February 19, 2018

How Technology Can Play Cupid in the ‘Online Dating Game’ of Finding Great Candidates

Leah Daniels
February 19, 2018

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Recruitment technology has continued to evolve ever since the advent of recruitment advertising. This story begins, arguably with the creation of the classified section of the newspaper, then exacerbated by the creation of Monster and the duration-based online job posting.

This initially took flight in the 90’s and has stayed firmly in our buying processes and vernacular even though the rest of the advertising world has moved on to more modern, and effective buying approaches.

This ancient model in no way aligns with the success of its customer –  you, the recruiter.  On any posting there is no guarantee of applies – only a guarantee that the job will be posted somewhere in the search results if the candidate types in the right words for some agreed upon number of days. If no candidate types in the ‘right words,’ your investment will show up 0 times in the results.  Because of this, we’ve now seen a two-decade long problem where a recruiter’s success depends on the job boards, but the definition of success for the job board is to acquire the sales, not necessarily to deliver actual candidates for every job.  

This is a fundamental misalignment between the recruiter and the job board.

Analyze Spend and Allocate Budget to Jobs that Need More Applies

We know that 6% of jobs will receive 30% of clicks, while 70% will get nearly no activity. These jobs over perform and over deliver, complicating every renewal conversation recruiting teams have ever had with job boards.  When the renewal time for your job board shows up, you pull numbers from your ATS – most likely your source of hire. Then the board will pull their own numbers: total candidates divided by total jobs. This will produce a nice, clean average presented to you.

Neither of these metrics are helpful and will lead to bad decision making.

The ‘Source of Hire’ report tells you only where a hire was made. The report most likely to provide you with the details you need to understand your candidate success landscape is a ‘Source of Interview’ Report.  A lot of factors go into a hire that are outside of the job boards sphere of influence, like a company’s decision to not hire or promote the job from within.  A job boards job, at its core, is to provide quality applicants for the available job.  As a recruiting organization, you have an obligation to measure each job board against that goal.As a recruiting organization, you have an obligation to measure each job board against specific goals.

Conversely, job boards also do a disservice to you when they pull numbers from their own database.  In an attempt to battle the infamous ‘source of hire’ report, job boards have run to the opposite side of the equation, producing impression reports, click reports and normalized applicant reports.

When a job board spreads the peanut butter of candidates across all your jobs evenly to show applicants, it wrongly normalizes a candidate recruitment process that naturally has amplitude.  But more significantly, it hides your non-performing jobs by making it appear that all jobs got at least some activity.  But that is not the reality – the jobs that don’t get activity are the ones that recruiters spent gobs of money and sourcing time to recruit for after the the job boards failed to produce candidates. Thus, recruiters have to generate candidates through direct sourcing or by sending the job out to contingency firms.

Sometimes you’re just looking for a purple squirrel, other times the choice of job board for your open reqs just doesn’t make sense. Financial sales roles don’t belong on Dice and full time directors of technology don’t belong on snagajob.

Predicting Job Performance on Each Board is an Impossible Task 

These are the obvious examples, but even subtle, ill-informed decisions can result in a job being misplaced on the incorrect job board. Looking for great sales people that aren’t in retail in October is tough in general (the good ones are heads down for Q4 and the less than ideal employees are already applying because they won’t make quota this year).

Recruiters are then further hobbled by the demands of specific industries that happen leading into a new season.  Each and every job board has a component of seasonality. It is unavoidable.  Certain customers of the job board dictate and direct the traffic that the job board gets by being a really big client. This means that if you are a small or medium client, if your demand doesn’t align with the seasonal traffic of that board, you will have a job that doesn’t get the expected traffic – even if that board performed well for that kind of job earlier in the year.

So how should a recruiter manage this?  You can’t possibly predict what job performance will be on each board before you post a job– and even more so, you can’t possibly know which of the thousands of job boards will be the best fit for your reqs come renewal time. It’s December and you need to make decisions for future openings that you may not even know about yet.

Leverage Technology to Optimize and Manage Job Ad Spend

You pay to post the job in other places, therefore paying 2, 3 or 4 times what it normally costs to drive candidates on one board. The failure to embrace technology will result in one of three behaviors… (Hint: They all cost money):

  1. You spend money and time sourcing, cold calling and otherwise trying to sift through the sand for gold-worthy candidates that the job board didn’t attract, who generally cost more to move and require a lot of effort convincing them to in the first place.
  2. Pay a contingency firm to find candidates for you.


Now, to me, none of these results sound ideal to me. I’d rather keep as much cash in my pocket as possible, while letting quality candidates fall directly in my lap. What would you choose?

Programmatic technology is a manageable way to find the best talent for your job requisitions (especially clearance roles & hard-to-fills), from where they live, work and play throughout the web. In the online dating game of finding the best fit for your open jobs, technology plays the best matchmaker. Assuming you’re not tied to a specific job board for legal reasons (looking at you, US government), your best bet is to let technology crunch lots of data and make reasonable calculations about where your job should go to get the right candidates and the amount of traffic for your job. Thankfully, crunching the numbers is technology’s forte… if not yours. Technology is a recruiter’s most desirable cupid.

Learn more about programmatic technologies that reduce the labor of candidate sourcing and help attract the best talent for your jobs.

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This blog was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated.

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