Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Job Boards - Misconceptions and Realities: Part 2

OK, so my view on Job Boards have changed lately. Why? Much of it has to do with how I view the workforce today. This past year, there has been much debate about 'Active' and 'Passive' job seekers. 'Active' job seekers are the only ones that spend time on the job boards and are generally low in quality. 'Passive' job seekers are the "holy grail" and must be found at all costs as the best talent is represented there. I don't buy that, too black-and-white to me.

Instead, I prefer the way that Lou Adler segments the workforce. According to Lou, the workforce is split into four categories: Active, Less Active, Semi-Passive, and Passive. Those in the Active category need a job, are on the job boards every day, have their resumes posted there, and although good candidates can be found here, the quality overall tends to be low. Active job seekers represent about 15% of the workforce (note: the numbers that Lou uses do vary depending on industry, market, etc. So for in the NYC Public Accounting market for example, the proportion of the Active market is probably more like 5%, less than 1% during the 'busy season'.

The next, and most relevant category is the Less Active category. These people have a job and actually might be content in that job. If they visit the job boards, they do so sporadically, probably when they have had a bad day at the office, or possibly when they feel they can do better in their career than they are currently. Less Active job seekers are looking for a Better job, and represent about 15% of the workforce (again, a variable number, when the Active percentage goes down, the Less Active percentage goes up). Less Active job seekers are less likely to have their resume posted anywhere (although it could be one of those 'confidential' ones you see out there). According to Lou, quality talent is well represented in this category.

The final two categories, Semi-Passive and Passive, account for the balance of the workforce. Those in the Semi-Passive category are unlikely to ever visit a job board, you need to find them, they are not looking for you. They will make a change for a Much Better opportunity, and it is this category I believe that most refer to as 'Passive' candidates. Those in the Passive category are not open to making a change at all.

Why is this important? When you get past the Active vs. Passive myth, and segment the workforce out further (Lou's segmentation is just one of several I have seen), the true value of the Job Boards comes into play. You see that as much as one-third of the workforce uses the Job Boards, and that there is actually alot of good talent represented there. That siad, what I have come to realize is just how important well written, compelling job postings are.

The resume databases on these job boards filled with Active job seekers don't add alot of value IMO as a source of quality candidates. Quality can be found there, but you have to sort through alot to get to who you really want, and even then you are competing against the rest of the world for that talent. As mentioned earlier, there are good Active job seekers that will apply for your jobs, the key is to maximize attracting the quality candidates while discouraging unqualified candidates from applying.

But the true value is in appealing to the Less Active category. This category is what makes using the Job Boards worthwhile. There is alot of great talent to attract, but you have to know how to attract that talent better than anyone else. This is where you, the recruiter, has the most impact. Less Active job seekers tend to be more discriminating in which opportunities they choose to consider. Your opportunities need to speak to their skills and interests, deliver a compelling message, and then engage them to want to be considered for those roles. This is where most recruiting organizations fall short.

The Job Boards are to blame for not delivering on their promise of 'better candidates faster'. When all is said and done though, you the recruiter has the most impact on your success with the Boards. More on this in my next post next week.

Until then, have a happy and safe New Year!!!

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