Job Boards = Bad Candidates? Don’t believe the hype.

Posted by | October 05, 2008 | Job Boards, Myths and Misconceptions | 11 Comments

I continue to see well respected thought leaders in the staffing industry make claims that the value of the job boards is waning and that the quality of candidates on the job boards is low.

A few years ago, I weighed in on an ERE discussion in response to the question of, “What would happen if the job boards became obsolete?” I noticed that many people in the discussion took the stance that the quality of candidates on the job boards is low.

I originally wrote this post back in 2008, and because there is still a strong belief in 2012 that job boards somehow only offer low quality candidates, I am taking the time to update my thoughts and republish an article on the topic, using statistics to prove that the job boards have the same percentage of “A” players as LinkedIn or any other source.

Once it’s published, I will link to it here.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Glen Cathey

Glen Cathey is a sourcing and recruiting thought leader with over 16 years of experience working in large staffing agency and global RPO environments (>1,000 recruiters and nearly 100,000 hires annually). Starting out his career as a top producing recruiter, he quickly advanced into senior management roles and now currently serves as the SVP of Strategic Talent Acquisition and Innovation for Kforce, working out of their renowned National Recruiting Center with over 300 recruiters. Often requested to speak on sourcing and recruiting best practices, trends and strategies, Glen has traveled internationally to present at many talent acquisition conferences (5X LinkedIn Talent Connect - U.S. '10, '11, '12, Toronto '12, London '12, 2X Australasian Talent Conference - Sydney & Melbourne '11, '12, 6X SourceCon, 2X TruLondon, 2X HCI) and is regularly requested to present to companies (e.g., PwC, Deloitte, Intel, Booz Allen Hamilton, Citigroup, etc.). This blog is his personal passion and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone other than himself.

  • Pingback: 15 Common Secondary Sourcing Mistakes | Boolean Black Belt

  • Pingback: Do you have Talent Intelligence? | Boolean Black Belt

  • http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/joshua-letourneau/fc-talent-manifesto-sex-lies-and-recruiting-0 Joshua Letourneau

    Glen, I thought this conversation was solely at ERE, so it took me a while to stumble across this.

    Personally, I did not suggest ‘bad candidates’ are only on job boards – this is a political re-framing of a statement. However, in the sake of debate, I understand the value of extrapolating one single comment and interpreting it in such a way as to paint a picture for your point or counter-point. I can tell you that I have a pretty strong background in statistics and including Wikipedia definitions of statistical terms does not indicate anything more than a theoretical understanding.

    I will leave you with this, because it is the only truth in this situation: It is the ‘observer’ that judges candidate quality. In the case of a large candidate database, you and I can be looking at the same population, yet come to different conclusions as to the quality of each and every candidate on an individual basis. Why? Because we are different observers. Another example would be Company X versus Company Z. If Company Z is more specialized and needs more niche skill-sets, then they may evaluate the candidate population differently than Company X.

    Therefore, what may amount to a normal distribution to you may not amount to a normal distribution to me (i.e. 20% A-level candidates, 20% B-level candidates, 20% C-level candidates, 20% D-level candidates, 20% E-level candidates). While your evaluation of the candidate population may yield a normal distribution, mine may not. It’s all relative. In addition, my standard deviation (sigma) may be greater than yours. Again, it’s all relative. And in that sense, stating that job board databases are ALL ‘normally distributed’ is the same as saying that ALL job board resumes belong to ‘bad candidates’. Both statements are wrong.

  • Boolean Black Belt

    Joshua,
    While I don’t have a degree in statistics, I have taken college level courses in statistics and got straight A’s. I reference Wikipedia so that my readers can learn more about some of the statistical concepts I wrote about. I had to reacquaint myself with them as it’s been over 10 years since I’ve done any hands-on statistics work, and the Wikipedia articles are very good overviews of the concepts.

    I partially agree with you on the “observer” argument. I agree that candidate quality ranking and labeling is highly subjective and in the eye of the beholder. But I would not go so far as to stereotype entire companies with regard to the quality of candidates recruited.

    I think it really comes down to the individual recruiter level, regardless of firm, and you can’t truly compare candidate quality unless you and another recruiter had evaluated exactly the same candidate and labeled them – then compared notes.

    In the end, I feel debating candidate quality is moot unless you can compare the exact same candidates. However – even that would be open to subjective differences of opinion. No single recruiter can stamp a candidate as “A” and say factually and objectively that they are an “A” candidate – it’s just a personal opinion.

    Why I can only partially agree with your “observer” position is that I feel the only relatively neutral (unbiased by any individual recruiter’s personal opinion) and objective measure of candidate quality is the client’s assessment of candidates. The client/manager is the ultimate judge of candidate quality. When I consistently achieve 1 candidate submitted/1 hire – in competitive scenarios (other recruiters are submitting candidates as well) – I can feel pretty confident my “A” is also my client’s definition of “A”. I could care less how recruiters at other firms rate their candidates, as I am confident in my assessment of candidates. I’ve placed many high level, highly niched skillsets in critical positions (Vignette/Interwoven portal architects responsible for redesigning Sprint/Nextel’s entire corporate portal, EMC SAN program managers for EMC, TS/SCI cleared identity and access management directors and architects, EAI project managers, etc.) – so I’m not talking about low level generic profiles.

    You raise a good point with regard to the shape of the normal distribution curve and how it can be shaped differently based on standard deviation. However, I would interpret the standard normal distribution curve to represent approximately 10% “A” talent, 15% “A/B”, 25% “B”, 25% “C”, 15% “C/D”, and 10% “E” – not the 20/20/20/20/20 you suggested.

    My whole point is that the job boards, as well as LinkedIn and any other source of candidates that has no barrier to entry or built in quality filter (an an internal database should) is going to be a true random sample of the total population, and thus a standard normal distribution will apply – regardless of any recruiter’s individual opinion. So if Monster had only 10% “A” talent, that may seem like a small percentage, as it should, because top talent is exactly that – “top.” However, when Monster claims to have 38M resumes, 10% of 38M is still 3.8M “A” candidates – a pretty big pool.

    I do see many respected staffing/recruiting leaders throwing around phrases such as “the job boards have low candidate quality,” and to me – that’s a broad, sweeping, opinion based statement that is statistically impossible when it comes to large sample sizes (10’s of millions). That’s why I wrote the article and participated in the original ERE discussion – to try and show people that simple statistics disprove the idea that a population of 38M people cannot have such a skewed distribution of 0% “A”, 20% “B”, 50% “C”, 30% “D + E” (for example, as an interpretation of low quality).

    Thank you very much for your passion and interest – I sincerely appreciate the challenge to my post. If we all agreed on everything, the world would truly be a boring place with very little critical thought.

  • http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/joshua-letourneau/fc-talent-manifesto-sex-lies-and-recruiting-0 Joshua Letourneau

    Glenn, great response. We agree on more than you might think :) Especially the below paragraph, which as you know, is a selling point of someone who wants to sell a candidate that doesn’t have a resume on a job board. You know, there are quite a few dogmatic beliefs in our industry that are bunk, and the notion that all job board candidates are poor quality is insane.

    “I do see many respected staffing/recruiting leaders throwing around phrases such as “the job boards have low candidate quality,” and to me – that’s a broad, sweeping, opinion based statement that is statistically impossible when it comes to large sample sizes (10’s of millions). That’s why I wrote the article and participated in the original ERE discussion – to try and show people that simple statistics disprove the idea that a population of 38M people cannot have such a skewed distribution of 0% “A”, 20% “B”, 50% “C”, 30% “D + E” (for example, as an interpretation of low quality).”

    P.S. Please don’t consider my statement about recruiters judging candidates differently as anything more than an example. There are great recruiters and bad recruiters at most companies – maybe even a bell-curve if the population is big enough :)

  • Pingback: Top 10 Candidate Sourcing Best Practices | Boolean Black Belt

  • Pingback: Job Posting vs. Searching for Candidates

  • Pingback: Resumes Are Like Wine

  • Pingback: Why Sourcing is Superior to Posting Jobs for Talent

  • Pingback: Why Sourcing is Superior to Posting Jobs for Talent « Venkatesh Kothapalli

  • Pingback: Do You Have the Proper Perspective in Recruiting?