Monday, January 07, 2008

December '07 IJSA, Part 1

The December '07 issue of the International Journal of Selection and Assessment (IJSA) has a lot of great content, so I decided to split it up between two posts. This post will be devoted to one of the studies because it's such a hot topic--web-based recruitment.

In this study, Van Hoye and Lievens gathered data from 108 applicants for head nurse positions in Belgium and looked at how they responded to two types of web-based information. The first was employee testimonials ("click here to see our happy employees talk about their jobs!"), a very common approach used by many organizations including Enterprise, Google, and the U.S. government.

The second was employer recommendations via word of mouth; in this case because it was over the web, the authors dubbed it word-of-mouse ("hey, did you hear about the opportunity at XWZ? They're a great place to work.").

Results? Well, there are several, and they all link back to source credibility.

First, word-of-mouse was a more powerful attractant than testimonials. Why? It appears the testimonials are seen as obviously controlled by the organization (and therefore possibly misleading), whereas word-of-mouse is seen as more credible. However, if you're going to use testimonials, those that focus on the individual were much more powerful than those focusing on the organization. The reverse was true for word-of-mouse: a focus on the organization was more powerful than on the employees (which underlines the importance of employer brand).

The big result is that considering all four combinations, word-of-mouse information about the organization was the clear winner in terms of attracting applicants. So efforts designed to increase the likelihood of people spreading the good word about your organization are likely to pay off. How do we do that? The authors offer some focus areas:

- image management
- campus recruitment
- building relationships with key opinion leaders (e.g., career counselors, class presidents)
- employee referral programs
- internships

I would add another: make sure your employees like what they do! Happy employees are hands down one of your most effective recruiting techniques (assuming you can't offer millions in stock options).

This is a keeper, folks, and there's a version here thanks to Dr. Lievens.

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