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March is here, so it's time for Medium Madness

I felt a recap of where we’ve been thus far with The Human System was in order.  As a synopsis, maximizing your human system is represents an opportunity to create a competitive advantage in an industry with a great deal of standardization.  You should now get how recruitment is the foundation of your human system and the essence of recruitment is marketing.  Marketing is done well by first defining your target market, framing the message for that market, and then and only then do you find the best medium to get your message to that target market.

This next set of postings of “The Human System” will dive into the “fatal flaw” of recruitment (your human system foundation), medium selection.  I call it the fatal flaw because if we look at recruitment, (gathering of the best group of candidates possible from which to choose) you have many choices of media by which to attempt to reach your target market.  The medium is the vehicle by which you drive your message to the market in order to reach your target market.   I believe each and every medium in and of itself has value.  It would be ignorant to think an entire industry exists and does not create enough value to validate itself.  Theoretically, capitalism would weed it out.  (Get ready…Metaphor Man is coming) A gun by itself does no harm. Put that gun in the wrong hands or untrained hands, and bad things can happen.  Thus, medium selection and recruitment results. It is your responsibility to understand each medium, each tool you have, and when to use it.  A hammer is only one tool for a good carpenter, an essential one, but any carpenter has a whole set of tools and knows the use and limits of each one.  There are “professionals” who keep trying to build an entire house with a hammer (advertising) and just don’t want to spend the money to buy a saw to cut boards with.

It continually amazes me how people have great expectations of something without understanding what that “something” they are putting their faith in is even capable of.  (Here comes another metaphor.)  What would you think if I told you my 7-year-old son could dunk a basketball?  I promise you he can and am willing to bet $10,000 on the fact that he can.  Will you take that bet?  At 7, he would be a freak of nature to be able to do that right?  What if I told you he was only average height for a 7 year old and I was still willing to bet the $10,000 he could dunk a basketball?  Now would you take the bet?  Most would.  Then I put a 4’ mini-hoop up and you watch him slam it and lose your money.  Was the bet rigged?  No, it was honest, I never qualified how high the rim would be and you never probed enough to ask.  So who is the guilty party?  Was I a deceptive con man or were you a bad consumer?  You would like to blame me, but you can’t, you got suckered; you didn’t probe enough and only had partial understanding.  Have you ever “bought a medium” with great result expectations only to be disappointed?  Don’t blame the person that sold it; it’s their job to.  Moral of the story: When it comes to your recruitment choices and medium selection, fully understand the dynamics of the medium so that you can make fully informed choices in your strategy.

Let me pause for a moment to tell you there are people that sincerely believe in the product/service they are selling.  The thing is, they have been taught a formula for selling it, and the surface rationale.  They believe what they are selling you.  Thus, there are very sincere and honest people selling you ineffective services.  It is up to you to have the understanding and be educated.

Mediums:  we are going to explore:

·         Advertising- both print and web based

  • Newspaper

  • Trade publications

  • User groups

  • Internet

·         Personal appearances

  • Tradeshows

  • Job fairs

  • Training program/school visits

·         Direct Recruitment

  • Personal Referral Networks

  • Direct mail

  • External recruiters

·         Other mediums:

  • Billboards

  • Radio

  • TV

  • Etc.


We are going to examine the dynamics of several mediums.   Dynamics will include:

  • How direct or indirect is this medium?

  • What is this medium’s longevity?

  • What is the cost of this medium?

  • What is the value of this medium?  (I will make a more direct distinction of cost vs. value later.)

  • What should your expectation of this medium be?

  • Who is this medium best suited to?

  • How much action will your market have to take to get your message via this medium?

  • Do you have any accountability for performance by this medium?


Sound fun yet?  I don’t promise a specific order or I’ll even follow a specific formula for each one.  So do I promise you confusion?  No, it is just that to add some recruitment calculus to all of this, we are going to also look at each medium relative to different organizational roles and levels as well as job families. Each will have differences. My goal is that when we are done with this series that you have a new clarity about recruitment.  I believe some of you will actually change your recruitment function in at least some way.  I truly value feedback, even like hearing I’m wrong…creates a growth opportunity… so don’t be a “feedback holdback”.  All of your input aids to my ongoing research and learning.

Aside:  I know that there is a shortage of workers in many roles.  This absolutely does not justify the “warm body” excuse of just filling slots.  I will continue to refer to the concept of “topgrading” until you all read the book.  Every time you put a C-player instead of an A-player in any role, you just harmed the individual and the organization.  If you will have a strong, very strong human system strategy that incorporates maximizing each part of the People Flow Continuum, you won’t have to “plug holes.”  Don’t give in, set a standard and stick to it.  Can you conceive of a waiting list to work for you in any position?  I can.  It is the mission I am on.

Are you ready for our first Medium?  Lets go then.  I spun the wheel and came up with the Internet. Let’s dive in.  The Internet…wasn’t it supposed to be the miracle cure for all your recruitment ills?  Yes, I think snake oil.  Not in what it is, but what it has been sold to be. You’ve heard their mantra:  “Post it here! Post it here! Post it here! Trillions of hits per day!  Largest of its kind! We’re #1!  We’re #1!”  Are you having flashbacks to a high school pep rally yet?  Guess what, it didn’t matter if you were in last place with no way of catching up in the standings; you were #1 in your mind, right?  Do I think you got sold a bill of goods here?  You decide.

At one time, I did a full resume search on THE MOST LARGEST INCREDIBLE healthcare website in the universe.  What is your most dire need?  Nurses.   I am just going to give you the math and let you draw your own conclusions.  (OK, you know me well enough by now to know I am going to throw a conclusion of my own in here, don’t you.)  My search criteria was this:  Keyword:  “Nurse” OR “RN”, no specific geographical boundary, Hospital selected from one pop down menu, and every possible salary a nurse could make was checked:   SEARCH………Results were as follows:  450 total.  Sound like a lot? Plenty right?  Ok, divide that by 50 states (9 per state).  Was that a wakeup call?  Let’s keep going.  Take out just Texas and California and you go down to 7.29/state for the other 48 states.  Take out Texas, California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.  You are now down to 5.63/state for the remaining 44 states.  Which states have more than that average, how many have less?  Depressed yet?  Of those 450, how many do you think will relocate?  Most say local/regional in the relocation column. So technically, you don’t even have “access” to those people; they won’t move.  I hope you aren’t an Okie in Muskogee thinking you are going to recruit nurses from the single largest healthcare recruitment site in the nation.  Did you just buy a year’s subscription?  (My disclaimer:  In an effort to keep myself from legal issues here…I did this search on my own on this site.  If any company comes to get me…maybe I didn’t do the search right.  Maybe I am misinterpreting results.  If you want to, consider all of this data fictitious, a fairy tale without a happy ending.)

Ok, so I lied, I took off the gloves there for a minute.  I actually approached this company’s representatives with this same quantitative information.  They had NO IDEA how many nurses were in their database, but were anxious to sign you up for their service as THE SOLUTION.  Ok, lets now make all of this constructive.

I do know this was some time ago, but the numbers are probably still pretty relative and the same point is made.

Just what is the Internet, in way of recruitment?  It is advertising.  Pure and simple, if you think it is more than, you are still in the dream world.  Oh, it is the way to reach the “passive” candidates right?  If they are passive, why are they looking at job boards; investing their time in this activity?

I had to break in here.  Real life example: I just got an email with the subject line “Reach thousands of active job seekers for FREE.”  Why do I want to reach active job seekers? Why are they actively looking for something else, unsatisfied with the choices they made?  Do they make poor decisions often?  Why is it free?  Who really is paying for it?  I know you get these things too.  You have to work hard today to sift through the smoke and mirrors of this internet thing.  Candidate databases…..what do you think is really in them?  Don’t ever buy into the “quantity means quality” with candidate databases.  Anything over 6 months old is outdated.  Anyone that has been looking that long and hasn’t found something is most likely someone that other companies have been through interviews with and said “pass”.  Don’t waste your time too.  If they were seeking a job and were an A-player, they most likely are off the market.  (I understand there are exceptions to every rule.  Remember, this information is all based on norms and probability, not flukes and exceptions.)

Let’s look at the options you have with the internet, then we will look at the specific dynamics.

So what are your internet options?

  • National, multi-industry job sites.  You know who the two goliaths are now.  They have each acquired many other smaller similar companies.  Some of the acquisitions have been industry focused and specific.

  • Industry specific job sites.  These are industry or even role specific sub groups.  There are literally hundreds of these.  The viability is still very questionable.

  • Professional Association sites.  This is predominately a posting-only avenue.  It is a secondary business and source of revenue; some will allow free postings for the benefit of their members.  (Two thumbs up for those groups that seek to make this available to their members as a service vs. a revenue source.)

  • Local/Regional jobsites.  This may be an off-shoot of your local newspaper or other metro or regional job site.

  • Your own employer website.  This is usually not marketed, but has become an expectation, just as having a fax machine once was.  Those that don’t have an employment section and way to respond electronically may lose out on good people.

  • Social Media:  Linked-In has become the business Facebook.  Twitter, Myspace, et.  There is value to these, can be more targeted, but is a different dynamic that should be addressed on its own.

  • Other:  there are new twists all the time and surly something I am leaving out.  I would not put listservs and chat rooms in this discussion.  They are more active/interactive and have a very different dynamic that we will talk about in the future.  This applies to active resume “mining” also.


Let’s look at our dynamics:

·         How direct or indirect is this medium? Anyone finding a position on the internet, your posting, had to deliberately take their own action to find that opening.  They may have had to take time to post a resume.  If they did this, their search for a new position really isn’t confidential anymore.  Does that concern you? An exception to this is when the register once, and that site then, on a continual basis, sends them new postings that apply to them.

·         What is this medium’s longevity? This form of advertising lasts much longer that other forms of advertising (without renewals).  It is there 24/7, gets there immediately, and has the capability to form an almost endless message with a wealth of information.  It also reaches a boundless geography.  Couple this with a link to your website and you have an opportunity for people to see all about you via your organization’s website.  Do people get the impression you want from your site?

·         What is the cost of this medium? From a pure cost/add basis, the internet is a great financial value when compared with print advertising.  Costs have varied from site to site and by type of site.  Most evolve from a free basis to a subscription basis; initially building traffic and numbers to “sell” to the next round of customers.

·         What is the value of this medium? If you are spending and waiting, but not getting viable candidates, even if this is cheaper than print, what is your return on investment and man hours spent creating a message, posting it, and sifting through responses?  (This is especially true of the “dud” responses:  the bankers and “generalists” that want to be your new Director of Critical Care, because they have “transferable management competencies”. C’mon.  I’m sure you get as much trash email of absolute “no fits” as I do from about every industry imaginable.   Where you post, how you post, and what you say makes a great difference.  Even if you have an “unlimited posting package,” your internal resources are expensive.

·         What should your expectation of this medium be? Does “it depends” sound like a cop out?  Well, it depends.  Which type of site are you posting to, their constituency, how much is my cost/risk?  If you understand this to be electronic advertising, then expect no better result than your other forms of advertising. What is the value of the role?

·         Who is this medium best suited to? First, who has access to computers?  That is ingredient #1.  But, don’t limit that to those that have computers at home.  The bulk of the traffic to career sites happens when?  During the working hours.  Guess what, most people that are using the internet to find a job are doing on your time or their current employer’s time.  So, don’t necessarily assume that if someone can’t afford a computer at home that they aren’t fully utilizing it at work.  Also, more and more people will have access to and own computers.

·         How much action will your target market have to take to get your message via this medium?

As with other advertising, some is direct (it comes to you) some is indirect.  Traditional job boards and postings, most internet recruitment activity, requires that potential candidates take an action (signing on, registering, posting resume, etc.) to find your add.  They are indirect. Unless you are putting banner adds and other similar things in non-traditional places (the utility of which is a different topic) yours is still an active job seeking vs. passive candidate pool from this medium.

·         Do you have any accountability for performance by this medium?

As with any advertising, you pay for the space and the medium, not the result.  The burden is on your shoulders for the result and there is no accountability.  This is why you have an even greater responsibility to understand the dynamics of each type of internet recruitment site.  You can spend a significant amount of time spinning your wheels just waiting for the flood of responses and zip, zilch, nada.  Choose wisely.

Conclusion. (Did you think it possible?)  Forgive me for leaving out information.  There is a tremendous amount of more detail and specifics that we could dive into here.  Obviously books have been written about this.  Time (mine & yours) and space just won’t let it all happen here today.  I hope I have given this medium enough attention to give you new perspective and make you a more educated consumer.

Question:  Do I believe you should participate in internet based recruiting initiatives?

Answer:  YES.  I believe you have to. Competitively there is an expectation.  Therefore, if you don’t you may lose out on some people that you need.  But, have the right expectation of what you will or won’t get from this medium. Don’t get sold the on your recruitment woes all being over.

1.     Be selective in where and how you use the internet for recruitment.

2.     Don’t have a singular strategy/program.

3.     Have individual internet recruitment plans for each job family and each level of the organization.

I hope you will choose to make it a great day!

Don Rottman

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