The tech job market has been on a rollercoaster for the past few years. We’ve gone from fishing in nearly empty ponds to managing job postings with thousands of applicants. For recruiters and hiring managers hoping to close hard-to-fill roles, this should be a good thing, but many recruiters in our networks are finding the opposite to be true. When each job posting is garnering unprecedented levels of attention, recruiters have the impossible task of sifting through thousands of resumes to find the best fit candidates. Before we get into the potential problem with inbound recruiting, let’s take a closer look at the market conditions that led us here.
For the last few years, demand for tech workers has been so high that many workers, regardless of job function or skill level, were able to easily find work and negotiate higher pay. Compared to just last year, when Amazon and Microsoft boosted compensation to keep pace with inflation and retain employees, the past few months have been something else entirely.
According to a new analysis from ZipRecruiter, tech hiring fell after the Federal Reserve began aggressively hiking interest rates in mid-2022. Fed rate hikes have also led to a slowdown in high-growth stocks, which explains the surge of Big Tech layoffs and hiring freezes. Employers that are still hiring are facing a difficult situation - too many candidates and not enough open roles.
So there are more candidates in the market than previous years and job postings are being slammed with candidate interest - why exactly is this a bad thing for recruiters and hiring managers?
Let’s take the example of a founder we spoke to a few weeks ago, we’ll call him Bark. Bark opened a job post on LinkedIn three months ago and he’s since gotten over 2,000 applications. Between sorting through resumes and conducting initial candidate reviews, he estimates he's now spent hundreds of hours trying to fill this role. Less than 2% of the applications he’s received are from qualified candidates, so he's spent more time sorting through inbound applications than actually reaching out to candidates. He can’t keep up with the number of applicants, so a large percentage of candidates are slipping through the cracks and getting a pretty terrible recruiting experience. These candidates are likely to think twice before applying to the company in the future. Although these candidates may not be great for this role, Bark has now lost access to a pool of applicants that might have been qualified for other roles. Despite all of this, he insists on relying completely on general job boards to find his purple unicorn. He thinks quantity equals quality, so he’ll keep spending time, money, and effort to dig through applications.
The problem with relying on inbound recruiting is three-pronged:
Even in the best of times, recruiting technical talent can be an uphill battle. After (almost) a decade of managing our own searches, we honed in on three strategies for avoiding the job board hustle.
The goal of a filtering criteria is to reduce the number of candidates who don’t meet your job requirements before they even apply. You can do this by creating a series of questions that ask about previous experience, skill level, and education in relation to the position you’re hiring for. It will help you weed out applicants who aren’t qualified or interested in what you have available. See the image below for the list of questions we asked applicants for our Account Manager position. Note how the questions require some thought but not too much effort that it turns off potentially great candidates. By moving away from ‘Easy Apply’ and asking your candidates for more information, you allow the best candidates to self-select.
The first step to avoiding job boards is to build a toolbelt of sourcing tools. These can be anything from internal databases to resume databases like Sourcing.io or portfolio sites like Github or Behance. These tools provide access to great candidates without having to sort through job boards for every search.
The key is to find the right tools for your organization. If you’re a tech company, it makes sense to invest in hiring marketplaces (like Underdog.io) that cater specifically to the technical talent you need. If your business is more B2C-focused, then social media platforms such as Twitter or TikTok might be a better fit for sourcing candidates.
One of the best ways to save time on sourcing is to automate your processes. If you find yourself repeating the same searches or applications over and over again, it’s worth looking into tools that can help streamline these tasks. Sourcing tools (like Underdog.io!) allow you to integrate with your ATS, reducing the number of manual tasks you’re doing. Automating candidate communications can also reduce the pressure of managing a search. Setting up automatic messages for candidate applications, rejections and everything in between ensures that candidates have a positive experience without having to manually send out hundreds of emails.
In the end, using job boards is sometimes a necessary evil to source talent. They can be a great source of potential candidates when you're in a pinch, but they shouldn't be your only option. By using the strategies outlined above to supplement what you get from job boards, you can decrease the amount of time you spend sorting through low quality applications while improving the quality of candidates that make it to your short list.