In the December 5, 2017 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, an employer questions the claims job boards make about how often they fill jobs.
I’ve read many of your posts about job boards, including Job Boards: Take this challenge, but it was one about The Bogus-ness of Indeed.com that really got my attention because it has over 200 comments on it, and because now I’ve seen how Indeed works for employers — and I’m LMAO!
My wife runs a popular retail chain store and recently took to Indeed.com to find qualified applicants. In Los Angeles, at a high profile new location opening (it’s in the news), she received just three applicants, all of whom had simply uploaded their resume and clicked any title that closely matched their interests. None of the three even knew who the company was, or what the details of the job posted were, they simply clicked “send resume.”
Two didn’t speak high-school level English, the third had never heard of the company and wasn’t sure where it was located, but applied just the same.
I’m sure there are people really looking for work. Are they using the potential of Indeed? Glassdoor? Monster?
I know what you think of the job boards, Nick, but I doubt you’ve had to look for a job recently. I wonder what your readers think. Can you ask them what their experiences have been with the big job boards like the ones we’ve had such bad luck with?
I’m happy to put your question to our community. They love red meat. (That’s a joke, vegans and vegetarians among us!)
Do job boards really fill most jobs?
Thanks for your story about your wife’s problems with job applicants from Indeed and other job boards. It would be interesting to hear from more employers, who don’t seem to say much (at least in public) about how effective the job boards are.
- Indeed cites a report from SilkRoad (“the world’s leader in Talent Activation”) that claims “Indeed delivers 65% of hires and 72% of interviews from job sites.” (The actual report is free but must be downloaded from SilkRoad.)
What’s not to like? Game over. Problem solved.
- A few years ago, while I was researching a story I wrote for PBS NewsHour (Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike?) a CareerBuilder spokesperson claimed the job board accounted for nearly 50% of all jobs filled by staffing and recruiting firms — but told me the study behind the numbers was not published.
So, what’s the problem with all those vacant jobs?
- Year after year, job-board watcher CareerXRoads has reported that around 25%-30% of external hires come from job boards.
Closer inspection of the data suggests about 10% of hires were being made during those periods through all job boards combined. (I have not looked at CXR’s reports recently.)
Truth or tricks?
Now go back and read those claims about where employers find their hires one more time. I’ve been watching these numbers for over two decades and I’ve learned the code. Can you find the tricks in those claims?
I’m really glad to get a question from an employer (well, from her spouse) on this topic. And I’m glad you’re asking Ask The Headhunter readers for their experiences and opinions — rather than me.
Okay, employers — big and small — are job boards delivering the hires you need?
You don’t have to be an employer to play. What do you make of Indeed’s (and SilkRoad’s) claims? I think there’s a deft sleight of hand — and some clever word play — in how SilkRoad, Indeed, and other job-boards characterize their “findings.”
Let’s get at the truth about job boards, folks. And if you’ve got some expertise in big data analysis, I’d really love to know your take on these reports. Do job boards really fill most jobs?
This sounds fun, I’ll start by sharing my company’s experience. Note, I’m a commercial manager, not HR, so I may be missing something, but I cannot recall any hire from job boards. Also I’m speaking for our front office staff – I’m not sure how back office staff and field staff are found (other than “through HR”).
All our entry level positions are filled through outreach to universities. We have partnerships with a few universities and also actively set-up booths at on campus job fairs.
For more experienced positions, I believe nearly all our hires are known quantities. Our MD and senior leadership have a huge number of contacts in our industry. They regularly keep in touch (phone calls, even dinners) and actively hunt rising stars from competitors and related industries (known through the grapveine, for example, a name shared by ex-staff working at those companies). HR also participates by seeking out specific linkedin profiles, but of course, they don’t have the personal connections that our leadership team does.
The next biggest group for some key positions are our sister offices in other countries – one of the benefits of being an international company is global talent movement! Also, we do have quite a few return staff – ex-staff returning to the company after a few years at another company. Finally, there are some hires from employee referrals, but to be honest, the referral bonus is pitiful.
I’m not saying the above is the ideal, but I wanted to share and understand what other companies do.
Thank you for sharing this! I have a q for you: I’m given to understand that hires made thru referrals tend to be great matches/have higher retention, but are overall less diverse (since most ppls’s networks tend to not be hugely diverse). Has that been your experience? This thread seems like a good place to at least anecdotally bust or prove myths!
@ Kimberlee, Esq:
I think given the choice between (a) paying homage at the altar of “Diversity” and (b) having a remarkably cohesive and efficent staff able to adequately handle the company’s business I would go with (b) every time.
I’ll let my competition meet the industry-wide diversity quotas.
Let’s say you need a good suit alterations person. You know a few good thread-slingers who can sit down and go to work tomorrow, who know your shop, and have expressed interest in working with you. You don’t need 100 of the best job boards or 1,000 resumes to review to get there.
I wanted to ignore the part where you dismiss diversity in workforce as “paying homage” as opposed to “getting better business outcomes” or “doing the right thing” but I can’t really. There’s plenty of evidence that having a team of people who all have basically the same background and perspective is bad for business, so if you’re ignoring them, it’s because you have a chip on your shoulder about it. My question was genuinely to find out “do you find that using referrals so heavily has had a positive or negative impact on the diversity of your organization,” not trying to make a political point.
But hey, good on you for apparently assuming that your team can’t be both diverse AND effective.
Kimberlee, what I’ve heard from people who focus on this is that making diversity goals known to the team – as well as the business reason why – can see decent diversity results from referrals. (“Hey guys, we really need to have a woman on the team so we can better represent our client base when developing our product. Who do you know?”) It might take a bit more effort, but it’s worth it.
Annette, I really like this approach! Similarly, it seems like making a direct and specific ask from one’s network gets better results, generally. Like, if you ask someone if they know anyone with X, Y and Z skills people can come up with names, but if you just send a link to your jobs page like “hey, we have jobs open, tell your friends!” people have a hard time making the connections needed to realize exactly who in their network might be a good fit. So what you say makes sense!
A random q I’m sure others here can answer: are there legal concerns with doing that? I know you can’t HIRE based on considerations of gender, race, etc, but my understanding it’s fine to pool-build this way (ala “we’ve had this job up for awhile and have very few woman applicants, so if any of you have any female friends who you think might be a good match, please send them my way!”) but I’m not 100% sure on that?
(@David L, my reply to LT Smash there assumed that you were replying to my comment, not another person. So I apologize for any vitriol I accidentally sent your way! I asked my q in good faith and would still love to hear your response. Thanks!)
I’ll reply to your initial question. I have noticed tendency for employee referrals to be “mini-me’s” of the current employee. However, they still have to pass the interviews and it will be a different manager who interviews them. Also the bonus is only paid if that person joins a different team than the one who referred them.
That’s why I wanted to highlight the importance of global referrals. These come from our overseas talents and provide a highly diverse pool (and here I’m speaking of diverse in terms of experience), along with being pre-approved (as low performers are not eligible for transfer).
Hope that answers your question!
In my most recent job, I built and led a team of software developers.
Like David L, above, we would have booths at university job fairs. One HR person and one of our developers would attend. I wanted the resumes of everyone who struck them as “smart and gets things done”.
For more experienced people, it was more difficult. I’ve never been much at networking (though that is going to have to change, now). We relied on resumes coming from HR and then finally hired a recruiter. The recruiter was of the “throw the spaghetti at the wall” type, and turned out to have hardly any ethics.
It was work sifting through and interviewing people, since my basic inclination is to give people a chance. But I felt the resulting team was worth it.
As for diversity… This part may not be clearly written, because to me, my team was a dozen or so individual human beings, each with their own unique quirks to accept and deal with. But at the peak, there was one Hispanic woman, one Korean woman, and three US Caucasian women (one of whom was legally Native American, I think). For the men, we had one from Ukraine, one Israeli (in a company owned by an Iranian, this was an accomplishment!), one black from the Bronx, one Hispanic/Cambodian, three Taiwanese/Chinese (two of whom I was given when we started the team) and three US Caucasians (including me). Is that diverse? Because I never, ever, considered diversity when hiring. (In fact, I loathe the word as a PC term. That list shortchanges what make each of them interesting human beings. *)
I simply wanted smart people and to create an environment where they could be safe, happy and productive.
Oh, a shout out to anyone who does software in Southern California. Since that peak, and since I left, that team has lost six people (in addition to me). It seems that while some people can thrive in that environment, software developers may not be at their best being managed by someone with a personality very like Donald Trump’s. I can connect you with some good developers – in fact, I think I could staff a small development shop.
* Nick has mentioned that a problem with the personnel industry is that they try to reduce human beings to lists of data.
@Timothy: Not sure if it was intentional, but you said something that reminded me of my buddy Joel Spolsky’s excellent book, Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky’s Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent.
Thanks for sharing your experiences!
Yes, Nick, I got that phrase from Joel. You are fortunate to know him; I’ve only met him once.
I would read and re-read his blog. I felt the thinking behind his articles made me a better developer and a better lead.
Sadly, I have no resume-keyword that captures my desire to improve and become a more profitable employee over time.
(Another person who gets me thinking is Eric Brechner who writes “Hard Code”. When I wrote “safe, happy and productive” above, that comes from him.)
@L.T.: The rush to diverse hiring often loses sight of the fact that the best workers need to be hired. People who can do the work. While the two goals are not mutually exclusive, a company that hires first for diversity is likely to go belly up — as it would if its first criterion was anything but ability to do the work.
Ensuring diversity cannot be at the cost of a company’s success. We’d have no economy.
Having said that, I think employers need to look at the biases in their perception of job applicants.
@ Nick Corcodilos
@ Kimberlee, Esq.
In the interest of full disclosure:
I thought it was painfully obvious to most readers here that I entered the civilian workforce during the Post-Vietnam / Affirmative Action Era, and was negatively affected thereby. As everyone is aware, it was possible and even probable that when working for larger companies, you would see some true dead weight being hired or kept on in higher paid if not actual management positions while the real work was being done by lower paid workers. But the companies were meeting their affirmative action quotas, real or imagined.
Merely changing the name of the program to “diversity” has not changed that perception. And as Dr. Phil routinely reminds us, “Perception is reality.”
I don’t know if I have “a chip on my shoulder”, or if this has dived into the realm of full-scale “lifetime of bitterness”. While I have occasionally been the “veteran interview”, I have never in my working career been the affirmative action candidate, the quota candidate nor the diversity candidate. I think we can all agree that this is discrimination of the venalest sort as well.
So, unless your “diversity” program includes new hiring for a decent percentage of older white males and Vietnam-era Veterans, (in my opinion) you merely have a 1970’s affirmative action quota program with a new coat of bad paint.
And you can’t expect to hire the best candidates if your job posting is turning them away.
Well, at times, I might have been the AA candidate, but, in my case, though sometimes people are outright biased against me, it’s more indirect bias and probably unintentional, more that my disability gets in the way of an expected societal norm: soft skills. It would kill me on interviews, even where talking a lot wasn’t needed, just because my Aspergers made me introverted. So if I ever did avail myself of state services or whatever to get some kind of an edge, I don’t feel too ashamed. It was probably my only way in, just like, originally, AA probably was the only way for some blacks to get hired when it was first passed.
Oops, when I said against me, I meant Aspergers. Some people mistake it for “dangerously mentally unhealthy” and would not hire someone with Aspergers (though they wouldn’t disclose it). More likely though, someone like me would be deemed “not a good fit” for a deficit in verbal communication skills, something that seems to be a MUST on job applications from minimum wage jobs to the big leagues. If I hadn’t used the help from Department of Rehabilitation Services, I wouldn’t have the job I have now.
Indeed did come close once to getting me a job, in my career field I got a degree for too, but it feel through, in part because I wasn’t as skilled then when I did the job assessment (didn’t help that my dog had just died around the time I had the interview!).
Anyway, the job I have now, I had actually applied TWICE, at least, for one Indeed and NEVER heard back. My job coach with DORS makes one phone call to the HR lady and I get an interview and then get hired that day! And I’d made two job applications for that job on Indeed (plus loads others too for other jobs) and never got anywhere in four years out of college! (BTW, I didn’t have any better luck with newspaper ads, either, though at least the job competition was probably lower.)
What I found more useful than the Job finder on Indeed was its Job Seeker forum, where I learned a lot about the job market and also that might have been where I first heard of Nick.
@Kimberlee: I think Annette points out indirectly that using job boards does not in itself promote diverse hiring. However, HR and other “experts” try to suggest it does. There’s simply no proof of that, unless we assume that flogging a job more widely ensures more diverse applicants.
Even if we argue that yes, it does, job-boarding a position also creates ridiculously dangerous artifacts. It attracts such a huge pool of applicants that it makes selection harder and inaccurate, and — I think — usually results in so much frustration on the part of the employer that no one is hired. (Of course, automated-hiring vendors love it! Now you need special technology to sort through every resume on the planet!)
Too big a pool of applicants corrupts the integrity of the selection process and hurts everyone.
I agree with Annette — the solution for diverse hiring is a lot simpler than increasing the number of applicants. I once worked for a company that hired ONLY via personal referrals from its employees and people it knew. The workforce was quite diverse. So much has to do with the message management sends.
Yeah, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. That’ll never change. Unfortunately it leaves an untapped talent pool of people without political connections. Whether by personality, e.g. introverts, or inclination, those who simply despise office politics and drama, it doesn’t matter. People would rather leave positions unfilled than interview an unknown.
Why do so many people complain about job boards not filling enough of their jobs?
I’d have thought it’s the quality of the job adverts that plays the major part in these ads attracting the attention of the target audience and encouraging them to respond.
A job board is just a pipeline. It’s what you put in those pipelines that’s important, isn’t it?
@Mitch: Suppose I offer you water for $1/gallon. I run two pipes into your house.
Pipe 1: It connects to a water system that keeps its water supply clean, so you know you’re getting good water. But the supply is limited for that reason.
Pipe 2: It connects to the storm drain system in your town because all water of all kinds flows through it — you get the most bang for your buck.
Which pipe will you use?
That’s how the job boards work.
I loved this answer!
Nick, I agree with you that job boards are generally in the bullshit business when it comes to their own marketing. But your analogy is somewhat spurious in that they are not responsible for for the source of what they deliver – the hiring company and/or the agency is.
Look, I’m no advocate of job boards – especially their aggregators – but the quality of ad respondents is directly related to quality of job advert.
And as we all know (or should know) the vast majority of job ads are insulting to the very readers they’re trying to attract.
@Mitch: I think we’re on the same page in general, but I disagree that “they are not responsible for for the source of what they deliver.”
The job boards are responsible. Their marketing and influence are massive. When a Sr. VP of HR at a Fortune 50 company tells me he can’t get a small budget to actually go out and recruit people (professional events, dinner, etc.) because virtually every recruiting dime at his company is devoted to the job boards (which “wine and dine” his company’s execs, according to him), then there’s a real problem.
It used to be said at big companies that nobody in IT ever got fired “for buying IBM.” Nowadays, job boards are the “gold standard” in HR — the marketing works incredibly well, and HR execs who think for themselves about recruiting are few and far between.
If all those job ads are insulting, why do the boards permit and encourage them?
Check this article, where ZipRecruiter reps reveal that anything goes: https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/10787/hr-ziprecruiter
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The boards dominate and control recruiting.
The claim is that indeed delivers between 65 and 72 per cent of all hires from job sites. Note two qualifiers in that sentence. First it says delivers. Since indeed is a consolidator it delivers jobs from other sites so that they can claim credit even if the job was posted and hired from a different site. Second qualification is that it only counts hires from job sites and does not include non job site hires which are the large majority of actual hires. The claim is doubly bogus.
I agree. I see that trick in their wording as well. It’s like when a product says it will save you up to $100. That could mean $1 or it could mean $100 and still be truthful (but not honest). It also does not speak to retention which is the true hallmark of a quality referral. No retention is just costly churn. It would be interesting to see how much money companies waste training, laying off, and acquiring replacement employees from job boards.
@Robert: You’re the first to catch the Indeed gotchas. Because my interstate highway gets me into NYC to see a show, do the producers of the show credit the interstate highway for ticket sales?
More important is the other gotcha: That success figure (65-72%) relates only to hires from job sites. But what’s the basis now? 72% of WHAT?
Speaking as a seeker and not as a recruiter, I have used job boards (mainly Indeed and LinkedIn) to identify openings at companies that I might not be aware of. Then I use that information to see who I might know at the company to get a referral. I have gotten jobs twice this way. Is it fair to say Indeed played a role in getting me hired? Maybe.
@Jenniferw: That means your computer played a role, too. :-) But SilkRoad doesn’t rank it in the stats.
I find this really interesting. This time of year I travel by car…a lot. And I listen to the radio a lot. Mostly Christmas music but that is another story. I have noted that many of these big job boards not only proliferate the radio waves with nonstop commercials. Most of the local and syndicated news stations oftenhave the commercial read and endorsed by the star of the syndicated program, either conservative or liberal.
Even the venerable NPR has Indeed.com as a national contributor. I find this laughable as these bogus boards think they can legitimize themselves in this way.
The worst is Zip Recruiter. They have spammed every podcast. Total waste. I would love to see their balance sheet– no way that all this false advertising will make them profitable.,
@George Campbell: Funny you should mention NPR. For a time I was a frequent guest on the WNYC affiliate in NYC. Until I made some very blunt comments about the shenanigans of TheLadders after a caller asked about the firm. The host quickly explained they might need to give Ladders equal time. Shortly thereafter TheLadders (located literally across the street from WNYC) became a sponsor and I was never invited back.
We’re talking heavy-duty influence and money from these companies.
Not long after, here’s what happened to TheLadders:
@Nick: Regarding TheLadders, they seem to be trying to make a comeback. I was a paid subscriber around 10 or so years ago. But I’ve been receiving emails again from them the last couple of months.
Back when I was hiring, I never got an employee from a job board. I never even considered looking for candidates on a job board, since the positions for which I was hiring required very specific skill sets and industry experience. I found candidates from networking and word of mouth. Caveat: Small sample, since I’ve only hired about 10 people over the years.
Robert Tanenbaum above nails the weasel language. The job boards are implying there’s a correlation between the number of people with a job-board résumé and the number of people who got a job that was once listed on a job board. “Unpublished internal studies” aren’t worth the peer-reviewed journal they’re printed in.
I’ve helped friends write résumés for jobs and seen the quality of the job-board listings. Most turned out to be bait-and-switch (“we filled the mid-level position, but we’d like to talk to you about this starter, minimum wage position…”), résumé quota fillers (they want to hire a specific person, but need to demonstrate due diligence), or 8 months old (oops!).
I live in the Milwaukee area and over the course of hiring for several different companies, I’ve found that MilwaukeeJobs.com has delivered a decent quantity of well-qualified candidates and I’ve hired quite a number of them. While I’m absolutely a fan of active recruiting and soliciting referrals, I also think there’s a place for publicly advertising jobs, too. Used to be the newspaper, now it’s online.
That said, I do refuse to use Indeed, exactly for the reason initially stated. It’s too easy to just click through to “apply” even though most haven’t even really looked at the job or are remotely qualified.
@Annette: Good point. The small online jobs outlets often do a good job, just like newspapers used to. Such niche boards (limited geography or industry or field) tend to do a much better job of keeping their listing clean and up to date. They avoid becoming huge data dumps, so there’s less to choose from, but higher chances of a “hit.”
I’ll also give a plug to LinkUp.com — which is really a job search engine, not a job board.
As a job seeker and as one who has recruited job boards get quantity but the quality can be low. Obviously it isn’t working because I have seen many of the same companies posting the same exact position on. indeed, glassdoor and linked in for years. Moderna is an excellent example of this but there are many. Posting a resume on a job board means being spammed for life.
As someone who recently posted a few positions for a company I consult for, hundreds of applicants were taking stabs in the dark. I don’t fault them, they just want a job and the market is such that many are in need.
For me, the future is always about building relationships. If you do what you do long enough, you know where the good people tend to hang out in your industry. You’ll also be able to recognize the ones that are in it for the right reasons and not just the pay check. You will also notice that people from certain work places always work out. Ex Novartis knows that employees from the Whitehead Institute assimilate well and come prepared — even though the Whitehead is a small research institution and not a global company with a complex structure. Novartis people know they will do well at Roche.etc etc….
Recruiting has to be an investment in a network that isn’t just about branding or time to hire. And for the love of God, I wish the shameless self promotion by candidates would stop. There are too many self described “thought leaders” and “trend spotters”. It’s the equivalent of posting a selfie. LInked In has become worse than an episode of the Kardashians.
Also, if an employee has an online application process that is redundant and wastes a lot of candidate time copying and pasting things from resume to online fields, I run. If you have no respect for my time and are inefficient at the outset, it will be the same inside with internal processes. Frustration drives people away.
A quick reply to this:
” I wish the shameless self promotion by candidates would stop. There are too many self described “thought leaders” and “trend spotters”.”
I’ve seen a few job postings for business analysts where the employER was asking for thought leaders. I’ve also seen “executive presence” required. For individual contributor analyst positions!
@HR Hybrid: “many of the same companies posting the same exact position on. indeed, glassdoor and linked in for years.”
That’s the problem. It’s dumpster diving. All resumes and jobs are everywhere. The value of the n-th job or resume now approaches zero.
I know the job boards are feckless. The alternatives are frustrating. Many companies do their best to hide themselves from potential talent. As all that there is is internet.No other contact info. Many firms do not put phone numbers, street addresses, or names of real people on the internet or how to get into contact with them. Linkedin is no better, the contacts are front office screeners. probably bots, not people. How does the rules of engagement work these days to find real people to talk with?
@Eddie: Try this: https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/6290/skip-the-resume-triangulate-to-get-in-the-door
I, too, have heard stories about what exists out on sites like Indeed. There are plenty of people who shotgun resumes, i.e. high school drop out applying to be a lawyer. And there are plenty of badly written job requirements as well – “we want 10 years of Windows 10 experience.”
Unfortunately, I think people are brainwashed that the only way to fill a job is to publicly advertise it and sort through hundreds of resumes where the signal to noise ratio is not great, then complain that “it’s just how it is.”
As a job seeker, I applied to several dozen jobs (that I qualified for) on Indeed and got one call back.
However, I received 8 calls from recruiters that had found my resume on CareerBuilder. One of those turned into a job.
This is my first job in 30 years where I did not have an internal referral that played a huge part in getting me in the door.
I’m curious to know if any other readers work in media or journalism. We’ve basically stopped posting on Indeed because the quantity is high but the quality is extremely low; we’ve gotten perhaps a half dozen qualified candidates from there, ever (and that’s just basic qualification; I don’t believe any of them were ever hired). We get decent candidates from MediaBistro and from JournalismJobs.com, and have definitely made hires from those pools, but ultimately most of our best hires are just people who like our site and either navigate to it directly, or see someone tweeting about job postings, etc.
Back when I worked in nonprofits, idealist.org was the gold standard (and, I believe, still is, at least in DC). And it’s unique (basically) to DC, but Tom Manatos Jobs is the rare bird of being a paid subscription site for jobseekers that I tell people is worth the money all the time.
The thing I’ve found least worthwhile is college/university career pages. It takes so much effort, time (and often money) to post to those boards, and I’ve never worked at a job where they gleaned good applicants. It’s not that those schools don’t produce good candidates, but those candidates are finding the jobs other ways.
Hi Kimberly, I work in that space and have, in the past, applied for many jobs from those sites. I just posted a reply regarding my experiences [below]. I would be interested in what your company is/does. Maybe there is something related to my skills and background for which I could apply. Are you able to share your company name here? Or maybe Nick will be kind enough to act as a conduit and connect us offline.
Sing it, brother!
Hi! Yes, if Nick is willing to connect us offline I’d be happy to talk a bit more.
@Kimberlee: ” ultimately most of our best hires are just people who like our site and either navigate to it directly, or see someone tweeting about job postings, etc
Ahhh… the best candidates are the ones who did the most work to suss out opportunities at your organization…
What does that tell us?
The job boards are so easy and automated that everyone applies for every job everywhere. Is it any wonder employers bar the doors and tell people not to contact them directly? They’re too busy to deal with real applicants who did the work!
Hi Nick, carrying this comment over from a separate instance of this posting. You’re a smart guy so I’d love to see what you have to say about this post from Indeed and an ATS that automatically track sources.
@Jerry: I already replied to you on the other thread, citing this article and the comments to it as my response.
Repeating: I think the SilkRoad “study” is questionable at best, as are the claims. The truth about the SilkRoad report is in the title itself — Indeed does not fill “65%-72%” of jobs.
I have never used a general job board to find a “professional” position. I tend to find jobs that I am interested in applying for on websites and social media platforms targeted at my specific industry. Unfortunately, I live well-outside the region/city that I wish to move to and, honestly, the whole “networking” think is over-hyped and overrated unless you’re a white male. People of Color, in any industry, are rarely in a position to hire. And everyone is an opportunist. Beyond agreeing to add you as a connection through Linkedin (and only if you’ve shown reason why they should. i.e. we both worked at X; not necessarily at the same time, but we’ve both worked there. WHY? Would anyone provide the time of day to help you get a job at, Major Corporation Y, where they work? It’s all BS.
I worked a “survival” job (i.e. low, hourly pay unrelated to me as a white-collar professional) for a couple of seasons at a Mom and Pop in my community, which I really liked. They called me this year to see if I wanted to return. I didn’t, for personal reasons unrelated to the business. This and another “contract” job that I worked a few years ago are the only employers who reached out to me after I had worked for them. Of course, these were just “seasonal” or “contract” positions. I am a hard, capable worker and my employers liked me hence they called to see if I was available. I conduct contract work for two major companies to which I have applied. One of which I have worked for over 7 years. No one has ever, out of the blue, attempted to bring me into either company as a full-time, salaried and benefits worker based on the excellent work that I perform. …In Sum, job boards are bogus waste of time unless it’s industry specific at the white collar level. And even then it’s complex. BTW, the aforementioned “survival jobs.” I found those on Craigslist.
After taking the required accounting courses and passing the CPA exams, I am finally looking for work in North Alabama. I am using Reference USA, an online tool available from the public library, to research accounting firms in the cities where I want to work. This online resource provides the size of the company by number of employees and by estimated annual revenues. It also has the names of principals within the companies. I am cross-checking this info to the Alabama board of registry for currently licensed CPAs. Thus I am narrowing my search to only those companies meeting my preferences. Once identified, I use each company’s web site to search for positions. I am also canvassing friends and acquaintances for possible internal contacts. Reference USA contains a listing of jobs posted on Indeed, but I am using that for info only and do not plan to apply via any job board.
Since I don’t live in Madison County, I had to pay for a library card to access Reference USA from home, but anyone can go to the library and use their computers to access it for free. Hope this helps other job seekers.
P.S. An earlier post of ATH stated that job seekers should visit the library first. So I did.
Good for you! My background is in accounting, so I know you can also go to the Alabama Society of CPAs and look up CPA firms for free, by city. http://www.ascpa.org/Public/Referral/FindACPA.aspx
@Dale: Ah, an example of someone who does the work to select appropriate employers, rather than dumpster dive in the databases of job postings… I’d interview you in a minute.
Posting my experience as a professional-level jobseeker:
I use Indeed, Google Jobs, LinkedIn, ziprecruiter and any other online job listing service, but I don’t pay for any of them. I just skim their free listings. When I see something that matches my skillset, I go directly to that employer’s website and apply there. When things get slim for a week or so, I’ll skim the listings for new company names that I know I haven’t applied to yet (regardless of the actual job posting) and go to their website to see if they have anything in my bailiwick. I never apply through Indeed or LinkedIn or the others. Only directly with employers. So I am one person who screws up their statistics.
I do the same Sharon. Not only do I NOT want my resume sitting on one of the job boards, I usually try to look into more about the company from their own website. Sometimes doing so offers more information on the company and the general benefits they offer employees. Just based on that review, I may decide not to pursue a position I may have originally found on a job board. I have to feel like I offer enough of what they are looking for but they also have to feel like a good fit for me too. Unfortunately, as with job boards with outdated job postings, some companies don’t actively maintain their website posts either. It’s frustrating.
Job Boards are Rabbit Holes: https://soundcloud.com/user-295952651/jayanthi-chauhan-first-tek-discussing-use-of-jobdiva
I have used job boards (primarily Monster) to successfully hire. Most hires have come from my network, but job boards have been useful in the past. When I worked for Fortune 500 companies, they typically had an exclusive house or two you were required to use. (Maybe that’s a future ATH column.) Those usually resulted in decent candidates, largely because the recruiters were keen to establish a personal relationship with me as a hiring manager.
Just one data point, of course.
@Larry B: I’m glad to hear at least one positive story. Why do you think you got decent candidates, while others claim they don’t? There must be something in your method that’s different.
I wonder if he actually put an effort in the job description he posted. So many are just boilerplate copies from company to company and it’s obvious. Some don’t provide any real details while others are purple squirrels. Job boards are rabbit holes for sure, but it’s just one other step job seekers must pursue when networking/contacts aren’t producing results.
In my limited experience – small town hiring – we do about 50/50 word of mouth and indeed.com. We have gotten acceptable candidates via both routes, and our hiring has been about equal. We do not allow applications sent through indeed – email or paper copy resume only.
I co-direct hiring with our director, I am the main HR rep in addition to the many other hats I wear.
I am an employee who applied for and was hired from an ad on Indeed for the job I have now. If not for that, I would say that job boards are only good for finding jobs and the going to the company website to apply. In fact, one of the first jobs I found on a career change search in late 2016 was found for and applied for on Indeed. I’ll add that I too have clicked the “Apply” button on Indeed and other boards just to apply for *something*. But for the job I wanted the most, I took the time and crafted a cover letter tailored for the job. The person who called me for the interview (my now supervisor) said she also looked at my LinkedIn account. (Good thing I didn’t blow off that site like I usually do!)
All of the other job boards are a major nuisance. I despise Glassdoor because you never know if the info on it is correct. CareerBuilder is for recent grads IMO, and so is Monster.com. (I’m an older applicant but not ready to retire for quite a while.) ZipRecruiter was okay. Only got a few callbacks from jobs I submitted for.
So overall, Indeed came through for me the best.
@Rebecca: I like the way you characterize the value of job boards. They’re kind of like a phone book. Everything’s in there but nothing has inherent value — you must do the work to qualify who you contact.
It doesn’t matter what statistics or benefits the job boards peddle, the whole process of hiring should be based on who is best for the company. As a job seeker, I’m amazed at how qualified I am for a specific ad description and once I apply I become invisible. I’ve heard business owners tell me in the past that they can’t find good people on job boards. I’m not Einstein 2017 and know everything, but I’d like to meet some of the “hiring managers” who look at resumes and let them explain to me WHY someone who is a qualifying match to the words written in the description is not worth calling for an interview. The point is, it’s the ignorance (ego?)of human beings that messes things up. Imagine if during Bill Gates tenure at Microsoft he fixed some of the issues people had with his products. Would he be worth $60 billion or $70 billion now? There would be more money to help people. Why do humans make things so hard for other humans? Forget the job boards and reach out to humans!
@Robert: Job boards promote a new standard for hiring. A good candidate is one that matches most of the key words.
That’s the “value” those database jockeys bring to corporate America. Of course, it’s pure b.s.
Job boards cannot detect a person’s ability to learn, to ride a fast learning curve, and to come up to speed on a job.
So a qualified candidate like you gets shoved into a narrow pipeline that leads to an algorithm that checks your key words. And the job remains vacant, while you are now judged to have little value.
The degree of brainwashing that the world accepts (and pays for) is just stunning.
Here are a few important points that haven’t been touched on yet. I’ve learned them from my experience and that of my clients. (I’m a resume consultant.)
Like every other means of job hunting, job sites work best for people with scarce, sought-after skills. Most or all of the people I know who have actually gotten jobs through these sites are experienced IT people or engineers. In other words, as with many things, the less you need it, the better it works. (Some commenters above have noted wider effectiveness for these sites–it may be a question of industry and location.)
Except as a last resort, never apply for a job through a third-party job site. Rebecca notes this above. The reason is that these sites have their own agenda for any data you send through them, which adds a lot of complications to the way they process your application. This increases the chances that some glitch will leave you in doubt as to whether or not your application even went through–and wondering whether to risk making yourself look silly or desperate by re-submitting. This can happen fairly often on third-party job sites. If you see a job you want to apply for, you’re much better off going to the employer’s company site and applying there–or, better yet, doing some digging to get a direct line to a hiring manager. (Employer job sites aren’t always fully functional either. Neither is HR.) If you don’t see any information in the posting that enables you to find the employer, try Googling some distinctive key phrases from the posting, along with the job title. There’s a good chance you’ll find the same posting elsewhere, either on the employer’s site or on a third-party site with information about the employer. If you don’t, wait a few days and try again.
One thing job boards are good for is general market research–getting an idea of what sort of jobs are out there, finding out what skills and qualifications employers are looking for at the moment–and also about the latest industry-specific buzzwords. (But not the generic fluff buzzwords–they won’t get you anywhere.) All of this can be very handy, especially if you’ve been out of the job market for a few years.
Our problem is job boards are used by the unemployed collecting State insurance benefits. They use the job boards to prove to the State they are looking for a job when they are not.
@Paul: Oh, they’re looking alright, but just not finding enough suitable jobs to apply for. So to fill their requirement of weekly applications they find the easiest thing to apply to.
Similarly, one of the most overused phrases regarding unemployment numbers is that certain people have “stopped looking.” Ochsenscheisse! (That’s german for b/s.) Their just not being counted or captured in any statistics. Being unemployed and not collecting unemployment does not mean that somebody has “stopped looking.”
They’re, not their.
@ Bill Freeto
The people who have “stopped looking” are, in fact counted. It is just that their number is never reported as it does not appear as a separate number. It is, however, aggregated in an even scarier database called the Bureau of Labor Statistics Civilian labor force participation rate.
The media, mainstream and otherwise, prefer to report the “Unemployment rate” which on it’s best day, counts the people who are unemployed and currently drawing Unemployment Compensation Benefits. For the month of October 2017, this was 4.1%
If one takes the Civilian labor force participation rate, and apply a little grade school math, you will arrive at the actual percentage of people over the age of 16 ready willing and able to work, who are not employed for one reason and the next. For the month of October 2017, this figure was 37.3%. Or roughly 59,800,000 people un- or under-employed.
Which is why there is no talent shortage. Just a shortage of employers willing to put Americans to work.
Civilian labor force participation rate:
Civilian labor force:
Just to be fair, since you are saying people 17 and older, how many of that percentage are 17-23 who might still be in high school and college not working that much or at all because they are trying to get through via scholarships, etc, instead?
I do believe that the 4.7& or whatever the media uses is bogus, but want to make sure that your about 30% or so isn’t skewed as well.
Everyone uses job boards if they are not properly informed of their ineffectiveness. It’s not only just those collecting benefits. But it part of the issue.
Everyone uses job boards if they are not properly informed of their ineffectiveness. It’s not only just those collecting benefits. But it’s part of the issue.
@Paul: I think the more parsimonious view is that the unemployment systems states use encourage the use of job boards by the unemployed as a way to “prove” they’re meeting the requirements. People always find the hole in the system.
What would happen if states prohibited use of job boards for this purpose?
@Nick. How about eliminating unemployment “insurance” altogether? There are quite a few unintended consequences of its existence. First, companies don’t want to get dinged for letting somebody go and see their premiums rise. So they’re more inclined to go through an agency than simply hire somebody. Second, and this is more insidious, companies (lead by HR) will go to great lengths to engage in outright fraud to trump up nonsense so they can claim they fired somebody “for cause,” which can often result in denial of unemployment benefits, not to mention a big old black mark. I’ve seen this happen to numerous good people at companies I’ve worked for. (One employer tried that on me, but I had the goods on the crook.) You will sometimes see top HR people boasting about the practice (oh, if we want to get rid of somebody and make it look like it’s their fault, we can–piece of cake).
More generally, this creates an environment where it’s generally viewed that if you’re unemployed it must have been your fault (due to the perception that companies have to jump through hurdles and do everything above board and by the book to let somebody go).
In addition, in unprecedented times like these since the Greater Depression commenced, the numbers of long-term unemployed are at historic highs (both in raw numbers and as a percentage of total unemployment). In a normal economy, there’s a much closer correlation between the different measurements of unemployment. In our current situation, having the government running unemployment “insurance” is allowing them to vastly understate the actual numbers. This helps to maintain the lie that the economy is just fine, there’s a “talent shortage,” and if you’re long-term unemployed there REALLY must be something wrong with you. See here for Shadowstats’ alternative unemployment measurement and how it compares to the official government numbers:
Eliminating unemployment “insurance” and compensation would eliminate a good number of problems it’s existence has created.
@Bill Freeto, I partly disagree. I think that unemployment insurance as a TEMPORARY stopgap that every employee pays into to provide PARTIAL income for SHORT TERM unemployment proved very successful until very recently. Almost everyone who wanted to work made sure that they would find work at the end of the term even if it meant taking a job at a lower salary or in a different field. However during the last downturn the politicians couldn’t prevent themselves by HELPING we unemployed by extending the terms which did two things: 1) it bankrupted many states’ insurance funds, and 2) it changed people’s expectations so they didn’t adjust to the new reality that their old jobs were not coming back with the same old salaries. This is my opinion for (at least part of) the reason so many people became LONG TERM unemployed. I believe we should keep it as the way it was originally designed, but make sure that it is totally understood that it was temporary.
I think the problems you describe come from the mechanic of making companies who let people go directly fund unemployment, not the idea of giving support to people who are unemployed.
Coincidentally, I was just reading a book – “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism” – which argues that welfare is for workers the equivalent of chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for business owners.
Paul – Wow. What’s your source of proof for your outlandish comment? The unemployed are struggling through a broken system. Your comment is critical of people getting unemployment benefits that companies paid into for just that purpose -when they decide to give their CEO a raise for reducing staff. Sheesh.
For those on the job advertising side of this who bemoan the “lack of quality” of applications they receive after posting on any kind of job board (or even a company website), that can be fixed very easily by following practice cited by “Interested Bystander” above:
“We do not allow applications sent through indeed – email or paper copy resume only.”
But I would go further and say that only paper resumes (on resume quality paper) accompanied by a cover letter will be considered–email is too easy and doesn’t cost anything. The job ad should also indicate the name and title of the hiring manager, to whom the applicants will be informed to address their application (the hiring manager reviews all resumes, not HR).
This will cut down on the number of submissions drastically, to the point where resume management software is not needed. Of course, it also cuts HR out of the picture, and as much as they might complain about online job boards and applications, that’s the world they built (or took advantage of) in order to take over the hiring process and transform the workplace along their ideals. So I won’t be holding my breath waiting for HR to insist on paper only and leaving things to the hiring managers and supervisors. The online process is that through which HR maintains and expands their power.
Nick, I know this is off-topic but I thought you might get a laugh out of it, based on your opinion of employer tests.
I went to an interview this week. When it was booked, I was told there would be some brief “training exercises” following it.
Keep in mind that the job posting said master’s or doctoral level qualifications were preferred.
The “training exercises” were actually a test on spelling, meanings of words, grade-school math, basic pattern recognition, etc that was obviously just pulled off the internet. Based on the a layout and font I’d say it was created at least 25 years ago.
While there are some examples of people with advanced degrees who are bad at spelling etc, in general this is not an issue. It’s silly and I think insulting to give such tests to educated people. Maybe there was some other agenda with that test, but that would be a major red flag.
The capper is they stuck me in a little windowless room where one employee was already working to do the test. The desk was piled up with various bits of junk. I’d been there 2 hours and they hadn’t offered me so much as a glass of water, and I still had another HOUR to go on the SECOND test (on some other stuff more related to the job). I hit this wall of fatigue, thirst, anger and frustration.
So I left.
The interviewer asked if I had finished everything OK and I said “no”. That surprised her. Then I said “I don’t think it’s for me”. It was an awkward exit but I had to get the hell out of there.
No doubt they have chalked it up to my not being up to the doing the job, and they will never reflect on their side of it.
@MaryD: My compliments for walking out. You could have responded, “Are you nuts?”
Don’t feel awkward when an employer MAKES you feel awkward. Make THEM feel awkward. Then they might learn something.
I’ve been a hiring manager and I’ve also had to look for a job. There is a place for job boards. I don’t pay attention to their ads. Who cares? However, I do use them and have decent results. Yes, I have made some hires. And personally, I have been hired by responding to a job board ad. The job boards can be useful for a smaller organization that doesn’t have a huge network and that also is looking to hire nationally. Currently, I am in healthcare, but I’ve had the same experience in my previous career of software development. A small medical practice comprised of 1 or 2 doctors that wants to hire a Nurse Practitioner probably doesn’t know one and their contacts (usually other doctors) probably doesn’t know one who is available, either. And if other doctors know a good NP, it’s usually because the NP is working for them! I’ve helped a medical practice recruit through networking (school connections) and through job boards. Both produced viable candidates. Again, this also worked when I worked for small software development firms, in addition to personal networking. I also developed relationships with a few good headhunters.
And as for me as a candidate, right now I am a new grad Nurse Practitioner (NP). Because I won a federal scholarship, I must work in an underserved area (mostly rural) for 2 years to “repay” my scholarship. Nobody I know personally knows anyone at these remote clinics or even where they are or that they exist! I have used special job boards for healthcare scholarship winners, job boards from professional associations, and general job boards like Indeed. I’ve gotten good responses from all of them and am headed off to several face to face interviews in the next couple of weeks. All of them are good jobs, too.
The sensible approach for a job seeker is to do “all of the above” – networking and using job boards. I would advise an employer to do the same, along with developing relationships with some good headhunters.
With all due respect, Nick, you are making a couple of questionable assumptions:
1. The best candidate usually has another job. Maybe, but in today’s tumultuous employment environment, especially in high tech, people get laid off and downsized all the time through no fault of their own. People also often get fired for purely political reasons as well. So the ‘best’ or very good candidates may well be looking for a job. This is especially true in professions where it is important to constantly hire new grads
2. Even employed candidates peruse the job boards, because they want to see how their job stacks up and what else is out there. Maybe they are contemplating a change and haven’t made a decision yet.
I’m sick of this attitude that the best people all have jobs. Not true.
@Mary: I’m not sure where you find those assumptions in what I’ve written. In fact, I frequently say that the country is in what’s arguably the biggest talent glut in history. There’s more talent on the street than ever before — because great workers are out of jobs.
Speaking as someone who was just hired for a job (my very first full-time job!), I found job boards to be helpful. But then again, I used a very specific job board called RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System) that focuses on jobs in libraries in the Chicagoland area, as well as other parts of Illinois, instead of a large one like Indeed. I found the job board helpful because it took a variety of job ads and put them in one place. It also made it clear how I could contact potential employers and email them my resume, cover letter, and references. It was a simple enough process. I am not sure how it was from my employer’s perspective – I found out later she only received 4 applications total for the position, even though it is a full-time job with benefits and fair wages, but she did not seem to mind not having many applicants.
My current employer is a community college, and they don’t use the big job boards, at least not here in the library. We recently hired a part time reference librarian, and the job was posted on the college’s website and ran on a library journal’s website. Our new interim dean also reached out to her library school for potential candidates.
Nearly all (except the current new hire) of our new hires have been people someone here at the library knows or has been recommended through someone else. When they did post the jobs more broadly, we got hundreds of applicants, most of whom weren’t qualified (most of the library jobs REQUIRE an MLS or MILS, and we were getting high school dropouts, people who had a year or two of college but no degree, much less an MLS/MILS, and many who worked in completely different fields). So the then-dean issued an edict–no more posting library jobs on the big job boards. HR was thrilled because it gave them lots of busy work, but it wasn’t working for us.
We’re also part of a consortium, and the librarians will post job vacancies via email, and I’ve heard that some people have gotten jobs that way.
At my last job (also in academia), we didn’t post on the big job boards but post in academic journals. Word of mouth/personal connections also helped fill positions.
Marybeth, I feel your pain! As someone who is about to graduate with my MLIS next week, I know there are a lot of people who don’t realize that a Master’s degree is needed for most jobs in librarianship. I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be for employers!
@Ann: Congratulations on finishing your degree!
You’re right–many people don’t realize that all professional library jobs require the MLS/MLIS degree. I’m going to extend that to HR, even in academia. With a recent full time hire, our new interim dean had gotten into a knock-down, drag-out fight with the college’s HR department because they didn’t post the job and job description as she wrote it. They messed with it, adding a degree, which not only wasn’t necessary or required but also confused applicants and drew even more people into the pipeline who weren’t qualified because they ignored the required degree. At some level, I suppose, this kind of thing is good for HR–it gives them plenty of busywork (look how many applications we have! look how busy we are!), but it unnecessarily complicated the job search both for us AND for applicants. Our new interim dean has decided that for any/all future job vacancies, she will have the final say on what gets put in the job description and a committee in the library will do the first and second screenings. When we hire a permanent dean, then others on campus (outside of the library) will have to be involved, but otherwise she decided that HR only mucked everything up, and she’s not letting them do that again. We finally have an interim dean with a backbone.
Whenever I’ve applied using job boards, it’s been a pathetic joke – either I’m directed to an ATS (in which case my app gets sucked into the great void) or I send a resume/cover letter (which also invariably winds up in the same great void). My very first job out of university 30 (!) years ago came about from responding to an ad in the newspaper, but all my other jobs have come through personal contact – temp to hire, walk in off the street, tip from a friend of a friend, and so on.
When I fill out application after application online and then hear crickets, it really makes me feel worthless, even though I know I’m not stupid – I have an advanced STEM degree, speak three languages other than English, am a member of Mensa, and have a creative bent as well. Nonetheless, I can’t seem to get a decent job. It’s so depressing.
Don’t feel like the “Lone Ranger”, Askeladd. Logic disappeared long ago from the hiring process :(
This was a great discussion. First a few words on diversity. Here are a few fun facts:
1. Humans are social animals.
2. Hiring is a highly political process.
3. Everyone gets discriminated against in the hiring process.
4. Contrary to popular belief hiring has between nothing and zero to do with merit. (See #2). Therefore, qualifications is for suckers.
5. Too many businesses are basically high schools, college frat houses, and social clubs operating under the guise of business. Most are like business experiments. A lot of copying forms without understanding functions.
I’ve had a long, successful, and profitable career. I’ve seen the clown show from every angle. From new entrant, team member, manager, corporate executive, business owner, consultant. Many of you are still confused about how the real world actually works. Most have seen it but refused to accept it.
6. In every company there is a culture. This culture is defined by social codes (un-written rules about whom will hold which positions and how much they will get paid to do so.) See #5.
7. The non-sense processes exist to obscure the fixed reality of #2,#3 and #4.
8. The manifestation of this underlying reality is evident in companies where culture exhibits the Lake Wobegon effect. In English, the people in power rationalize there place there and work tirelessly to keep out anyone who might disrupt the orgy. Therefore, it is not surprising if you are a smart or brilliant engineer who happens to be black, or a woman or white man who’s only crime was he got old. Maybe you just want to much money. Whatever it is, you are out. This is why a lot of companies are nothing more than bozo explosion. (The people working there are not “qualified” to do anything- but yet they have the jobs.) See #6. Other peoples fear and their egos are the biggest barrier to success.
9. Try to comprehend my comments thus far. This is important for what I will say next. The reason the subject of diversity and its implementation causes the monkeys to start throwing feces, is because, while they may not be able to articulate it, these programs and efforts are not solving the root problem. In fact they only make it worse. See 1-5.
10. The only way to solve a problem is to understand it. What is diversity? How to we achieve it? Answer: Don’t judge people by irrelevant criteria period. Seem simple in theory but very hard in practice see 4-5.
On to Job Boards and HR:
Here’s a simple story to illustrate one of thousands of examples I could give. Let’s call this story Queen Bee.
CEO of a technology company approaches me for a professional recommendation to fill some staffing needs. (BTW: I am not a recruiter). He describes what he’s looking for. I give him the topology of just the right person from my professional network he should talk to. He’s interested. I broker the deal. She’s interested. This person happens to be a woman. She would be only the second woman in the company and the first to work outside of HR. It’s not that I could not recommend men but that wasn’t a criteria. Woman meets CEO and partners they hit it off. They want her to come in to meet the team. She hits it off with the team. All signs are green just one last step kick it down to HR for the paperwork. (You know the end of this story already.)
HR upset that she was not at the table for this deal. Goes and sets up a separate meeting with the candidate outside the office, outside the presence of anyone and then promptly processes this person out of the job.
The candidate had no idea what happened as the meeting with HR seem cordial but it was radio silence after that. I told her HR killed your deal. This is a classic corporate play, the Queen be isolated the competition and then slipped a knife in her back. There will only be one Queen Bee in the hive.
HR proceeded to waste another quarter “sourcing” and “processing” applicants. Killing all of the female candidates out of the pipeline in the end they ended up with three mediocre guys.
Job Boards are Scam:
1. There was an undeclared depression in the country.
2. There are not enough jobs for people.
3. Job postings and ads are not an indication of actual jobs available.
4. Must of job ads are spam, marketing, information gathering campaigns and scams.
Less you think all I’ve said is hyperbole, I have a home work assignment.
1. Corporate Confidential – Cynthia Shapiro, PHR
2. Who stole the American Dream – Hedrick Smith
3. Fifty-Five Unemployed and Faking Normal – Elizabeth White
4. Disrupted – Dan Lyons
5. The disposable American – Louis Uchitelle
I like Nick. I’ve read just about everything he’s written. He lays it all out in “Employment In America: WTF is going on?”
OK, but what are people supposed to do with that information?
Understand that the game is rigged and job seekers must work harder to get around the gate-keepers.
Once I interviewed successfully for a position ‘on-site’ at an agency the company supported. The position was not yet listed on the company’s job board. They opened a requisition on their internal job board to meet their own requirements to let current employees apply for any jobs. After the required two weeks of posting on their internal job site, I was told to apply online, which I did. The next day, I contacted HR to be sure my application went through. I was told, “Yes, but your resume was not selected as being qualified for that position.” (It didn’t accept my application because they entered the position as requiring an industrial engineering degree, and I am an electrical engineer. I had noticed the discrepancy in the listing.) I politely but firmly informed HR that I was the person the agency wanted for that job, and she had better do whatever was needed so my application would be accepted. She changed it and I was hired. I worked for that company for nearly seven years.
From my experience, I can see how easy it is for HR to hose up an otherwise great match of employee to employer. If I had not already known that I was the desired candidate, I might have given up without ever knowing it was HR that put the monkey wrench in the works. Also, note that they had already selected me to fill the position before it ever showed up on the job board. Although it was a legitimate position, no other applicants had any real chance at getting the job, as it was filled before it was posted. The company’s policy was to offer jobs first to existing employees, but that didn’t happen in this case.
There are so many ways that companies can get around their own policies and procedures.
Many jobseekers already understand that, and already know about “getting around the gatekeepers” (which is only a part of Morpheus’s post, and Nick’s been saying it all along). But getting around the gatekeepers is not always possible and doesn’t always work, and it can work against you (some bosses do not care for being approached directly). In the meantime, people need jobs. If the game is rigged, that makes the probability of landing a job *worse* than sheer dumb luck.
So what is the point of your comment if people already know that and it doesn’t help them anyway?
Point is work harder and develop relationships. Don’t rely on the easy path of only applying for jobs listed on boards, whether a company’s own or the aggregators.
“Develop relationships” is extremely simplistic. In real life, there is only so much one person can do to “develop relationships”. You can’t control who you will meet, let alone what kind of relationship you have with any one person, let alone whether that person will ever be in a position to connect you with a job.
In your own example, you just happened to be working there already when another job came up. That’s just luck.
We could always seek to bring down the system rather than spending lots of time merely to get around it. If we are going to spend lots of time and energy, why not do it to bring down the corrupt system? One way we could do this is to try and find some legit alternative for the system. Nick has a valid point about relationship building and that is a valid way to get around the “Big Data” machine of resumes, job boards, and databases. But it can’t work for everyone, especially those in entry level that don’t have the skills and experience needed to push back and make the employers roll over. If you don’t have a lot of experience already, you can’t exactly refuse to fill out the Social Security, salary, etc forms and not expect to be punished mercilessly for non-conformity. That’s the problem with the system and I’m not sure how you can get around it. Only those who have friends, family, etc in the business already can sidestep the system for their early jobs.
“Networking”, “it’s who you know, not what you know”, “develop relationships” is all just another way of saying favouritism, cronyism, nepotism and the like. It’s a sign of a broken system. A lot of talent and human energy is being wasted trying to navigate it. So we should bring it down.
1. Comprehend it.
2. Make decisions and take actions based on real challenges and not fairytales and rainbows.
3. Don’t follow the rules they are for suckers.
4. If you need it spelled out in detail here’s the basics.
(a) Make sure you can deliver some value to an organization. You have to be able to do something they need done. This doesn’t mean that you will get a job at every place that needs your help. See my previous comments about the political nature of hiring. If you can’t get what you want then you are talking with the wrong people period.
(b) You need to cultivate relationships with people you know and work with. Those people can serve as advocates for you. You obviously will need some skill in persuasion. No one wants a beggar with a stick. You will need some skill in perception management as well. If all of this seams like social climbing it is. Why do you think companies are top heavy with criminally incompetent charlatans? Those people are not their because they are stupid, they are there because they know how to play the real game. See How BullSh*tters not Just Survive but Thrive – Atul Mathur These people know who to call when they need to get real work done. You need to be able to demonstrate to people that you can do the work they need done profitably.
(c) You won’t be able to do any of this filling out online applications and pitching resumes into a black hole. You’ll need to find the companies you want to work for. Write people letters (see b). Pickup the phone and call people (see b). Go out and meet people talk shop not Jobs. (see b).
(d) Try to establish some level of financial independence. Spend less money. (see Mr. Money Mustache) build a f**k you fund. Money isn’t about things. It is about agency. When something doesn’t work for you, you can act rationally. The only reason people play rigged games is because they feel that they have to. They feel that they have no choice. The system *knows* you *need a job*. You know that they need help. Employers treat employees like dog food because they can.
Here’s a little bit of game theory.
Imagine what would happen if just 20% of the people instead of filling out online applications did two things instead:
1. Determined the validity of the opportunity. (Pick up the phone.)
2. Determined mutuality of interests before going any further. (Phone call, prospecting letter, informational meeting.) – Some times the job is not right for you.
Here are some real world examples of jobs meeting, interviews, referrals that have been obtained from breaking the rules:
Themed Responses to Job Ads:
1. Hello, your job ad doesn’t make any sense. Let’s have a five minute discussion to clarify if I can help you.
2. If you are serious about your need for xyz, give me a call to discuss how I can help.
3. I see you are prospecting for x. I have a track-record of helping companies like yours do x. Go here to find some samples of work I’ve done for organizations like yours. If this is what your looking for, lets discuss or meet.
Finally, going over the heads of the gate keepers all the way to the top. These were the most profitable opportunities.
4. Dear CEO, I understand your organization has the goal of accomplishing (x) and you need (y). I can help you fulfill this mission. Unfortunately, your HR department has been unresponsive to my requests. (or, I’ve had difficulty establishing the right connections). I would love to meet with you to discuss the unique challenges faced by your organization and how I can help you get from point a to point b.
Thank you for your time.
In every case of the above, the people at the top, expressed delight in that I was exactly the person they were looking for and expressed dismay and disappointment in the difficulty I and no doubt others were having in making the connection. In a twist in at least two instances, I was tasked with investigating the root problems with the talent acquisition function of the organization and making changes. What did I find? Nothing surprising:
1. Unskilled, untrained technocrats who didn’t understand the roles they were recruiting for they were keyword matching. And their professional training (reading articles written by industry shills and keyboard jockeys on LinkedIn) had indoctrinated them to rely on perceived social status as markers. (The short hand for this is: non-technical idiots.) – e.g. having a person with no knowledge of a discipline in charge of determining qualification. = Bozo Explosion.
2. Sociopaths. (People who get off on emotionally an psychologically abusing others).
Too many people put a lot of faith in a totally broken and corrupt systems. In English stop outsourcing your agency to people and things that are not their to help you.
I’ve worked with headhunters like Nick and they are worth every penny they get paid. I don’t work with recruiters. They don’t do anything for me that I cannot do for myself. yes, they claim to have some kind of inside track or lock on jobs. Sometimes this is true. They’ve tricked the companies into thinking they do something magical to find the talent and its more a throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks kind of deal. They collect a hefty fee for this “service” good business model. But ultimately a scam. The candidates do most of the work.
If you can’t work with a company without going through the recruiters then you are talking with the wrong people.
I stand by my recommendation:
Read Corporate Confidential Cynthia Shapiro. She lays it all out. Most industry consultants and executives know these things but the average worker / job seeker does not. The reason most of us don’t talk more about is legal gag orders that prohibit the disclosures. The hiring processes are chaotic by design. The rest is people copying forms without understanding function.
You just contradicted yourself. And I’m not sure why you think your comments are a big revelation
My answer was in response to your question “OK, but what are people supposed to do with that information?” Then you write “You just contradicted yourself. And I’m not sure why you think your comments are a big revelation”
You don’t specify the contradiction. (If this is related to comments about the Job ads its an example of engagement.) otherwise, I am confused as to where an how I contradicted myself? It is not obvious to me. Please do share.
To your last point about my comments being a “big revelation.” Let me start by not making assumptions about you personally. Perhaps you got it all figured out and you know the answers to your questions and wish to engage in a different discussion. But in general, I see people here and elsewhere in life that are absolutely clueless about the way things really work.
How do we know this? How many online job applications does one fill out before realizing that maybe the problem is the system and not them? is it: 1? 10? 100? 500? 1000? or more? How about when dealing with recruiters? Or in job interviews when one keeps getting shot down and not selected? Or pre-employment testing and background checks before interviews? There are hundreds of thousands of people banging their heads against the proverbial brick wall daily. I know some of them, and so does everyone else. These are people who place blind faith in a completely corrupt in rigged system. I believe that if people knew better they would do better. I digress.
MARYD. Earlier in this thread you commented that I was already working for the company that created a job listing so they could hire me, but you are incorrect. I had never worked for the company before. Someone recommended me to the client, who interviewed me. The only way I could support him was through that company. The company conducted its own (second) interview with me, then created the job listing that I applied for after waiting two weeks.
A prior relationship got me the initial interview. An acquaintance knew I had the skills the client needed.
I was trying to illustrate that working from only job postings is a losing proposition, because you are not going to know if the position has already been filled or if it’s only to collect resumes for proposed work that the company may never get. One can waste a lot of time applying to these…time better spent on phone calls, library research, and meeting people wherever they go that you can also go. Professional society meetings, seminars, trade shows, etc. Nick has lots of examples of how to find them.
Excellent post! I especially agree with your comments on validity, mutuality of interests, and financial independence.
A good read is “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez with Monique Tilford (revised & updated 2008 edition)
This referred to MORPHEUS 12/9 2:05 post…not sure how it got here.
I think another aspect of this rigged system lies in all the crazy rules, regulations, tax codes, and other stupid hoops to jump through if you even consider going into business for yourself. It’s positively insane, and the sheer quantity of regs virtually ensures the growth of Big Biz at the expense of homegrown, mom & pop / family businesses, which used to be the norm not that long ago. In today’s litigious and hyper-regulated environment, compliance is a nightmare, and Big Biz has the funds to deal with that crap, whereas Mom & Pop have to spend inordinate amounts of time and/or money to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s lest the heavy hammer of the federal government come down upon their heads.
It’s rigged every which way we turn.
I’ve spotted that as well.
Here is selected objectionable fine print of a popular board:
18.2 Use of Your Data. If you have purchased Recruitment Analytics Services, then you may provide xxxxxxx with the names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, resumes and other personally identifiable information of Job Seekers sourced from your own files (“Job Seeker Data”). You hereby grant xxxxxxxxx a non-exclusive license to use, copy, modify, store, transmit and display Job Seeker Data solely to the extent reasonably required to provide and maintain the Services for Company’s use. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you understand and agree that xxxxxxxxxxxx may derive Aggregate Data from the Job Seeker Data and may use such Aggregate Data in accordance with section 4.6.
4.6 Use of Aggregate Data. You understand and agree that xxxxxxxxxxx owns and has the right to collect, extract, compile, synthesize, and analyze Aggregate Data. xxxxxxxxxxx may use such Aggregate Data for any lawful business purpose without a duty of accounting to you, provided that the data and information is used only in an aggregated and anonymized form so that it cannot be identifiable as relating to you, your Company or to any other Job Seekers. “Aggregate Data” means de-identified aggregated data or information regarding Job Seekers’ educational or career history (including, by way of example and not limitation, aggregate data relating to Job Seekers’ occupation, location, salary, education and experience).
I’m not a fan of data mining.
Oh yes, just oh so good /s. Do a quick internet search for the term, “indeed frustrated” and you will pull up thousands of comments on Indeed’s forum from completely frustrated individuals seeking a new job.
Not only are companies wasting time with these time wasting websites, they seem oblivious to the fact that many professions are changing at a rapid pace. Yes, it sucks but you either commit to staying current in your profession or your skills will become quickly outdated. One issue I have encountered is employers seeking individuals who know the changes in accounting/finance rules but they seem put off by too much knowledge. This year alone I have around 30 CPE credits and this doesn’t include all the training that did not qualify for CPE credits. So much fun, just living the dream.
I’ve noticed that too. The employers seem to be having a Catch 22 issue.
If you are too young, they are upset that you don’t have X years of experience already and don’t want to spend a cent to train you.
If you are too old, on the other hand, you’re either too “overqualified” or you cost too much and they want someone cheaper.
Their problem is, eventually they are going to run out of guys in the middle that are already trained yet don’t cost too much. As more retire, even those guys will start to cost too much. And illegal and legal immigration can only get them so far.
That is the absolute truth. I happen to know a lawyer who is nationally ranked as one of the best in the country and he is having trouble finding work. After he graduated at the top of his class from an Ivy League University, he continued his education in the law to become an expert. You don’t realize how powerful it is having someone who knows every single legal procedure inside and out until you see him in action. In one case he brought up a little known legal precedent that apparently the judge and other lawyers were not aware of, he produced a copy of the law to refresh their memory. This BTW was not some backwater court, everyone in court had a law degree from an Ivy League college and he blew them out of the water.
Many job listings on online job listing services don’t say WHO the employer is, at least in my husband’s field (CNC Lathe/Machinist). And many of the listings are from recruiting company (Adecco, etc.) and they won’t tell you who the employer is either until/unless they set up an interview with them.
A lot of Nick’s advice on here seems geared toward professional/white collar jobs, and not blue collar/trade skills jobs, which is fine. But it is also somewhat aggravating. My husband is a Journeyman Toolmaker with 25 years’ experience, and barely gets a phone call….and when he does it’s from a temp agency/recruiting company, never the hiring company itself. We both are starting to believe it’s due to age discrimination, as you could get a pretty good idea of his age (53) from his job history. He’ll look at company websites to see if they have jobs posted and apply that way when possible, and has even dropped off hard copies of his resume, but most times they still require you to fill in an application that has all the same info as your resume…and they REQUIRE you to put your salaries from previous/current jobs on them or it claims you’ll be disqualified if you don’t fill out all the fields. Would love to use some of the tips Nick has offered, but doesn’t seem possible when you’re a “regular Joe” looking for a “regular job”.
Maria – If you are located in the Milwaukee, WI area, your husband could get a job in a heartbeat (and if you are, let me know). I’m sitting in a machine shop right now and they’d love to meet him.
I think the challenge your husband has, in general, is that these manufacturing companies are exceptionally bad at hiring (even considering how bad most companies are at hiring) so they’ve outsourced the job to staffing agencies, thus your husband’s experience. That said, what I know that is in our region, your husband’s experience is valued and he’d be imminently hireable around here.
Thanks Annette – we’re on the other side of the Lake. :) in Michigan.
And yes, unfortunately a LOT of the companies around here (Grand Rapids/Holland/Muskegon area) use staffing agencies to fill their vacancies. I get it – it probably costs them less since they don’t have to pay for benefits for the employee while they are “temporary”, etc. But I remember the days when HELP WANTED ads were posted by the actual employers, not Manpower-type companies, which are now a dime a dozen it seems. Half the time when my husband talks to a person at the staffing agency about an opening they have somewhere, the recruiter has no CLUE about his industry and what the difference is between a lathe operator and a mill operator. Argh!
Thanks Annette, Marilyn, and Nick for your replies. :)
My husband actually started a new job just yesterday at a small shop that was started by a guy who used to work at a previous employer of his, and he left that company to open his own machine shop. So my husband went over there and dropped off his resume and got an interview the following week (week of Xmas), and the week after that they made him an offer.
@Maria – So glad to hear that, sounds like the way it should work! I bet that’s a huge amount of stress relieved from your family. Wishing the best to your husband!
@Marla: Annette and Marilyn are both right. Age discrimination is real and online job forms facilitate it while hiding it. However, it’s not just age discrimination. The automation of hiring hurts everyone — not just older workers.
Some think my advice is only for “professionals” or managers or executives. It’s for everyone. I’ve seen blood lab technicians, admin assistants, mechanics use it to good effect. The basic idea is, don’t rely on job postings anywhere. Pick places where you want to work, invest time to find people who work there or know the company, and get introduced to employees and managers. Don’t ask for a job. Ask about the business. Make a friend. That’s how managers really hire.
@Marla: This behavior is prevalent in the professional fields as well as the trades. It is age discrimination . . . no question. However, let’s hope that you and Annette can get something done without dealing with the current crazy process. :)
Are you saying us over 30s need to go to a university’s career day to get a job? What is wrong with society?
Most of the information shared and tall claims made about services rendered through internet have nearly always been false and now your blog on job boards adds yet another candidate to the list. I think there is still a long way to go before job boards end up providing the services they claim to provide.