By Diane M. Calabrese / Published September 2018
More is not always better. Sometimes it is just more.
Online hiring tools offer many pluses, such as the reach of ads and speed of connecting with prospective employees, but there are some minuses. A significant one falls into the “too much of a good thing” category.
“It is so easy for people to apply for jobs online that it can be overwhelming when you post a job and then have to start filtering through applications,” says Chad Rasmussen, CFO, Royce Industries L. C. in West Jordan, UT. “I sometimes feel like people apply not even knowing what the job is—and it does take valuable time to go through applicants and filter unqualified candidates out.”
Even so, Rasmussen appreciates the utility of online hiring. “It does take time, but I think that the benefits outweigh the downsides,” he explains.
An employer can take one or both of two approaches when using online tools. Resumes that job hunters have posted online can be searched, or a job ad can be posted.
“We have found posting job openings more helpful than searching for resumes via online websites,” says Rasmussen. Having given a lot of thought to the optimal way to use online hiring tools, he adds that the best approach may change by region.
“The effectiveness of certain online tools might be greater in some areas than others,” says Rasmussen. “For example, in one geographical region people might really like to use Craigslist to search for potential jobs, while a neighboring area might favor a local classifieds site.”
Rasmussen’s company does have a preference. “We post jobs in a variety of places online, but I prefer ZipRecruiter,” he says. “ZipRecruiter posts your job in multiple places and tracks candidates in an easy, online interface.”
Positive experience duly considered, Rasmussen says that online hiring tools are often not the ultimate source of ideal candidates. “Online hiring tools are great, and we have hired a lot of people through them,” he says. “At the end of the day, though, nothing is better than a referral.”
The value of a strong referral cannot be overstated. Hiring via online tools does not necessarily allow positions to be filled more quickly in the experience of Doug Rucker, owner of Clean and Green Solutions in Porter, TX.
“We find more success hiring within our own community via word of mouth or recommendations from friends or clients,” says Rucker. “Our church has been a great resource for hiring.”
The abundance of applicants via an online posting is real, but many of the applicants are not a fit.
“Too many applicants” is just one issue with online hiring, explains Rucker. “There are many applicants who respond who do not meet the hiring criteria that were posted. It takes a lot of time to weed through the volume of applicants and filter what might work for our company.”
Although Rucker has used online hiring tools, it has not been with any success to date. “While we received many applicants, we have never actually hired anyone through them.”
While low unemployment characterizes almost every place in the United States in 2018, there are some geographic regions where it is so low that employers have a great need to reach out to other regions and to pools of prospective hires who have not been fully tapped. Henry Bockman, president of Commercial Restorations in Germantown, MD, is based in such a region—the Washington, DC, metropolitan area (including the District and its adjacent Maryland and Virginia suburbs).
Using online hiring tools has been a great help, says Bockman. “The employee market in the DC metro area is horrible, so I use any resource I can find.”
Among the many commercial employer and employee connection sites, Bockman particularly likes two. “Indeed and Betterteam are my favorites due to the number of applicants I have gotten from them.”
Betterteam.com enables an employer to post to more than 100 sites that job hunters use. There is a cost associated with Indeed and Betterteam.
Depending on the online tool an employer uses, the cost to post may be extracted from the number of clicks the ad receives or from an upfront flat fee for a month (or some other interval). Payment schemes vary and change.
Like Rasmussen and Rucker, Bockman has had the experience of capturing too many applicants who do not meet the requirements for the job. He infers that so many mismatches occur because many who apply have not read the job description carefully.
“Indeed has a feature that blocks most applicants if they don’t answer questions properly, but it’s far from perfect,” explains Bockman. The site is also trying to assist employers with screening.
“Indeed is testing a skills feature where applicants can answer a bunch of industry-related questions to show their knowledge,” says Bockman. “The problem is that it’s too specific, and they don’t have anything for pressure washing. I volunteered to write one for them, but I am not sure if they will do it or not.”
Because so many applicants do not meet requirements outlined in a posting, be careful about the costs, says Bockman. “It’s important when using pay-per-click services to make sure you’re not being charged for applicants that don’t meet your minimum requirements.”
Bockman uses a range of online tools to find employees. “We use Facebook, Twitter, Indeed, Maryland unemployment site, various veterans’ programs, Betterteam, Craigslist, and ZipRecruiter.”
Online resources for hiring extend well beyond the use of ad posting and resume-consolidating sites. “I use the Maryland Judiciary Case Search to check criminal histories—and check applicants’ Facebook and Twitter accounts to see how professional they are,” says Bockman.
(Each state is quite different in terms of which public records are available online. In Maryland, there is virtually nothing private. Anyone can find any record about a person. In other states, records such as home ownership and cost, criminal record, and political affiliation are much more protected. Moreover, in some jurisdictions, employers cannot ask about criminal history until after a job offer is made.)
Take full advantage of the criteria that are permissible in a job posting in accordance with the laws that apply to the location where the hiring will be done. Bockman says that some of his minimum requirements are “to have no felonies, have a driver’s license, be over age 23, and have common sense”—and he emphasizes common sense.
“What is the most important thing when looking for employees?” says Bockman. “Common sense plus honesty, responsibility, and a good work ethic.”
Before making an investment in the use of one or more online job-posting sites, an employer can make certain that every free source of online recruitment is being exploited. One way to do that is to go to USA.gov—the portal to all dimensions of the federal government—and search for the topic “finding a job” or, more specifically, “finding a job in Georgia” (or any other state). It’s a way to see what jobseekers do and identify websites where they are looking. Be sure to post jobs as appropriate to state- and town-specific sites.
Many employers include a “jobs” link on their website. The only problem with such a tool is that if a jobseeker connects to it only to read “there are no jobs available at this time—please check back again”—or something similar, the job hunter may get a negative impression of the company.
If there are no jobs available, an employer might choose a different approach, such as asking the job seeker to indicate in 100 words (limit length) what skills he or she would bring to the company. The response will serve as something of an online personal referral.
One of the websites that a USA.gov “finding a job” search points online seekers to is Careeronestop.org, a robust resource for people who are serious about finding a job. Employers can peruse the site to get some excellent ideas about how to link to good prospects for hiring.
Careeronestop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. Because it is designed to help everyone find employment, advice is provided to populations such as veterans, older workers, persons with disabilities, and career changers. Again, looking at the advice given to prospective employees at the site can give an employer useful insight into tools that might be useful for finding new employees.
Creativity in hiring is no different online than in the real world. Exchanging ideas with professionals virtually via LinkedIn or in-person via a seminar is a good way to get a sense of whether there might be an employer-employee relationship in the future.
Also consider discussing the possibility of consolidated online job postings within relevant professional organizations, if the organizations do not yet have such postings. Posting could be a benefit of membership.
Be creative. It is possible to tie “more” and “good” together.