Survey: Employers Seeking Employees, Searching For Candidates

One of the objectives of the survey, Employers Seeking Employees, was to understand whether hiring professionals actively use web services to search for candidates, a requirement for an effective pull approach; where you “pull” a potential employer to your professional website. I think this tendency is becoming more common, especially with certain types of careers. And in open-ended responses, some respondents made it clear they do seek out candidates (see quotes below). However, applying to job listings through job boards, company websites, industry specific websites, and newspapers ranked by far the most important factor in finding employment according to the respondents.

In addition, as I created the survey, I had an assumption that there was a significant increase in the pace of job placement (the time it takes to find and evaluate candidates, and make an offer) for two reasons: the availability of sophisticated web services employers can use to actively seek out candidates; and the necessity to hire quickly in our expanding service industry, especially in IT, business, and communications areas. I did not get as strong of a response as I expected.  On a ranking scale 1 to 5 (5 being a major increase), the average ranking was 2.64 and the largest segment of respondents (38.5%) reported only “somewhat” and in open-ended responses expressed that an evaluation of “soft-skills” remains important.

Here are some of the open-ended responses regarding searching for candidates:

Quotes About Searching For Candidates
Quotes About Searching For Candidates

Survey: Employers Seeking Employees, Web Services

According to the survey, Employers Seeking Employees75 percent of the respondents use one of the major online web services for employment placement – whether they use it to seek out employees or post employment listings or collect responses from listings.  The big three web services are MonsterJobs (55.43% ), LinkedIn (53.26%), and Career Builder (53.26%); some of the other web services the respondents use include Google (23.91%), Yahoo (15.22%), WSJ (6.52%), Craigslist, Dice.com, local newspapers websites, government services, professional organizations websites, staffing agencies, Indeed.com, and Jobing.com –  in parenthesis are the percentage of respondents who use the web service. The effectiveness of these web services in finding “a targeted list of candidates” is slightly better than average with a rating of 3.24 out of 5.00.

Employment Web Services
Employment Web Services

Some advice the respondents suggest in standing out with these web services include:

Suggestions To Standout
Suggestions To Standout

Survey: Employers Seeking Employees, Overview

I designed a survey to get a better understanding about the tendency and circumstance of employers seeking employees by targeting them in web services – a key ingredient for the effectiveness of a pull approach; where you “pull” a potential employer to your professional website. For a pilot study, I distributed the survey anonymously to 92 human resource professionals.  I wrote a five blog series: a general overview of the pilot study (this blog), a short analysis on web services being usedwhether hiring professionals actively search for candidates, the media respondents are willing to use in their evaluation, and how a professional website can be used in the process.

The answer to the question – are employers seeking employees by targeting them in web services – is sometimes and it is becoming more common, though the traditional methods of finding employment remain most important. The respondents are predominately using LinkedIn, MonsterJobs, Career Builder, and Google and 39.1% of them thought the effectiveness of these web services was only average.

All of the respondents are willing to review various types of media while evaluating a potential candidate; the most commonly accepted media includes a professional website, video resume, portfolio, publications, and coursework.

Most of the respondents, 77.2%, agreed that searching on a skill set is an effective way to find a candidate. One suggestion was to have more uniformity with the presentation of a skill set, so there is little variation with the same basic skill (i.e. website development and website design). From the open-ended responses, the general theme is searching on a skill set is the most effective starting point in finding candidates for employment.

The traditional approach, finding and applying to job listings, ranked as the most important factor in getting employed. Social media engagement and professional networking was slightly higher than personal branding, of course there is some overlap between the two. Writing a blog was the lowest ranked factor; though, 12 of the respondents gave “writing a blog” a first or second ranking.

Finding Employment
Finding Employment

Here is some information about my sample.  

  • 92 HR professionals, all in the United States
  • 92.4% of the respondents are over 30 years old and the largest segment (41.9%) is between 45-60; the yardstick set by LinkedIn is 42 years old (the average age of a LinkedIn user).
  • 58.1% of the respondents are women
  • 79.6% have a college degree
  • Over 20 different industries and services are respresented

Skills Based Approach, Doable

In suggesting a framework you might actually follow, it is must be accessible, actionable, not too tedious, and hopefully enjoyable; otherwise, you might read and understand the concepts but never do it. The skills based approach I have been discussing has these characteristics.

There are many books you read that guide you through a methodology and provide a table where you are supposed to pencil in your ideas;  personally, I cannot think of a time I actually filled out the table in a book and sometimes I have developed my own interpretation in an Excel spreadsheet. The integration of the skills based approach with a professional website allows for you to completely manage your skill set from within its administrative interface, so it is easily accessible in an intuitive interface. This integration includes a database driven table where you manage your skills, drag and drop interface to link them with your experiences, and a page where you can review your plans to obtain expertise with your skill set.

Sometimes you are presented with a framework that makes a lot of sense, however it is unclear how you can use it in your everyday life. The skills-based approach lays out a sequential path in developing a skill set and suggests specific, concrete actions at each stage. You can learn more about these actions by reviewing this infographic.

When you introduce something new to your life, you do not want to add something that is time-consuming and annoying – more clutter. Filling out long forms and/or paperwork can be bothersome to anyone. Managing your skill set is easy to do with a professional website.  Some of the suggested actions, such as taking a personality test, might seem tedious to you; though you can always find other ways to get the same results. The general premise of planning and tracking the development of no more than 15 skills in  your skill set should not be overbearing, however.

Thinking about what you want to accomplish in your career can be enlightening and exciting, planning exactly what you to commit to and the contribution you leave behind is very inspiring. The development of a skill set suggests a framework to help you formulate a plan to reach your career aspirations, so it should be an enjoyable experience for you.

Skills Based Approach Infographic

I have dedicated a website to promote a skills based approach: click here

Developing a skill set throughout a career should be the goal of every professional and can be accomplished in four stages: planning, building, presenting, and validating. This infographic shows what should be done at each stage.

Skills Based Infographic
Skills Based Infographic

A professional website has features to support this skill based approach at each stage. You can read more about this integration by following some of the previous blogs click here (scroll down to view previous blogs).

Pull Approach FAQ

I have written many blogs/articles about the idea of adding a “pull approach” to employment seeking – where you “pull” potential employers to your professional website. You can read more about this concept by clicking here (scroll down to see the blogs). I wanted to write a blog about some of the questions I have fielded along with my responses.

Push, Pull Approach Employment Seeking

How does a potential employer find out what type of career I am interested in?

There are a few ways to share your career aspirations through your professional website. First, you can write a mission or objective statement – something commonly found at the top of a resume – and make it a focal point on the home page of your professional website. Second, you can take advantage of the skill-based approach and present your skill set – something an employer can use to infer what career opportunities you would be interested in. Third, you can setup a SEO campaign to target career opportunities where you live; it takes time to be properly indexed in a search engine so this is more effective for a long-term employment search (or what we call “casual employment seeking”, i.e. when you are already employed but would be willing to explore other employment opportunities). Fourth, keep up a blog; potential employers can learn more about you on a personal level.

I would like to see the concept of a “pull approach” to become more popular, enough so that web service companies develop new technologies to make it more effective. I envision a search mechanism that indexes personal websites, for example.

How much should I rely on a “pull approach” to find employment?

I would take the same amount of time applying to jobs with the traditional approach (what we call a “push” approach), especially if you are early in your career. You can respond to job listings by sending not only the traditional PDF cover letter and resume, but also an email invitation to visit your professional website ; of course, you would prefer they follow the invitation because of the richer content and communication features of a professional website. LinkedIn and MonsterJobs have effective search mechanisms where employers can find you by searching through a skill set; I recommend linking your profiles to your professional website, so an employer winds up there.

Is there a way to tailor my website for a particular employment opportunity?

Yes. You can optimize your website by setting up the sections you want to make available, and within the section, turn “on” or “off” line-items. In addition, you can make a targeted cover letter available to a potential employer visiting your website from an email invitation. They follow a link from your invitation, log into your website, and are then taken to a page where the targeted cover letter appears.

How do I keep track of potential employers visiting my website?

You can incorporate Google Analytics with your professional website. This helps you keep track of how visitors are finding you, what content they are accessing, and how long they are on your website. There is also a feature where a potential employer can leave a message after visiting your website for an employment opportunity; this functions like a guestbook. They can leave a message about the opportunity, how to contact them, and what the next step might be.

Is a “pull approach” more effective for certain professions? Is a “pull approach” more effective at certain career stages?

I would expect that if you are seeking employment in IT, business, and communications, a “pull approach” might be more effective because of the direct influence of web media and the faster pace of hiring in these areas. I have experienced recruiters trying to fill a web designer job in a matter of hours.

Matching job seekers with potential employers is a long standing, well established system. There are certain professions, such as entry-level lawyers and doctors, where there is a courting and internship programs that will ultimately determine whether you get an offer. However, even if you do not effectively pull a potential employer to your website, a professional website is still an excellent way to represent you.

A “pull approach” can only be effective if employers actively seek employees, something we have discussed in previous blogs. The best evidence that this is happening is the success of LinkedIn’s flagship product Recruiter, where recruiters pay to access LinkedIn’s network to find potential candidates. The average age of a LinkedIn user is 42, which means they are established professionals.  So there is no clear indication how effective a pull approach would be for early career professionals, but some indication it could be effective for mid to late career professionals.

Let’s make this an open forum so we can develop this “pull approach” concept; please leave your questions as a comment.

TheProfessionalWebsite provides you with a your own professional website – the ideal platform to pull potential employers to.

Network Vs. Identity II

Five months ago I wrote a blog about providing a service with a network and an identity and the relationship between the two (read blog Network Vs. Identity). In the ensuing months, there have been of course some changes in the services offered by the social media giants LinkedIn and Facebook. LinkedIn has made strides in developing a more in-depth profile and had a press release in mid-October to discuss the new features. On the network side, they added a new interface where your skills can be endorsed by your connections and their endorsements can be displayed as part of your profile. Facebook released company pages and their timeline application has hit mainstream.

Another interesting dimension is how users perceive these services as professional or personal in context. It is clear that LinkedIn is strictly for professional content; however, it is less clear with Facebook. The number of Facebook to LinkedIn users is about 6 to 1, so professionals use Facebook posts to effectively reach the masses (stat comes from numbers represented on the map). For example, if you wrote an article, you would want to create a Facebook Like and Share to get it out to the public.

I created a map to show how these different relationships interplay. I used my own interpretations in placing these different services; however, to get a better more accurate interpretation, I designed a survey where you can provide your own insights: Survey.

Network-Identity, Professional-Personal Map
Network-Identity, Professional-Personal Map

As we build our professional website service from an identity, we need to understand how our identity can be used by networks such as those built by LinkedIn and Facebook. Our approach is providing you with a personal website where you can brand yourself, and establish your professional identity across various networks. The same premise holds from the previous blog that it remains difficult to manage your identity across all these profiles and the best solution might be to link back to your professional website as a landing page for each of them. Of course, the profiles are getting better; but I would compare it to how companies use their company pages. Are companies going to abandon their own websites and branding for a company page on Facebook or LinkedIn? Probably not.

One other distinction with the placement of our service on the map is that we are not all the way professional (to the left). As we develop the concept of a professional website, we plan to explore ways to incorporate personal elements into our service – by perhaps creating a clear delineation such as a sub-domain or letting you use your discretion for what is appropriate on your professional website. An example of something personal you want to share on your website could be a gallery of images from a trip you went on recently.