Recently, I had an extended conversation with Bret Brania '98 LAS (UI), Partner with Human Capital Management Solutions, on the future of job boards as a recruiting and job search resource.
Q: You have mentioned that you believe that job boards are dying. What has led you to this conclusion?
Bret: Job boards were originally built to meet the recruiting demands of the .COM boom. Employers were having difficulty finding prospective candidates and there were very few recruiting options other than newspaper ads. At the time, job boards worked well and connected employers to a larger audience.
Job Boards are now too diluted with unqualified candidates and positing jobs on the internet typically delivers an unsatisfactory result. Talent acquisition in this day and age is a result of relationship management rather than finding and building relationships through the internet. Job boards do not typically hit the targeted audience and candidates on the job boards are applying for a wide range of positions which in turn, has a negative return on a recruiter’s investment. Companies are having difficulty screening the large number of job board applicants and thus "qualified candidates" are slipping through the cracks.
Q: If job boards die, how will candidates find job openings instead?
Brett: While recruiters have always prided themselves on relationship building it is ever so important to do so in this day and age. Recruiters have had to learn how to adapt with the ever changing market demands and so should candidates. Tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media avenues have opened so many new doors for potential candidates and employers. While recruiters are always focused on building their networks, candidates need to do the same, whether they are passive or active. If recruiters are trying to build a talent pipeline, candidates need to become part of that strategic process. In building relationships, candidates can develop an understanding of a company's needs and then communicate how they could provide solutions.
Q: Social media is offering an alternative to traditional job boards, but what concerns do recruiters have about utilizing social media?
Brett: A candidate's biggest concern should be an employer's access to all the information about them online. In particular Facebook pages show a lot of personal decisions that may not positively enhance someone's professional image. Candidates can set privacy settings and decide which platform they use to connect with different people. The key to using social media is building and leveraging relationships. Recruiters and candidates need to find people with knowledge and skills who have developed a "voice" in their community. The trick is going to where these people are and using LinkedIn, MeetUp, Twitter and user groups to identify and connect with them. Networking is about relationships and reputation.
Q: How should candidates refocus their search strategies?
Brett: While job boards are broken, they should be used as a tool in a candidate's search. Postings are an indication of who is hiring and the skill set that they are looking for. Candidates can then use the relationships that they have built to get in front of the right person. Even when the company is using an applicant tracking system, networking can help candidates make connections to help navigate the process. Through networking, candidates can also identify preferred competitors, vendors and recruiting agencies and gather information for a market analysis. The market is ever so changing and no one can be complacent so do your best to continue to build your network of potential candidates/client contacts as you never know when you may need them.
Q: How can alumni of the University of Illinois be successful in this changing environment?
Brett: University of Illinois alumni should (1) develop the habit of lifelong networking regardless of whether they are currently employed or not, (2) See networking as relationship building instead of as a transaction and (3) develop consistent professional branding across media. With this active approach, alumni can be well positioned before the pink slip comes. Utilize the alumni networking services provided by the University and build relationships with potential recruiters within this network. My contact information is provided below.
Bret Brania '98 LAS (UI) is a Partner with Human Capital Management Solutions
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