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Staffing Management: Walled Gardens Offer the Best Flowers

Marc Cenedella  1/1/2006
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Staffing Management, Oct - Dec  2005

Vol. 2, No. 1

Find top-quality candidates online without weeding through acres of useless resumes.

The Internet’s ease of communication, the speed with which information can be shared back and forth between hiring manager and candidate, and the ability to post jobs to millions of candidates have all made the recruiter’s job much easier.

But the Internet has also been bad for recruiting. The ease of communication means that all candidates with a pulse and an e-mail address can swamp a recruiter’s inbox with their resumes. The Internet’s speed also means that both hiring managers and candidates expect answers fast. Posting jobs to the millions of people visiting the general online job boards can lead to hundreds, or even thousands, of applications to dig through just to find a few gems.

How can you better use the Internet to find top-quality candidates?

As an executive in the online recruiting business for more than five years, I’ve heard over and over from top recruiters that they were hesitant to post their executive jobs on the web. The fear of being swamped with inappropriate applicants seemed to outweigh the benefits of reaching millions of job seekers.

So, I started two years ago to focus on the $100k+ job search. Included below are some of the inside tips we’ve picked up while attracting the top 10 percent of talent to our site, and how you can use those same tips to bring C-level executives, VPs and directors to yours.

Our most significant finding is that the best flowers aren’t located out in open fields. A community like the one we’ve built is a delicate little garden, and an online community, like a garden, needs a wall to protect it.

Great online communities exist for a wide variety of professional interests. From pharmaceuticals to online marketing to digital media to cattle, there’s an online community that serves each of these and thousands more. And the great thing about these communities is that their readers and visitors are deeply engaged with the topic at hand.

The best online communities have something else as well. To keep in the people who are most interested, they keep out the folks who aren’t. They do this with membership fees, registration or even something as simple as a lot of content (people aren’t likely to read web pages loaded with information that isn’t interesting to them). In other words, they have a wall, and behind that wall is a great place for you to find your high-end candidates.

Use Industry-Specific Sites

Where on the Internet do you find these walled gardens with the best flowers?

Mass media, including Yahoo! and MSN, aren’t good for finding them. They are the open fields and prairies where all the wild things grow. It’s at industry-specific sites and blogs that you’ll find the best walled gardens and the best flowers.

Industry-specific sites include news and commentary sites that target the professional with an industry perspective. Sites like,,, and discuss the topics most interesting to professionals in the technology, marketing, sales and HR industries. Your industry undoubtedly has a few good sites already, and you may know them by name. But, to make sure you’re staying up with the trends, be sure to ask every job candidate: “What industry web sites do you follow and why?” In fact, ask your current employees the same thing!

So, how do you get the attention of top talent? Well, you have an advantage. You control the information that many people love to talk, gossip and whisper about—great $100k+ jobs.

It’s important to remember that news is spelled “n-e-w” plural. Your company’s new positions, new initiatives or that new division you’re staffing—all of these are inherently interesting to people who follow your industry. What’s more, the editors and writers at industry-specific sites are always looking for the latest tidbits and best scoops. So share your valuable data—what positions you’re looking to fill—on a regular basis, and you’ll attract the eyes and ears of just the audience you’re looking for.

Take Advantage of Blogs

Blogs—running commentary typically written by individuals about an area, or areas, that they find interesting—are another great place to find high-end candidates. Bloggers post their musings on a web site using one of several readily available web services, such as TypePad, Blogger or LiveJournal. Unlike the work of those at professional news sites, a blogger’s work is usually an unpaid labor of love. That presents some great opportunities for you.

There are now 8 million blogs spanning the web on every conceivable topic from baseball ( and to politics ( and These blogs have built dedicated readerships because the authors and audiences share a passion for their common interest. Naturally, this includes a growing number of industry-focused blogs. Topics often include new products, information on company mergers and who’s changing deck chairs, as well as everything else that you’d typically hear at the water cooler. The great thing is that it’s all right there on the blog.

Some successful industry-specific blogs include, covering everything you wanted to know about the TV news industry; Business LawProfs Blog for corporate counsel and those interested in business law;, a great one for the digital-media industry; and InThePipeline, covering the pharmaceutical business from early stage research to drug launches.

These niche sites are fantastic for two reasons. First, they attract a lot of visitors from the industries they cover. Who isn’t interested in the industry scuttlebutt? Second, bloggers’ personal voices often have a way of cutting across the corporate babble-speak and making true connections with their audiences.

That high degree of attention and affiliation is what makes industry blogs so powerful. It is also what makes them such a compelling opportunity for recruiters looking for high-end candidates. If you can provide something of value—and you can—to the one-man blogging band, you can get noticed.

It’s important to understand that bloggers do what they do without pay, without a lot of support and without a lot of recognition. For all of their efforts, bloggers are looking for the same thing: they’d love some recognition, respect, attention and to feel important in the business.

As a recruiter working with leading companies in your industry, you can be a valuable resource to the blogger. Let bloggers in your industry know what you know (without breaking confidences) about company moves, new initiatives and personnel changes. Provide them with great material and a modicum of respect, and the value you’ll get back will be enormous.

Focus and Flourish

So, don’t look for your top candidates on the huge, general sites that have sprung up over the years. Even if your candidates were there, their level of engagement would be low, and your message would compete with too many others to really stand out. Instead, look for your best hires in the walled gardens of the Internet—the industry-specific news sites and blogs that have an industry-specific following. The more focused the site, the greater the participation by its users, and the greater the feeling of trust and community.

When top candidates read your message on a blog or an industry news site, they will highly value what you have to say. Use your information and connections to your advantage, your client’s advantage and your company’s advantage by becoming a valuable resource to bloggers and news sites—they’re always looking for news to write about! And leverage the power of the Internet to connect you with the right people.

Marc Cenedella is founder, president and CEO of, an online job search destination offering $100k+ jobs.

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