March 19, 2013

Please Stop Saying Things are Dead!

Girl giving the quiet sign with her finger and mouthIn the world of blogging, there is a thing called link bait. The point of link bait is to make easily digestible and sharable content, and, if you can’t do that, then create something controversial. Double bonus points if you can position it to sell your content. Finally, if all else fails, make a declarative statement like: “______ _______ are dead.”


Exhibit A:

Job Boards are dead: This post on Bullhorn Reach is just one example of how very many posts exist stating job boards are dead, but the reasons given rarely make sense.

So, what is causing the demise of the job board? To some, it appears LinkedIn is crushing job boards faster than job boards crushed the newspapers – why is that? I believe the speed of adoption of new solutions, like social media recruiting, is directly proportional to the ease of use, speed and effectiveness.

In the example above, several reasons are given for the demise of the job board, stating that social networks like LinkedIn (which IMHO, also has a job board component) have a bigger user base. While this may be true, it ignores that 20 percent of hires still come from job boards and there are many who still make the big job boards their first stop.

While it may appear to many that job boards are so passe, the truth is social networks will not replace them tomorrow, or even next year. Why? Because 56 percent of Americans have a social profile. That leaves (fast math,) 44 percent who don’t; and while many have social media profiles, not all of the 56 percent use those profiles for more than cat pictures and Farmville (yes, still).

Verdict: Job boards will not die. Not ever. The classified ad model is literally centuries old and that’s the model on which job boards are based. While social might augment it and advanced sourcing may drive additional candidates to it, whether that job ad is viewed on a mobile phone or at a video kiosk, the model remains the same. So just quit it.

Exhibit B:

Sourcing is dead. This one is a little more insidious. It’s easy to attack job boards because they are usually large, faceless companies. Sourcing, on the other hand, is the DIY part of talent acquisition, the science-y part of recruiting, performed by people, always. But in recent years, many tools have automated this work, using algorithms to find, score and scrape the data of potential candidates.

Dr. John Sullivan writes: “Finding top talent among professionals is now becoming painless to the point where almost any firm can do it successfully,” in a post on ERE that got a lot of attention. Irina Shamaeva wrote a post applying the same login Sullivan used to another field:

[1] [Fact.] By now there’s a variety of machinery that can identify, whether there are precious metals underneath the ground below any specific point (longitude, latitude), anywhere in Alaska.

[2] [Conclusion.] Because of [1], locating precious metals in Alaska is a simple matter of using this machinery. Anybody can do this.

[3] [Final Conclusion.] The only remaining problem is how to use those metals in manufacturing.

The point of the above is to say that no matter how precise the software, there are still uses for human intelligence in discerning, locating and assessing such resources. Sullivan states in his article (his is not the only one, just the most recent and visible) that finding talent is easy because everyone is visible online.

Verdict: Just…nope. As stated earlier, while many people might be visible online, that doesn’t mean they can easily be found, assessed and categorized. It’s simply not a statement of fact. And while sourcers from Shamaeva to Glenn Cathey have acquiesced that sourcing might be changing, it is far from its demise.

Exhibit C:

The resume is dead. This is the closest we’re coming to truth in this article. Several have mentioned that the resume might be dying because of LinkedIn profiles, one-click apply and various other social profiles that keep track of one’s experience, work history, job skills and professional connections. And to many in our industry, it makes a lot of sense. Blogger Rayanne Thorn states:

Think of how much technology has altered the state of business over the last five years. Do you use the same tools that you used five or ten years ago? I hope not. When was the last time you actually applied for a job through your own website or someone else’s? Have you tested the process to make sure it is clean, clear, and that an applicant isn’t getting worn out or feeling dejected by the process? How do you review a résumé? Are they a waste of time for you and do you rely more on the phone interview or first on-site? Do you follow the words on the paper, letting only those words guide your gut?

While the points are solid, I believe the perception is skewed by our industry. While many of us understand the lightning fast changes of the ATS world or social recruiting shifts, there are thousands more who plod along with inherited technology, legacy systems and a stubborn insistence on doing things the way they’ve always been done. It is these people who make the first two statements in this article ring false and they will not change in the next few years.

Verdict: Even in the cited article above, the author states that articles going back to 2007 have been saying the same thing. I predict they will be saying the same thing for years to come.

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Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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