You don’t have to look far to find complaints about the job boards, including LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter and the rest. I’ve seen some ridiculous claims about how many jobs these websites actually fill, but nothing scientific. Has the government tried to rein these guys in? Has there been any attempt to regulate the job boards?
A quick search for “job board success rates” turns up nothing those boards can be proud of. At best, you’ll find loads of criticism about job boards. Several years ago, for a column I was writing for PBS NewsHour, I interviewed CareerBuilder. A spokesperson claimed the job board filled almost half of all jobs in the U.S. but no, she could not show me any data. Around the same time Indeed claimed 65% of hires. I’m still laughing.
“An applicant who applied directly from a company careers page was 23 times more likely to be hired than an applicant from a job board.”
“An applicant who applied from a referral was 85 times more likely to be hired than an applicant from a job board.”
When I hear that boards are helpful, it seems to be mainly freelancers and contractors (that don’t want permanent jobs) that defend them.
What are job boards good at? Producing job applications — up to 88% of them. The “job boards produce quantity,” reports CareerPlug, “but not always quality.” Virtually every study I’ve encountered concludes other sources of hires are dramatically more productive. More applications don’t yield more hires. The job boards are simply delivering more wrong candidates and more wrong job “matches.”
So, why do the job boards dominate the employment system and suck up the bulk of recruiting dollars? I think it’s simply because they are not regulated.
Time to regulate the job boards?
It’s long past time the federal government properly investigated this database industry — because it’s not a recruiting industry. It’s an amalgam of database jockeys and marketers producing and hawking software that fails epically at recruiting because it does little more than keyword matching. No job board I’ve encountered seems to understand the rudiments of recruiting.
What should be regulated? I’d settle, to start, for basic disclosures.
Require from all job boards:
Outcomes Analysis: Show us the success rates for job hunters and employers that use a job board.
Substantiate the marketing claims: Show us an audit trail for a job or resume posting.
Disclose the source of each job posting (employer, recruiter, another job board?).
Verify and certify that a job posting is real, and take down ones that are filled or canceled.
Publish the original job post date and fill date.
Disclose on each posting how many people have applied to date.
Publish flowcharts of processes behind every job board.
Disclose algorithms a board uses to make matches and rejections.
Disclose salaries for all posted jobs. (This is already required by law in some states.)
That’s just a start.
Where is job board regulation?
To answer your question, I don’t believe government agencies have ever really attempted to regulate the job boards. Oh, there are anti-discrimination laws, truth-in-advertising laws, and more recently salary disclosure laws, but there is scant oversight and regulation of the recruitment advertising business. The Federal Trade Commission has prosecuted some recruitment scammers, but enforcement is too little and too rare. Chasing one-off scams does nothing to address the major players that dominate how you look for jobs and how employers try to hire.
I’m not a fan of regulation for its own sake, but an important purpose of government is to protect consumers from misinformation and systemic deceit in business. Interview 100 job seekers about their experiences with job boards and you’ll find plenty of deceit to justify a federal investigation — and regulation.
Do you think job boards should be regulated? What disclosures do you want to see? What regulations do you believe are necessary? What misrepresentations and deceits have you encountered? Is there a way to regulate job boards into being truly effective?
Millions Are Out Of A Job. Yet Some Employers Wonder: Why Can’t I Find Workers?
Source: NPR Morning Edition By Kat Lonsdorf
At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed, businessman Bill Martin [who runs a medical plastics company] has a head-scratching problem: He’s got plenty of jobs but few people willing to take them. “I keep hearing about all the unemployed people,” Martin says. “I certainly can’t find any of those folks.”
His difficulties are putting a spotlight on a peculiar problem in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. Julia Pollak, a labor economist at employment recruitment site ZipRecruiter, says Martin is not alone in struggling to find workers. Most job seekers, she says, are looking for remote work. The problem is that those are not the jobs available right now.
“There’s this huge gap between the kinds of conditions under which people are prepared to work and the kinds of conditions that they actually find in the jobs that are available,” Pollak says. That is leading to a mismatch in filling jobs, and it’s contributing to the painful, slow recovery in jobs.
ZipRecruiter claims only 1 in 10 posted jobs provide the option of remote work — so that’s why you’re unemployed. It’s because you want only remote work. I dunno, maybe that’s true, and I don’t blame you if it is. But that’s why employers like Martin are scratching their heads. So the net is, there are loads of jobs going begging today.
What’s your take? Is this why you’re unemployed? Would COVID pay (like combat pay) change your mind? Better protection against infection? On-site testing? Or is there something else that’s keeping you unemployed?
For a flat fee, an employer that’s hiring can get over 9 million resumes from ZipRecruiter. That’s great news, because with unemployment in the U.S. at record lows (3.7% in July 2019), employers need more job applicants!
Not. Actually, employers are drowning in resumes and job applicants.
“In 2018, hiring managers took 33 days to make an offer after interviewing a candidate. That’s an 84 percent increase compared to 2010. The extended timeframe led to a 16 percent reduction in accepted offers.”
What changed in 8 years? An employer can get over 9 million resumes for a few bucks.
And you wonder why hiring managers take forever to decide whether to hire you? More jobs stay vacant longer because HR and hiring managers are so overwhelmed with wrong job applicants that they can’t decide who are the good ones.
What hiring slow-down means to job seekers
You need to account for poor management when you interview for a job.
You should avoid the cattle call of the job boards.
A company’s best hope for finding and hiring great workers is its own managers, because they know the work best
HR (Human Resources) may be a close second — when HR actually goes out to look for and recruit workers.
But ZipRecruiter, Indeed, LinkedIn and a league of database companies have succeeded in killing HR’s recruiting role — and the initiative of hiring managers.
Stripped of the function that once gave HR bragging rights for a company’s most competitive advantage — hiring great workers — HR now serves as little more than the fire hose that overwhelms companies with millions of inappropriate incoming job applications, and as the spigot that pours billions of corporate dollars into the pockets of database jockeys who know nothing about matching real people to real jobs.
Killing HR in 30 seconds
This is what the wildly successful marketing campaign to kill HR looks like:
This commercial — and others like it — have literally killed recruiting because they have replaced it in employers’ minds with a substitute that has no nutritional value.
Here’s how an HR vice president with a Fortune 50 company put it to me when the online “recruiting” industry first launched its brainwashing campaign:
“Executives from the online job boards wine and dine our top executives so relentlessly that virtually every dime of our recruiting budget now goes directly to them. I can’t get a few bucks any more to take a candidate to dinner to actually recruit them!”
A massive marketing campaign driven by database jockeys has replaced people — workers, job seekers, the actual talent — with automated streams of keywords and database records. Employers have de-funded real recruiting to the point where the task no longer has anything to do with actively pursuing, seducing, cajoling, convincing the best people to join your company.
A powerful, long-running marketing campaign has successfully sold the idea that “recruiting” no longer requires talent to do it, like other jobs require talent. “Recruiting” is now the automated churning and turning of databases. (See Job boards say they fill most jobs. Employer says “LMAO!”)
How can a 30-second commercial kill an entire profession?
The insecurity of HR
The success of this campaign to automate recruiting and bury HR is due not only to its persistence, but to the acquiescence of the HR profession itself.
With few notable exceptions, HR executives and professional associations across the board have slit HR’s throat and outsourced HR’s key job to database jockeys who have wowed them with “high tech solutions.” The HR profession as a whole was never very secure in the C-suite, and never very bright, so it folded quickly when fast-talking salespeople embarrassed its leaders with big terms like “algorithm” and “database” and “intelligent agents” and “semantic processing” — terms so misapplied and misconstrued in the HR context that they are laughable.
Loathe to admit their ignorance, HR leaders feigned excitement while their “HR consultant” brethren fed them white papers about the newest “best practices” that should be “implemented in software” immediately. (See HR Technology: Terrorizing the candidates.)
So, HR arrived fully brainwashed into a new era and promptly ran the talent ship aground in the shoals of the job boards, taking big parts of the economy down with it.
The brainwashing of HR
TV commercials like the one above from ZipRecruiter pound four dangerous ideas into the heads of corporate leaders, HR executives and hiring managers.
Recruiting and hiring are nasty work nobody wants to do.
Recruiting and hiring are very difficult tasks.
Nobody is good at recruiting and hiring.
ZipRecruiter (and Indeed and LinkedIn and other database companies) will do it for you if you pay them.
The trouble is, none of that is true. Those are some of the most dangerous lies ever created by marketing copy writers.
Count the lies
Recruiting and hiring are mission-critical tasks best done by you and your company — face-to-face, not by diddling a keyboard to pay a middle man who pretends to do it for you. Recruiting and hiring are so critical to your company’s mission that leaving them to firms that have no skin in the game is not only irresponsible — it’s an insane fool’s errand.
So, is it insanity or foolishness that leads employers and their HR departments to buy what the database jockeys sell under the guise of “recruiting?”
Please watch the commercial above. It’s short — 30 seconds. Here’s what the guy says:
“Hiring was always always a huge challenge. Endless hours on job sites with not a lot to show for it. Then, I found ZipRecruiter. They figured out hiring. I post my job. They put it all over the web. And they send me the right people. Because their technology is smart. ZipRecruiter often sends me the right person in 24 hours.”
Count the lies.
1. “Hiring was always always a huge challenge.”
The truth: Hiring is your job; your number-one job. When ZipRecruiter characterizes hiring as something “huge” — something beyond you and your company — Zip disparages you and insults you. It also convinces you that the most important part of your job is a problem you should unload.
2. “Endless hours on job sites with not a lot to show for it.”
The truth: If you’re spending endless hours on job sites, diddling databases, and sorting keywords, then I guarantee you have nothing to show for it — because that’s not where hires come from.
But that’s what ZipRecruiter sells — databases and keywords!
Zip, Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn and countless others of their ilk sell an excuse for not recruiting and hiring.
If you want something to show for your recruiting efforts, invest your time participating actively in your professional community, cultivating and meeting the movers and shakers and opinion makers who know all the best workers. Share valuable experiences with your peers and they will lead you to great people you can hire. No one ever wasted their time talking with peers.
3. “Then, I found ZipRecruiter. They figured out hiring.”
The truth: This is the biggest lie. ZipRecruiter and its ilk have not figured out hiring. They figured out their own business plan: how to make money.
The marketing trick is to convince you they are on your side, helping you do your job. But spend 10 seconds thinking about the business model behind these operations and you will see the blinding flash of the obvious:
These companies make money when you do not fill jobs.
They make money when you keep searching their databases looking for hires.
If ZipRecruiter had figured out hiring, its home page and its marketing would blare out audited metrics about employers’ success rates when they pay Zip for lists of job seekers. But that’s not what Zip has figured out, and it’s not what Zip is selling you or what you’re paying for.
Here’s what ZipRecruiter blares out on its website — this is what your company is paying for:
ZipRecruiter makes money when you keep paying for job applications — not when you fill jobs. I can find no metrics on Zip’s website and no evidence that ZipRecruiter has “figured out hiring.”
If you work in HR and this strikes you as an unreasonable criticism, call me when ZipRecruiter starts charging you only for the applicants you actually hire.
4. “I post my job. They put it all over the web.”
The truth: If you work in HR, or if you’re a hiring manager — you know, one of those people who pays ZipRecruiter to deliver millions of candidate applications — you can put your job posting all over the web yourself. While it’s true Zip does that, too, you don’t need it. The secret sauce of the web is that it’s designed so anyone can find anyone else easily.
Why would any HR manager with a brain want their job opening posted “all over the web?” What you get for that is 49,106,149 candidate applications. Is that what you really want? Because more is not better. Perhaps the single biggest talent problem HR faces today is overload. Having access to every resume on the planet — but no way to find actual people — has resulted in a kind of catatonia that HR executives disingenuously refer to as “the talent shortage.”
5. “And they send me the right people.”
The truth: ZipRecruiter makes no claims about how often it sends employers “the right people.” That’s left to the actor playing the restaurant owner in the commercial.
Let’s do a reality check. Not to pick on ZipRecruiter alone, let’s check another major “online recruiting service,” Jobvite.
In an April 4, 2018 press release Jobvite “announced that it has surpassed one million jobs filled, with 270,000 hires in 2017 alone.” Then it claims, “Nearly 54 million jobseekers [sic] visited a Jobvite-powered hiring website in the past year.”
We’re looking for success metrics. Do the math. 270,000/54 million is 0.5% — a one-half of one percent success rate for job seekers. While one might argue that there cannot possibly be a job for every job seeker, the more evident problem is that a robustly designed system should not indiscriminately snort 53,730,000 job seekers just so it can spit out a fraction of 1% into jobs.
Finding the best people to recruit is not a database problem.
Hiring is not a database problem.
Let’s do another reality check. ZipRecruiter claims it has “over 8 million jobs.” The U.S. Department of Labor reported on June 5, 2018 that there were only 6.7 million jobs available during the month of April. Ask any job seeker — they already know something is very wrong with all those job postings.
Let’s ask the restaurateur, just who are the “right people” for 1.3 million non-existent jobs?
6. “Because their technology is smart.”
The truth: The manager in the commercial closes his laptop after apparently posting a job.
How has ZipRecruiter solved his “huge challenge” of hiring so quickly? How has Zip made it so easy for him to find talent?
It’s frighteningly stupid. Zip has eliminated the very best filters in the hiring process. Zip has cut out all the humans with specialized training in Human Resources, Engineering, Finance, the restaurant business, and a multitude of other professional disciplines — all the humans who are qualified to judge the myriad qualities that make the best candidate special. None of them are needed in this business model. Zip has made it all easier by replacing expert judgment with recruiting technology so trivial it has generated a false talent shortage.
Yep, the truth is, all you folks in HR are superfluous. All your company needs is someone in Accounting to make an automatic payment to ZipRecruiter, Jobvite, and any of the other databases loaded with millions of job seekers. (See HR’s submission to ZipRecruiter.)
Ask any job seeker. They’ll tell you they feel like a drop of water in a fire hose turned on employers — one of the 49,106,149 applicants delivered in the sales pitch Zip makes to employers.
Except when Zip promises just the one right person, delivered the same day.
7. “ZipRecruiter often sends me the right person in 24 hours.”
The truth: ZipRecruiter doesn’t dare tell you just how often the woman in the video — who just waltzed into the restaurant — gets hired. (The marketing magic implies she gets hired instantly, the first time.)
Zip offers no success-rate metrics (audited or otherwise) about hiring or getting hired. The guy in the commercial does that.
ZipRecruiter CEO Ian Siegel has raised tens of millions of dollars in venture funding for his company (see recode), valuing it at close to $1 billion. While he offers no explanation on his website about how he finds jobs for people — or how he fills jobs for employers that pay him to deliver tens of millions of job applications — he says he wakes up every day thinking about it.
I think he wakes up each day counting the HR departments he has laid to rest while their recruiting budgets have been redirected to his coffers. I’d like to introduce him to the former HR executive who told me, “I can’t get a few bucks any more to take a candidate to dinner to actually recruit them!”
If Siegel and his ilk are to be recognized for anything, it’s for a business model that produces profits without results. They have designed marketing campaigns that have killed off HR and what was once known as recruiting.
They don’t make money when jobs are filled. They make money when you don’t fill jobs and don’t get hired. Their business model requires that you keep paying to search their databases.
If HR is going to be brought back to life, it has to remove its recruiting prosthetics, shake off the ZipRecruiters and Indeeds that are sucking its blood, and flex its hiring muscles again. A company’s best hope for finding and hiring great workers is its own managers and a healthy, robust HR department.
I just showed you a TV commercial that I think undermines and insults HR professionals, hiring managers and business owners by trivializing one of the most critical tasks in any business — hiring. But ZipRecruiter is not alone. We’ve discussed the stunning failures of Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder and TheLadders, among others.
Here’s another example of a commercial that kills HR — from Indeed. Can you find the holes in this “#1 job site” and explain to us how the commercial corrupts HR and undermines effective recruiting, hiring and job hunting? Or am I unreasonable and nuts?
Is HR really dead? Is real recruiting a dead art? Are these commercials a marketing plot to undermine the hiring process so database jockeys can profit from the resulting mess? Maybe you think our modern hiring systems are just fine. If you think some other bugaboo makes it unreasonably hard to hire and get hired, please tell us what it is.
Just how much can ZipRecruiter insult its HR customers and still get their business? And how many arm’s lengths away from federal employment law violations can employers get?
HR: We pay ZipRecruiter to insult us
ZipRecruiter, a venture-funded, privately held company, markets itself to employers as “The Fastest Way to Hire Great People.” It lets HR departments “Post to 100+ Job Boards with One Submission.”
What’s so insulting about that? In a long-running Bloomberg radio ad, ZipRecruiter features an employer who says:
“Hiring people is probably the worst part of my job. It’s such a hassle — the searching. The sorting through resumes.”
Man, doing HR work really sucks. Is that an HR manager grousing? Or maybe it’s a hiring manager? Imagine a sales rep at your company complaining about what a hassle it is to sell.
HR executives ponied up over $100 million in 2016 to ZipRecruiter for help filling jobs so Zip could cast them as dopes who hate the most important part of their work — recruiting and hiring talent. That’s submission.
According to USA Today, “Zip makes most of its money by charging $249 monthly to employers to post [their job] listings.” That’s a lot of job ads. That’s a lot of passing the buck.
What’s it like when the vendor you rely on to do your job for you blares to the world that your job is one big bother? Do HR execs love being insulted? Well, they keep paying for it. “Revenue is up 270% since 2013,” says USA Today.
HR seems to love being abused.
“We started using ZipRecruiter about 3 months ago. Right from the start you could tell it was going to make hiring a lot easier.”
HR also loves getting millions of job applications that no human ever needs to touch. Candidates “roll in.”
“One click and my job was posted to 100+ job boards — all the top sites.”
One click and a job is sprayed all over kingdom come. Says one job seeker:
“I heard an advertisement for ZipRecruiter on the radio. In short, you can post a job on this site and it simultaneously posts it on other job boards and social media outlets. Does HR really need that many applications? Especially in these times?”
The challenge is not picking good hires. The challenge is wiping away the mess of unemployed lemmings dying for interviews. Who needs to learn how to recruit when you can have “all of the candidates” from all of the job boards in your “dashboard”?
What do you do with them?
“All of the candidates came to my dashboard and it’s easy to compare them. Thumbs up if I liked them, thumbs down if I didn’t. No e-mails and attachments, printing up docs, phone calls, none of that.”
Imagine: None of that. No “docs” — no resumes, no application forms. No communications with applicants — “no e-mails, attachments… phone calls…” Nada. 100% keywords, no humans need apply. And HR can go home.
Zip takes care of everything — including turning job applicants into your own private digital beauty pageant.
Except really ugly stuff happens in beauty pageants when there’s no regulation. And while some venture-funded firm sucks up the profits, humans submit and are sent home to clean themselves up for the next opportunity.
What job seekers are saying about ZipRecruiter
While ZipRecruiter’s investors are cleaning up, job seekers are left drowning in the mess.
One job seeker says it for many:
“My Gmail inbox is littered with e-mails from ZipRecruiter, Indeed.com, and others. It is so frustrating to go through the daily search and submission only to get the robo-e-mails from ‘Phil@ZipRecruiter.com’ — the Job Seeker Advocate — and similar messages from Indeed and others. Sometimes I think it’s all one big bizarre video game and I am the hapless mark helping to feed the Monster(.com?). At first, I viewed them hopefully, but now I see them as a part of a giant ruse.”
Another job seeker peals out:
“Things have changed too much for the worse. The old, tried and proven Agencies have gone to wayside and replaced with kids calling me…Saying, ‘Hey, I saw your resume on Indeed or Ziprecruiter or LinkedIn, etc.’ If you put enough monkeys in a room with keyboards eventually semblance of a word will be achieved. If this is how Americans get a decent job nowadays….OMG.”
And then it hits the fan.
H1-B Only: No Americans wanted
Employers operate in today’s “employment system” at arm’s length, enjoying seeming legal insulation by using “third-party” employers — known as consulting or contracting firms — to avoid violating labor laws. And these third-party firms in turn use services like ZipRecruiter to “recruit” at arm’s length while pretending they have no idea that the machine is cranking out Soylent Green.
Now here’s the backlash employers have exposed themselves to. My good buddy Suzanne Lucas, aka The EvilHRLady, just reported that the veil has been “accidentally” parted to reveal what’s really going on: legal violations.
What would you say to a job posting for a “Java Developer – H1-B Only?”
Lucas reported that Tara Jose, the president of ATC, said, “a third-party vendor recently used language when posting an advertisement on our behalf that was inappropriate and absolutely unacceptable to American Technology Consulting.”
Uh, “a third-party vendor?” (By press time Ms. Jose had not responded to an e-mail query for details.)
Jose told Lucas that her firm “did not write, condone, or authorize this language in the ad.”
So who wrote and authorized it? (An e-mail to Jose well before press time yielded no response.) More important, this ad is on ZipRecruiter. And as Lucas points out, it’s illegal. Possibly twice.
Was this an accident?
Is this accidentally at arm’s-length illegal?
When we were kids we’d walk up to a buddy, smack him, and chortle, “Sorry! I did it accidentally on purpose!” After we got smacked back a few times, we learned you can’t do that and get away with it. But in today’s employment industry, you can.
A company wants to hire Java developers on the cheap. As Lucas points out, it’s illegal to misuse the H1-B visa program to hire foreign labor cheaper than American labor.
But, can you “hire” a consultant from a “consulting” firm that in turn uses “a third-party vendor” that finds the Java developer by posting an illegal “H1-B Only” ad on ZipRecruiter — an ad that’s not written, condoned or authorized by the consulting firm? And besides, ZipRecruiter’s written policy says all ads must follow the law.
How many arm’s lengths from the l-o-n-g arm of the law are we now? Was that ad an accident? A one-off mistake?
Chatting with ZipRecruiter
I opened a chat with ZipRecruiter. Here’s what they told me.
The chat with Jason timed out. So I asked Taylor.
Is this accidentally on purpose?
I could have ended the chat there and we could have had an ad just like ATC had. But I kept asking the question in different ways. Finally, I was told it was up to me to make sure my job posting complied with “OFCCP and EEOC regulations.”
But here it was, three days after the Inc. article appeared, and on one screen I was chatting with ZipRecruiter and on another I was looking at that “H1-B Only” job posting — it was still there. The fastest way to hire H1-B Java Developers.
Sometimes Zip can also be the fastest way to scam people: Job seekers on ZipRecruiter being targeted by scams via email and text. Zip’s representatives blame it on “the front-end” and “the back-end.” But that’s just how the employment industry works — nobody’s fault. It’s all accidental: “No system is perfect, no matter how sophisticated or well intentioned,” says Zip.
Is this accidentally on purpose?
Are American employers using services that are largely unregulated to manipulate the job market? I don’t think there’s any doubt.
While state and federal legislatures feign interest in equal pay and equal opportunity, they condone a seemingly l-o-n-g arm’s-length chain of “contracting” relationships that seem to add no value to America’s employment system. How many middlemen can collect a fee to put you in a job working for someone other than who signs your paycheck?
Notable companies that trade in profitable key words, profiles, resumes, and job postings are the front-facing businesses that are highly admired by a stock market that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about who’s getting a job, who they actually “work” for, where they came from, and who’s getting screwed by salaries that are manipulated in an international game of “How low can you go?”
Far from some of the transparently political H1-B conspiracy mongering that’s become the click-bait of the blog world, Brustein takes us on a wild tour that exposes the systematic manipulation of the job market being practiced and vaunted as a laudable “industry.” These are the consulting and contacting companies, and the slimy job boards, that big tech firms hide behind.
“Contractors are also submitting many applications for foreign visas for work at other large American technology companies, according to a recent analysis of Department of Labor records covering eight major tech businesses between October 2015 and October 2016. Applications submitted by contractors accounted for half of the H-1B visa applications for jobs at PayPal Holdings Inc.’s headquarters, 43 percent of those on Microsoft Corp.’s campus, 29 percent at EBay Inc.’s headquarters, and about a quarter of those at the Googleplex.”
Brustein outlines the work of one researcher who “found that American tech companies are also utilizing large numbers of H-1B workers that are not highly skilled — they are just doing it through intermediaries.”
Do you need a pedestrian Java programmer — but prefer a lower-cost “H1-B Only” variety? Someone’s willing to write an “unauthorized” and illegal job ad for you under yet someone else’s name — but nobody knows who exactly we’re talking about. But we know where to find that ad — it’s posted on an intermediary. Or, as ZipRecruiter’s crack marketing team likes to say: “All candidates in one place.”
LinkedIn? Indeed? ZipRecruiter? The applicants just roll into your dashboard, and they answer your secret questions before you have to interview them. How’s that for arm’s-length?
No “docs” — no resumes, no application forms. No communications with applicants — “no e-mails, attachments… phone calls…” Nada. 100% keywords, no humans need apply. No need for HR.
And the candidates? Scrub ’em up and get ’em ready.
ZipRecruiter says job postings must follow the law. ZipRecruiter says you can post jobs for foreign applicants only. An “H1-B Only” ad appeared for a reason — somebody approved it. Who? Nobody knows.
The impact on pay is dramatic. Bloomberg’s Brustein makes it clear. Businesses use H1-B to save money. Imagine you could tell your board of directors you’ve cut your costs by a third. Well, now you can.
“They paid an average of $88,500, which is about two-thirds the average salary for visa applications for jobs the companies submitted directly.”
“Hiring people is probably the worst part of my job. It’s such a hassle — the searching. The sorting through resumes. We started using ZipRecruiter about 3 months ago. Right from the start you could tell it was going to make hiring a lot easier. One click and my job was posted to 100+ job boards — all the top sites.”
Who needs more regulating?
When a privately held company like ZipRecruiter can knock the HR profession entirely out of the recruiting and hiring process, and HR both swallows the insult and relinquishes its job entirely, it’s game over for job seekers, employees, and managers who actually produce value to create profit. (Should HR get out of the hiring business?)
When HR funds the radio ads that reduce the profession’s most important functions to “a hassle,” and ZipRecruiter’s representatives tell you in a chat that you can post jobs for “foreign applicants only” and for “H1-B Only,” none of this is an accident.
What needs more regulating? Employers and HR execs who let an industry of digital job-board pimps sell out American job hunters? Or vendors that insult and abuse them all the way to the bank? How many arm’s lengths away from federal employment-law violations can employers get?
Are we all nuts, or what? There’s an emperor running around buck naked, and the hue and cry is that there’s a shortage of clothes. Or is that a talent shortage? One click, and it’s all going to be a lot easier. You’ll just roll right into the dashboard head-first, and it’ll be no accident. It’s one great big submission. What do you think? What do we need to do to fix this?
Recent reports from the Federal Reserve suggest that switching jobs — and probably employers — is the best way to boost your salary and your career.
In this special edition, we’ll explore what the Federal Reserve doesn’t know about recruiters, and why you should stay away from recruiters who waste your time with been-there-done-that jobs and lower salaries.
Are recruiters killing careers and the economy?
The best recruiters and headhunters boost employers’ productivity by finding discounted talent and up-and-coming talent to fill jobs those people may not have done before. By stimulating capable job candidates with new, motivating career challenges, insightful recruiters help create value for an employer — and boost our economy.
But untrained, inept recruiters lack insight and foresight. They don’t bother to understand an employer’s future needs or a job candidate’s untapped potential. They look for quick and easy “perfect matches” turned up by automated recruiting algorithms. These keyboard jockeys do little but process resumes whose key words match key words in job descriptions. They add no value. They kill career growth and job productivity.
Inept recruiters far outnumber good ones, and that’s killing our economy. Companies aren’t filling jobs with the best hires. But the fault lies with employers themselves, and with Human Resources executives, who buy — hook, line and sinker, and at enormous cost — the reductionist job applicant sorting systems that drive hiring today. (See Why HR should get out of the hiring business.)
New research and analysis from Federal Reserve economists reveals a problem of mismatches between workers, salaries and productivity, but fails to identify and discuss the structural cause of the problem — counter-productive recruiting.
The mad rush to fill jobs mindlessly
With the Department of Labor reporting lower unemployment and increasingly scarce talent, employers are rushing to fill jobs by relying on methods that yield staggeringly low signal-to-noise ratios.
By design, these systems actively solicit as many applicants as possible for each job. (Consider the applicant funnel ZipRecruiter, which exhorts HR managers to post a job on “one hundred-plus job sites.”) The ease with which these systems enable and encourage job seekers to apply for any job in a mindless feeding frenzy contributes to understandably low yields. Then HR managers, who fail to realize that more is not better, claim to be shocked and cry “talent shortage.”
When matches are made, they’re often undesirable to the candidate. It’s a common complaint among Ask The Headhunter readers: Employers want to hire you for a job only if you’ve done that job for three, four or five years already — and they’ll often pay you less. Even when they offer you a raise, the job is usually a lateral move. It’s not a career opportunity or a chance for you to hone new skills — it’s just an easy database match.
This seems to be much more than a job-seeker frustration. According to economists reporting from several branches of the Federal Reserve, it may be one of the causes of inflation and lower productivity. (See Bloomberg Businessweek:Job Switchers Solve An Inflation Mystery.)
But the economists don’t attempt to explain why employers are making such short-sighted, self-defeating hiring decisions — and I think it’s because the problem is so pervasive that it’s invisible. Although job seekers have long been very vocal and angry about it, the backdrop of reductionist, rude, automated recruiting across America seems to be such a necessary evil that no one but the job seeker sees or questions it. (See HR Technology: Terrorizing the candidates.)
The compelling need to fill jobs obscures the importance of planning to hire strategically and wisely — not just to fill round holes with round pegs quickly. American companies seem unaware of their mad rush to fill jobs mindlessly, and economists seem content to accept the prevalent recruiting infrastructure without reviewing it, simply because employers are content to keep paying for it.
This seems to be what the Fed’s economists don’t know about recruiters and the job market.
The failure is on the front line
Job seekers report wasting enormous amounts of time today fielding fruitless recruiting inquiries and participating in interviews for the wrong jobs. The question arises:
Why do employers look for perfect matches between workers and jobs?
The assumptions behind this quixotic search are incorporated into the ads that candidate vendors like Indeed, LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter run constantly:
Employers must hire without training anyone or allowing time for a learning curve.
Perfect hires are best.
Talent can be had at a discount.
Employers don’t have time to find talent on their own.
Every job can be posted to “a hundred-plus” job boards instantly.
“Big data” makes perfect hiring possible.
More job applicants is better.
And so on.
These assumptions push employers head-long into automated recruiting. But when we start questioning those assumptions, we’re left with the boots on the ground that create the biggest constraint on hiring the best talent: Inept recruiters on the front line.
When complex factors make it difficult to suss out what triggers the choices business people make, I get lazy. Though I’m not a scientist, I was trained as one, and I find that even if a problem seems complicated, it’s best to start with the law of parsimony: The simplest explanation is probably the right one.
If employers had better recruiters, they’d hire better people, increase productivity and stimulate the economy.
Yet, an employer’s first contact with an engineer, a scientist, a software developer, a machinist, an accountant — anyone the employer needs to hire — is through a person who is probably the least likely to understand qualities and characteristics that make the candidate the best one for the employer. It’s a person least likely to understand the work and the job. Except in rare, wonderful cases where employers have very good recruiters, it’s an incompetent recruiter.
Because employers believe they now have “intelligent applicant systems” at their disposal, many (I think most) dispense with highly trained and skilled recruiters. Employers on the whole have unsophisticated, untrained recruiters who quickly eliminate the best candidates because they’re rewarded for making the easy choices, not the best ones.
The Federal Reserve connects the dots between talent, pay and productivity
Bet you’ve been waiting to see how the Fed fits into this. Let’s dive in.
The job boards say employers can hire the best talent for less money because their databases are bottomless and the perfect candidate is in there, if you just keep looking.
But the Federal Reserve says higher productivity coupled with better career opportunities and higher salaries is better for everyone — and for the economy.
“Labor economists… are increasingly studying how job-hopping Americans drive compensation gains and affect the traditional interplay of low unemployment, wage gains, and inflation.”
It turns out those economists are now focused on what we already know: The surest way to get a big salary boost is to change employers and stretch yourself.
Consider this handful of factoids and data cited by Bloomberg, from economists at the Chicago Fed, the Atlanta Fed, the New York Fed, and the St. Louis Fed:
“23 percent of employees are actively looking for another job on any given week, putting in four or five applications over a four-week period.”
“Employers are poaching workers, as 27 percent of offers to the employed are unsolicited.”
“Job switchers earned 4.3 percent more money in July 2016 than a year earlier, while people who remained in the same job enjoyed only a 3 percent increase.”
“The so-called quit rate, a favorite indicator of [Fed Chair Janet] Yellen that measures voluntary separations from an employer… has almost recovered to levels seen before the recession of 2007-2009.”
“Job-to-job changes and the threat of job-to-job mobility are strongly predictive of wage increases.”
“Job switching is ‘a good sign for the economy’ and ‘an indication of dynamism,’ according to the [Atlanta] Fed’s [President Dennis] Lockhart.”
And note this nugget of gold in the Bloomberg story:
“While [St. Louis Fed economist David] Wiczer said that the bulk of wage hikes occur from job switching, he cautioned that the gains are highly cyclical, as the median job switcher didn’t reap much of a salary increase during recessions.”
What this means to you: With the economy shifting from recession to inflation, your best bet to make more money today is to switch jobs. I’ll stick my neck out and say that my reading of the Fed analysis — and my own experience and reports from Ask Headhunter readers — is that that you also need to switch employers if you want that dramatic pay increase.
But you can and should optimize that bet by making sure the next job you take also enables you to be more productive. Of course, recruiters sabotage that objective almost daily when they solicit you for jobs that would set your career back five or ten years.
We already know that most recruiters love to stick you into a “new” job that’s not new at all. They don’t get paid to give you a chance at career development — or to help a manager hire for the future. They offer the same job you’ve been doing because you’re the least risky choice for them.
They pluck you from thousands of job applicants only when their database algorithms show that you’re already doing the exact job they’re trying to fill. There’s no need to train you. You will require no learning curve. You are the safest bet and, if you’re unemployed, the recruiter knows he can probably nab your desperate ass for less than you were earning at your last job because you need a job.
But that recruiter is dangerously naïve. The “perfect match” won’t increase productivity because you’re being plugged into the same job you were doing elsewhere, and your motivation is going to plummet along with your value.
Even if the new job pays more than your last one, this is a huge red flag for employers, warns Giuseppe Moscarini, a visiting scholar from Yale at the Philadelphia Fed:
“What we should worry about are wage raises for workers who stay on the same job and are not getting more productive.” [Bloomberg Businessweek]
Whether the “same job” is at the same employer or a new one, Moscarini suggests wage inflation without higher productivity seems to fuel inflation in the economy.
I don’t think employers or economists see the razor that’s cutting into productivity and economic growth. But it should be clear to any Ask The Headhunter reader.
It’s the recruiters.
Most recruiters look for an exact match of a resume to a list of key words in a job description. They’re not assessing job candidates to find value a competitor missed or the value an employer can leverage into higher productivity and profit over time. They tell managers to interview any candidates the automated recruiting system flashes on their displays.
Recruiters, who are an employer’s front line in the talent war, are generally not equipped to do their own jobs. They’re doomed to fail because they’re not really recruiting. They’re checking boxes on a database app. The result is hires that are less than optimally productive.
Job Seekers: Follow the money!
The Fed economists are offering job seekers and career-oriented workers a gift of tremendous insight, even if it seems obvious: Your smartest career move may be to switch jobs and employers.
Pursue only jobs that offer you substantially more money and require you to stretch your skills and capabilities — that is, to do more productive work that’s more profitable for you.
That strategy, they also suggest, may be best for employers and for the economy.
Smart workers don’t change jobs or employers without an opportunity to learn and develop new skills, to take on greater responsibility or authority, to stretch themselves — and to make more money. Those who accept been-there-done-that jobs do it reluctantly or because they feel they have no choice, especially if they’re unemployed.
The Fed tells us not only that lots (23%) of employees are actively looking for new jobs, but that competitors are trying to steal them away. Done for the right reasons and for the right opportunities, switching jobs and companies can pay off big. Employers give people who switch 40% higher raises than they give to people who stay where they are (4.3% vs. 3%).
So, follow the money. When a recruiter pitches you a re-run job for little or no extra money, suggest he go find a job he’s better at — because he’s not helping you or the employer. He could be killing your career and the economy. Has anyone told that to the Fed’s economists?
Did you get a better raise for staying in your job, or for switching out? What was the percentage? Did a recruiter move you into another same-old job, or help you advance your career? What’s your take on the Fed’s findings and conclusions?
Yeah, I know — it’s awkward to meet people to get a job. (It makes you cringe, right?) You’re in good company. And everybody in that company is wrong.
When I bring up making new personal contacts, everyone likes to excuse themselves by saying they just don’t have professional contacts, their old work buddies are long gone, no one can help them.
My answer is: Bunk.
It’s an excuse, my friend. We all learn to be lazy because we feel awkward reaching out to new people. You have to get over it.
Meeting people, making contacts, making new friends and talking shop is a skill. You learn it and practice it. (Please see I don’t know anybody.) If you don’t practice this important skill, you lose — and the job boards and online applications will not be your automated substitute for the 40-70% of jobs that are filled via personal contacts.
If you quietly fill out online job applications, you’re at the mercy of HR departments that process database records all day long while you wait for them to contact you. You already know that doesn’t work, so why do you keep pretending?
The only alternative is the one that has worked for centuries:
Personal Contacts: Go talk to people.
Meeting people to get introduced to hiring managers and new job opportunities makes sense. You know it does — but you just don’t want to think about it. I know it’s awkward for many people. So go into your bathroom, lock the door, look in the mirror. Smile at yourself for a few seconds, then scream at yourself:
PRETENDING A DATABASE IS GONNA FIND ME A JOB IS BUNK! I KNOW BETTER!
Those companies make more money when you can’t find a job and when employers can’t fill jobs. That’s how the employment industry works. It’s not how people get hired.
I’m not beating you up, just shaking you a bit. Please listen.
For more about making personal contacts, see “A Good Network Is A Circle of Friends” and “How to initiate insider contacts” in How Can I Change Careers? It’s not just for career changers — it’s for anyone who wants to stand out when applying for a job. Until Dec. 5, 2016, you can get 40% offany Ask The Headhunter PDF book — at checkout, use discount code=MERRYATH.