The Job Exchange

Tapping Into The Hidden Job Market

An Open Letter to Human Resources Leadership

How Technology Has Destroyed the Recruiting Process


By relying on job boards and an Applicant Tracking System to select candidates, recruiters and hiring managers are missing out on the resumes of candidates best suited for an opening.


For the most part, job boards have remained essentially unchanged for the last 5-10 years. While their appearance and some functionality have been enhanced, the basic premise is the same: recruiters post a job, search for resumes, and candidates apply to job postings.


Years ago, when the early adopters were signing up for Monster in droves, they were helping to ensure that, in a relatively short amount of time, Monster and its competitors would run out of steam and, in the end, fail to adequately serve either party looking to take advantage of the recruiting technology and promised simplicity for speedy job and candidate searches.


Oh sure, back in their heyday, Monster, CareerBuilder, and Yahoo! Hotjobs were THE landing page for recruiters and job seekers alike. Then the aggregators arrived. Sites like FlipDog, Indeed, SimplyHired, and DirectEmployers showed great promise by simplifying the job search down to just a handful of sites, rather than the need for a job seeker to directly visit dozens of boards and/or company career sites. While it simplified the search itself, it did nothing to improve the end result for job seekers, as the URL at an aggregator’s site brings job seekers to the same dead end they now find themselves at: the dreaded Resume Black Hole.


Conversely, applicants have set up search agents that automatically submit their resumes for positions matching keywords that THEY have selected. Now we have software applications talking to each other–or past each other–without human intervention that will determine if, in fact, a potential match exists.


So, we have seen the future, and it is not about technology. At least in part, because the advantages of using this technology have all but disappeared.


Staffing Efficiency?

While recruiters say they are overwhelmed with resumes and applications, job seekers complain (rightly) that they hit a dead end or brick wall once they apply for a position through a job board or company web site.


This, unfortunately, is the flawed evolution of recruiting. If HR managers or recruiters have stopped looking forward, they might as well be looking backward. If they think that corporate recruiting involves only posting a job, waiting for resumes to come in, twittering, or using keyword searches on the boards, they are mistaken.


The “forward-looking” HR folks reading this might say, “Whoa, hold on there. We’re using SOCIAL MEDIA technology IN ADDITION to job boards, employee referrals, AND our company web site. We have ALL THE BASES covered. We’re ahead of the curve.”


Our response: And despite this, you are unable to slog through the thousands of resumes feeding your Applicant Tracking Systems. If you continue to spend billions of dollars advertising on the boards while unable to sort through the sheer volume of resumes pouring in each day, you are wasting more precious time, manpower, and budget dollars than you are even aware of.


The Early Adopters Are No Longer Getting The Best Candidates

The future of recruiting is no longer about technology. It is not about Web 2.0, 3.0, tweeting, or “intelligent” resume parsing. Let’s face it, despite all of these technological “advances,” recruiters are overwhelmed and desperately need a solution to manage the tsunami of candidates and applications.


At the same time, potentially-qualified applicants fall into the abyss and, for their efforts, receive an automated response thanking them for their interest in your company and a promise to be in touch if you determine there is a match. A match? Based on what…keyword matching done by your ATS?


In the past, the assumption was that the more people that applied for a position, the more likely it would be that recruiters would find the best talent available. What if the “best talent” is applicant #400 out of a possible 700 or a thousand resumes? Will you see it? Or will it be lost like the thousands of other resumes piling up in your ATS? With the inability to adequately respond to each and every qualified applicant, you have defeated the purpose of adopting the recruiting technology in the first place. While the upside is that an ATS will allow you to track an applicant’s progress through the hiring and on-boarding process, the flip side is that you sometimes fail to see the truly qualified people applying for your openings.


There IS a solution for this. At The Job Exchange, our writers have worked all sides of the HR desk: corporate recruiting, HR Administration, agency recruiting, etc.  So, we plan to post some ideas that we will be sharing over the next few postings that will address this.


In the meantime, does anyone else care to chime in?


03/31/2009 - Posted by | hiring | , , , ,


  1. Great post – I’ll be watching future postings for ideas. We are always looking for ways to maximize our recruiting efforts. Not sure I am ready to go back to “pre-ATS” recruiting…
    I’ll be following your blog, as will my recruiters. Keep up the GREAT work!

    Comment by Kristy | 03/31/2009 | Reply

  2. Accurate summary of the current state. I am an active job seeker at this time and confirm from direct experience what is described here. Not the process I am used to and having to ‘game’ the system with educated guesses to reach a human does not leave the odds in my favor. The resume is the begining, the door opener, the tease to find out more. It should be a initial binary filter to get to the small list of potential applicants. The ultimate retort and way to enable change is if no one submitted/appied. Of course, that *won’t* happen.

    Comment by efr0702 | 03/31/2009 | Reply

    • efr0702 – what type of position are you looking for? What has been your experience so far with the ‘Apply Now’ button on job boards and company career sites?

      Comment by Bear | 03/31/2009 | Reply

      • I have had ‘success’ technically using on-line systems. I can post documents into an employers’ site for their review. My comments are more on the filtering aspect – you don’t know which terms will trigger getting to the short list. I’ve used the public boards and they are OK – I see the job reqs. along with who know how many others.

        Comment by efr0702 | 04/01/2009 | Reply

  3. An Applicant *TRACKING* System is great if it’s used to track applicants through the hiring process. It was designed to automate recruiting and hiring. And recruiters can sort and search through resumes based on — yes, keywords.

    While raving about how automation has improved the “process”, recruiters lost sight of one thing: people. They forgot how to talk to people and discuss their resumes, rather than just ignore them. That’s what its come to — they collect resumes and ignore them if the right keywords don’t show up.

    Comment by Susanna | 03/31/2009 | Reply

  4. Unfortunately, most job boards and corporate career sites have evolved into “application takers” with automated responses. As more automation seeps into the process, it no longer takes into account that PEOPLE hire people, not software applications.

    Comment by Bear | 03/31/2009 | Reply

  5. Excellent article. Here’s another twist that makes it worse for recruiters. Say you have a contract with a major client and you identify a candidate. You then submit that candidate. The client has missed the candidate during their deluge of resumes on their career site and now they go look for that candidate’s name in their database and say that this candidate is already theirs. You have no way of evaluating the integrity of that claim and you are powerless to contest their claim. So you watch your well sourced candidate be eaten by the 800 pound gorilla while you are left with the banana peels. Add this to the economy and regardless of what the recruiting “gurus” tell you the paradym has shifted so radically that either you attempt to add value to your services to the candidates or you wait hoping the smarter smaller companies realize that a recruiting fee saves then money in the long run and send you the long promised job order. I firmly believe the internet is not the answer now and won’t be going forward, but who would have believed that one administration could have caused a near depression while eroding your legal rights. Makes you wonder where we are going.

    Comment by Bruce Olitzky | 03/31/2009 | Reply

    • Yup, been there, done that. Your complaint is a common one among agency recruiters: you find a great candidate, vet them, submit them to the client, only to be told “that resume is in our database.”

      The internet can be the answer if it’s used properly, as it has changed the way both parties approach job searching and recruiting. That said, the reliance on the underlying technology has defeated the purpose: to simplify and compliment the underlying premise of real recruiting.

      Comment by Bear | 03/31/2009 | Reply

  6. I am a recruiting director at a large services company. We are struggling with how to manage the resumes coming in every day and would love to see your ideas. We also spend a lot of our budget dollars on recruiting technology!!

    Comment by Andrew | 04/02/2009 | Reply

    • Have you ever really evaluted the “true cost” both HR and technology as well as are you getting the right people from your internet experience. If you have you might start to understand why it makes sense to abandon all these internal costs and use a qualified outside recruiter. You then have someone who costs you nothing, does all the heavy lifting, carries all the risk until they find the correct candidate so your managers can quickly select an applicant that will allow them to achieve their goals. Companies are wasting so much time and money on attempting to do what excellent recruiters do all day long, make and establish relationship with passive “A” candidates. Reluctantly companies are deluding themselves about both the cost and quality of what they are getting from job boards because they are so bogged down and want to appear leading edge that they entirely missed the point, getting qualified candidates at the losest costs. See my white paper on our website to get a better understanding of all the costs involved. Thanks for listening.

      Comment by Bruce Olitzky | 04/02/2009 | Reply

  7. Randall Arnold has some very interesting ideas about an alternative to the black hole being a new employee metadata service that he talks about in

    Comment by Ecommerce Job ... Where Are You? | 04/03/2009 | Reply

  8. Thanks for the link! : )

    Comment by Randall Arnold | 04/03/2009 | Reply

  9. […] An Open Letter to Human Resources Leadership […]

    Pingback by Weekly Roundup « The Job Exchange | 04/05/2009 | Reply

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