The Perils of Playing Job Board Roulette


People who post positions on sites like LinkedIn tend to fall into two camps. Those who expect their posting will result in a selection of qualified candidates and those who post the job hoping against hope that they’re going to luck out.

The people in the first camp tend not to have a lot of experience with the recruitment process. They know that position postings result in a lot of resumes and assume that most people who respond to position postings read the position and qualification specifications carefully and only send in their resumes if they think they’re a fit.

People in the second camp tend to be professional recruiters. Recruiters have lots of experience with triaging resumes gleaned through job boards and know that the majority of the people who respond to their postings will range from kinda/sorta in the ball park to wildly inappropriate. Of course, job postings can and do produce well qualified candidates but that’s very much the exception and not the rule.

Be an Educated Consumer

I fall into the second camp. And part of the reason that I’m so skeptical about the results postings produce is that I’m a very educated consumer. Being a head-hunter, my primary activity is to hunt heads. I know that the vast majority of the candidates that make up my short lists are not actively on the market so they’re not responding to job postings. However, they will respond to me if I approach directly with an attractive opportunity.

Casual users of job boards may have a vague idea of what they’re looking for and what the overall market has to offer.  I have a very clear and specific profile that I’m looking for on any of my searches and I know exactly what the overall market has to offer. I don’t assume that the ad response represents the field of available candidates. Not even close.

I’m paid to know what the candidate market has to offer and I’m paid to be fussy. So, on any given search I might look at eighty or more resumes sent in response to a position posting and only interview one or two of them. And even then it’s a less than a fifty-fifty chance that I’ll like any of these candidates well enough to include in my short list.

An Eye Opening Survey

I recently reviewed a number of senior postings we had on LinkedIn earlier this year. The positions posted were CFO, VP Finance or Director of Finance. I reviewed all the responses and totalled up the number of respondents and the number of those people who actually made it onto a short list.

The highest number of respondents on a single posting was 168; the lowest was 52. The average number of respondents on a posting was 87.4. Two thirds of the postings produced one or two candidates that we interviewed and I didn’t end up interviewing anyone from the other third.

The average success rate in terms of qualified candidates, people that ended up on my short list, was 1.14%. For every 87.4 resumes that I reviewed in response to my position postings, only one of them made it to an interview with my client.

Hiring the Best of the Meh?

If hiring authorities want to hire senior financial talent and rely solely on LinkedIn job postings for their field of candidates, they are doing themselves a grave disservice. They may end up hiring someone from their ad responses but they certainly won’t be hiring the best of the best. They’ll be hiring the best of that particular pool of candidates. They’re overlooking about 85% of the other candidates that could and should be available to them.

This approach may work out for the hiring authority who’ll be satisfied with an adequate hire. However, in my thirty years of recruiting financial executives, I’ve yet to have a CEO give me a mandate to find them an adequate CFO. They all want a great CFO and that’s not something you should be willing to leave to chance.

Plays the Odds if You Want But…

If you want to play the odds and try to avoid the time and expense of a full-blown search, by all means give the LinkedIn job board a shot. But before you do, have a clear idea of what the ideal candidate looks like and don’t settle for less. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, it doesn’t mean they’re not out there, it just means that you’re going to have to hire someone to go looking for them.

If you think you may be in the market for top financial talent in the next few months, call me direct or email me, for a no obligation consultation.

(416) 567-7782

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