7% of its workforce, wasn’t happy with the quality of the teachers it was recruiting. It redid its brand to try to attract passive candidates who are high achieving, intellectually curious, and highly motivated.

It came up with an “I Teach NYC, Because it Teaches Me” motto to use on its website and elsewhere. The “elsewhere” includes a Twitter profile, a wiki for teachers and applicants, and a Facebook fan page launched June 2008. That Facebook page exceeded 3,000 page views per week during the peak time at the end of August 2008.

With the Ad Council, it also made videos — like the one I embedded below that made me wish my math and music classes in school were a lot more fun.

After about months of the branding initiative, it’s a tad too early to judge the quality of hire being generated. What we do know is that about half of the school system’s Facebook fans are over 25. These are folks who have work experience, and are exactly who the system’s trying to attract.

keep reading…

College Recruiting on a Shoestring Budget – ERE Community Q&A

by Feb 16, 2009, 7:00 am ET

By Dr. John Sullivan & Master Burnett

This past week more than 400 community members tuned in for a webinar on college recruiting with a shoestring budget.

Despite sour economic conditions, many organizations are continuing to hire, albeit maybe not with the gusto or resources they used to muster. Those organizations that continue to augment organizational capability and capacity with new college grads are doing a very smart thing, as several organizations that stopped college hiring following the economic collapse in 2001 can attest.

Entry-level hires from colleges and universities play a vital yet often undervalued role in many organizations. Cutting college intake even for a short time can have disastrous unplanned impacts.

Recent college graduates bring with them new skills, the ability to question tired thinking by asking “why,” and remain malleable enough for organizations to mold into entry-level management and core-contributor roles vital to the organization’s succession chain.

Organizations can cut costs, but they can’t stop time, so choking off college recruiting can lead to:

  1. Acceleration of aging workforce issues. If you have an aging workforce now and you choke off hiring of younger talent, statistically speaking, the average age of employees in your organizations is going to grow at a significantly faster pace. While that may not seem like an issue in the short term, letting your workforce gray significantly may impact your ability to recruit college grads when your organization does restore its interest in college recruiting.
  2. An empty succession pool. Many organizations cut college recruiting budgets entirely following 9/11. Due to a slow economic recovery following that tragedy, college recruiting budgets didn’t recover quickly. The result today is a number of organizations that have no choice but to spend millions poaching talent with 5-7 years’ experience from other organizations or hiring talent with 2-3 years’ experience and investing in rapid development programs. For organizations in that boat, they are realizing that it would have been more economical in the long run to have maintained investments in college recruiting.
  3. Slowed innovation. Possibly the best thing about hiring recent college graduates is the fact that they don’t know anything. Well, that’s not entirely true. The truth is that they don’t know anything about why you do things the way you do, so they are more apt to ask why. When such discussions erupt, that’s often when new hires can introduce new thinking, new technology, and new approaches. Choking off the supply of individuals not subject to historical group think can stifle an organization’s ability to evolve and be innovative.

What follows below the webinar insert are the questions raised by those attending and our answers. If more elaboration is needed on any topic, use the commenting function below to not only engage us, but the entire ERE community!

keep reading…

Become a Lobbyist and Earn Big Bucks

by Feb 16, 2009, 5:24 am ET

Just in time for some stimulus dough comes a continuing ed program for lobbyists. Sponsored by, a job board we didn’t even know existed (but should have guessed would), the WebEx courses already available offer a best-practices workshop, one on using video for advocacy and a third on negotiating.

“Specialized lobbying training is not easy to come by,” says John Foreman, founder of “There aren’t many Lobbying 101 courses being offered by colleges or universities and many people who become lobbyists come from other industries or have worked in government.”

Foreman launched LobbyingJobs last year saying in a press release, “Being niched in this dynamic profession, we are able to offer tools, services, and informational content geared specifically to members of the lobbying industry.”

Besides the courses with the intriguing titles, what struck us about are the jobs. There is apparently no shortage of them in this industry. Almost 30 positions are listed on the site, a number that may not seem large when compared to openings for, say, accountants, but we are talking lobbyists here. There are several openings for work with unions, not surprisingly. But then there’s a director of government affairs opening with the New York Botanical Garden. Even the Sisters of the Good Shepherd are advertising.

A quick check of Monster and CareerBuilder, incidentally, show more than 100 jobs listed between them, and that’s using the most obvious keywords. Here’s the topper: salaries typically begin in the $80s and rise quickly into the six figures.

Evidently, business is good at There’s now a and a Lobbyingfirms,  not to mention an entire list of state sites just waiting for the lobbying job market to grow even bigger.

Now that you know, are you ready to become a lobbyist? You could check out some of the sites here from Google or wait until LobbyingJobs offers a course.

Sneak Peek at the Week

by Feb 15, 2009, 5:05 pm ET

Happy Presidents Day to our U.S. Readers! Here is what is planned this week around the ERE world:

Have a great week and feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments section.

Dice Job Postings Tell Story Of Tough IT Market

by Feb 13, 2009, 5:10 pm ET

Job posting numbers from Dice (profile; site) show the IT recession worsening in the last six months, and there’s no evidence that relief is anywhere close.

From September through the February 2nd job-posting census lost 33 percent of its listings. Over the last 12 months, since February 1, 2008 when 94,423 jobs were online, to Feb. 2, when 57,337 postings were counted, the job count dropped 39.3 percent. In fact, the one-month drop from December to January (17.7 percent) was the worst in the six years of posting records Dice released.

CNET saw a glimmer of improvement in the change since the beginning of the year, but that 3.1 percent increase in listings may be nothing more than the seasonal bounce that follows the end-of-year drop in listings for most job boards. It’s also the smallest Jan-Feb. change in the last six years.

Not all is entirely gloomy. Dice did show an increase in contract positions during the Jan.-Feb. period. Contract jobs accounted for about 42 percent of the total jobs, the highest since the tech recovery of the first half of the decade. But the actual increase in jobs was slight and it doesn’t necessarily mean more temp jobs are coming online. Employers can choose to categorize the jobs they have in multiple ways, so it’s possible that more employers are choosing to list an opening as both full-time and contract.

A Dice survey reported in December that 7 in 10 recruiters and hiring managers expect to curtail their hiring of technology professionals at least through June. The survey also found that almost half expected layoffs.

No surprise, therefore, that Dice had a tough 4th quarter, reporting a loss of $2.9 million. It also saw its revenues drop 10 percent, from $39.5 million in 2007 to $35.5 million. For the year, Dice Holdings, which owns and, among others, reported revenues of $155 million and profit of $15.3 million, a slight decline from the prior year’s $15.5 million profit (before certain dividends) on  revenue of $142 million. is responsible for about 70 percent of the company’s revenue.

The company warned that it expected net income in 2009 to be off a third, coming in around $10 million. Revenues for 2009 are projected at $110 million. The first-quarter revenues are expected at $29.5 million, so it appears Dice expects things to continue to get worse before they get better.

2009 ERE Recruiting Excellence Awards Finalists

by Feb 13, 2009, 5:50 am ET

It wasn’t easy!

We judges worked down to the wire to make decisions on this year’s awards, which in some categories were closer than a Minnesota Senate election.

I’m excited to see some new names and faces this year, like the American Cancer Society and the New York City Department of Education (expect something from me about the latter organization soon). They’ll join some familiar names, including 2008 double-honoree Ernst & Young, who are finalists for the 2009 ERE Recruiting Excellence Awards. They’ll all be honored in San Diego in conjuction with the ERE Expo, where the winners will be named.

I like that more non-U.S. companies seem to apply each year. And some are finalists this year, including Warehouse Stationery from New Zealand, as well as India’s Tata, and others.

Many of the companies — even though they’re on a list of finalists for a recruiting award — are slowing their hiring or laying people off — but many, like Microsoft, are hiring, too. Not surprisingly, doing-more-with-less was a common theme of many applications, as was the use of social media, and the need for employer brands that stand out in the crowded media market.

It was great working with the judges, who asked good questions, and volunteered a lot of their time.

You’ll hear more about the winners and finalists on Some of the winners and finalists will be on a panel at the Spring Expo (as will some of last year’s, like David York from KPMG, Indrajit Sen from Aricent, and Greg Spangle from Aimco). And I’m working on some in-depth articles about the honorees that’ll go in the Journal (ERE’s print publication geared toward recruiting leaders).

This year’s finalists for each category, in alphabetical order in each category:

keep reading…

There’s No 45-minute Wait for This Video

by Feb 13, 2009, 5:40 am ET

Claire Prager of the Cheesecake Factory describes the making of this $30,000, four-minute video developed and produced in two months last year as “pretty painless” — which is not how I’d describe trying to finish off its entire dinner-size Thai Chicken Pasta.

Job seekers are viewing the video at a rate of about 40,000 per year. Their eyes are peeled for an average of 3:48 minutes. (The average for similar videos is 2:33.)

Prager, senior manager, talent selection, was responsible for the overall execution of the video, a task she says MadDash’s good work made easier. The video, aimed particularly at the passive job seeker, was posted on Monster, CareerBuilder,, and HCareers. The Cheesecake Factory shows it again during new-hire orientation (which, we report with jealousy, involves a meal at the Cheesecake Factory), as well as at college career fairs and other job fairs, and on the company’s careers site.

The Cheesecake Factory selected an Area Director, Senior Vice President of Kitchen Operations, Executive Kitchen Manager, and General Manager to play key roles in telling the story. While developing the video, it selected the following elements to include:

  1. Who is The Cheesecake Factory?
  2. Quality
  3. Our People and Our Culture
  4. Technology and Innovation.

The uber-consistent restaurant chain also owns the Grand Lux Cafe and now RockSugar. U.S. Employment Forecast

by Feb 12, 2009, 1:33 pm ET

Moody’s released a forecast for employment in the United States for the next few years, and USA Today has done a phenomenal job at packaging the data by state and industry in an interactive map.

keep reading…

Engaging Your Candidates with Blogs

by Feb 12, 2009, 5:42 am ET

I was first exposed to recruiting blogs at the 2005 ERE Expo (and will be leading a free-wheelin’ discussion about blogs and social media recruiting at ERE’s upcoming conference in San Diego). Blogging struck a chord with me, so I started up a personal blog, and a year later a recruiting blog. I kept that one up for a year and a half. From the very beginning, however, I ultimately wanted to create a corporate recruiting blog. In 2005, only a handful of companies had embraced recruiting blogs. I watched how those companies were using recruiting blogs, and saw how blogging enhanced candidate engagement and communications in a real-time, relatively-transparent manner.

For the past decade recruitment marketing has primarily focused on print collateral, career websites, and job boards. To me, a corporate recruiting blog creates a dynamic, digital recruiting “brochure” that can be accessed by anyone, anytime, anywhere. A blog can tell stories, promote opportunities, educate candidates, and provide an inside view into what was happening at an organization. I wanted to peel back the top layer of my company and let candidates see what it was like to work here.

Very little has changed though over the past few years. There are still only a few of organizations with active corporate recruiting blogs, with Microsoft, Sodexo, Rehabcare, and Hyatt serving as excellent examples. One thing did change however this past year: I finally had the opportunity to launch a corporate recruiting blog, “Success starts here,” at my employer.

Why has corporate recruiting been so slow to adopt? I believe it ultimately comes down to a lack of understanding and a lack of trust by the traditionally conservative and risk-averse entities existing in many organizations. These are barriers that can and should be overcome; there has never been a better time for corporate recruiting blogs.

keep reading…

JobAngels Twitters A Recruiter Movement

by Feb 11, 2009, 8:03 pm ET

What if the box had said “Shut-up Mark” when the cornflakes started talking to him? There would be no JobAngels. Or to be more precise, there would be no #JobAngels. And that would be too bad for @digitalbart,  who’s looking for web design work, or @Cooper108 who was laid off from the LA Times, or the dozens (probably hundreds by now) of others who have been tweeting in 140 letters their need for a job.

It was only two weeks ago that Mark Stelzner was eating breakfast and got to thinking about the gloomy job news. A long-time recruiting executive who now runs his own HR management consultancy, and, curiously, moonlights as a voice actor, Stelzner recalls wondering what would happen if each of his contacts could help just one person find a job.

With 700 followers on Twitter, a large percentage of them recruiters, he sent this message: “Was thinking that if each of us helped just one person find a job, we could start making a dent in unemployment. You game?”

Game they were. Today, 14 days after that January 29th tweet, Stelzner has a movement on his hand.

keep reading…

RehabCare’s Social Media Success

by Feb 11, 2009, 5:22 am ET

Companies are waking up to the need for social media, but very few have done more than dip a toe in a pool. Today, I’m going to introduce you to a company that did a cannonball in the deep end, and is still coming back for more. (Disclaimer: This company was a client of mine in 2007. I got them started on the journey, but the growth of its social media program has been a result of the hard work of its staff).

The company is RehabCare, a provider of physical rehabilitation program services headquartered in St Louis. Each year, RehabCare is tasked with hiring hundreds of college graduates with degrees in physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as well as replenishing its current employees despite a severe shortage of therapists. The campus relations department is a lead generator for the company. Its job is to make contact with students early in their college careers, and shepherd them through the employment process until their graduation. In December of 2007, Leslie Stevens posted here and wanted some hard numbers. The department doesn’t share hiring numbers, as it works in tandem with the recruiting department, but last year, the company beat its goal for college hires, a number not easy to achieve in its market.

RehabCare’s Barbara Wallace, assistant vice president of campus relations, believes social media has been part of its success.

“We’re a very small department of five people and have an enormous number of students to connect with. Social media techniques have enabled us to reach out and stay connected with thousands of students, every day.”

The most visible aspect of its web presence is still the Rehabcare Campus Relations Blog. The blog was started in August of 2007, and is the focal point of its web campaigns. Written entirely by staff, the blog discusses its trips to different colleges, showcases its top facilities, shares interesting stories about the industry, and serves as a platform to launch new initiatives. The biggest value is the ease of use.

Barbara’s team has made a real effort to integrate social media into its daily work routines, which means the work is spread out, other departments don’t have to be involved, and time spent on the sites can directly be tied to candidate tracking. While no one can definitively say that a student joined because they listened to a podcast, we do know that the site offerings give the recruiters something to talk about, and candidates have something to come back to besides job postings and a vague benefit page.

In the last two years, the company has used a number of free services to enhance the site and its offerings:

keep reading…

College Recruiting During a Recession

by Feb 10, 2009, 11:22 am ET

As the economy continues to affect the recruiting industry, companies have been making budget cuts in many areas. College recruiting is often one of the first programs to go when deciding how to appropriate the budget during a recession. However, as past recessions have taught us, this can prove to be a costly mistake in the long run, creating gaps in succession plans for entry level management roles several years down the road.

Join me, along with talent management strategist Dr. John Sullivan, for tomorrow’s webinar as we explore college recruiting during a recession.  We’ll be taking a look at why you should continue college recruiting despite the economy, the financial impact of your efforts, and how to attract the best talent using a variety of mediums.

Dr. Sullivan will be taking questions at the conclusion of the presentation to address your thoughts and concerns regarding college recruiting. Don’t wait until it’s too late to find out why and how you should continue your college recruiting efforts in 2009. We still have plenty of space so sign up today!

Wednesday, February 11th
2:00 – 3:00 PM EST
Register Here

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

Jobvite’s New Tools May Be Game-changers For Social Network Recruiting

by Feb 10, 2009, 8:00 am ET

Jobvite, the e-recruitment provider that emphasizes collaborative hiring, is releasing a new LinkedIn and Facebook interface today. Now, Jobvite users not only can forward company openings to their friends and connections, but they’ll know who among them is the best match for each position.

That alone makes the announcement news, but this is a game-changer. Even more important than the access it gives recruiters to two of the largest networks in the world, is the validation Jobvite is bringing to all those predictions about the value of social networks as a recruiting tool.

No need to point out that recruiters discovered social networks almost as soon as they came along. That’s true enough, but consider how they’ve been used for recruiting. It’s mostly been a passive exercise with Facebook and MySpace widgets enabling a company’s jobs to appear on individual pages. LinkedIn and others of its kind have been mostly a source of leads.

In the one instance, the social networks are little more than a job board in new clothes. In the latter case, it requires active recruiter time to source candidates, more targeted perhaps, but functionally not a whole different from using Google or Yahoo or other research tools. As recently as last summer Kevin Wheeler was predicting that eventually social networks “will become core to good recruiting and talent management,” though he called them “over-hyped and poorly used at the moment.”

Jobvite’s announcement today, and last week’s from Appirio, are bringing us closer to realizing as practice what Wheeler astutely saw as a trend. What the new tools from both companies do is to leverage social networks in a directed manner. Where referral programs pioneered by the likes of companies such as Jobster (site; profile) scattered job opening announcements like seeds in the wind, Jobvite and Appirio tell participating employees who among their contacts would be a best fit. Forwarding the opening is still up to the employee, but at least it won’t be an address-book dump. keep reading…

4 Ways to Look at the Strength of Your Brand

by Feb 10, 2009, 5:44 am ET

Even in a recession, employment branding is still counts. During times of instability where employee trust and loyalty are eroded through short-term cost cutting and job shedding, employee engagement plummets.

Many employers in return can count on employees’ feeling less connected to the organization, and being less productive. But even in a crisis where 2.6 million jobs were lost last year, there are organizations that will seize the opportunity and achieve a significant competitive advantage by continuing to build and sustain employer brand strength.

In an outstanding webinar delivered for ERE this week (and embedded at the end of this article), Frank Lane, author of Killer Brands, offered this definition: 

A Killer Brand exists when an entity derives a disproportionate amount of success in its category because of a compelling and differentiated expectation that comes to be associated with its name.

A quality employment brand strategy proactively and appropriately manages expectations, reputation, and image, all toward what you’re trying to do — attract and engage a skilled and productive workforce, which is the most critical driver of business success. Even in today’s environment, “A” players will exercise careful choices about where they come to work and what they want out of the employment relationship. Many will also be preparing for change as that market recovery presents new opportunities. Every category-leading “brand” is focused on two primary channels to grow share:

  • The attraction of new customers
  • The continued loyalty of existing customers

While attraction/recruiting needs have certainly lessened (although in some sectors critical skills are still in high demand) the brand loyalty of existing employees will certainly be an issue into the foreseeable future. And while many people may be thankful or merely satisfied to have a job today, that level of brand equity will not necessarily translate into productivity, engagement, and retention tomorrow. That’s why forward-thinking organizations will use this down cycle to prepare and deploy a strategy to grow and sustain a true talent advantage.

And it represents an opportunity to consider what “disproportionate amount of success” your organization derives because of the desire among A-level talent to apply their skills to your business?

In evaluating your organization’s employment brand strength, consider these four primary objectives:

keep reading…

Gain a Foothold in 2009

by Feb 9, 2009, 4:29 pm ET

Last Friday I was joined by talent acquisition gurus Jeremy Eskenazi and Dan Kilgore of Riviera Advisors to discuss what 2009 has in store and how we can gain an advantage even in these difficult times. Although hiring is expected to continue to weaken throughout 2009, they showed that by thinking creatively, companies are able to survive and even succeed during the recession.

For instance, companies have been able to compensate for a reduction in placements by insourcing what is typically outsourced, unbundling packaged services, and conducting internal assessment to weed out inefficient practices. Sometimes practices are so steeped in tradition that it takes a step back to realize they are no longer working. It’s a time to optimize your business and resources such as applicant tracking systems to be as efficient as possible.

They also discussed how difficult recruiting passive candidates has become as people have become afraid of leaving the security of their current jobs. There are still pros and cons to passive recruiting, but the dangers of exclusively recruiting passive candidates in the current economy were made clear.

At the conclusion of the presentation (about 45 minutes into the video) Jeremy and Dan fielded questions from the audience. I found their thoughts on recruitment process outsourcing and passive recruiting to be particularly interesting. View the slideshow and archived video of the presentation below to learn more!

keep reading…

What Do You Get For $100k A Second? A Drop In Traffic

by Feb 9, 2009, 1:15 pm ET

Compete has a report on the impact of last week’s Super Bowl ads on traffic to advertiser sites and, Ouch!, for the millions Monster (site; profile) and CareerBuilder (site; profile) spent, they got nothing. Actually, less than nothing. The Compete report says their sites saw declines in reach of 18 percent and 17 percent respectively.

Denny’s, on the other hand, saw a lift in its site traffic on Super Bowl Sunday of nearly 1,700 percent. A traffic bump to the site was to be expected, since the ad was promoting a free breakfast, and users had to go to the website to get the details. The next biggest traffic bump was to Frito-Lays’ Traffic there rose 313 percent on game day, as compared to the average reach of the previous week.

Monster ran two ads, one of them a co-promotion with the NFL for the job of Director of Fandemonium. CareerBuilder’s 60 second spot, you may recall, was the one featuring a stuffed Koala getting socked and ending with a guy in a Speedo on the phone in an office cubicle.

Now, in the interest of fairness we doubt either company was expecting a big game-day jump in traffic to their job boards. (Compete didn’t provide details on whether it included traffic to the Fandemonium site.) As Compete itself points out: keep reading…

Employee Furloughs Can Be a Bad Alternative to Layoffs

by Feb 9, 2009, 7:16 am ET

You can’t read a newspaper these days without reading about organizations that are implementing employee furloughs in order to save money and to avoid layoffs. They might seem like a good idea but they might end up not saving money at all and could cause more turmoil than they are worth.

This article will cover the many problems associated with putting employees on furlough, or a temporary leave of absence or temporary layoff and a “lower-impact” alternative to permanent layoffs.

Under furlough programs, employees are asked or forced to take days off without pay. The net effect is a reduction of an employee’s annual income. Furloughs are being used in a variety of industries from healthcare and education to transportation and high technology.

Firms that have deployed them recently include newspaper giant Gannett, network appliance superstar Cisco, computer chip maker Intel, the state of California, Arizona State University, and the #1 car maker in the world Toyota.

While the tool may be popular and widely used, that doesn’t make it effective or the best choice.

Managers Lack Courage to Make Tough Decisions

Firms use furloughs instead of layoffs because they lack the courage to look individual employees in the eye and terminate them.

The key to any effective salary-savings program is to target the individuals who add little value compared to their salary. The process of selecting low-performers can cause turmoil among employees, so managers take the easy way out by cutting a portion of the salary of every employee.

In my view, managers get paid to make tough decisions, not to avoid them.

This “peanut butter” approach where you spread the pain evenly might seem like a good socialist type idea, but if your goal is to maintain a high level of organizational performance, furloughs can cause more problems than they solve.

keep reading…

Colbert: Discrimination More Difficult

by Feb 8, 2009, 11:03 pm ET

Here at ERE, we have a profound respect for the truthiness and recruiting insights of Stephen Colbert.

keep reading…

Sneak Peek At The Week Ahead – College Recruiting, TV Premiere, and More…

by Feb 8, 2009, 9:15 am ET

Here is a quick rundown of what is going on around the ERE world this week:

Our distinguished judging panel, who have been so gracious with their time, are wrapping up the judging for the 2009 Recruiting Excellence Awards. This year’s applicants represent a mix of some global behemoths and more obscure organizations you’ll likely be hearing more about in the months to come. Stay tuned as we announce the finalists in the next few weeks, and the awards will be presented in San Diego on March 30.

Our editor Todd is wrapping up the March issue of the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership. He has a story that features some cool charts and graphs on “what you can learn from military recruiting.” His biggest challenge is making sure the resolution is just right for when it runs through the printers. There is an article on “hiring intact teams” — where you recruit a whole group of people. Also, Todd Noebel of McGuire Woods has an article about working better with third-party recruiters. We are pretty psyched about the March issue.

Have a great week, and feel free to ask me any questions about these in the comments below!