Our LinkedIn Job Board Experiment – A good Anecdotal Story !!

September 23, 2013

We Measured Mediocre Results

Think companies can hire on their own? Think again.

All over the internet, there’s talk of how LinkedIn is going to kill the recruitment industry. This type of discussion is so prevalent that it’s become almost conventional wisdom in some circles. The idea is that LinkedIn offers HR departments at companies access to candidate profiles, and that these in-house HR professionals can source, screen and hire candidates all on their own. To quote the DigitalJournal article to which we just linked: “Nowadays, as these [websites like LinkedIn] offer free services, companies can simply do it themselves.”

So why do we and other recruiters keep getting calls every day from companies looking for assistance with their searches?

Because the fact is, for specialized searches in certain narrow verticals, or for confidential searches, or especially difficult searches where demand for talent is really high, in-house talent acquisition teams just don’t have the time or the specific expertise to handle everything on their own. From time to time, they still need the assistance of narrowly focused Recruiters with a real depth of understanding in a narrow area such as Planning or Strategic Sourcing or Supply Chain – who have extensive existing professional networks for specific business functions, who understand what compels people to make the career moves they do.

Here at Argentus we’ve been in the recruitment business long enough to have heard similar doomsday talk bandied about for years. There’s always been some new website that people are touting as a death knell to recruiters. Monster.com, Workopolis, in-house proprietary HR recruitment software, and so on and so on. Time after time, these sites appear on the horizon boasting advanced features that purport to do a better job of automatically pairing jobs with suitable candidates. Basically offering a panacea – a chance to possibly eliminate the need for recruiters through advanced automation. But time and time again, these sites prove themselves glorified job boards that quickly get filled with spammy ads (they will always lean towards to cash grab) – they provide tons of resumes which appear exciting but not so many easily qualifyable applicants to Hiring Managers. Hiring Managers in companies often end up feeling like their time is wasted, and the importance of recruiters do reasserts itself.

LinkedIn is the latest example. Don’t get us wrong – we love LinkedIn, it’s a fantastic networking opportunity – a terrific pointer system and a great way for professionals to interact with one another. It has a huge user base, and a ton of legitimate uses outside of its function as a job board (which will certainly allow it to remain completely relevant). But in its capacity as a job board, it’s got a few issues and presents itself as the latest in this trend. Read on to see what we are getting at..

Job Boards? Yes, still Overrated. Here’s our anecdotal story.

At Argentus, it has always been our policy NOT to use LinkedIn or other job boards to post our open positions. This is relatively rare in the recruiting industry for a recruiter NOT to use a LinkedIn as a primary tool for sourcing candidates. Absolutely, we post jobs on our website, for access by those in our network. And yes we post the odd more junior role on university career centre websites. But we’re not the type of recruiter that relies on the internet, hoping the “white whale” candidate sees it and applies. We know our clients can easily handle the active candidate market quite well themselves. We firmly see our role is to augment our clients’ need when they can’t find that right fit and that comes from the passive candidate market which sits within our network or through our referral system.

But after reading about how LinkedIn’s advanced algorithms automatically match good candidates with roles, and how this supposedly threatens to eradicate the recruitment industry, we decided to conduct our own experiment with LinkedIn’s job posting feature to see if it fared better than any other public job board posting we have tried in the past and would in fact yield better results than our own network.

The results? Fair at Best

  • We’ve got a small handful of applications from qualified candidates who are right for the role for which they’ve applied. Par for course – we would expect that for what we paid.
  • Lots and lots of duplication – talk about the same person applying for more than two or three jobs…wow what a waste of time and resources!!!
  • We’ve got a small number of candidates in our vertical of Supply Chain Management, Procurement, Distribution, Operations and Planning who might be useful for roles other than the one they applied for.
  • But in general? We’ve received a ton of applications from people who clearly get it. They clearly should NOT have applied.
    • We’ve seen lots of applicants from outside of Canada. To hire these people, our clients would have to prove that they can’t fill the job in Canada, which makes it exceedingly difficult for us to present these people.
    • We’ve seen lots of applicants without the required experience, for example students applying for mid to senior manager-level roles.
    • Most frustratingly, we see lots of people who apply for all of our posted jobs, which makes it look like they didn’t read any of the job descriptions.

It isn’t exactly rocket science to notice that if you’re posting to a job board, you’re going to get alot of unsuitable resumes. But the upshot is that we can now see firsthand that LinkedIn’s job board feature is not going to make recruiters obsolete. Most of all, we understand the frustration that hiring managers and in-house Talent Acquisition teams must be having WOW when they post their jobs on LinkedIn. I personally have reviewed every single application that has hit Argentus through it exercise and it’s been a real eye opener.

A good recruiter’s competitive advantage isn’t in the web tools they use, but in a highly developed set of professional skills that allow them to access talent, assess talent, and cultivate relationships over a long period of time. I’ve talked about this before – it’s about paying it forward – following star performers for us at Argentus for months and sometimes years until they bite. That’s exactly why companies come to us and pay us a fee for our talent because we mine so heavily for the best Direct Hire and Contract staff.

And no website, no matter how sophisticated, will ever be able to replace that. The tools may be new and more sophisticated and get shinier as the years go by, but they’re still will only ever be as good as the person using them.

As the DigitalJournal article says: “Perhaps a job board is easy to search on and navigate and there is a pool of talent waiting to be tapped, but there isn’t a personalized touch, a trait that recruiting agencies are known to specialize in. Even if budgets at firms are tight, utilizing recruiting experts may pay dividends in the future with an array of professional, experienced, talented and skilled employees to carry out the necessary tasks.”

Call me for a more in depth dialogue as to  how we can help you or your company with your Contingent or Direct Hire Staffing in Supply Chain Management or alternatively we would also love to hear from you if you are entertaining  exploring alternate Permanent or Contract career opportunities

My email is bhann@argentus.com or call me at 416-364-9919.

Alternatively, you might also want to connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+

My electronic business card is bronwenhann.com – bookmark it, please and feel free to pass it into your network.

Over and Out for now



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