Why Sourcing is Superior to Posting Jobs for Talent

Posting a job online is perhaps the first action most companies take to attract talent when they have an opening.

However, posting jobs in an attempt to attract qualified talent has many intrinsic flaws, and here are the top 4 in my opinion:

  1. Posting jobs a passive strategy
  2. Posting jobs offers no control over candidate qualifications
  3. Job advertisements only attract candidates who are actively looking
  4. Posting jobs isn’t social!

In comparison, sourcing from Internet, LinkedIn, online resume databases, ATS/CRM systems and similar resources to discover and identify qualified candidates is an active strategy which offers significant control over candidate qualifications, can be used to specifically target passive and even non-job seekers, and is 100 times more social!

Read on for a more in-depth analysis of posting jobs vs. sourcing candidates, as well as to have your eyes opened to a new way of looking at the value/ROI of posting jobs.

Job Posting is a Passive (lazy?) Strategy

Posting jobs online is a passive, sit-back-and-wait talent attraction strategy wherein there is no action taken other than that of publishing the job to various sites.

If identifying, attracting and hiring top talent is critical to any company’s ability to create and maintain a competitive advantage, does it make sense to rely heavily on a method of talent attraction that involves little-to-no effort?

Posting jobs online anywhere – whether it be on a corporate site, LinkedIn, Facebook, or a niche job board – is essentially the lowest level of effort anyone can take towards the goal of hiring your next game-changing employee.

Job Posting Offers No Control Over Candidate Qualifications

To me, posting a job is just like setting a trap. In setting a trap, the strategy is to set it in a place where you think your quarry might come across it and be ensnared.

Wherever you place the trap, you are essentially hoping that the specific type of animal you’re looking to capture will wander into it.  This is very much a passive, hope-based strategy, and hope is actually not a strategy.

For example, if you are trying to snare a rabbit, you could just as easily end up snaring a raccoon, a skunk, an opossum – or basically any small animal that wanders by, simply because you have no control over what, if anything, gets snared.

This is the same with job posting.

If you post a job for a windows system engineer with a minimum of 5 years of experience, an MCSE certification and web hosting industry experience – literally ANYONE can respond, whether they have the appropriate experience, certification, or industry experience or not.

As a passive, zero-percent control  strategy, you simply cannot control who responds – unqualified, under qualified, over qualified, out of area, etc.

This isn’t just my experience and opinion.

A recent Atlanta Business Chronicle article cited a study of 501 hiring managers by Robert Half and CareerBuilder which found that 44 percent of resumes presented to hiring managers are submitted by unqualified applicants. Additionally, the 2009 EDGE Report also found that 47 percent of hiring managers cited under-qualified applicants as their most common hiring challenge.

No one should be surprised by such a high percentage of un- and under qualified applicants, because you can’t control what wanders into the traps!

As critical as attracting and hiring the right people is for any company to perform well, does it make sense to rely heavily on a strategy that puts 100% of the selection control in the hands of the job seeker and 0% in yours?

Job Posting Attracts the Smallest Percentage of Job Seekers

Not only can you not control who responds to your job posting, but the only people who are going to get “snared” by the trap you’ve set are people who are actively looking for a job, and active job seekers represent the smallest percentage of the available talent pool.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, here is the breakdown of job seeker status:

  • 32% passively looking
  • 34% not looking
  • 20% casually looking
  • 14% actively looking

Now, unlike many people, I don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with active job seekers – they are not all desperate, unemployable people (can you believe people in the recruiting industry actually believe that?).

However, the real issue at hand is that with job posting, you are essentially missing the other 86% of the workforce.

That means that when you post a job for an opening you need to fill in the next 2 weeks, you are realistically only tapping into 14% of the available workforce.  On top of that, many people who respond will not actually be qualified for the position.

That’s an issue!

One could argue that some of the people who are “casually looking” might stumble across your ad, but even if all of them did (which is highly unlikely), you are still missing 66% of the available workforce.

Your Ads and Postings are Invisible to Most People

Truly “passive” job seekers and certainly those who are not looking at all don’t even SEE ads for jobs right in front of their face, no matter how “targeted” and well placed your ads are.  Additionally, the reality is that most people tune out ads of any kind – on the Internet, on TV, billboards, etc.

When’s the last time you clicked on an ad or bought something/took action specifically because of a commercial or billboard you saw?

Even for those people who do “see” or “tune in” your ad/job posting – the reality is that most will not take action.

Changing a job is a big, stressful deal. Most casual, passive, and practically all inactive job seekers will not likely be inspired to take any action and explore leaving their current position just because they saw an online job ad, let alone one on their Facebook page.

SEO Is Not Enough

I agree 100% with Marvin Smith that SEO is not enough.

How could it be anyway?

For SEO to work, you have to have someone searching for jobs and/or information about your company, and as we’ve already seen, that is going to be the active job seekers and perhaps some of the casual job seekers – which is only a small sample of the available talent, the clear minority.

Posting Jobs isn’t Social

Social Recruiting continues to the quite the rage in the talent acquisition community.

However, most people HR and recruiting professionals agree that posting jobs online isn’t social, even if they are on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

That’s simply because in order for something to be social, it has to involve engagement and interaction between people.

Sourcing is an Active Strategy

Whereas posting jobs online is a passive method of attracting talent (I would argue that it’s not even a method of identifying talent), searching for candidates in Applicant Tracking Systems, recruiting CRM’s, job board resume databases, and LinkedIn is an active method of talent identification.

Instead of setting a trap and taking no effort other than to wait for the right person to stumble across it (aka, “post and pray”), when you create and execute searches to source for potential candidates, you are actively “hunting” for talent – targeting people with specific qualifications and experience, who live in specific areas – regardless of their job search status.

Instead of waiting (and hoping) for the right people to respond to a job posting, sourcers take decisive action to go out and identify and proactively engage and attract talent.

Sourcing Affords Significant Control Over Candidate Qualifications

When it comes to searching for candidates, I’m focusing specifically on resume and LinkedIn profile search, because searching for deep human capital data offers significant intrinsic advantages over shallow data. Resumes and some LinkedIn profiles offer more depth of identifying information, which enables sourcers and recruiters with a high degree of control over critical candidate variables.

Sourcers and recruiters who are adept at leveraging deep human capital data (resumes and detailed social network profiles) create queries that control critical candidate qualification variables, allowing them to quickly identify people with highly specific experience, who live in specific locations who are likely to be interested in the role and compensation offered by the position the recruiter is working on.

Remember that windows system engineer with a minimum of 5 years of experience, an MCSE certification and web hosting industry experience I used as an example earlier in this post?

While it is impossible to post a job that can guarantee you that only people who perfectly match the requirements will apply, it is entirely possible (and quite easy!) to write a query to find people who do have the right type and years of experience, the required certification, as well as the right industry experience.  That’s because 100% of the control over who you find and identify is in your hands, not someone else’s.

Sourcing Can Target Passive and Non Job Seekers

Unlike posting jobs online and SEO which require some action on the part of candidates (e.g., actively looking at ads or running keyword searches) and are quite literally invisible to those who are not taking any action to look for a new job (the majority of all people), when you actively search for candidates, you can target people who are not actively looking.

How can you search for resumes of passive and non-job seekers? Quite easily.

Are you ready for a paradigm shift?

If someone responds to a job posting you posted recently and they enter their information into your ATS/recruiting CRM – they are most likely actively seeking a new job, although there is a chance you could also be collecting a casual job seeker.

Statistically, many people who respond to job postings are not actually qualified for the position they applied for. If they are not a match for any current openings, it is likely they will find a position with another company with a position they are actually qualified for.

But you still have their resume in your ATS.

Alternatively, their resume may still be posted in an online resume database somewhere (many people either don’t or forget to take them down after they take a new job). In fact, my own research has shown that approximately 75% of all resumes on the job boards are over 30 days old. So if you think that all of the resumes stored in online resume databases are of active job seekers, you are quite wrong.

Statistically, the majority of resumes in online resume databases are of people who are likely to be not looking or passively looking.

In about 3 months to 2 years’ time, those active job seekers turn into people who are likely to either to be not looking at all for a new position, or who may be satisfied with the new position they took, but open to better opportunities (passively looking).

Unlike job posting, when you are searching for resumes, you can actually specifically target people who are not likely to be actively looking.

Sourcing is Social

Yes, you read that right – I said sourcing is social.

Unless your idea of sourcing involves name generation only with no candidate engagement, sourcing is most definitely social.

A sourcer or a recruiter sourcing their own candidates can and should engage prospective candidates socially via InMails, Facebook messages, tweets and DMs, LinkedIn and/or Facebook group discussions, or just plain old email dialogues for that matter.

However, sourcing can go even more social – actually picking up the phone (gasp!) and calling a potential candidate and having a live conversation with them is a 100 times more social than any online/social media exchange. Imagine that – real, live conversations in today’s social media-crazed world. :-)

An Alternative View of Job Posting

While most people see the primary value of job posting as a method of trying to attract the right person at the right time – I see it quite differently.

If I post a job, I am not expecting results – experience and statistics show that most people who respond are not qualified for the position. Certainly, there have been times when the right person has responded to a job posting at the right time, but as an intrinsically passive strategy with no “built-in” ability to control the experience and qualification of respondents, to rely on job posting would be folly. After posting a position, I will not wait and hope that the right people find my position. I am going to take control of the process and go out and actually FIND the right people.

So if the main value of posting jobs isn’t finding the right person at the right time, what could it be?

Another way to look at the value of job posting is that it can essentially become a method of cultivating your ATS/CRM into a wine cellar of sorts. All of those active job seekers who respond to your ads but who are not qualified (or simply not selected) for the specific position they applied to today may in fact be well qualified for other positions you have in the future.

Active candidates who enter your ATS/CRM today (or post their resume online) become tomorrow’s casual, passive, and non-job seekers.

ATS Search Capability is Critical

In order to capitalize on your database of casual, passive, and non-job seekers – you need to have an appropriately capable candidate search interface coupled with the ability to run precise queries, enabling you to quickly target and access candidates of ANY job search status.

An ATS with poor/limited candidate search capability is like having a well-stocked wine cellar that you can’t access because you don’t have the key to the door.  Or even if you had the key – you had no way of finding the exact bottle you were looking for.

Final Thoughts

Will there ever be a time when jobs aren’t posted online?

I’m not sure if we will ever get to that point, because it could be argued that posting jobs online is a logical thing to do and is certainly a part of a balanced “diet” of recruiting methods, and it can produce results.

However, if you or your organization relies heavily on posting jobs to find the right candidates at the right time, let alone the best candidates available, I believe you are at a serious competitive disadvantage.

Job posting is essentially like trapping: set the snare and do nothing but wait (and hope!) for the right person to stumble by – an inherently passive, hope-based strategy that affords you absolutely no control over what wanders in. To make matters worse, the only people who will search for or even “see” ads for jobs are those who are actively or casually looking, which is the smallest slice of the talent pie.

That’s right – you simply can’t snag those highly sought after “passive” candidates via posting jobs online.

On the other hand, as a truly active strategy, sourcing candidates affords everything that job posting fails to: control over candidate qualifications and the ability to specifically target and engage passive and even non-job seekers socially. Instead of waiting for the right people to come to you, you simply go out and find them, without a care for whether they woke up that morning thinking about finding a new job or if it was the furthest thing from their mind.

I am aware of many companies that spend quite a bit of time, effort and money on their job posting efforts, including “interactive recruiting solutions.” It makes me wonder if as much time, energy, and money is being spent on enabling their proactive sourcing capability, which would afford them with significantly more control over candidate qualifications and quality, as well as more truly social engagement with the highly coveted “passive” talent pool.

When assessing job posting solutions and efforts, I believe the less obvious but true value of job posting lies primarily in the collection of active candidates and the ability to cultivate them over time through regular engagement (electronic and over the phone) into more experienced/qualified candidates who will inevitably become passive/inactive job seekers.