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Fri, Jan 28, 2011

Talent Acquisition

Job Boards vs. LinkedIn?

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The trend du jour for companies seeking talent appears to move to everything social media.   The social media evangelists are preaching to job seekers and hiring managers that if you’re not using all things social media, job seekers will lose out on their dream jobs and companies will not find top-rate talent.

Recent articles have spread across the blogosphere stating that companies and job seekers should lean towards LinkedIn and ditch the job boards.  I’m not sold.

Since social media gurus endlessly pontificate about brand recognition, let’s touch on that quickly.  What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Monster, Dice and Careerbuilder?  For me, it’s jobs.  When you think of LinkedIn, what’s the first word that comes to mind?  For me, it’s networking.

Yes, LinkedIn is shifting their focus and working hard to make the site a full service product for companies and people.  The recent Wall Street Journal article that’s been quoted in the blogosphere states that companies are going to use job boards less and move towards sites like LinkedIn.

The article is weak, to say the least, because the survey cited in the article was conducted by an organization whose members consist of 80% Fortune 500 companies.  Obviously, that’s not all companies.

The article also states that one of the reasons for the scaling back of the job boards was due to being inundated by too many unqualified candidates.  It’s critical that recruiters use their time screening qualified resumes but with an unemployment rate of 9.4% couldn’t we surmise that the high volume of online candidates is directly related to the number of people out of work?  In addition, would you say that someone who is out of work and perhaps financially vulnerable might apply for a position they’re not 100% qualified for?  Of course they will.

Recruiters, living in perfect worlds, would prefer that only qualified candidates apply for open positions but the reality is that human beings are not robots and if they believe they are intelligent enough to do a job, they’ll apply for it.  It goes without saying that the masses also think of the word “job” when they think of job boards.

The masses are not on LinkedIn yet.  I believe that LinkedIn is an excellent tool for making connections — but that also depends on the type of connection.  If you want to connect with C-Suite decision makers, you might hit a brick wall because only 23% of all LinkedIn users are age 35 or older and the average age of a CEO in the U.S. is 56 years old.  From my experience, I know least 5 professionals who fall into this category and have no desire to be found on LinkedIn because they simply don’t need to be there.

While I do agree that LinkedIn is a useful aid in recruiting, it’s not ready to be a full-blown recruiting tool for all companies and industries.  I attended an event sponsored by LinkedIn introducing their new Recruiting Pro tool.  The tool provides unrestricted access to the entire LinkedIn network but how useful is it if that ideal candidate isn’t on LinkedIn or has their profile turned off?

For a price tag of around $8,000 for only search capabilities that lack diversity in industries, company size, positions and ages/experience of candidates, I would find it challenging to justify the ROI on that investment.

About the Author

Kimberly Roden is a senior human resources professional with more than 20 years of hands-on experience with concentrations in performance management, management coaching and all of the “gray” areas involving human beings. Her passions lie in helping others become better leaders to foster engagement and employee development. Kimberly blogs at Unconventional HR and is a contributor to the Women of HR site. Connect with her on Twitter as @kimberly_roden and on LinkedIn.

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  • http://www.garethjones.me Gareth Jones

    Hi Kimberly

    Interesting post and I take your point about writing job boards off just yet in favour of LinkedIn. However, there are a couple of important points that I think you miss:

    The fortune 500 inhouse recruitment teams are using linkedin not to advertise jobs but to mine it for passive candidates. I hear you about CEO’s, but the vast majority of roles these companies are trying to fill are not CEO level, they are mid professional level and these people ARE on LinkedIn. I should also point out CEO’s are not on job boards either! ;)

    Secondly, in terms of ROI, recruiters, HR and marketing folk are bleating on about ROI of social channels like Linkedin and Twitter without actually measuring or having any valid stats for ROI on their EXISTING methods, including job boards.

    I can tell you that I spent 3 months working to find out the ROI on the job boards we used after questioning the £220k we were spending annually, with only the job boards ‘number of applicants’ number as justification. No mention of applicant quality, relevance or whether they get placed.

    It took a while, but we got to the number and as a result halved our spend overnight and also the number of job boards. My initial numbers were published on my blog – take a look:


    We have since refined these numbers and they get no less shocking. And remember, these were for using niche, professional level job boards – in this case Marketing and HR.

    The problem is that job boards cannot easily measure their own performance. It relies on the recruiter having solid MI to be able to track the applications from source to placement and in my experience the MI just doesn’t exist. That’s a pretty big #fail for people who constantly talk about ROI don’t you think?

    My final point would be that there is also a fundamental difference between using job boards and LinkedIn. Putting an ad on a job site is totally passive in terms of recruitment and has become the de facto’ hiring method in a lot of cases which is sad. Recruiters have become lazy. Using linkedin demonstrates a desire to actively source – something which the industry largely seems to have forgotten how to do.

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  • http://www.SetFreeLifeSeminars.com Sue Thompson

    ” . . . human beings are not robots and if they believe they are intelligent enough to do a job, they’ll apply for it.” SO TRUE, and why not? This is why job seekers find recruiters maddening. Does a person need a blackbelt in communications to learn a call center job for which a company is going to fully train? Granted, recruiters inundated with job applicants have to have a way to cull the stack, but the insensitivity is striking, and I don’t think it has to be this way. Recruiters are human, too. Values such as hospitality and compassion matter in the workplace, too. Human beings are not robots and neither are recruiters, but the recruiters are often the ones acting as though they are, unable to consider the factors you’ve pointed to. Excellent thoughts.

  • http://edmusesupon.wordpress.com/ Ed Han

    Wow, it’s been a long time since I stopped by here. Very interesting analysis of the shortcomings LinkedIn has re: staffing and you raise some excellent points, esp re: the C-suite.

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