Episode #27 – Using a Job Board vs. Using a Recruiter (the Job Seeker Side)

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help organizations acquire top talent, while helping professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be discussing using a job board vs. using a recruiter. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, I’m glad to be here today.

Sharita: Stacy, in our previous podcast, we discussed this issue from the employer side. Today, we’re going to look at it from the job seeker side, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct. We’ll be discussing the job seeker side of this issue. As we’ve said, both employers and job seekers use online job advertisements. In addition, both employers and job seekers use recruiters. Today, we’ll take a look at what job seekers can expect when they use both online job ads and recruiters.

Sharita: I imagine that a LOT of people apply for jobs through online ads, is that right?

Stacy: Yes, that is, and even more people look for jobs online, millions and millions of them.

Sharita: But you’re here today to tell us that applying for jobs through online ads may not be the best strategy for your career in the long run?

Stacy: Yes, that’s exactly what I’m here to say. Earlier this year, I wrote an article for my newsletter that was titled, “How Job Boards Can Actually HURT Your Career Growth.” I’m pleased to say it was one of my more popular articles. A lot of job seekers read it, and I’m glad that was the case because it’s an important topic.

Sharita: To somebody on the outside, it might sound crazy to think that applying for jobs online could actually hurt their career. How is that the case?

Stacy: Well, I’m going to explain that in detail during this podcast, and I’m going to draw upon my experience as a recruiter to do it. There are a few big reasons, and I’ll address them one at a time.

Sharita: What’s the first reason?

Stacy: The first reason is that some of the most sought-after jobs are NOT posted online. That’s because the employers that are trying to fill these positions want to fill them in a confidential fashion. They don’t want anybody to know what they’re doing, especially their competition.

As a search consultant, I have filled numerous jobs before they were posted anywhere. If jobs are not posted online, this means you might not have access to them and you can’t apply for them if you’re not aware of them. This is what is called the “hidden job market,” and I can tell you without a doubt that this job market exists. It’s not a figment of somebody’s imagination. There are job openings out there that only a certain number of people know about.

Sharita: That makes total sense. What’s another reason job seekers might want to think twice before applying for a job through an online ad?

Stacy: A second reason is because as a job seeker, you want to maintain control over your resume. When you post your resume to a job board, you lose a degree of control. Just about anyone can view your resume, even your current employer. This is something that many job seekers don’t think about.

Keep in mind that some companies have set up searches so they know if one of their current employees has posted their resume to a job board. Hiring managers and human resources professionals often scan the job boards looking for employees of their own company who have their resumes posted. If you post a resume on certain job boards, you don’t know where your resume is going. It could end up just about anywhere including in the hands of your current employer, who now knows you are looking for a new job.

Sharita: That’s a scary proposition, having your current employer find out that you’re conducting a job search. Does that happen a lot?

Stacy: I’ve seen that situation happen, and it creates problems, especially for the job seeker. When you put something on the Internet, and it doesn’t matter what it is, you can lose control over who has it and where it goes.

Sharita: Stacy, I have a question. Have you had candidates who applied for a job through an online ad and also tried to work with you in an effort to be considered for the same position?

Stacy: Yes, I have! And for many reasons, that is NOT a good idea.

Sharita: Why is that?

Stacy: Applying for a job through multiple sources does not make a good impression with hiring authorities. The same goes for applying for multiple positions with the same organization or even using different recruiting agencies to represent you. Some of our hiring managers have told me that it sent them a red flag when the same candidate kept coming into the company through more than one source. They actually started questioning the credibility of that candidate. The hiring manager started to wonder, is this candidate about to get fired or do they change jobs often?

I’ve had candidates more numerous to count who have “shotgun” their resumes all over the Internet and applied for multiple positions with multiple employers. Then they come to me and ask for help finding a job. By that time, though, they’ve already branded themselves poorly with those organizations. Applying for positions through every channel imaginable is NOT an effective job search or career growth strategy.

Sharita: So if a job seeker had to choose just one avenue to use to apply for a particular position, you would recommend a recruiter and not an online ad?

Stacy: I absolutely would , and I’m not just saying that because I’m a recruiter. I have some statistics and data to back that up.

Earlier this year, hiring expert Lou Adler wrote a great article on LinkedIn titled, “Why Job Boards Are the Worst Way to Get a Job.” In that article, he referenced a report from Lever.co, an applicant tracking system. The report stated that among their clients, only one person out of 150 found a job by applying directly, either on the client’s website or through an online job posting. This ratio was based on 1.5 million applicants for 15 thousand different jobs.

So even if you see a job online and you apply for it, you have a 1-in-150 chance of getting hired. And that might be if you’re lucky. When you leave yourself at the mercy of job postings, there are many variables that are out of your control. This is another reason why relying upon online postings will only take you so far with your job search and your career.

Sharita: So when you get right down to it, the main reason that job seekers should not rely on job boards is that applying through them is just not that effective.

Stacy: That’s right. Those are pretty long odds to beat when you apply for a job through an online ad. As a job seeker, your goal should be to present yourself as an exclusive candidate, to stand out from the crowd. It’s much more difficult to stand out from the crowd if your chances of landing the job are 1-in-150.

Sharita: So how can a job seeker stand out from the crowd and present themselves as an exclusive candidate?

Stacy: For the answer to that, I want to go back to Lou Adler’s article. According to that article, the Lever.co report also showed that if a person was referred for a position, there was a 10-in-1 chance they would land the job. So that’s 1-in-150 with a job board vs. 1-in-10 with somebody referring you.

The fact of the matter is when you are referred by another person for a position, you are much more likely to get the job. Now, there are a number of different people who could refer you.

It could be a colleague who already works at the company. Or it could be a colleague who doesn’t work at the company, but who has influence within your field.

Sharita: So it doesn’t necessarily have to be a recruiter?

Stacy: That’s correct. However, professionals who are referred by a recruiter do have a distinct advantage over those who are referred by other people, like the ones I just referenced.

Sharita: Why is that?

Stacy: Because the recruiter has knowledge of things that the other people probably do not. Those things include:

  • Inside information about the job opening
  • Information regarding the company’s hiring techniques and preferences
  • The company’s hiring goals in both the short term and for the long haul
  • What starting salary and/or benefits the company is willing to pay

Not only that, but a recruiter also has a working relationship with the hiring authority or other decision makers within the organization. Even if a job seeker is referred by somebody who is working at the company, there’s no guarantee that the person has a working relationship with the hiring manager. That gives the person who’s been referred by a recruiter an edge in the hiring process.

Sharita: We may have addressed this question before, but wouldn’t a company shy away from choosing a candidate who’s represented by a recruiter because it doesn’t want to pay the recruiter’s fee?

Stacy: That’s a great question, and I’m glad you asked it.

Organizations do NOT engage recruiters just so they can avoid paying their fee. They engage recruiters because they want the best candidates in the marketplace. They are willing to pay a recruiter’s fee so they can have access to those candidates. Without the recruiter, they don’t have that access.

Job seekers should not be fooled into thinking that companies will steer clear of a candidate represented by a recruiter simply because of the fee. Keeping a position open for too long or even worse, hiring the wrong person, is far more costly than paying a recruiter’s fee. If you’re the right person, the company will want to hire you—period. And they will be willing to pay a recruiter’s fee in order to do it. If they are paying a recruiter’s fee to get the candidate, they are going to be more interested in keeping that person once they hire them, as well, to protect their investment.

Sharita: So if a job seeker really wants to set themselves apart and also set themselves up for a better chance of success, they should consider working with a recruiter.

Stacy: That’s exactly right. Working with a recruiter can definitely improve your odds for success. With online job ads, on the other hand, you can put yourself at a disadvantage, both in your job search and even with your current employer.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!