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Bob Corlett, President and Founder of Staffing Advisors and HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Member

I had an underperformer in my company that I needed to fire: the sales department. And by “the sales department” I mean the website, because we don’t have a sales team or anyone working on commission. (But that’s a whole other thing you can read about over there.)

In a small professional services company like mine, the website is both a welcome mat and a “Beware of Dog” sign. Its job is to ensure that people we want to speak with feel warmly welcomed, while simultaneously making other people suddenly want to go somewhere else.

But our website was failing. Website was trapped in a 20th Century job definition — which is functionally the same role as a receptionist in a busy physician’s office — sit there, look nice, and please don’t say anything offensive or embarrassing.

Website was not diagnosing or helping the visitor in any way. Website was not even helping visitors sort themselves into the “I belong here” or “I don’t belong here” categories. We noticed the problem, but did not fire Website right away (we’re not that heartless). First, we hired Website an assistant. The assistant was called Content. Soon we had hundreds of witty, charming, and blisteringly brilliant articles designed to help Website do its job.

But, as it turns out, Content was also moonlighting for other employers. Everyone had Content, and our visitors ran out of time to read it all. So Content just sat there like rumpled People magazines in the waiting room, while the real diagnostic work was done elsewhere, by professionals, behind closed doors. We decided we could no longer watch Website and Content just sit there together, dimly saying, “The Doctor will be with you shortly, just fill out this form.”

We had to fire Website and reengineer the job.

In writing the new job description for Website, what we really needed was more like a Physician’s Assistant. Website could help visitors diagnose their own ailment, learn more about it, and decide for themselves if they were in the “I belong here” category. John Sumser, and other people who use big words call this, “Making the transition from a 20th century business model to a 21st century model.”

Website had to be available 24/7/365 to allow visitors to have a brief, productive “conversation” whenever they wanted to. We’d no longer hand visitors a medical textbook and say, “Look up your answer here in Big Content.” Instead, we’d give visitors an interactive diagnostic tool to quickly discover their own answers—less like a textbook, more like a video game. Less generic, more specific. In fact, Website had to answer 5 basic questions for visitors:

1. What are you going to do?
2. What is it going to cost?
3. How long will it take?
4. How much of my time will it require?
5. What are the odds of success?

Nine months later, it’s working. We call it the Recruiting Results Predictor.

Take 2 minutes and diagnose for yourself if we got the job description right.

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