www.asktheheadhunter.com | January 9, 2007
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CareerBuilder is for dopes

You recommend against using the big job boards to find a job. But one of the biggest job boards, CareerBuilder, was acquired by several big newspaper chains that feed in jobs from their own newspapers. Don't you think that puts CareerBuilder on another level?

Nick's Reply
Quite the contrary. CareerBuilder is as stupid a way to find a job as it ever was. My opinions and analysis about CareerBuilder have not changed and have always been public. But this topic deserves a refresher column, so let's talk about it.

Let's start with proof positive that CareerBuilder is not in the business of helping anyone find a job, or helping companies hire the right people. Please read the company's mission statement:

"We are changing the way companies around the world recruit their most important asset: their people. Our mission is to be the global leader in online recruitment advertising by being an employee-driven, customer-focused organization that provides the best rate of return to our shareholders."

Read that again, more carefully. It could not be more clear. There is no commitment about matching people with jobs. The company's mission is to sell advertising and take care of its shareholders. There's nothing wrong with that. But if you're a job hunter or employer who needs to land a job or fill one, consider this mission statement a disclaimer. CareerBuilder is not in the business of matching people with jobs. It is a marketing and advertising company that uses trivial data base methods to make money from naive job hunters and employers. And it succeeds: corporate America and job hunters fork over millions of dollars each year to play on this weighted roulette wheel.

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(Before you read further, try this reality check. Jot down your estimate of what percentage of their hires companies make through CareerBuilder. I'll reveal the answer later.)

Mindless marketing
Let's look at why you'd be wasting your time if you were to use CareerBuilder. First, CareerBuilder doesn't give a rat's batootie about who you are, what you can do, or what would constitute a reasonable candidate-job match. I'll offer you this evidence. A couple of months ago, CareerBuilder's business development manager sent me a solicitation, requesting that Ask The Headhunter partner with CareerBuilder to promote its services to my readers. (Read it here.) Now, as I said, my position on CareerBuilder and job boards has been public for a long time -- it's evident throughout my web site. I am not the company's friend.

Clearly, the business development manager is clueless about who I am, what Ask The Headhunter is, and what might constitute a healthy business match. To me, that means he and his company are just as clueless when it comes to helping you find a job or fill a job. Their methods reveal a pathetic and mindless approach to both business development and "online recruitment."

Pay to play
The second reason you'd be wasting your time is that CareerBuilder admittedly takes payoffs from job hunters to put them "toward the top of the list to be seen FIRST by employers!" For $100, the Platinum resume "upgrade" will make your resume 58% more visible.

"Each Resume Upgrade level will give your resume increased visibility in our database. The higher the level, the more visible your resume will be to employers searching for candidates like you!" (Click here for source.)

For $150, you can get the Titanium upgrade, which will further "increase your relevancy score within our database, and therefore move your resume up in the listings. The higher the level you purchase, the higher your relevancy score!" In exchange for these payments, your resume is both "highlighted with a gold bar and a bold resume title" and given a higher "relevancy score" when employers search the data base for resumes. In other words, it isn't about being a good candidate. It's about being one of the first on the list -- and paying for the position. If that appeals to your clever nature, consider that you are competing with people who paid for upgrades, and that you might get an interview with a personnel jockey who doesn't want to read very far down the list. Such an ilk deserves its own company.

Odds are... you've been played for a dope...
But the main reason you'd be wasting your time with CareerBuilder is that it doesn't work well. None of the big job boards publish (or claim to track) success rates -- that is, your odds of finding or filling a job by using them. A recruitment consulting firm, CareerXroads.com, offers the closest thing to real data that are gathered about success rates. According to that firm's 2005 report, companies that contract with CareerBuilder find about 2% of their hires through that job board. That's not a typo. 2%. (How'd you do on that reality check?)

There is nothing illegal about selling snake oil, especially if you make no claims that it works. But there is something wrong with employers that spend millions of dollars on vendors like CareerBuilder, Monster, and HotJobs, and with job hunters who "pay to play." What makes me laugh harder than the idiotic solicitation I got from CareerBuilder is the company's pitch to job hunters for its "resume upgrades": "There are over 20 million resumes in our database... how will you be noticed?" Just how high up in that massive data base is $150 going to get you? Three-card Monte, anyone?

CareerBuilder is owned by the three biggest newspaper chains in the U.S.: Gannett, Tribune Company, and McClatchy Company. So perhaps it's understandable that you assume it's a useful service. But while these publishers sell "editorial integrity" on their front pages, they sell out their readers and advertisers on their back pages. Think about that the next time you read the news.

Armchair recruiting: A waste of time, a waste of money
If you're going to use job ads, look at the small independent newspapers and at local and niche web sites. Some of their job and resume boards may be no better than the big boards, but the good ones focus on local jobs and also provide relevant business articles that can give you an edge as you research and select good target companies. Reports also suggest that print ads perform better than online job ads. That's no surprise. Print ads cost more.

Why do otherwise-savvy job hunters even consider using services like CareerBuilder? Because employers promote and prop them up. Companies need to get their heads out of the sand, and their boards of directors need to take an axe to wasteful recruitment spending. Stockholders should be squawking. Any human resources department that is paying for resumes from CareerBuilder and its ilk should be shuttered and boarded up. Recruiters need to get off their duffs and go spend face time in the professional communities from which they recruit, or get out of the business. CareerBuilder, Monster, HotJobs -- they're for dopes.

Nick Corcodilos
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