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It is better
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Targeting Your Audience

(September 21, 2004) What constitutes an effective job ad? Given the large number of variables that can be screwed up (content, distribution, audience, targeting, media type and timing, to mention a few), the question is a critical component of Online Recruiting. We think the answer begins with a critical piece of insight:

The meaning of your communication is the results you get.

Surprisingly, people go to work each day and function adequately without understanding this basic communications principle. When trying to deliver a message, what matters is what is received and acted on, not what was intended. The best way to evaluate your communications effectiveness is by looking at the results. There is no magic, just clear definitions of desired outcomes, audience assessment, message construction and appropriate delivery.

The reason we dwell so intensely on the importance of small audiences is that it is easier to communicate effectively when the audience is clearly defined than when it is a vague concept. A clear message delivered to the wrong audience gets the wrong results. In the web environment, wrong results can range from no responses to a huge pile of the wrong ones. Ineffective communications to the wrong audience results in increased costs and schedule delays.

Being clear about what you want (the place for planning in job ad development) precedes and follows audience definition. "We need three Unix engineers", a seemingly simple requirement, opens the questions of audience location and sophistication. Once the audience is understood (are there any available and where), the message can be refined to include adequate descriptions of sub-skill level requirements, possible salary ranges and the necessity of relocation expenses.

We don't want to underestimate the hard work involved in being clear about either task. Clarity about the requirements (discerning between real needs and 'nice to haves') is no small chore. Quite often, the core recruiting dilemma is an inability to clarify the basic need. It may be the case that audience definition is really a central component of being clear about the requirements for the job. Using an iterative process that simultaneously clarifies both issues is a standard part of the marketing toolkit.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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