Every year, recruitment technology evolves. Skype comes along and offers an approximation of in-depth in-person job interviews. New Applicant Tracking systems make the job application process more humane or, depending on your luck, more arduous, albeit efficient for hiring managers. New social media sourcing techniques allow recruiters to tap into networks of people they couldn’t find before. New websites and hiring tools emerge, claiming to be “talent networks” and insisting – when advertising themselves to recruiters –that they “aren’t job boards.”
For good reason. Whether you’re a recruiter, or a candidate looking for your next opportunity, or a company looking to hire, job boards don’t get you the best results.
In our opinion, it’s time to ditch them once and for all.
If you speak with a frustrated job seeker, you’ll inevitably hear that they’ve applied to dozens of jobs and never heard anything back. This is a symptom of the culture of job boards more than hiring managers’ indifference to any single applicant. The fact is, if you apply using a job board, your resume is going into a black hole among hundreds of other resumes. If anyone reads your resume at all, it’s likely a junior HR person doing the initial culling who doesn’t necessarily understand the nature of the job. A junior HR person who has 400 other resumes to review. A junior HR person who might get distracted by a phone notification, or a daydream, or a co-worker telling them there are cookies in the break room, and not even pay attention to your carefully-crafted resume because there are just so many more to get through. Tons of jobs end up on job boards because the company wants to show that they’re reviewing outside applicants even if they know they’re hiring internally. Beyond that, tons of jobs never even make it to job boards in the first place.
It’s easy to criticize job boards for being an impersonal way to assess hires. The thing is, that would be okay if job boards worked. But for most job seekers, they don’t.
So why do companies use them?
A big part of it is the convenience: job boards let companies adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality. It lets them post a job description, sit back and wait for the candidates to roll in. Easier than sourcing candidates, looking for referrals, working with external partners, right? Except that you’ve created a a ton of busywork for your team, and now they have to scan through tons of irrelevant resumes. You have to respond to those applications (and let’s be honest, many companies don’t) or risk taking a hit to your company’s reputation. You can ignore the irrelevant applications and contribute to the black hole mentality, making finding a job seem even less personable than it already is. Then you’re part of the problem, and what HR department wants to be part of the problem?
No one does. The paradox is that the easier job boards become to use, the less relevant the applications become. Once you can apply for a job with a single click (like on LinkedIn’s job postings), you can easily apply to hundreds of jobs that you have no business applying for. The mismatched resumes proliferate, and so does the busywork.
One of the most difficult things to assess in business is the opportunity cost of decisions. Perhaps the biggest opportunity cost of using job boards is that you completely ignore the passive candidate market – people who aren’t looking for jobs, but would be open to a move. Any HR department or hiring manager worth their salt will source passive candidates in addition to using job boards. But if you rely on job boards entirely, you’re passing up what are the best candidates around.
For these and other reasons, we decided to stop using job boards a few years ago and haven’t looked back. As recruiters in a high-demand industry, we needed to focus on our own network and passive talent, and we think companies and candidates should do the same thing.
While it’s certainly still possible to find a job using job boards, or to find a great candidate using job boards, it’s one of the more inefficient ways of connecting people with jobs – short of attaching a resume to a camel and hoping said camel makes it all the way across the Sahara Desert to an employer. So it’s time to ask – is it possible to do better?