The title of this article might be a question that you’ve asked yourself from time to time. Based upon my more than 20 years of experience as a search consultant and recruiter in the employment marketplace, I’ll be attempting to answer this question.
First, however, let’s qualify the question. It’s a rare thing for a hiring manager to post a job on the Internet, either on one of the major job boards or on the organization’s website or both, and not receive a single application.
Of course they’re getting some applications. The problem, however, is that they’re not getting the right applications. In other words, they’re not receiving applications from qualified candidates who they are actually interested in hiring. Of course, if you have an open position, you want to fill that position with someone who is qualified. You more than likely want to fill the job with the person who is the MOST qualified.
The impact of a candidates’ market
This whole conversation starts with the fact that we are currently in a candidates’ job market. I’ve discussed this fact of the current employment marketplace before in articles and blog posts. When it’s a candidates’ job market, it means that candidates have more options. When you’re talking about the best candidates (and we are talking about them), they have the MOST options.
These candidates are called passive candidates. They are called passive candidates because they are more than likely not looking for a new employment opportunity at this time. They’re being well compensated and kept rather busy at their current employer, which highly values their services. As a result, these candidates are not “surfing” the Internet in an attempt to find another job. They don’t need to.
If they’re not looking for a new job, that means they’re not going to see your online job advertisement. It’s impossible for them to apply for the position if they never see the job advertisement in the first place.
Online job ads: a different perspective
Top candidates are not applying for your open position because they don’t know that you have an open position. However, there’s another culprit at work here, as well, and that involves the online application process itself.
According to a study conducted by one of the major job boards I was just referencing (CareerBuilder), 60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications. And why do they quit? Well, they do so for two main reasons:
- The length of the online application process
- The complexity of the online application process
It’s actually ironic when you think about it. More than likely, employers make the online application process long and complex because they want to ensure that only qualified people apply for their open positions. However, as we’ve already discussed, the most qualified candidates aren’t seeing the application at all. Not only that, but more than half of the people who start an online application don’t finish the application. Employers, in an effort to make the application process as detailed as they can to identify the best candidates, are actually screening candidates out as a direct result of that process.
Let’s look at this whole dynamic from a different perspective. Who do you think is more likely to fill out a long, grueling online job application?
#1—A potential candidate who is currently employed and is only casually looking at online job applications
#2—A job seeker who is unemployed and possibly desperate and has both the time and motivation to find a new employment opportunity
If you chose #2, you’re correct. Viewed from that perspective, the people who finish completing an online job application are those who are bound and determined to complete it. The reason they’re so determined could be that they despise their job. Or, it could be that they don’t have a job in the first place. These are not the individuals that most companies want to hire.
Regardless, this exercise sheds some light on the effectiveness (or the glaring lack thereof) of online job advertisements.
A painfully expensive case study
Once upon a time, a hiring manager called me to ask if I could help their organization with a high-level search. This hiring manager told me that they had tried to fill the position with online job advertisements, with absolutely no success. Not only that, but they had spent several thousand dollars in their attempts to do so. This person was at their wits’ end. I told them that of course I could help them with their search, and I was able to source and present highly qualified candidates in short order.
But think about it for just a minute. This hiring manager spent thousands of dollars trying to find qualified candidates and came up completely empty. Not only that, but the position had remained open the entire time, which meant even more in the way of lost productivity and revenue. Taking all of that into consideration, this represents a painfully expensive case study.
However, it’s NOT an isolated case. This person was not the first hiring manager who had experienced such a thing. I’ve seen it happen multiple times. That’s because I’ve been the person that the hiring manager has called when they reached their wits’ end in their attempts to fill a position.
An experienced search consultant or recruiter can identify the best candidates in the marketplace, whether they’re looking for a new job or not. A recruiter can gain candidates’ attention and present your employment opportunity, and not just the best candidates who are looking for a new job. Search consultants can convince these candidates that your opportunity could be better than the one they have right now and that they should at least consider it.
An online job application does none of those things.
I hope that this article has answered the question, “Why am I not getting any job applicants for my open position?” I also hope that the value of a search consultant or recruiter has been made clear.
Exceptional hiring requires an exceptional approach and an exceptional process. In a candidates’ job market, relying solely on online job advertisements is NOT an exceptional strategy.
Don’t simply react to what the employment marketplace doesn’t give you. Instead, be proactive about finding (and hiring) the candidates you need within it.
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