"The site was developed keeping in mind the sensibilities of this unique group of talent," says Robb Nielsen, a partner at Ramp Group, the Bellevue, Washington-based technology company that developed the online recruiting platform.
Microsoft Exchange decided to launch a divisional job exchange rather than continue relying on the Web site of parent company Microsoft Corp. because the IT specialists and engineers it seeks are in a niche field and are more responsive to direct communication, Nielsen says.
The site’s cartoon characters and colorful employee profiles make it anything but conventional.
"We wanted something fresh," Nielsen says, "something that would stand out in the vast sea of corporate Web sites."
Cartoon characters wearing pocket protectors and name badges include Vivek, a lead program manager at Microsoft Exchange, who is quoted on the site saying, "Brains and brawn—I’m all that plus a terabyte of MP3’s."
"We wanted to have the potential job seekers think, ‘This is a company that gets what I’m about,’ " Nielsen notes. " ‘It might be a great place to work.’ "
Nielsen encourages companies to follow Microsoft Exchange’s lead because creating an online recruiting site to appeal to specific audiences may produce better results than having generic corporate Web sites. This is particularly critical in industries like IT or engineering, where the war for talent is fierce.
He notes that there will always be the need for broad recruiting Web sites—particularly in the case of big corporations, such as Boeing or Washington Mutual.
"These types of specialized sites can be a powerful accessory for going after niche audiences," Nielsen says. "But big companies will also need a central Web site because they can attract high volumes of Internet traffic."