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The new hot targets

first_imgIn these days of skill shortages, if you want to keep a full complement ofstaff, says Kate Dale, you should have the passive job seeker in your sightsRecruitment used to be a simple matter. Employers advertised their vacanciesin the relevant sections of the right newspapers or sent their criteria to afavoured employment agency and sat back waiting for the CVs to flood in. Theycould then pick and choose the right people for the jobs on offer. Their onlygripe was the amount of time it could take to sift through the hundreds of CVseach vacancy generated. Unfortunately, skill shortages, changing demographics and the creation ofnew industry sectors mean it is no longer enough to wait until someone isactively looking for work. It’s not a question of striking while the iron’s hotbut rather while it is still warming up. Passive job seekers are the new hottarget for recruiters. So what is a passive job seeker and why are they suddenly so important?According to Pam Vicks, group marketing director of on-line recruitmentconsultancy Stepstone.com, a passive job seeker is: “Someone who, whilenot actively searching for a new job, may be persuaded to move if the rightopportunity comes up.” Bella Hubble, MD of on-line recruitment firm Monster.com in the UK goesfurther: “All of us are passive job seekers these days,” she says.”There’s a role, location, package or title which would make each of usmove, no matter how happy we are in our current jobs.” While this has always been true to a certain extent, technological anddemographic changes have made identifying and attracting these people bothpossible and essential for the first time. Internet job boards have effectively democratised head-hunting. While thiselite form of recruitment usually only applied to a select few at the top oftheir professions, now anyone who has entered their details and CV on to anon-line job board can expect, or hope, to be contacted by the perfect job oremployer. It also makes it easy for employees to check out their market worthand investigate what opportunities are on offer. “What was a passivejobseeker before on-line job boards?” asks Peter Croasdale, Europeancontent director of Monster.com. “Someone who didn’t read the job ads?That concept doesn’t really offer anything to potential employers.” Vicks, however, thinks that the idea of recruiting passive job seekers hasless to do with the Internet and more to do with skill shortages and decliningpopulations. She points out that Europe is already facing an alarming shortfall ofskilled workers, particularly in the IT and communications sectors. “By2010, half of all jobs will be in industries that are either major producers orintensive users of IT products or services. Where will these employees comefrom?” she asks. “At present the European Union countries are shortof an estimated 500,000 IT workers and the shortfall is projected to reach 1.6million by 2003.” Stepstone recently opened up a division in India withthe primary purpose of recruiting Indian IT professionals to work in Europe. There are also massive shortages throughout Europe in education, medicalstaff, financial services, local government and even experienced middlemanagement. According to the European Commission’s Central Statistical Office,Eurostat, the middle management group is expected to decline from about 140million to 127 million by 2020. All of this has swung the balance of power in favour of the once-humbleemployee who has been educated – through recession and redundancy – to believethat loyalty to “Me plc” is more rewarding than long-term devotion tothe company they happen to be working for at the time. So is it just desperation that’s driving employers to try and unearth thepassive job seeker? Susan Butterly, business development manager of on-linerecruitment consultancy Justpeople.com, thinks that passive job seekers have alot to recommend them to potential employers. “Because they’re alreadygainfully employed they’ve had no time to lose skills, they’re currently doinga good job and are still highly motivated,” she says. Vicks agrees:”These people are often the most highly sought after, as they arequalified, experienced and employed,” she says. It also allows employers to be more creative about the people they take on.Not only can this help beat the skill shortages – especially in new industriessuch as the dot-coms that haven’t been around long enough to build up asubstantial pool of directly experienced potential recruits – but it also fitsin with some of the latest management thinking, which focuses on anindividual’s personality and temperament, rather than their more tangibleattributes. “Companies used to be interested in qualifications andexperience,” says Hubble. “Today EQ (emotional quotient) – yourpersonality – is more important than IQ. You have to think laterally about thetype of people you interview. You can teach people skills but you can’t changetheir personalities. When I joined Monster.com, for example, I had 13 years’experience in recruitment advertising but none on the Internet. They felt I hadthe attitude and team-building mentality they needed and that I could acquirethe technical skills through them.” The advantage of a strategy that enables you to target passive job seekersis that it helps you recruit people who would have passed over a traditionalrecruitment ad assuming it was irrelevant, when actually, a bit of lateralthinking proves they are exactly the person you need. So how do you attract the passive job seeker? It’s a bit like chattingsomeone up. You have to spend more time talking about them and less timetalking about yourself. “Recruitment ads used to start with facts and figures about how big thecompany was and the role it played in the global market place,” saysHubble. “Now it’s much more about: do you want a challenging career, lotsof rewards, training and development? It’s much more focused on the applicantsit hopes to attract.” It is less about offering people specific jobs and more about communicatingwhat the experience of working with your company can offer them in terms ofcareer development or even lifestyle. Of course, money always plays a part inthis. Most people expect a decent salary rise when they switch job. But it’snot the only motivation. Hubble says: “The tendency of many women to leavework and have children when they get to a certain stage of senior management isleaving a real hole in the market. Jobs that offer more flexible hours and acommitment to taking working parents – with all their responsibilities –seriously, can entice these women back into the workplace.” Building empathy is important. UK-based employment Web site Workthing.comrecently ran a billboard campaign which posed the question: “Ever dialnine for an outside line on your home phone?” It struck a chord withoffice workers across the land and helped to promote Workthing as a Web sitethat understood their working lives. The TV campaign for Workthing, meanwhile,uses a number of smug retired people talking about how difficult it is in theworld of work today – and how they don’t care because it’s nothing to do withthem any more. By highlighting some of the work issues Workthing.com helpspeople deal with, it persuades them, humorously, to visit the site and,ultimately, register their details. Monster.com has taken a similar humorous approach with its pan-European adcampaign – “Beware the Voices” (see case study below). We have tokeep people using the site even when they’re not consciously looking forwork,” says Croasdale. Everything from advice about CVs and interviewskills to information on employment legislation and tax codes is featured.”We have to make people feel that using this site is going to give themthe edge, the ability to make the right decisions at the right time,”Croasdale says. This generates repeat visits to the site and helps Monster sellits recruitment services to employers. And you can also use fun to give people a solid reason to visit your site.In the US, on-line recruitment consultancy HotJobs.com recently launched anationwide initiative to promote its college channel. As part of the programme,representatives wearing HotJob-branded graduation-style caps and gowns willattend high-traffic campus events, such as Spring Fling, Homecoming and ParentsWeekend, at 75 college campuses. They will take digital photos of studentswhile explaining to them the importance of pre-graduation career planning – thefirst stage of passive job seeking. The photos will be posted on the collegechannel so students can download them and e-mail copies to their friends ororder keepsakes. While doing that, they will be encouraged to search the Website’s database of thousands of entry-level jobs. “We’ve designed thisprogramme in a way that creates tangible memories of the college experience,while still driving the important message that the time for students to preparefor life after college is now,” says Marc Karasu, director of marketingand advertising at HotJobs. Vicks agrees that quality content is an important part of keeping passivejob seekers interested, but is more wary about just how much you should rely onhumour. “People’s careers are important to them – as our tag line say,‘your career, your life, your future’. We take a lot of care to be responsibleand professional in our approach. Having said this, we also make sure we keep alight touch.” None of this means that active job seekers – the ones definitely looking toswitch companies or careers – should be overlooked. And some industry expertsare sceptical about the concept of passive job seeking. Ken Brotherston,European MD of on-line recruitment firm Futurestep, points out that the term”passive job seeker” is an oxymoron – you can’t really passively seekanything: “People mainly visit employment Web sites when they’re lookingfor work. Perhaps a better way to describe the ones not looking to movestraight away is slow-burning job seekers.” Whatever you call them, the existence of these recruits does reflect the waythe job market and people’s attitudes to their own careers have changed.”Career management used to mean frantically scouring the newspapers justbefore you were handed your P45,” Croasdale says. “Today it meanskeeping an eye on the market and being prepared for any opportunity.”Employers who do the same in return are the ones who will have the fewestrecruitment problems as the skill shortages bites. Hints & tipsHow to attract a passive job seeker– Focus on the benefits you offer the job seeker, rather than just the sizeof your company. What unique benefits in terms of opportunities, location ortraining can you give them?– Think of it as a long-term process. They may not be ready to come and workwith you now but that doesn’t mean you won’t need or want to work with eachother in the future. – Don’t lose touch. Ask for their contact details and tell them you’d likethem to keep in touch, especially if they get to a stage where they do want tochange jobs. – Think laterally about the criteria you apply to a specific role. Obviouslysome jobs demand specific qualifications and training, but there are manyothers that can offer on-the-job training as long as someone has the rightpersonality. – Many on-line job boards allow you to sponsor specific keywords. Becreative. Don’t just enter words specific to your industry sector. Usingemotional words and phrases that help sum up your working culture can bring ingood-quality candidates you might not have reached through more conventionalmeans. – Make it easy. If you have a company Web site, set up a form that allowspeople to enter their information if they think they might be interested inworking for you at some stage. The easier it is for someone to register detailsof their experience, attributes and aspirations with you, the more likely theyare to do it and you get the pick of the crop when it comes to filling actualvacancies.Case study: Monster.comMonster.com is using a mixture of TV, poster and radio advertising acrossEurope to persuade passive job seekers to visit its Web site and enter their CVdetails. The “Beware the Voices” campaign relies heavily on humour tobuild up a sense of empathy with employees. It depicts situations we’ve allbeen in – such as sitting in a meeting, not saying what you really think aboutsomething and then getting cross when someone else comes out with the same ideaand gets the credit you know could have belonged to you. Another scenariodepicts a works football match. Should the hero tackle his MD or let him scorea goal? By listening to his inner voice he makes a spectacularly wrong decisionand knocks his MD over for no reason whatsoever. “The ads were put together with a voiceover so we had a lot offlexibility,” says Peter Croasdale, European content director ofMonster.com. “The colloquial elements can be adapted for any country andthere’s enough creative space in the ad to tailor it for local markets.” Despite the widespread belief that humour doesn’t travel across frontiers,Croasdale says it has in this case. “There’s a large element of slapstickinvolved and that’s international.”The point of the advertising, according to Bella Hubble, MD of Monster.comin the UK, is to: “Almost subliminally communicate the idea that Monsteris not just about getting a new job. It’s to say that we all need some help tomake the right decision at some stage. We use humour people can identify with tobuild a sense of belonging to the work community.” The new hot targetsOn 1 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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