My Headlines


We have moved to Wordpress! Posted by Jason Links to this post The Recruiting Front Lines has evolved. At the beginning of the year, I changed jobs within my company, moving away from Outreach and Education, and into my new role as Director of Business Development. While I remain closely involved with our field activity, I am now more focused on strategic partnerships, social media, and the world of internet recruitment resources. As I have made this change, the focus of my blog content has also changed. Recently, I began to feel that many of the ideas I had for blog posts would not fit within the framework of The Recruiting Front Lines. This was a cause of some frustration, as I felt that I was either misrepresenting my content with the title of my blog, or that I was stifling my writing because I felt it didn't fit. To rectify this situation, I have created a new blog home, now on WordPress. I am still ironing out the wrinkles, but feel that it is far enough along that I can move all my past content, and begin posting all new content, at the new address. I would like to formally welcome everyone to come check out my new home at I can't wait to hear what you think! Best Regards, and Thank you for your time and attention over the past 18 months. Jason

Dec 30, 2008

RFL: The month that just won't end!

An associate in the office yesterday mentioned that this was the Month That Won't End. Boy was she right! For many of us who's work calendars are tied to corporate 5-4-4 calendars, you know what I mean. For us, the year end was effectively last Friday, the 26th. This means that during one of the busiest family times of the year, we were all scrambling around to wrap up our month end and year end reports, and laying out the new table cloth as we set the table for 2009. Not the best week for the increased focus necessary to hit all our deadlines and make sure all i's are dotted and t's are crossed. But, as we do, we did it.

And somehow, we all managed to enjoy the holidays with friends and/or family. Success! And a weekend to relax and soak in the spirit of the season. Then, for those of who returned to work yesterday, we found the month wasn't ACTUALLY over yet! There was talk of New Year's Eve celebrations, more PTO, which managers were on duty, and when, whether or not the office will be open all day.... Hadn't we crossed the threshold? Were n0t the holidays behind us?

Not yet. Though, we do just have this one more stretch of New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, and the unproductive Friday between the holiday and the weekend. Then back to business as usual... right? Isn't that the hope? Or is that just a fool's goal? Up here in the northeast snow blizzards and ice storms are coming, RI is leading the country with the highest unemployment rate, the ski mountains in ME, NH, and VT are all projecting smaller workforces and already offering discounted packages to attract recreational tourists. Huge employers, from developers of circuitboards to paper mills, are closing down operations for weeks or even a month, non-profit public television and radio stations are laying off AND giving pay cuts to the survivors.

I sure hope this isn't "business as usual", at least not for long anyway. As a thirty something, I have to admit my mild shock at the widespread effects of the recession. I hadn't thought about the hotels which are selling fewer conference packages, the job fairs that are having fewer real employment opportunities forcing the organizers to cancel them, the hospitals that are freezing hiring as fewer people have health insurance which means fewer are going in for healthcare, the independent delivery drivers that subcontract for cabinet manufacturers that have nothing to deliver as fewer people remodel their kitchens. It's been quite eye opening for me to see how fragile the system is.

And yet, we all maintain hope and faith. Hope that we truly are smart enough, as a country, to find a way out of this recession, and faith that we'll be able to keep the heads of our citizens above water until we do.

I was at a bookstore yesterday, and found a book of WWII posters. It was amazing how much responsibility the government was putting on the people back then- how willing we were to ask our citizens to change their behavior to save our way of life. Walk instead of drive, carpool to save gas, use less resources as the military needed them, turn in your recyclable metals... amazing.

I hope our government is ready, and mature enough, to reach out and provide this type of direction to the American people once more. And if they do, I have faith that we will answer the call.

Keep your spirits up, keep one eye open for those who need your help, and keep one hand free to lend to those who need it.


Dec 29, 2008

RFL: Guest Posting on Punk Rock HR

Check out my guest post on Punk Rock HR: CLICK HERE TO VIEW

If you haven't been there before, Punk Rock HR is a tremendous blog, hosted by Laurie Ruettimann, the creator of Human Resource Management Today at, another terrific place for HR professionals to network, learn, and share!

Season's Greetings and Happy New Year!

-Jason C. Blais

Dec 17, 2008

RFL: The Relationsip of Social Media & Recruiting

As I was entering the title for this blog, it occurred to me that this will likely be the first in an ongoing posting stream on this matter. As I deepen my research into social media and its value to employers, I will continue to share what I learn, dispell myths, and promote best practices. There is a great deal of time, money, and energy being applied to marketing these services, and a scarcity of reputable research, data, or objective oversight to be found.


I had originally posted the following comments as a reply to a LinkedIn question about this topic. If you are LinkedIn, you can see that question here, and comment for yourself. Though I'd also prefer comments to this post, here.

It's clear that the number of advertisers paying to post jobs online is declining, that trend is directly related to the number of jobs open, meaning that the social media and other outlets will also be declining in the world of recruitment.

I'm very wary of those who try to scare HR professionals into thinking that the value of internet job boards has vanished. In fact, the value continues to grow, which is whey every year, including this year, a the ratio of jobs posted on internet job boards to jobs posted in print grows. I do agree that aggregator sites have muddied the waters, and we'll see how long it takes with copyright laws to catch up to the internet. It would be silly to allow magazines to copy the entire content from other magazines, and then put their own brand on it and sell advertising. It would be a clear violation of infringement, if there was no permission granted. This will become a very hot issue as the economy weakens, and those on top (monster, CB, HJ, Dice,etc) must take steps to protect there assets- which in any publishing platform, is content.

I've been a zealous social media supporter, and am working to bring a better understanding of this ecosystem to HR professionals. The truth is that while there may be some very good candidates found through social media, most organizations don't currently have the resources to wade through the enormous volumes of those disinterested in job opportunities and those who have created completely bogus profiles. Ultimately, it comes down to a question of return on investment.

If an employer can find 20 candidates with 85% of the profile they're looking for within a week of posting a job online (which only takes a small amount of time), is that activity more or less valuable than spending dozens if not more than a hundred hours filtering through social media and finding 2 candidates that have 95% of the profile you're looking for?

I believe that all three types of social media- Social Networking, Professional Networking, and Information Sharing- have tremendous value to HR professionals, and should be researched and utilized to build stronger employment brands and increased employee engagement. But these benefits must be presented with realistic expectations. Building employee networks, feedback loop venues, professional research interchanges, and customer engagement can all be taken to a new level with social media. When working with HR folks, I do my best to provide a very thorough analysis of the functionality of the various social media outlets, including benefits and drawbacks, and present them with scenarios in which they can leverage these services to their benefit.

That being said, specialization continues to offer significant advantages in the business to business community. I fear that by pushing businesspeople onto the social media to aggressively is akin to the superstore approach to consumer goods. Soon, people forget the quality of the goods they used to get at specialty stores, and replace the desire for quality with the convenience of cheap prices and one stop shopping- the dumbing of the consumer market. The same goes with trying to do too much through social media platforms that aren't truly designed to deliver the results businesses need.

Dec 16, 2008

Not Enough Candidates? WHO SAID THAT?!

Steve Porter, who is an Outreach Consultant with JobsInRI, has been working closely with the Workforce Development Specialist, Amy Driscoll, at the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) to help connect employers and job seekers in that industry. Amy's role is part of the RI Hospitality Education Foundation. Together, they've developed and delivered presentations at netWORKri offices across the state to job seekers focused on Transferring Skills to new careers.

The reports I'm getting back have been eye opening, and provide tremendous insight into the struggles of both job seekers and employers. As you may already be aware, RI is now tied for the highest unemployment rate in the US. The presentation has been very helpful in showing candidates how to do their own skills inventory, and identify the soft skills they have that can transfer into new jobs. The target is really the recently unemployed, and those who have been out of the market for so long, they're out of the loop in the new job hunting world.

Great work and congratulations goes to the folks at the RI Hospitality Education Foundation (RIHEF) who have spearheaded this charge, and are out there making a difference!

In addition, the RIHEF lead a seminar to analyze how to find and train soft skills for the next generation workforce- high school students and teens. The idea here is to help develop the real world skills that are necessary to fill positions in the hospitality industry. (I have to say, focusing on this younger group is both forward thinking and creatively strategic. If more business leaders, association leaders, and community organizations were similarly focused, we could see a significant rise in apprenticeship style education, which I'm all for)

Any way, here are some bullets of the issues facing this one industry in this one state, as reported by the JobsInRI Outreach Consultant:

-- Many of the RIHA member restaurants and hotels have openings, but can't find good people.

-- In the business of hospitality, budgets will be cut and expenses reduced, but layoffs are usually the last option.

-- The RIHA doesn't feel the recession has affected the RI industry too deeply. Business at most restaurants and hotels are still down slightly, though.

-- The Newport business climate has not been hit badly at all, which is where the center of the tourism universe resides in RI.

-- The universal belief is that next year's tourist season will be excellent. Optimism is high.

-- The RIHA specialist maintains a folder of job openings from hotels and restaurants that she is personally trying to fill. Following the seminars, she speaks one-on-one with candidates searching for the right kind of people.

-- Many are frustrated with employment advertising options. The paper is expensive and online job boards result in too many desperate, inexperienced candidates.

-- In addition, while resume databases are exceptional for finding employees with specific hard skills (certifications, degrees, years of experience) they fail profoundly in finding candidates with strong soft skills (team player, customer service, friendliness, communication, etc.).

-- They are desperate for candidates with exceptional soft skills which is what fuels their industry.

Great work Steve, thanks for those insights!

Well, that's how it looks from the recruiting front lines at the intersection of Rhode Island and Hospitality!

Why I Blog

There's a tremendous blog out there hosted by J. William Tincup called During the month of December, he has been profiling recruiting bloggers of the world, and today was my lucky day to be featured. It's a brief segment about why I started the blog, why I keep doing it, and what's coming in the future.


Dec 9, 2008

Gratuitous Self Promotion

Disclaimer: For those that may be offended by scenes of gratuitous self promotion: please read no further as you may be exposed to content that you find offensive.

If you have a few minutes please help promote this blog by following these steps:
1. Please find an article/post in this blog that you really enjoyed.
2. Scroll to the end of the post.
3. Click on the Email this Post image (envelope w/arrow)
4. Send it to a friend or colleague that would be interested, and let them know they can subscribe either for email updates or RSS feeds.

Okay, so I've been writing a few posts monthly for the last 9 months or so. My goal is to average 2 posts a week, but sometimes time, energy, or inspiration get in my way. I'd be very open to hearing feedback from readers to hear what you think so far... the good, the bad, and the ugly- bring it on, i've got thick skin.

Have a great day all!

Best Skills Inventory I've Found

I've been researching Skills Inventories and Skill Sets in relation to job functions for an upcoming seminar I'm developing. If you'd like to share your input on what I'm working on, please check out some more detail in this forum at HRM TODAY, the Social Network for Today's HR Professional- free plug Laurie, no need to send money :) If you're not familiar with this resource, take a look around, it's a great place to peruse.

Anyway, in my research, I've come across numerous lists and processes for job seekers to itemize their on skills inventory. In the program I'm working on, HR professionals will use similar methodology to uncover latent skills within their current workforce. Once uncovered, the employer can provide opportunities to employees to work cross functionally, effectively increasing productivity, engagement, and retention. This is even more important during a recession (remember, like Hermione Grainger said in Harry Potter, "fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself"- IT IS IMPORTANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE REALITY OF OUR CURRENT ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT- sorry... I digress), when employers are forced to do more with less.

In my digging, I found the following worksheet to be of the most value, at least in my opinion, and thought I'd pass it along. This is a great Skills Inventory list from SunRaye Enterprises. You can find more great info like this at their website:

I've been

A Free Internet Resource from SunRaye Enterprises

Worksheet #5 - Skills Inventory Worksheet

For each skill, rank your degree of competence as you would compare yourself with others -- your classmates, friends etc. For those skills where your degree of competence is above average, describe briefly the experience(s) in which you gained the skill.

Skill Never
Experience(s) Where You Gained the Skill
Situations or Data

Equipment or information

Mathematical computations or risk assessment

Guiding or tutoring

Ability to compete with others and a willingness to be measured on performance

Data or facts

Persistent, faithful

Objects or buildings

Activities or events

Answering or initiating


Artistic creations, new ideas or inventions

Finding alternatives, making best use of resources or materials

Tasks or responsibilities

Products or systems

Ability to define personal goals and needs

Ideas, products or equipment

Newspapers or magazines

Energy Level
Ability to demonstrate a forcefulness and capacity to make things move ahead

Costs, income or physical space

Performance, programs, processes or events

Capable of change and receptive to new situations and ideas

Fund Raising
One-to-one or through media

Goal Achievement
Ability to identify, work toward and obtain specific objectives

Group Facilitating
Managing group interactions

Handling Complaints
Parents, clients or citizens

Inspecting or Examining
Physical objects, financial statements, or through test administration

Data, legal, medical terminology or another language

Seeking information from others and making subsequent decisions or suggestions

Private information underlying causes or events

Making Layouts
For printed media public displays or advertising


Meeting the Public
Receptionist, host, agency or product rep, salesperson, etc.

Progress of people or equipment

Self and others

Physical phenomena, human behaviour or situations

Equipment, machines or vehicles

People, information or events

Ability to remain calm, endurance

Budgeting, goal setting, scheduling

Ability to continue a course of action in spite of difficulties or opposition

Equipment or activities

One-to-one or though media

Numerical or scientific data

Record Keeping
Logs, files or time sheets

Equipment, vehicles, furniture, appliances, accessories, etc.

Obtaining information from the library, surveys or physical data

Ability to assess your own capabilities

Ability to identify purposeful work and to take action

Ideas, products or policies

A product or an individual

Pictures, diagrams or charts

In public, groups or via electronic media

People or processes

Formal or informal

Organizing time or events

Equipment or situations

Information or records

Using Instruments
Engineering, medical or scientific

Creative, business, or non-fiction

Other Skills You'd Like to Add (e.g. Word Processing, Spread Sheets, Accounting)

Nov 21, 2008

How and Why: Free Job Boards, Career Content, Traffic Growth, and other Essentials of Job Boards

As more and more companies offer "free" job boards, develop new tools for job seekers, and rely more heavily on internet marketing, how are they competing and why?

For employers, a job board has no value without there being a large quantity of highly qualified job seekers willing to work in their industry and region. I've seen some of the slickest job boards out there, all the bells and whistles, promoting themselves as THE location to advertise XYZ jobs. The problem is that when you open the job board, all the jobs are located in one or two metro areas.

Great. Your search engine marketing worked, and now you're attracting people that are finding no or little relevant content (assuming the norm that more than 85% of job seekers aren't willing to relocate).

With the declining number of jobs posted on the internet, the level of organic content is shrinking, hurting the SEO of job boards everywhere. PPC is great, but can be expensive if you're competing with the big boys. Banner advertising is another growing advertising service that give more bang than the PPC, but for much more buck. Are job boards spending too much time marketing to employers, and not enough time promoting themselves to job seekers??? If the number of job boards decline, won't that lead to a loss of value for aggregator sites such as indeed?

Why is it that SO many people are jumping in the market? Is this the gold rush mentality? Or is there more to it? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that all businesses who provide business services want to expand their product lines, and this is one way that can be done "easily". Just create a db, with a search function, and call it a job board. It reminds me of my State Farm Agent who continually tries to sell me retirement plans. I guess I'm old school- I like to go to insurance agencies for insurance, and investment companies for my investments, which is why I work with Wachovia for my IRA.

There is a long history of companies diversifying beyond their core competencies and failing miserably. Do people really believe the Walmart philosophy applies to business and professional services? One stop shopping at bargain rates for everything you need? There may be a dumbing of the consumer base- now more willing than ever to sacrifice quality and price for convenience (yes, it's true, only the leader priced products are cheaper at Walmart0 watch out!)-, but is it really spilling over into the business purchasing and procurment world? When businesses focus on their specialty, their HEDGHOG CONCEPT, to steal an idea from Jim Collins, isn't it better for everyone?

Nov 19, 2008

2008 Job Boards vs. 2007 Realtor

In 2003, a friend of mine had opened his own real estate office. He had worked for a national realtor for only two years, and was upset about the commission structure. Within 1 year, he had 26 agents working for him- more than any other office in the greater Portland area. The housing market was booming, as was the commercial market. In 2005, he invited me to get on board- get my license and start making real money. This time for the real estate market is very comparable to the job board market of 2006 and 2007.

I declined his offer, feeling that there were just too many others in the market right then, and that the boom had been going on for too long. I'm wary of jumping on the wave just as it's about to crash into the shore. Well, the housing market wave has hit the shore. So, what's happened to all those young, fresh, new real estate agents that were making money hand over fist in 2004 and 2005? Most have found new jobs. Many are searching for sales jobs that aren't available- selling real estate doesn't always have transferable skills into other sales professions.

As the market declined, there were fewer buyers and now fewer people are getting credit (though signs of the rebound are showing themselves this week). However, the seasoned agents, the one's who had built networks and established themselves over years, who had seen slow times before and rode them out, they are still out there, and they are getting the business that there is to get.

Between 2002 and 2008, the number of job boards in the US jumped from around 3,000 to over 40,000. Companies didn't know which way to go, so were throwing their money all over, in the "try everything" approach. Employers were pulling their dollars from the increasing rates and decreasing returns of print advertising, and moving toward job boards- good for job boarders.

Now, for the first time since "online job boards" have existed, the labor market is in decline. It will be very interesting to monitor the support, value, and success of the 40,000 job boards. Will there be 50,000 next year? Or will there be 20,000? The question facing job boarders now is how to stand out in this environment, capture market share, and stay viable as the economy constricts. Are you prepared to win in a losing economy?

Nov 10, 2008

RFL: Interviewing the Employer

A friend sent me a link recently to a top 10 list for the top 10 Biggest Interview Killers for job seekers. The website provides all types of resources for job seekers and career changers, called,

You may be aware of some of these tips already, but taken in total, they do provide a very good overview of how to prepare for and succeed in an interview. I'd suggest it's very much worth the read. I won't give away all of the tips, out of respect for the author, bud did want to share one that I feel strongly about, one that our company, JobsInTheUS, often preaches to job seekers and employers: As the job seeker, it is important to enter the interview with the understanding that this is an opportunity for you to interview the company, not just for them to interview you.

There's nothing worse than changing jobs, or accepting job offers, and finding out 2 months later that you made the wrong choice. We spend a great deal of time working with employers to help them understand the need to provide more detailed information about both the job and the company, if they hope to attract the best talent.

For the job seeker, this is a very, very important thing to understand if you are to have any chance of finding career satisfaction. Do your research, learn as much as you can about the culture, missions, values, and products/services of the company you're interviewing with. Then, review the list you've created for your keys to career satisfaction and happiness (we'll discuss this in a future post, if you haven't taken this step yet). Next, make a list of questions that you haven't been able to answer through your research, questions that relate to your keys for career satisfaction.

Companies will be more likely to take you seriously as a candidate if they see that you are serious about building your career with them. That is, employee turnover is expensive, and employers want to be as confident as possible that the people they hire will be long term employees.

Oct 29, 2008

RFL: Digital Resumes, URI Career Fair, and Job Seeker Story of the Day

Okay job seekers, here's the best kept secret in Digital Resumes: YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT THE RECRUITER IS GOING TO SEARCH FOR! Searching a resume database to find a candidate is often very similar to searching any other database- you enter a key word or phrase that you're searching for, and the database spits out results that match your search. Sounds simple, right? While working in the field speaking with job seekers, I am continually amazed at how little direction is provided to them from "resume experts" on this extremely fundamental concept.

Normally, when reviewing a job seekers resume with them, I can find major ommissions in just a few seconds that dramatically affect their ability to be found in a database search. Often, its something this simple: you put your job title in that reads "Inside Sales Rep". What if the recruiter searches for Account Manager? or Sales Professional? or Sales Representative? Would you want to be found in those searches? This is the simplest thing job seekers can change on their resumes to increase the number of people who find them and contact them.

We advise that you simply add a "Keyword Summary" to the end of the digital resume, and list out all the terms that you could use if your were searching for yourself. We also suggest you include job titles that you believe in your heart you are qualified for, but have not yet done. For example, maybe you've have Assistant HR Manager in your work experience, and you've done it for many years. If you truly feel you are qualified for an HR Director job, you should include that keyword. At best, the recruiter who searches for HR director will find you, review your qualifications, and call you to find out more. At worst, they will see that you don't have that experience and not call...

RECRUITERS/HR MANAGERS VIEW: Remember, if you are searching a resume database, it's absolutely critical that you are creative and thoughtful with your search terms. This is the best way to ensure you're finding ALL the relevant candidates.

Today, JobsInRI, the Rhode Island-specific employment website operated by JobsInTheUS, exhibited at the annual fall career fair at the University of Rhode Island. We've attended URI events for the past 4 years or so, and this usually tends to be a good event with lots of college students getting ready to enter the workforce. Unfortunately, RI now tops the unemployment rates in the country at around 8.9%, nearly doubling in the last year. This isn't good news for graduating seniors. In fact, I believe I saw more graduate programs exhibiting at this year's event than any other I've attended- the message? Stay in school a couple more years until the economy and job growth is stronger!

Job Seeker Story of the Day
The URI career fair is open to the public. I spent a few minutes speaking with a gentlemen who had more than a decade (or two) experience in printing and graphic design / prepress for commercial printing. Two years ago, this was a highly marketable skill as print was still strong, and these skills becoming harder and harder to find. Now, with the slumping economy and associated belt-tightening, people are moving away from direct mail, printed newsletters, and other printed materials, choosing instead to move toward email and web based marketing and communication. The thought, of course, is that there's no production cost or hard costs, such as the paper, and that its more environmentally friendly. In reality, the decision is simple business economics- its cheaper to send emails, whether its internally for employee notices, to members for newsletters, or to customers for marketing, than it is to print and mail these pieces.

In speaking with this gentleman, I offered suggestions on career options that would take advantage of his transferable skills: Graphic Design and Layout skills are just as valuable now, but must be updated and modified for these new web tools. This may take learning new software, but if the most important knowledge is the general rules of good layout and design, which he likely has with his experience. Its much easier to teach the hard skills of a new software than it is to teach the soft skills of good creative application and knowledge of design elements. Another skilled trade being undervalued and underappreciated because of the advent of new software and technology...

THOUGHTS FOR RECRUITERS / HR PROFESSIONALS: It is truly important to understand the value of soft skills within your company, and to weight those appropriately in your screening and hiring process. Remember, FIRST WHO, THEN WHAT. If you have the right people with the right motivation, culture, ideals, morals, drive, intelligence, strengths, it is easy to teach them the hard skills that are relevant to your company. If you hire people based on hard skills that lack all those soft skills, you'll constantly be working on employee issues and retention programs, wondering why your turnover is so high when you always get the most skilled people.

That's the way it looks from the recruiting front lines today. I hope you'll share any thoughts via the comments link.

Oct 22, 2008

RFL: Departmental Schizophrenia?

Last week I presented a webinar focused on Employment Branding to more than 150 companies through a great resource called GoToWebinar (free plug- it's a great and easy to use web conferencing tool).

I also provided the same presentation to a group of HR professionals at the Seacoast Human Resource Association, SHRA, in Portsmouth, NH, a local chapter of SHRM.

I've presented this material a handful of times, and one piece of feedback that I get consistently really stands out, so I wanted to share.

During the presentation, we discuss how to identify a company's unique employment proposition- it's employment brand. That is, what does your company provide to it's employees that make you unique? This ranges from flexibility of schedules, to compassionate environment, to generous benes and compensation, to stabile work environment and so on...

We ask the employers to assign human personality traits to themselves as employers. Actually, we do this as an exercise, and suggest that they have their employees fill this out. As with a consumer brand, the brand is what people tell you it is, not what you think it is. If people perceive Kia's to be cheap, low quality transportation, that's the reality of the brand, regardless of what people at Kia would want you to believe, AND REGARDLESS OF THE ACTUAL QUALITY OR VALUE THAT KIA OFFERS. If people don't see it that way, it isn't that way.

Likewise, your employment brand is whatever your employees say it is.

So as we go through this process, it almost always comes up that this is difficult to do, because different departments (horizontal), or different job grades (vertical) would have different opinions about the company's strengths, weaknesses, personality.

This is where I recently stopped my thought process, and asked myself, WHY IS IT THAT THERE IS SO MUCH VARIATION IN VIEW OF THE COMPANY BOTH HORIZONTALLY AND VERTICALLY? If one department treats your employees well, pays well, is open and honest in communication, and is compassionate to them, why would that change from department to department? Or, for that matter, based on how high up the ladder you are?

So, this is, or may be, a reality for many companies. And the suggestion up front is simple- analyze your employment personality/brand for each functional area- horizontally and vertically- to capture granular detail about each department, so as you build your brand it is customized and focused right down to that level.

Here's my second thoughts on that. If you are hearing very conflicting feedback about your company's strengths, weaknesses, personality, etc, there's more work that needs to be done first.... sorry. This finding presents an excellent opportunity to identify inconsistencies internally, and develop a blueprint for building better employee relations and engagement.

OKAY, okay.... why bother, right? This is a lot of work. A waste of time. Will use up resources. What's in it for me? I get all those very valid concerns. The answers boil down to very basic principles of HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT and Organziational Dynamics.

Your ability to have a strong and pervasive culture will allow you to better identify the best potential candidates, based on your current environment and staff. Attracting better candidates leads to hiring better employees.
  • Hiring better employees leads to reduced costs for turnover, as retention increases.
  • Increased retention means better long-term skill development for your business.
  • Better long term skill development means better productivity, consumer relations, profitability.

THIS IS WHY IT IS IMPORTANT. A business's ability to realize long term sustainability and growth is based on the collective skills and engagement of it's employees. Top producing, happy, engaged employees will have the greatest effect on you bottom line of variable you can control.

From the Recruiting Front Lines, that's how I see it today! Please click here to share your comments.


Oct 17, 2008

RFL: Employment Branding: In-House or Outsource?

I presented a webinar on October 16 on the topic of EMPLOYMENT BRANDING (which I'll be presenting two more times this mont in-person with the NHLRA and with the Seacoast HR Association). Over 160 HR, Recruiting, and Hiring Professionals attended the webinar to learn more about the benefits of building and Employment Brand, the process of developing that brand, and some basics to analyze the brand penetration.

This is the 4th time presenting this material, and each time the engagement, excitement, and interest of the audience is very high. What I find surprising is how few businesses out there actually take the time to work through this process, and develop their own brand. In the employment advertising world in which I work (quick plug for the sites of JobsInTheUS!), we see the quality of thousands of job postings everyday- some are terrific, most are mediocre to subpar.

My original thought process when developing this seminar and webinar was to provide HR directors and business leaders with a blueprint to help them increase their hiring success, thereby elevating their employee retention and productivity, and reducing turnover costs. I am from a marketing background, and understand that much of the information and expertise provided by an employment advertising ageny or recruitment advertising agency, can be learned and developed internally by the in-house personnel and recruitment professionals- those in charge of attracting, screening, and hiring the best possible candidates for their company.

The question I now find myself asking through my internal dialogue is whether or not this is a duty that is or should be a priority of the personnel and recruiting professionals that are employed by a company? OR, is this an effort best left to the "industry experts" as an outsourced function?

Now, I will be the first to admit that I am an idealist. And I think that deep down I believe that the most fundamental and elementary role of HUMAN RESOURCES is to ensure that a business has the very best people in place, working as effectively and efficiently as possible, to achieve the company's stated goals and mission.

That being said, I'm not naive, and do understand that the HR environment includes a much fuller landscape with many more integrated ecosystems that must be dealt with- from adherance to employment laws to personnel disputes to OSHA regulations and now even supervision of alignment with S/OX compliance. OF course there's also benefits, compensation, retention strategies.... I could go on and on as I'm sure that you, the readers of this blog, understand.

My point is that I question whether outsourcing the company's efforts to attract top talent is really in the company's best interest. Maybe it is. Perhaps, the best possible situation is to have a very close and open relationship with the right agency and maintain oversight of the direction, tone, and image that is being built, while allowing the experts create the graphics, place the advertising, handle the copy writing, etc.

I'd like to get input from anyone who finds themselves on any side of this issue: one who outsources, one who handles this in-house, or an agency who is hired to handle these issues.


That's the view from the Recruiting Front Lines- I'll be in touch soon.


Oct 7, 2008

RFL: Rantings of an early Tuesday morning

Okay, so if you've read my recent posts, you've seen that my company hosted 4 career fairs last month- one each in ME, NH, RI, and AL. All were a success, if you count success as providing an opportunity for local businesses to meet face to face with job candidates. I am proud that we did them, and believe we offered a benefit to a great many job seekers and employers in the markets we serve.

That being said, I'm still rather dismayed about some of the attitudes and behaviors of the employers who say they're looking for great talent, but do not engage job seekers and are not fully prepared for the occasion.

Now, don't get me wrong. I really don't fault any employers make the effort to be there. The problem, as I see it, is much more interwoven in our business culture. Rarely, if ever, are decision makers present at such events. That being the case, the entire value of the face to face meeting is watered down and almost completely lost. Also, in many cases, the people sent to staff the booths are fully informed on the skills and experiences required for the specific openings. Again, I don't believe this is the fault of the people staffing the booths, or of the HR dept in general. It has merely become status quo... good enough.

And adding on to the discouragement for some of the job seekers (trust me, I heard from dozens directly, and hundreds through our survey forms, so I'm not making this stuff up- while the majority of attendees ranked the event very well, some of the higher level seekers felt disappointed by the occasion), is that once they do have a good conversation at this type of an event, they are sent home to fill out an application online.

My goodness!!! Let's place decisions on the most fundamental pieces of a company in the hands of online resources! FOR REAL?! This sometimes seems like some type of Orwellian nightmare... Oh, yes, I liked you, and think you'd make a great candidate, but our computer will prescreen you and let us know if we should follow up.

I spoke with a company last year that really drove this point home for me. One of their long term employees moved out of state with her husband who was in the military. After 2 years, she returned to the area and tried to get her job back. It was mandatory for her to now go through an online application and screening resource administered by a third party. You know where I'm going with this... SHE FAILED TO GET THROUGH THE PRESCREEN! Her manager, who was relaying this story, was very clear that she was an excellent employee with a great track record and work ethic. Now, because the decisions about this 3rd party administrator are made at the corporate level, this manage CAN'T HIRE THE BEST PERSON, and has no recourse to circumvent the system. maybe its just early on a Tuesday morning... but that's what I think I think!

Oct 1, 2008

JobsInRI - Live in Lincoln!

The properties of JobsInTheUS have launched a focused initiative to reinforce strong and lasting connections with the local communities they serve in AL, LA, MA, ME, MS, NH, VT, & RI. Unlike most internet resources, these companies are participatory in local business and trade associations, HR Associations, career centers at colleges, universities, trades schools, and government centers. In addition to this interaction with the business community, the websites now also provide in-person events to connect great in-state employers with the best local talent. Check out this series of posts with briefs on the recent career fairs hosted by JobsInAL, JobsInNH, JobsInME, and JobsInRI!

JobsInRI 2008 Career Fair Attracts Great Local Candidates

On Thursday, September 18,, in partnership with the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce, hosted a successful career fair at the Twin River Gaming Facility in Lincoln. Merchant Card Services, Express Personnel, and AAA of Southern New England sponsored the event, which was heavily advertised on multiple radios station, on area campuses, through local business and trade associations, and by email invitations to job seekers. Unlike other recent events, the more than 600 job seekers who attended were able meet with dozens of employers looking for great employees to fill jobs in Rhode Island. Companies as big as Rite Aid, Raytheon, and Amica exhibited alongside great local businesses such as the Groden Network, Picerne Real Estate Group, and Cranston ARC.

This broad range of high-quality, in-state employers illustrated a brighter side of the Rhode Island economy. In fact, the 32 companies on hand represented hundreds of current openings in the state, and the 2008 JobsInRI Career Fair helped them connect with great local candidates. "We were very excited about the level of the candidates that came through today. In fact, 24 out of the 25 exhibitors that answered our feedback surveys stated that they found potential candidates during the career fair," said Jason Blais, Field Operations Manager for and Obviously, the employers were impressed as well. According to Michael Coates, of Clean Water Action, "The turnout at this fair was very impressive. Your organization obviously took a lot of care in advertising this event."

This Career Fair reinforced's status as the #1 local employment resource in Rhode Island. Currently, there are more in-state, Rhode Island career opportunities posted with than anywhere else. In addition to providing the leading resource to find jobs, also provides the best value to employers. In September alone, the website,, received more than 1,000,000 page views.



JobsInME- Connecting in South Portland

The properties of JobsInTheUS have launched a focused initiative to reinforce strong and lasting connections with the local communities they serve in AL, LA, MA, ME, MS, NH, VT, & RI. Unlike most internet resources, these companies are participatory in local business and trade associations, HR Associations, career centers at colleges, universities, trades schools, and government centers. In addition to this interaction with the business community, the websites now also provide in-person events to connect great in-state employers with the best local talent. Check out this series of posts with briefs on the recent career fairs hosted by JobsInAL, JobsInNH, JobsInME, and JobsInRI! 2008 Career Fair Attracts Great Local Candidates

On September 17, hundreds of job seekers descended on the Wyndham Hotel in South Portland to attend the 2008 JobsInME Career Fair. This event, presented by in partnership with the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, brought together 48 of the region's best local employers to promote career opportunities and find their next great employees.

Maine Medical Center, Bath Iron Works, InterCoast Career Institute, and the Central Maine Medical Family sponsored the event, which was promoted heavily through the website, the Androscoggin County chamber, and on the radio at WCYY, WHOM, WJBQ, and WBLM, which also did live call-ins from the event! This promotion, along with the list of high quality employers on hand, attracted great quality candidates, looking for all types of career opportunities.

With the economy slowing and unemployment rising slightly in Maine, great local businesses are finding a growing stream of quality applicants for all their open positions. In fact, more than 90% of the employers stated that they found potential candidates and viable resumes during the event! staff were on hand providing resume tips and career advice to the hundreds of jobs seekers who made their way through the 2008 Career Fair. Said one of the staff, "It was a great experience for me - to be able to show people that we're so much more than just a website on the internet, that is a real, local business, and we're committed to helping local job seekers connect with local employers. It was great sharing our expertise with people face to face."



JobsInAL - Face to Face in Birmingham!

The properties of JobsInTheUS have launched a focused initiative to reinforce strong and lasting connections with the local communities they serve in AL, LA, MA, ME, MS, NH, VT, & RI. Unlike most internet resources, these companies are participatory in local business and trade associations, HR Associations, career centers at colleges, universities, trades schools, and government centers. In addition to this interaction with the business community, the websites now also provide in-person events to connect great in-state employers with the best local talent. Check out this series of posts with briefs on the recent career fairs hosted by JobsInAL, JobsInNH, JobsInME, and JobsInRI! 2008 Career Fair Attracts Great Local Candidates

On September 10,, in partnership with Manufacture Alabama!, hosted a career fair at the Cahaba Grand in Birmingham. This successful event brought together area employers with high quality local job seekers.

More than 25 companies registered to exhibit at the event, representing many different industries. What the attending companies found when they arrived was a professional and friendly staff, along with very good quality applicants. In fact, 86% of the employers expressed that the event was successful for their purposes, and were likely to attend the next event in the spring. Job seekers who came through were able to have good conversations with some of the area's best employers.

The Cahaba Grand event space allowed for a comfortable atmosphere, providing seekers and employers with a great atmosphere to connect and get to know each other. Patrick Erb, the Manager of Outreach and Education for took the time to work with job seekers one on one, offering advice and directions on resume writing, interview practices, and the overall job hunting process.


Sep 26, 2008

How do YOU attract the best talent?

You just gotta love the connective power of the internet. I recently exchanged thoughts regarding employment branding with a recruiter in India, through the LinkedIn space. While that in and of itself is pretty amazing to anyone over 30, who grew up in a world without the internet and cellular phones, it's the content of our conversation that I thought was more interesting.

This recruiter had asked a question about how you find good talent to work for companies that don't measure up to the industry standards in regards to things like employee benefits, compensation, appreciation, etc.

This is a question and challenge that I face daily. Even in India, this recruiter is able to get the employer to understand the theory behind building an employment brand, and how that affects their ability to attract top talent, though when it comes to implementation.... well, let's just say the theory loses its importance and shine. I have spoken to many employers across New England about this very same issue, and have seen the very same wall put up when it comes time to actually create and develop the employment brand.

Ultimately, the idea that a company has to promote its strengths specific to the employment market in order to attract the right type of candidate is well accepted. Unfortunately, and somewhat surprising to me, most employers don't put in the time and energy necessary to create, develop, and communicate this employment brand. While I can preach about the value of attracting better candidates- increased productivity, increased customer relations, decreased turnover costs, decreased customer service complaints, decreased employee dissatisfaction, decreased cost of employee retention programs (if you attract the right people, you don't have to pay as much to keep them)-, I cannot FORCE employers to put branding up on the priority list, and assign the necessary resources to make it a reality.

To the recruiter from India's point, how do you expect to get good talent if you don't keep up with industry standards? Well, there actually is a way to do this. In fact, it's as easy as understanding your own employee's engagement to your company, understanding EXACTLY what kind of employee is best for your company, and communicating in the right spaces with the right message to reach the right people and motivate them to apply. If you don't pay as well as other companies, but you have a very good mentoring or training program, you're ideal candidate will be different from someone who has the best pay in the industry, with no real mentoring or training program.

What we see from many employers is that they don't take the time to really assess the profile of their best potential candidates. It's easy to go with the flow, and say you want someone with the best skill level, best education, and teamwork attitude. But is it true? Does your business need someone who works great in a group environment... or do you really need someone who can be left alone to get their job done reliably and without interruption? Do you need to attract people with the very best skill level... or would those people FEEL overqualified and uncomfortable in your milieu if they were hired- can you train those hard skills? Do you really want the person with the best education, or will that person disrupt the current environment in your workplace?

I always remind employers that the person they hire tomorrow will have to work with the people they employ today. That sounds elementary, but there is much more to consider in that statement than you might first think.

I'd love to hear your comments on how you identify the best candidates and attract them to hire, if you don't offer the best salary or best benefits, etc. Click HERE to add a comment. Thanks for sharing!

Sep 16, 2008

Top 5 Ways to Fail at Hiring

If you're in the majority of businesses out there, you handle most or all of your recruiting in-house- no recruiters or staffing agencies in your hip pocket... or wallet. That is, you write your own job postings or advertisements, you research and make your own media buys, and you handle the pre-screening and interview process. If your company attends career fairs, you and your team conceive the design for your displays and staff the booth in hopes of meeting your next great hire.

If you look around, you're likely to find numerous tips and suggestions to help you attract and hire the best talent available. In fact, you'll probably find volumes of ideas from various sources, organizations, and experts.

Often, I've heard it said, success can be achieved not by only doing the right things, but also by avoiding doing the wrong things. For example, you could write a tremendously powerful and engaging job posting, place your ad in the top media resources, and attract quality resumes, but if you make one of the following mistakes, you are sure to meet with failure in your hiring efforts.

Here are my Top 5 Ways to Fail at Hiring:

5. Treat every candidate equally. Okay, so as far as the protected statuses go, you do need to treat each application equally, but you can't afford to treat the best qualified applicants with the same attention and efforts as the marginal applicants. The very best candidates will likely have many opportunities to choose from, and everyone wants to feel wanted. Make sure you let the top candidates feel the love!

4. Accept more resumes than you can handle. Consider this: the most qualified candidates are likely already employed. While it's impossible to know what their motivation is, it's is reasonable to assume that their window of interest may be very small. Maybe last week was a bad week. Maybe your posting came when their horoscope advised to be open to new opportunities. Maybe another opportunity will come along next week that is closer to home. Maybe another employer will hire them next week. The point is simple: if you're serious about attracting the best candidates, be sure to limit your exposure and only accept as many resumes as you can handle in a speedy fashion. That may mean taking down your online posting for a few days while you catch up with your screening. DON'T EXPECT GREAT CANDIDATES TO STILL BE WAITING FOR YOUR CALL 3 WEEKS AFTER THEY SUBMIT A RESUME.

3. Use Salary Requirements to Screen Candidates. While this sounds like a reasonable idea, it's another sure way to overlook GREAT talent who may be undervaluing or overvaluing their skills. Remember, people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and psychological profiles. Some incredibly talented individuals may not fully understand their market value, and may post salary requirements below what you would think is appropriate for the right person. Conversely, and maybe more common, the right person for your company may identify inflated salary requirements in hopes of taking that next step in their earning potential. If you weed out applicants based on salary requirements, you're potentially ignoring great hidden gems while limiting your ability to "sell" the candidates on the other great perks and benefits that may offset higher salary desires.

2. Include Lots of People in the Hiring Process. There is a school of thought that when making a decision about new personnel, it's best to get multiple parties involved, so as to ensure you're bringing the right candidate on board. What ends up turning in to reality more often than not, is that ALL of the people you want involved can't be available to meet with ALL the top candidates. What ensues is a tug of war over candidates that have not had equal exposure to your staff, and may turn into a drawn out interview process that sees top candidates withdraw themselves from consideration. If you're truly looking for the best possible candidates, you have to understand that they may see this as a convoluted or disorganized procedure. Instead, meet with all interested parties prior to interviewing, and take the time to understand EXACTLY what traits are going to be accepted, valued, and appreciated by your current personnel.

1. Place More Emphasis on Hard Skills than Soft. Okay, so most of you will begin writing you job ad by thinking about what hard skills your candidate must have. If you think of it, and have enough space, some of you will even include some of those soft skill terms like: teamwork, communication, detail-oriented, self-motivated, etc. The hard truth of our human experience is that soft skills are much more difficult to learn than hard skills. If you look into your crystal ball, and see the next 10 years of your company's future, what hiring decisions today will help you be more successful in the next decade? If we just look at the extremes, for an illustration, here's the point: If you hire people who are a 10 (in a scale of 1-10, 10 being best) in their hard skills and a 1 in their soft skills, you'll have disgruntled employees who lack engagement, resulting in higher turnover (and don't forget a rule of thumb that the cost of turnover is generally 200% of the annual salary). You can invest a great deal of money in training and development and appreciation, but if they don't want to be engaged or involved, this money will be wasted. If you hire people who are a 10 in the soft skills, and a 1 in the hard skills, you'll have happy employees who can't do the job. HOWEVER, if this were the case, you can train these types of employees, those who are eager, motivated, engaged, enthusiastic, driven, etc, to provide them with hard skills. YES, you're right. You cannot possible ignore the necessary hard skills that the job requires, but just remember, it's much cheaper and easier to train up the marginal hard skills for people who want to grow with your company, than it is to change the personalities of people who have the best hard skills.

So that's my top 5 Ways to Fail at Hiring. This blog is intended to be shared and generate dialogue and thoughtful consideration. Please feel free to email this post to a friend, or, if you're a blogger, please include links to this blog in your posts. Good Luck and Happy Hiring!

Sep 12, 2008

Attention All Job Fair Exhibitors!


While organizing 4 job fairs in different states this month, I've been keenly aware of our need to differentiate our events from the rest. When it comes right down to it, all that really matters is that local job seekers find good opportunities, and the local employers who exhibit connect with high quality local candidates. Sounds simple, hunh?

Actually, it really is. When we hosted events earlier this year and last fall, we were able to get a much higher quality of job seeker than we usually see at other fairs. We send out tips to seekers to ensure they have access to the info they need to be prepared, and we make sure we only allow real employers at our events, no multi level marketing or up front investment opportunities.

We also collect have job seekers pre-register and have them fill out surveys to help us, and the exhibitors, prepare to make the event special. We provide this info to the employers in a ppt, and ask them to be sure to pay attention to this information to best prepare for the career fair.

I just got an email from one of the job seekers who we sent updates to, and this person raised a very good point. He, I don't have the name in front of me, but I think it was a he, had recently gone to another event, where he travelled 90 miles round trip to find opportunities. He was surprised that there weren't actually any decision makers staffing the booths- only lower level employees. That's a very important point. The people staffing the booths, promoting these companies as the employers of choice, and trying attract the best possible talent, were lower level inexperienced employees for the most part.

Wow. That doesn't seem to make sense does it? If the whole point is making face to face connections and prescreening candidates why not send the hiring managers? I'm throwing this out to the blogosphere- have employers become so jaded of face to face events like this, that they merely use it as a way to collect resumes only? Is this the best practice?

Sep 11, 2008


Hi and thanks for checking out my blog! I realize that many people are still getting used to this new world of blogs- the blogosphere, if you're hip. Because of this, I wanted to point out some features of my blog environment. Please take a moment to read the mission of the blog located on the right of the page.

Also on the right, you'll see:
  1. Places to find me on web including LinkedIn, HRMToday, Twitter, and more!
  2. Ways to subscribe to the site, Subscribe for Email Feeds or RSS Feeds
  3. Places to help promote this blog to others who you think would be interested. Any help to build awareness is greatly appreciated here at RFL! Technorati, Stumble Upon, etc.
  4. You can also see updates from My Twitter Account
  5. A little further down, you'll find recent headlines from this blog, with brief text.

Mission of the Recruiting Front Lines Blog

Hi everyone. Through this blog I will be recording the pulse of the recruiting market as I see it. When I refer to the front lines of the recruiting market, I am alluding to both sides of the market- job seekers and employers- and the goings on in employment and recruiting trends at the street level across new england and the gulf coast. (New England and the Gulf Coast? That's right. Those are two regions that I cover as the Field Operations Manager for, so while they may be a drastically different in geography, culture, personality, and industry profile, I am acutely focused on the front lines of the recruiting markets in these two regions)

As the Field Operations Manager for JobsInTheUS, I have a unique opportunity to spend my working life talking with employers, mostly recruiters, and job seekers from all walks of life, in all industries, from all sizes of companies, with the discussion focused on finding work and finding qualified employees. While our company does an excellent job of providing quantitative analysis of the labor market through the JobsInTheUS Employment Indexes, published monthly, I felt a lack of any qualitative information about the look and feel of the recruiting market- the pulse of the employment sector if you will. This is why I decided to start this blog- to provide a street level perspective of the issues, concerns, assumptions, and hopes from both sides of the recruiting coin. I hope this information provides interested parties with a better view of the market, based on real conversations with the people who deal with these issues every day.


Ad agencies in the 21st century- thoughts on casting for big ideas.

If you haven't read this book, and you operate an ad agency in any capacity- stop reading this blog and go to Amazon and order it. Okay, that sounds like I'm making money on it. I absolutely am not, and don't know anyone involved with the book either. I do consider it, along with a few others including Good to Great as bibles of organizational dynamics and business management. Casting for Big Ideas of course is much more agency specific.

Basically, the book speaks to increasing the value, and revenue, of intellectual capital and creative ideas. The shift in media is squeezing out "agency rates', in some cases eliminating the % margins on ad buys. To stay whole, agencies need to place more value on the ideas they have, rather than relying on buying media to generate income. good book.

SO... that's just my intro to really start this discussion: How do you pitch the value of advertising to smaller companies in times of economic hardship? With the economy where it is, are you finding it difficult to get new companies on board, or even get old customers to keep drinking from the well?

Maybe no one will want to share their feelings or thoughts on these issues- which I can understand. I am not in advertising directly, but work with HR Ad Agencies, who create employment ads for companies. It's easy to work with agencies, because they understand the value of advertising resources, and make good logical decisions based on good data.

I think I'm seeing fewer companies being represented by HR Ad Agencies- is it simply due to the downturn in the economy, or is there more to it?

Sep 5, 2008

Gustav & Other Disasters: What can Recruiters, HR professionals, or job seekers do to help?

First, please join me in sending your thoughts and prayers to the hundreds of thousands of people who are without power, and the two million who were displaced by Hurricane Gustav. As Americans, we can sometimes be a people that idolize extremes in the world, and I hope that the survivors of Gustav get as much assistance, empathy, and attention as is appropriate to such an event. Consider for a moment, wherever you are sitting right now, what your day would look like if you got the call to evacuate with 2 million of your closest neighbors- imagine what the roads were like, the stores, the sidewalks, the bus stations. And tomorrow, if you decide to come back, you'll find windows missing, or holes in the roof that allowed the downpour to flood your home, or your beautiful landscape you worked all summer on ripped from the earth. Of course, you may not have power either, so cleaning up would be a task straight from history.

There are more storms coming- in the form of hurricanes, or forest fires, or blizzards, or tornadoes, or floods... Despite our best efforts, we can never insulate or isolate ourselves from the enormity of earth's environment. Natural disasters, as these are called, and social disasters, including poverty, homelessness, disease, crime..., affect great swaths of our world, our nations, our communities, and our lives. The effects ripple through our families and values, our economy, and our social ego, and can be lasting for years to come.

OK, so I don't mean to bring everyone down first thing on Friday. So, what exactly can HR professionals, recruiters, and job seekers do to help out when disasters like this arise? How can we help our fellow Americans in a time of need? What special skills can we provide that will make a difference?

The company I work for hosts a Louisiana-specific internet job board, and ideas were floated yesterday to see what could be done. I thought I'd share what we are trying to do, along with some other thoughts on what we can do in times like these. Our first thought was that there would be a substantial need for volunteers and assistance in the clean up efforts. We are reaching out to the parishes and community centers that have phones and electricity and offering to post those needs at not cost on our sites. Of course a primary obstacle that we are facing is that many people in the region may not have access to the web, including the government centers. If you are in, or know of anyone in a position to take advantage of this offer, please have them contact the company. Our thoughts were that we could help find and mobilize those who were looking for work, but also cared about helping the community.

As HR professionals, recruiters, advertising resources, and job seekers we all have roles we can play to help out. Below are just a couple ideas that came to me, and I'd love to hear your comments on other ideas you may have.
Those are just a couple of my thoughts. I hope you'll share your ideas via the comments links. Thanks for taking a moment to take a look at the scenes from the recruiting front lines in the gulf coast.

Sep 3, 2008

Hosting your own recruiting open house- YES YOU CAN!

As I spend more time focused on the processes and strategies that the best local businesses use to attract the best local talent, and how the best local talent finds the best local career opportunities, it's clear to me that a face time is one aspect of the recruitment process that is absolutely vital, and cannot be replaced with technology- no matter how fancy, shiny, user friendly, or cutting edge.

Please check out the questions at the bottom, and complete the poll above!

That being said, I also see more and more people relying more heavily on the internet and placing less emphasis on this valuable face time. Face Time does not include video conferences, as a two dimensional image cannot substitute for three dimensional body language. So, if we generally agree that the most valuable form of connecting with other people and identifying the right fit for ourselves and our companies, why this decreased engagement with on-site or in-person career events?

There are some very good reasons, actually. Many feel that job fairs only attract a certain demographic, and if the jobs you have aren't in that demographic, it's perceived to be a waste or time. On the job seeker side, many people see the "same old" companies represented time and again at career events and job fairs, which normally consist or larger national organizations with larger recruiting budgets. Rarely will you find a career fair filled with great, small to mid-sized, privately owned, profitable, growing organizations from a variety of industries. I certainly understand these objections and concerns, and am willing to acknowledge their validity on some level. So, how do you attract the right kind of candidates to fill your current needs, increase your pipeline of talent for future important placements, and identify the next wave of hires for any revolving positions you have?

How about hosting your own career fair or open house at your organization. This practice, once reserved for only the largest employers with a variety of current openings, can be the best way for any business (yes, you're business too!) to find great talent, and actually create the opportunity to share the company's vision. This type of event can be used to truly market what makes your company special in the labor market- your unique employment proposition, if you will. It also allows you to generate interest in your company's service or products to all the attendees that you don't hire.

Job Seekers, whether active or passive, can also reap great benefits from attending such events. This gives you the opportunity to more thoroughly assess the employer as your next destination, and a forum to ask questions and meet employees. Also, because you aren't broadcasting your resume, or attending a larger scale event, there is less likelihood that your co-workers will find out about your wandering eye.

If you haven't executed this type of event, however, there are some very tricky steps and important pitfalls to take note of. When launching an employer hosted open house, the best practice is to include employees from every department in your company (or in the physical location, if you are part of a larger company), so that you can attract a strong group of candidates from all fields. You'll also want to make sure you're screening attendees in advance, so you can plan your time at the event. Communicating the open house is a puzzle as well, as you don't want to rely on any traditional broadcast media. Traditional Broadcast Media can be a good thing for some types of advertising, but it does have its limitations. One, of course is the cost. If your budget only allows for one TV station, or 2 radio stations, then you're limiting your reach to only the people who watch or listen to those stations. There are better ways to reach a wider array of employees.

I have a couple questions that I'd love comments on, and hope you'll also answer the new poll question above.

That's the way it looks to me from the Recruiting Front Lines. Good luck and happy hunting!

Aug 27, 2008

The Economy's Effect on the Labor Market

While delivering a presentation recently to a group of employers at the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce in Maine recently, it struck me how quickly the perception of labor market conditions have changed. Just two years ago, reports were regularly being cited that showed that by 2010 there would be a significant labor shortage in the US. In fact, according to one report, that shortage was to reach 10 million or more. That's 1o million more jobs than people to fill them.

Now look where we are. I was told by a manager from the RI Dept of Labor and Training that a recent small job fair they hosted at their NetworkRI office attracted more than 600 seekers! According to another source, posted in a report on the SHRM website, the total number of online job postings actually declined in the 1st quarter year over year. This is the FIRST TIME EVER that online postings have declined year over year since they began tracking it.

So, with such an abrupt change of direction, it seems hard to find the reality amidst the propaganda. Were things as good as we thought 2 years ago? Are they as bad as we think now? Or were the labor conditions of both times dramatized for effect? Regardless of those questions, where are we now? I've seen the market shrinking in some sectors, but still growing in others. While I like the idea that a friend suggest to me recently, that if everyone decides not to participate in a recession, it can't happen. So the best way to deal with an economic slowdown is simply not to participate. And this from someone with a Masters Degree in Economics.

So, does anyone have an answer to this question, or a good perspective to share? Is recruiting harder or easier right now. Are companies finding better candidates, or just more? Are passive job seekers less likely to leave the safety of their current situation, or are they feeling insecure and looking for a safety raft?

I won't pretend to be the authority on this matter, or have any specialized or insider information that I'm sitting on. I'm a manager of field operations with an online labor market service. I am lucky enough to see the job markets first hand in New England, and get reports daily from the field in the Gulf Coast. Here's what I'm seeing:

  1. Most employers are not directly affected by the market, but expect to be soon. This is driving a slowdown in hiring because of the fear of the unknown. That is, "Business is still pretty good, but I'm not sure what it will be like in a few months, so I'm going to hold off on making and hiring decisions right now."
  2. Some employers, particularly those in Non-Profit sectors or who receive funding from the city, state, or federal government are feeling the impact. With reduced spending from consumers, and increasing inflation, tax revenues are down or flat in many areas, leading to cutbacks which affect these companies. Sad to see that those who need the most help are the first to feel cutbacks.
  3. Unemployment rates are up virtually everywhere (aside from Arkansas)- but not by similar margins. For instance in RI the rate has increased 2 full percentage points in the last year or so, while in other states the rate is up only a couple tenths of a point.
  4. Passive job seeker traffic does NOT appear to be up by any considerable margin. I think this means people are clinging to the safety of their current jobs, rather than jump to an unknown. This means companies must work harder to reduce the risk to potential candidates, and provide greater information about themselves.
  5. Retailers are still hiring as necessary, keeping the same level of staffing, and still getting the same level and quantity of candidates as they were 2 years ago.
  6. Manufacturing is alive and well in the gulf coast!
  7. Employers who are making the extra effort to promote their opportunities in this climate are seeing improved results in hiring. When people are watching the newscasts and reading the papers and all they hear are negative projections about the economy, a company that stands up and says thing like We're Growing! We're Stable! We're Not Laying Off or Downsizing! We're a GREAT Place to Work, is easily able to grab people's attention and build interest.
Overall, I feel that this should be a really tremendous time to be hiring. If you do it right, put in the extra effort to promote what makes you special, and take the time to be picky, you should be able to attract and hire some great A level talent. GOOD LUCK!

Jason Blais on FoxNews

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