Some organizations in the employment marketplace advertise their job openings through online advertisements. There are many opportunities available which help them to accomplish this task.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with posting online job advertisements. They do work, but only to an extent. In other words, there is a limit to their effectiveness and the degree to which they can help you find the best candidates.

Why passive candidates don’t look at job ads

I’ve talked at length before about the fact that not all potential candidates look at online job ads on a regular basis. Some potential candidates don’t look at job ads at all. In fact, the vast majority of the top candidates do not look at online job advertisements.

Once again, this can be partly explained by examining the differences between active job seekers and passive candidates. Active job seekers may or may not be employed, but in some cases, they are not. Or, they may be underemployed or unhappy in their current career situation. As a result, they are constantly looking for a new job (understandably), making them much more likely to see the job ad and apply for it.

Now for the passive candidates. There are generally three big reasons why they do not respond to online job ads.

1. They’re pretty much happy where they’re working now. (However, they would make a strategic move for the right opportunity.)
2. They’re too busy at their current job to actually conduct an active job search, even if they wanted to.
3. They don’t know who can see the fact that they’re applying. They also don’t want to risk the confidentiality of their search being breached at any point in the process.

What does all that mean? First, it means that passive candidates rarely, if ever, actually see online job ads. If they don’t see them, then they certainly can’t respond to them. Second, even if they do see some online ads, they still don’t respond to them, namely because of reason #3 listed above.

60% do NOT fill out the job application

However, it doesn’t stop there. According to a 2016 report by CareerBuilder, 60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications. They quit due to the length or complexity of those applications. Think for a second about how crazy that is.

Employers, in an effort to make the application process as detailed as they can to identify the best candidates, are actually screening candidates out. And with a job ad, it’s nearly impossible to identify the best candidates in the marketplace, anyway.

All a job ad does is identify the best candidates who have answered the job ad. And if 60% of them are quitting in the middle of filling out the application, that means the ad is only identifying the best candidates of the 40% who actually finished the application. Think about the situation from the passive candidate’s point of view. Even if they find an online job posting that interests them, they’re already apprehensive about the process. They don’t need much of a reason to stop filling it out or not do it. If they encounter problems along the way due to the complexity of the process, they’re much more likely to stop what they’re doing.

An active job seeker, on the other hand, especially one who is unemployed, is more likely to fill out the application. That’s because they’re motivated. They’re motivated to find a job and that motivation takes the form of determination during the application phase of the process. However, as determined as they might be, it’s possible that 60% of them are opting out of the process, as well.

So we’re left with three facts:

1. The overwhelming majority of candidates who attempt to fill out online job applications are active job seekers and not passive candidates.
2. Only 40% of the candidates who start filling out an application actually finish filling it out.
3. The chances that a top passive candidate has filled out your online job application is most likely miniscule.

So THIS is why the process is called “posting and praying.” You’re posting an online job advertisement and praying that the right candidate—the only one you really want—not only sees the ad, but also successfully applies for the position.

Hunting for candidates vs. gathering

Attempting to find suitable candidates through online job advertisements is akin to “gathering” them. Proactively looking for them and then recruiting them is more like “hunting” them. When you post a job ad, you’re trying to “gather” the best candidates instead of trying to “hunt” them. In this case, there are three reasons why hunting is better than gathering.

First, as we’ve mentioned, the majority of top talent is not actively looking for a new job. They’re employed and they’re very busy. That means simply finding them requires a proactive approach, and the way to find them is to hunt them.

Second, top talent MUST be recruited. Even if you find these candidates, in most cases they must be convinced to consider your opportunity. You have to instill interest in them and convince them that your opportunity is the next big step in their career.

Third, you can’t “gather” talent from your competition. If the best talent in the industry includes people who are working at your competitors, do you expect them to just come knocking on your door? More than likely, they will not.

This is the value that search consultants bring to the hiring process. They are skilled in the art of “hunting” for candidates. Their specialty is “hunting” for the best candidates in the marketplace (which is exactly why they were given the moniker of “headhunter” once upon a time).

There are two main reasons why organizations work with search consultants/recruiters. These are two simple reasons, but after 20 years in the business, I can say with absolute certainty that they are valid. Organizations use recruiters to fill their open positions because they need those recruiters to do two things.

1. First, they need the recruiters to identify the best candidates in the marketplace.
2. Second, they need the recruiters to recruit those candidates.

To hire the best candidates, you have to know who those candidates are. And only posting job ads doesn’t get the job done.

Job ads only identify the best candidates who responded to the job ad. And according to the CareerBuilder study, job ads may even be less effective than that.

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