why job boards don't work

Here’s a thought. Next time you have an opening, don’t publish it on a job board. I MUST BE CRAZY! Or maybe not. Hear me out why job boards don’t work?

What have we done ’til now?

We have posted jobs to hundreds of job boards. A lot of the new job boards are pretty neat though! We see applicants start rolling in. We solicit referrals and maybe source a few people if the situation demands it. I call it the reactive way — where the thinking hard about what kind of a candidate we want starts after the candidates start rolling in.

Imagine what would happen if we turned the whole process around and first laid out exactly what we want. The first thing we do is figure out — like really figure out, the kind of candidate we want. Maybe even use a candidate persona before we start sourcing candidates.

There is an acute scarcity of talent out there. The really great people are already sitting somewhere and doing great work- passive candidates can be a gold mine. They probably don’t hang out on legacy job boards anymore. And by not reaching out to them, we are not even dipping our toes in the best waters! Sure there are a few amazing candidates who come to you via job boards but those are the exceptions, not the rule.

Show me the numbers

In a hypothetical world, if you were only relying on applicants, to hire one person, you would need 100 applicants. If you are only sourcing, you would probably need around 20 sourced candidates and if you were taking in only referrals, you would need close to 10 candidates to make one hire.

However, we use job boards because they help us get to that number faster right? It creates a false sense of security that you are reaching out to a great number of candidates to fill your pipeline and will land on a perfect unicorn at some point. 

Let’s take a hypothetical role that you need to fill. Let’s say it’s a great tech startup that started 5 years ago and raised series B funding and needs a new product manager. You have three options. Post jobs to generic job boards (i.e. Monster, Indeed, CareerBuilder, etc.). You will have one call screen and two rounds of three interviews each. Here’s how you are going to spend your time in each of the ways.

The reactive way v the proactive way

You are going to end up spending 138 hours not counting the time you might spend coordinating schedules and interviews.

On the other hand, when you only source candidates, it takes only 20 candidates to hire one person. Most importantly, all of these candidates are highly qualified because before you reached out to them, you had a look at their profile and if you have a decent grip on your organization’s needs, all of these people are highly qualified for the job.

Also, check What is Proactive Recruitment?

To get to 20 candidates, you will have to reach out to 200 candidates(if you do normal email/inmail campaigns) or only 60 candidates if you are using drip email sequences (hattip: You can use Recruiterflow to source candidates, find email ids and run campaigns seamlessly). It takes exactly 6 minutes to find a candidate and reach out to them with a super personalized email. (Yup, I counted!)

You will phone screen all 20 of them, maybe interview 15 of them in the first round and 12 of them in the second round. Overall time spend would be 60.75 hours of interviewing! You just saved more than 50% of your leadership team’s time interviewing candidates.

Sourcing candidates can save more than 50% of your interviewing time and thus it is worth the extra time and effort.

 The problem with proactive recruitment…

While you may say that it is the recruiter’s job to make sure that only the most qualified applicants get ahead in the recruitment process. It is extremely hard to do this in a usual business environment. Recruiters face pressure from the hiring team to get more qualified candidates in the pipeline and very soon settle in the comparison mode instead of the evaluation mode. Out of 100 applicants, it is just so easy to pick the top 50 or 60 candidates among them and get started with the interview process. It takes a huge amount of discipline and determination to make it work.

How to align your team to this goal

Most recruitment teams focus on the number of candidates applied/sourced, number of interviews, candidate dropoff rate, and offer rejection rate. However, if you want to help your team become super effective; make an interview-to-hire ratio your top priority (Thanks Virginia for this suggestion). That will align your recruitment team to not just push more candidates in the pipeline but push fewer but really awesome candidates through the pipeline.

A case in point

The world’s third largest charting company- Fusioncharts (loyal users of RecruitlerFlow) has recently embarked on an ambitious expansion plan and was struggling to hire fast enough to meet its goal. With their extremely high hiring bar, it wasn’t easy to find great people in a hyper-competitive market and that’s when they turned to proactive sourcing. Instead of publishing their openings everywhere, they stuck with their own careers site and LinkedIn. The team got heavily involved in sourcing the right candidates and they saw their time to hire drop by 40% and time spent interviewing drop by 60%!

So the next time you are hiring for an important role, maybe ditch the job boards and go the proactive way. It’s worth an experiment!

The article was originally published on the Socialtalent blog

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