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What Caught My Eye: Getting Babies to Stay Asleep & Candidates to Stay Put

A series of weekly outside-the-box news stories and the lessons they hold for recruiters, by TAtech CEO Peter Weddle

How to get a crying baby to sleep, according to science (

Many a parent has faced the 2 AM nightmare. After a seemly endless repertoire of soothing songs, you finally get your crying baby to fall asleep. You gently and lovingly lay them down in their crib. And then, just as you turn away, their eyes fly open and they start to cry all over again. For sleep-deprived moms and dads everywhere, it’s an almost unbearable agony.

So, scientists at Eastern Virginia Medical School set out to see if they could find a universal pacifier. They wanted to know what was better than the good, old fashioned (and often ineffective) routine of singing a baby to sleep with a lullaby. So, they put heart monitors on 21 babies and then observed what mothers were doing when baby’s heart rate slowed and they drifted off to sleep and whether they did anything else when an infant actually stayed asleep when they were placed in their crib.

Not surprisingly, all of the babies’ heart rates slowed when they were picked up and felt the familiar comfort of a parent. If that parent then carried the baby for a period of about five minutes, that extended state of relaxation often induced the child to fall asleep. When they were placed in their crib, however, many of the babies woke back up and started crying again … no matter how careful mom had been in putting them down.

Further research revealed that getting babies to remain asleep, even after being placed in a crib, is in fact a two-step process. Yes, you have to carry an infant for about five minutes to calm them down, quiet their crying and lull them to sleep, but then you also have to sit with them for another five to eight minutes so they’ll stay that way. That second step reinforces their slower heart rate so that they are not affected by the movement of placing them in a crib.

The scientists who did the research acknowledge that this process doesn’t work with every baby. But, it does work with some and that gives hope to all sleepless parents. There is now a way for them to regain their own circadian rhythm and keep their newborn happy and well rested. All they have to do is give their babies what they desire – the security of close contact with mom or dad – and then give them one other thing they value – the peacefulness of spending a little time together.

How can this research benefit recruiters?

In today’s ultra-tight talent market, it’s tough both to get candidates interested in an open job and to get them to stay put long enough to complete an application. Critical roles are going unfilled as a result, and those vacancies are undercutting many companies’ operations and financial performance. It’s an increasingly dire situation that’s causing many a sleepless night for recruiters (almost) everywhere.

There is a solution, however. As with managing a restless infant, it’s a two-step process that addresses both what candidates desire and what they value. Now, please don’t misunderstand – I’m not implying that those in the job market behave like bawling babies. I’m simply pointing out that the process for connecting with them is often similar. And yes, that process won’t work with everyone, but it will work with enough prospects to be worth doing for all of them.

How does the process work?

Step one is controversial, at least in some circles, but also critical. Recruiters have to include a salary range in their job postings. It is now the law in some locations, but more importantly, it is the only way to induce top talent – those who are already employed and on the receiving end of a constant stream of job offers – even to consider an opportunity. As with many workers, they desire an ever-improving standard of living, so they simply will not pay attention to a job posting unless they know up front that there’s a potential monetary advantage to doing so.

Step two is also controversial, at least among the ranks of corporate counsels. They want candidate application forms the length of War and Peace in order to protect the company from every possible form of regulatory noncompliance and legal jeopardy. There’s only one problem with that approach. Job seekers and especially top talent hate it. They value their time, so they want forms that can be completed quickly. Therefore, recruiters should eliminate application forms only a lawyer could love and replace them with those that collect only the data necessary to start the evaluation process.

So, sleepless recruiters, follow the advice now being given to sleepless parents. Stop trying to connect with candidates the old-fashioned way, and instead, start practicing the two-step procedure that gives them both what they desire and what they value. It won’t guarantee they’ll accept an offer, but it will ensure that more of them give it the consideration it and you deserve.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can download his latest book – The Neonaissance – FOR FREE at And, if you don't have time to read the entire book, just download a short excerpt of his inspirational message.