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Thu, Jan 20, 2011

Talent Acquisition

Why Job Boards Aren’t the Big Bad Wolf

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Mark Twain famously wrote “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” upon hearing rumors that he had died.  I find this quote at comical as I find the posts and banter in the HR world about job boards (like Monster) being dead or dying.

In the past week alone, job boards have taken a beating from HR pundits, including  Laurie Ruettimann, The Cynical Girl (Ed Note: Reuttimann was referencing the business model of specific job boards, not their general efficacy), and The Career Diva, Eve Tahmincioglu (try to say that name fast, after three Sapphire & Tonics).  Both question the ability of job boards to do, well, their job.

Both Laurie and Eve mention the recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Recruiters Rethink Online Playbook, which leads us to believe recruiters around the country are breaking off their love affair with job boards for this new sexy alternative called LinkedIn.  From the WSJ article:

“About 24% of companies plan to decrease their usage of third-party employment websites and job boards this year, according to a December survey from the Corporate Executive Board Co., a business consulting firm. Meanwhile, nearly 80% of respondents said they plan to increase their use of job-board alternative methods this year, such as employee referrals and other websites like Facebook Inc. or LinkedIn.”

I find it interesting that The Corporate Executive Board put LinkedIn into the “alternative” recruiting methods, because the last I checked, they were a job board in wolves’ clothing. In fact, as a Human Resources professional, I could easily make the argument that LinkedIn might be the single biggest threat to losing its talent your organization faces.

LinkedIn isn’t a “professional networking” site – although they really like HR people to believe this.  Why?  Because if we (the collective HR/Talent/Recruiting Professionals) believe this, we won’t see all the job board stuff going on right under our noses on the site.

In the past month alone, I’ve been called by 3 separate LinkedIn sales people attempting to sell ‘behind the scenes’ access, for purposes of recruiting, on their “professional networking” site.  Wake up HR people…there is a wolf in sheep’s clothing in our midst!

At most corporations today, if an HR pro finds the resume of one of their employees on a job board, all hell breaks loose.  The person boss gets a call (‘Hey, did you know Tim is looking?’), the person gets a visit from “HR”,  and all kinds of drama ensues.

But, we (that’s us HR folks again) think it’s perfectly fine all of our people are on LinkedIn – in fact, I know of corporate HR folks training their people on how to get onto LinkedIn.  Who gave out the crazy Kool-Aid at the last SHRM conference – when did this become the proper thing for HR people to do?  “Hey, I’ve got a great idea, how about we make it easier for the competition to get in touch with our employees!”

Here’s what I know: inherently people like to do what’s easiest – that’s why job boards work – and have worked for years.  Candidates get access to tons of job openings, HR folks get access to tons of resumes – it’s easy.

Are job boards perfect – for every organization, for every opening, for every candidate?  No!  Nothing is.  But they work.  I’ve worked corporate and third party for the last 18 years and every year we’ve used job boards to hire people – in fact we hire as many people from job boards today as we did 3 years ago,  5 years ago or even 10 years ago.

I think good HR Pros get it.  They get the fact it’s not one tool over another, but rather, a combination of those which work best in getting a great pool of candidates.  Have a solid referral program, utilize social recruiting, mine resume databases, post jobs where the candidates are, hand out hand sanitizer and breathe mints at career fairs, etc.

Ok, now go out and let me know: what’s the biggest threat to your talent pipeline?

About the Author

Tim Sackett, SPHR might be the most opinionated and transparent HR/Talent Pros in the business. He has 20 years of leading HR and Talent Acquisition departments for Fortune 500s, healthcare systems and smaller startups. Currently the EVP of HRU Technical Resources, Tim believes the most valuable thing any HR department can do for an organization is to add and increase its Talent.

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  • http://thecynicalgirl.com laurie ruettimann

    Let me clarify — I didn’t knock job boards. I knocked one job board’s business model (because it sucks). Two days later, I asked people to write and post about their good experiences with job boards. Can I get you to clarify that in your blog post?

  • http://www.fistfuloftalent.com Tim Sackett

    Everyone in the world,

    Laurie Ruettimann didn’t “knock” the job boards, she “knocked” their business model – let’s be clear, these are two very different things…I think.

    You can she her post on positive experiences with job boards at: http://thecynicalgirl.com/job-boards-does-anyone-get-hired/


  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/rugby496 Dustin Steeedman

    I don’t think the issue is that Job Boards business model are losing the battle to networking sites like Linked In. The job boards are one sided in the information exchange. Not only do they draw the employers because of the vast amount of info to be gained about prospective candidates. It also gives the candidates a vast amount of information about its prospective employers.

    Its more intimate than just applying to the job or reading a resume. THe jobs boards aren’t offering the same experience. So bottom line, Sheep in wolves clothing or not the Job boards are losing the battle for market share…

    Although I would agree that a good combination of tools is the best option but someone needs to sacrifice their premium fee to provide services. The question is who is it going to be the Sheep or the Wolfe?


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  • http://www.myvoiceisstrong.com Rose Bengtson

    I don’t even understand why this blog was accepted for publishing. Sackett, you aren’t making a clear argument about why LinkedIn is a bad tool to use. The only thing you are saying is about the negative feelings you personally have towards LI with only reference to the fact that competition may or may not be stealing candidates.
    Fear and negative feelings are a really bad way to convince someone not to use something. This seems like your personal outlet to complain about your feelings. This may be better fit for your live journal or your diary.


    You aren’t making us job seekers think. Please provide better content. Maybe that’s why job seekers and HR professionals are starting to use other platforms.

  • http://www.fistfuloftalent.com Tim Sackett

    Rose –

    I totally get where you are coming from. My issue is not that’s it can’t be a very strong tool to recruit talent – it can be. My issue is that really good HR folks don’t get the threat this can be to their talent base – and they just keep encouraging it like it’s not a threat. This blog wasn’t for Job Seekers – this was written for HR Pros – to get them to think about their internal practices.

    HR Pros have a number of tools to use to find great candidates, and recently all they want to talk about is LinkedIn (it’s the new cool toy they got for Christmas) – the reality is, I still find more candidates and have more hires from Job Boards in term of percentage than I get from LinkedIn. The point being – HR Pros don’t just throw job boards to the curb, they still work and work well depending on what your needs are.

    Thanks for the comment –