Time & Attendance
By Glenn Gutmacher
Sep. 29, 2000
Many of the recruiters that I train came to me thinking that if they have anonline presence with the big career, job, and résumé portals like Monster.com,they’ve covered their bases for Internet recruiting. Anything else I can showthem, they say, is just gravy. Au contraire, mon ami: Monster.com and the likeare the gravy. The vast majority of candidates to be found online are elsewhere.
It’s true: While Monster and its competitors have about 5 million uniquerésumés in their databases, you can find double or triple that number on theopen Internet. There are billions of Web pages, plus many more millions ofarchived newsgroup postings and user group and listserv messages. Many of thoseare passive job seekers waiting for you to find them. And don’t forget you canfind people online who don’t even have résumés posted, but who have certainskill-sets, often targetable by location and company as well. The whole Internetis your database if you know how to tap it.
Here are a few of the techniques you can start using today to find yourdesired types of candidates, in specific locations:
Ever hear of Geocities, Tripod,or Angelfire? These are”community” Web sites that let people express themselves and findothers who share their interests. To that end, the sites offer chat rooms,clubs, free e-mail, free Web-page creation tools and server space to upload yourpersonal home pages, and more. The good news for us recruiters is that manyfolks upload their résumés as one of those free pages.
These three virtual communities are among the biggest ones, with millions ofmembers each. As a result, even bigger Internet companies bought them. (Yahooacquired Geocities; Lycosgot Tripod and Angelfire),which added more functionality — including better search engines that allow youto search within the community’s pages.
So let’s say you wanted to find résumés of software engineers inMassachusetts who are comfortable on the Unix platform. (If that’s not who youneed, don’t worry — you’ll see how to easily adapt this for other candidatetypes or locations.) On Geocities, go to www.geocities.com,and in the text field under “Explore Our Neighborhoods,” type:
Note that Geocities’ engine searches for words contained in the page bodyor in the title (those words in white type that appear over a darker colorbackground at the very top of your Web browser). Our search assumes a fewthings:
Boolean Searching Targets Better
We can do this same search on Angelfire orTripod, and get even betterresults in many cases. Conveniently, their parent company, Lycos, has created asearch engine that delivers results on both sites at once. In addition, theirsearch engine supports some features of Boolean logic, which is the ability tocreate long search strings using the operators AND, OR, NOT, and NEAR. Theseconnector words allow us to search for those job-title or skill-term synonyms inone search. They also better ensure that the candidates live in the geographicarea we’re targeting.
We’ll stick with our earlier example, but now we’d like to narrow oursearch to candidates in greater Boston, because when all of Massachusetts isincluded, some candidates live too far to commute, and it’s unlikely that theywant to relocate (even if we were willing to pay for it). The area codes forgreater Boston are 978, 781, 617, and 508. (If you’re not sure which areacodes are within a commutable distance of a particular location, visit www.mmiworld.com/statelis.htm. This site lists all U.S., Canadian, and Caribbeanarea codes in alphabetical order, with the towns that they cover.)
Go to www.angelfire.com. In the text box beside “Search Angelfire,”type:
This search assumes that:
Relatively few search engines support Boolean search, though that number isgrowing. From the perspective of both search flexibility and amount of the Webindexed, the best ones are Altavista.com,Hotbot.com, Infoseek.com, andNorthernLight.com, with Altavista currently the leader. Although it may be astar in other respects, popular Google.com currently has limited Booleancapabilities. Since the search syntax varies by site, click the “Help”link within the advanced search section of whichever site you use for guidanceon proper phrasing, or your searches will generate errors or zero results.
Last but not least, for whichever searches you do, don’t forget to dig deepinto the results. Many Internet searchers stop after the first page or two ofrésumé links, but good candidates may be 10, 20, or more pages deep. In fact,the deeper you go, the more likely you are to find candidates who have notalready been contacted by many recruiters.
Your Own Candidate E-Newsletter
Searching for on-line candidate information is powerful, but to reallysucceed, you should also be cultivating a following among passive job seekers.Think of what top e-marketers do with niche community portals such as parentingWeb sites, sports and hobby sites, business and finance sites, or otherspecial-interest portals. Their prime goal is to drive traffic back to theirsites on a regular basis, because once people are there, they can buy goods,services and so on.
The e-marketers’ most cost-effective tool for this is not some splashy TVad or billboard campaign. They send you a weekly or monthly newsletter by e-mailtelling you what’s interesting on the site, as well providing as topical newsblurbs and links to useful resources. This achieves two things that are vitalfor recruiters as well:
Also, e-marketers don’t know when a given recipient of theire-newsletter is more likely to buy — or in your case, when candidatesreceiving your e-newsletter are more likely to release their résumés.However, by sending the newsletter consistently (on a monthly basis; moreoften will be perceived as annoying by some), you will at some point duringthe year catch people when their personal circumstances have changed,opening them to the possibility of a job change (e.g., when they get a jerkynew boss, are turned down for a promotion, or are worried by rumors ofdownsizing/merger).
On the other hand, by making the majority of the content somethingthat ANY professional can use (industry-specific news and “managingyour career” information), they will want to keep receiving it.Providing this useful information over time results in a perception ofcredibility and expertise for your firm, and you’ll be one of the first toreceive their résumés when they’re ready.
So where can you get e-newsletter content, and how do you send it to a largedatabase, all for free? For the content, I recommend a mix of short blurbs:
Keep the blurbs in your newsletter short: one or two summary sentences,preceded by a headline and followed by the Web address (e.g., on Individual.com)where they can view the full story
If you summarize and don’t plagiarize,especially when you include the link to the original source, you won’t getinto copyright trouble. Given the high quantity of items and concise format,everyone in your target audience is likely to find items of interest, andrecipients can quickly scan the whole newsletter and click on the links belowthe blurbs they find interesting.
As for newsletter distribution, you can use services like eGroups.com orListBot.com, which let people subscribe to your newsletter online themselves, oryou can import existing e-mail addresses into it. It’s all via the Web — nosoftware to install. You just copy and paste your newsletter text into a box,and click Send. Remember to promote the free newsletter in of all yourrecruitment marketing materials and candidate communications; you’ll besurprised how many subscribers you gain
You can see good examples of free recruiting newsletters that follow thisformat by signing up for “Accelepoint” at www.clearpnt.com (whichtargets technical writers/designers, who even get friends of the company towrite original articles just for them), or my newsletter for recruiters byclicking “Newsletter” at www.recruiting-online.com.
Automate Things…at a Price
You want more ways to find passive candidates? If terminology like”flipping” competitors’ Web sites, “data-mining”newsgroups and user groups, and “peeling back” URLs is new to you,then a whole world of candidates awaits. Consider this article an invitation tolearn more about the special tools for finding “hidden” experiencedcandidates as well as taking your on-campus recruiting to a new level. That alsoapplies to the numerous ways to make your company Web site a more effectiverecruiting tools.
A growing number of companies provide further training on such Internetrecruiting techniques. Visit www.erexchange.com/training/ for a fairlycomprehensive list that includes upcoming course schedules. Many of thesetechniques can also used through fee-based software packages and Web-enabledtools from vendors listed in such directories as Workforce Tools on Workforce.com.
Some systems even automate internal and external job posting, maintenance ofyour company Web site’s jobs section, résumé management, candidateassessment/testing, and candidate communications (including the aforementionede-newsletter). Such systems fall under the category of “end-to-endsolutions.” If your résumé and candidate volume is large enough or yourcost per hire is too high, this may well be worth investigating.
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