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Sunday Ads Can't Compete

Compared with the few and mediocre responses garnered from newspaper ads, Internet recruiting was the answer for this small non-profit association.

January 8, 2002
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Related Topics: Internet, Candidate Sourcing
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Marcia Wheatley, HR director for the ACPA, was tired of spending $400 for a tiny ad in the Sunday Washington Post. It put a major dent in her budget and garnered few responses. "We just can't compete with the big company box ads," she says. She averaged five or six résumés from a Sunday ad, and the quality of the candidate pool was mediocre.

Small Company
Name: American Crop Protection Association
Location: Washington, D.C.
Business: Non-profit assn. for pesticide manufacturers and distributors.
Employees: 44

Her predecessor had relied heavily on the local papers to draw potential candidates, but Wheatley believed that the Web offered a cheaper, more focused solution. Even though ACPA is small and the jobs she's hiring for are rarely technical, she moved her recruiting efforts online in 1999 and has seen impressive results.

ACPA doesn't have a career page on its own site, so she advertises on job boards, including Washingtonpost.com, and at the Web site for the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, where potential candidates from the pesticide industry are likely to visit.

Wheatley's online ads include detailed job descriptions and cost considerably less than advertising in the papers. An ad at Washingtonpost.com, for example, costs $200 -- compared to $400 for an ad in the paper -- stays up for a month and gives her as much space as she wants. "Instead of a tiny ad that says, 'ACPA needs an accountant,' I get a whole page to describe the job, give information about the association, and include a link to our Web site."

Her online ads have drawn a consistently higher response rate than those in the papers. For half the money of a Sunday ad, she averages nine times as many résumés. The quality of the applicants is also much higher, especially when she posts ads at the association sites. "They have a more specific audience, so the people reading the ad are likely to have industry experience." She's filled 15 openings in the year and a half since she began recruiting online and has a file of qualified applicants for future job openings.

But the cost savings and success rate aren't the only things that appeal to Wheatley about Internet recruiting. She prefers posting ads online because it's faster and easier than working with the papers. She types the online ads herself, she doesn't have to talk to anyone, and the ads typically are ready to go online in less than 24 hours. At the papers, you have to dictate your ad to someone and call before 3 p.m. on Thursday if you want to make the Sunday paper, Wheatley says.

She's been so pleased with her online recruiting efforts that she's lobbying the ACPA to build its own industry career page where members can post ads and look for jobs. She plans to outsource billing and maintenance of the page and would charge a nominal fee to cover costs. "It will be a value-add to our members and won't require any additional resources on our part."

As for the newspapers, they've seen the last of ACPA's recruiting dollars. "I doubt we will ever advertise in them again."

Workforce, December 2001, p. 75 -- Subscribe Now!

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