What Recruiters Can Learn From the Wall Street Journal Career Section

In order to understand the evolution of online newspaper career sections, Yves Lermusiaux, Chief of Research at iLogos.com, spoke with Tony Lee, General Manager of the Career Section of the Wall Street Journal’s interactive edition. The WSJ Career Section is one of only a few national and even international newspaper career sections and has evolved significantly over the last few months. It is commonly accepted that the Internet industry evolves much more quickly than offline businesses; even a newspaper like the Wall Street Journal cannot remain complacent without quickly becoming a dinosaur. So the conditions needed to excel in the online world are to constantly learn and reinvent yourself. How can you reinvent yourself when you have a brand name like the Wall Street Journal? Like many other companies today, the WSJ faces the challenge of responding to the new Internet parameters. For the Wall Street Journal, this has meant that the last few months have been a time of quick evolution involving new technologies, new Web sites and new partners. In April, the WSJ Career Section generated 400,000 visitors and 10 million page views. But these figures, according to Lee, are not the main indicator of success for the Career Section. In fact, they are about 10 times lower than those of the main job boards like Monster.com, CareerMosaic or even Hotjobs. For Lee, the main indicator of success is in the demographic breakdown of the Career Section’s visitors and in particular its large percentage of passive job seekers (67%). Delivering quality applicants is key for the WSJ, and the race in this area today is towards passive job seekers. When it comes to addressing high-quality applicants, quality of information is a crucial aspect of careers.wsj. For example, 8 to 10 percent of the site’s visitors are HR professionals who visit for the 2,000-plus HR related articles on the site. This gives career.wsj.com an obvious competitive advantage compared to the boards that provide only job postings. HR professionals, as valuable as they are, are not the only targeted profession; more broadly, career.wsj.com targets all readers of the Wall Street Journal. With 300,000 paying customers, the WSJ interactive edition is the only online newspaper that charges a fee. While this is an asset, it can also be seen as a limitation, particularly when it comes to attracting large numbers of passive job seekers. The solution is Dowjones.com-a new free business information Web site that targets the 65 million people who take their news online. DowJones.com recruits passive job seekers by going where they go for everything other than looking for a job. The first lesson, therefore, is to create content that interests your target demographic group. This will enable you to receive quality applicants rather than an enormous quantity of unqualified applicants. So far, we have focused only on the strategies that can be used to reach as many qualified people as possible. But will passive sourcing (advertising) remain the main focus of recruiting efforts? Tony Lee believes so, and moreover, thinks that “do nothing” recruiting is the model of the future. What does he mean by “do nothing” recruiting? Your company posts an opening on its Web site and a technology such as Junglee distributes it on the sites you subscribe to. Junglee was indeed the technology the WSJ used to use, but after being sold to Amazon and resold to Webhire (previously known as Restrac), the WSJ signed instead with CareerCast. The second lesson, therefore, is to provide a non work-intensive service to your customers or job seekers. The principal activities of recruiting departments remain advertising and reaching passive candidates. However, our new iLogos.com study to be released shortly, shows that more and more Fortune 500 companies today are using the Internet for active sourcing. The WSJ’s answer to this is Futurestep, a Korn Ferry partnership, that collects profiles of candidates and contacts them. Even though WSJ outsourced this section to Korn Ferry, a third lesson can be learned from this: to create profiles and broadcast openings. The new Internet arena is seen as an area of “disintermediation.” In other words, we cut the middleman and go directly. But increasingly what we are seeing is a “reintermediation” involving new players and less friction, and consequently greater speed and efficiency and lower costs. In this new area of reintermediation, new online brands have appeared. Amazon, e-Trade and Monster.com are shaking up established offline brands such as Barnes and Noble, Schwabb and the Wall Street Journal. Understanding the rules of reintermediation is an exercise in confronting human inertia and the tendency to do things as we have always done them because they still work. It requires building with one’s eyes on the horizon. From the providers to the corporations, this is the main challenge of the Internet economy: to stay on top of the curve, to stay on top of the new paradigm, to stay on top of new human behaviors in a virtual world. The final lesson, therefore, is to keep on learning!

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Yves Lermusi (aka Lermusiaux) is CEO & co-founder of Checkster. Mr. Lermusi is a well known public speaker and a Career and Talent industry commentator. He is often quoted in the leading business media worldwide, including Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Business Week, and Time Magazine. His articles and commentary are published regularly in online publications and business magazines. Mr. Lermusi was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the Recruiting Industry” and his blog has been recognized as the best third party blog.

 

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