An Apology to All Job Seekers and Candidates 36 Comments

We call it the candidate experience.  You call it BS.  We call it employment brand.  You just want respect.


The first job board was launched in the early 90’s.  Some experts state there are now more than 40,000 job boards.  Add in publisher networks, blogs, and communities and the number quickly surpasses 100,000.  To me, it’s job pollution and borderline corruption (depending on the site and their business practices).

You see a job online, want to apply, and want a call back.  Is a company even receiving your Resume? Not in greedy, we-have-more-visitors-than-you centric environment – where sites are buying traffic from each other, re-posting employers jobs without their consent, sponsoring the jobs, and building databases to re-sell them later.  I call these sites bottom feeders, and we’ll be shedding some much needed light on them in the coming months.

And just when Recruiters started averaging over 220 Resume’s per job, it’s not enough.  We need more pollution and confusion, like  the possibility of another million job boards coming.

Crap, did I ask you if you are you following us on twitter yet? Because we can be arrogant enough to think you’ll sit in from of your computer and watch a 1-way communication (or RSS feed for short) – so just when we post the job you want – you’ll be ready to apply.  Oh, if you don’t use twitter that’s OK, we now use what we call “social recruiting” – which includes things like thousands of company facebook fan pages that are online if that works better for you.  And yes, we call some of these “interactive” because they have some really cool videos we shot on our corporate campus.  If you’re still not finding any of this convenient, that’s OK because you likely have a mobile device and all of our content will be mobile-enabled next month.

On behalf recruiters, vendors, consultants, and experts, let me say we’re sorry.

For what?

  • Arrogance and ego’s
  • Confusion and chaos
  • Over-complicating the process
  • The lack of respect, and customer focus
  • An online nightmare
  • Not delivering on basic commitments

Online recruiting is evolving, like most things.  One would expect it would less complicated and time consuming with nearly 2 decades of history under our belts.

I should add that there are many companies and recruiters doing it right, and kudos to them.  We’ll also be highlighting these organizations and Recruiters in upcoming articles.

But, as a job seeker and candidate you shouldn’t have to wonder – or worry about over half of the chaos and confusion that’s being created.  And for that, we apologize.

About Jason Buss

Talent HQ’s creator and editor is Recruiting & Diversity Leader, Jason Buss. Talent HQ is a premier online news and information channel for the Recruiting and Human Resources community.

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  • Posted on: Saturday, April 24th, 2010
  • This Post Has 36 Comments

    1. great post– just shows why employee referrals are #1…bypass the BS with the help of your network–real network, people who know you are smart and dedicated..not those who follow you on twitter…..

    2. Bob Etheridge says:

      I loved this post. Bravo.

    3. Great post.

      Employee referral will continue to remain one of the highest sources of hire (as Dina
      noted above) because quite frankly, it’s the easiest. Having an “in” pretty much ensures your resume will be reviewed and you’ll get at least a first interview.

      The use of new media (SEO, SEM, social and mobile) is not meant to complicate the candidate experience if done correctly it’s meant to enhance it. The goal of web 2.0 recruitment strategies (in my opinion) is about connecting with candidates in the way that they prefer, and at a time that’s convenient for them. It’s not about forcing your message and spamming them with job descriptions.

      Companies that ARE doing it right use social media as a two-way communication channel and a way to offer content such as videos that help candidates size up a cultural fit.

      It’s very easy to get lost in the hype of all the new recruiting tactics and techniques available these days. Sometimes I think we forget the “human element” of recruiting – effectively communicating and building relationships.

    4. Jason says:

      Thanks Dina, great points.


    5. Jason says:

      Thanks Nicole, you’ve added some great thoughts too. I hope things are going well – I look forward to connecting soon!


    6. Jason,
      This is a great post, and totally demonstrates the true experienced from the Non Experienced Recruiter.. It shows That there is a difference between those who actually Recruit using effective relationship tools not only saved for “clients” but also for candidates. – From those who just collect resumes and blast them out to companies. What many of the more ‘trained” recruiters will call Paper/ body Pushers – Or “body factories” for the way that they treat their candidates.

      After spending nearly two decades in this industry and hearing the “arguments” to try to support this type of behavior that you mention – we who Are STILL around decades later can notice not only the destruction of the behavior to the industry, but we also notice that the majority who continue to use these tactics REALLY don’t last — they purge themselves out of the industry, but NOT before they actually have created chaos and devastation for all of those who remain.

      As long as we continue to have Ill Advised, non practicing self proclaimed “experts” who haven’t a lick of experience in what they train (but say they do) – as long as this industry continue to perpetuate training of those who can’t make it, so they became trainers..but darn they are so popular and friendly, and cute, so let’s make ‘em trainers.. As long as the UNeducated continues to Train the UNeducated to do this behavior, and not understand the negative outcome.. well, we can’t expect it to change.. can we?

    7. Alex says:

      I only agree with this post to a point. There are about 100,000 job boards more than needed, but that is not the problem here. Job boards have entered the social sphere for a reason: customers are still complaining that the right candidates are not applying.
      The easiest way to get more candidates is to post jobs in more places; like social media sites and job aggregation boards. On the job board side, this increases the exposure and brings in more applicants.
      The other side of the problem though is when employers simply ignore applicants deemed unworthy, or worse: when employers/recruiters are just collecting a database in case they can do something down the road. Applicants need to know that their documents are being processed for good or bad. The lack of feedback is discouraging many applicants who in turn are then disappointing employers who want more applicants.

    8. Great Article. Good starting point for a debate.
      In January, I did some research where I rang over 100 people from job ads where there was a specific instruction to ring the consultant to discuss the role. The respose was quite appalling.
      When I published, the reaction was extraordinary.
      A stack of candidaes, and a few consultants, supported my point of view, but I got a significant amount of mail accusing me of being incompetent., and/or lying
      My favourite was “I’ve been a recruiter for years and I’ve never failed to return a call, and I’ve got other firend who are also in tis business, and they haven’t either.”
      However, the most common response was along the lines of “Well, I”M perfect, but I can’t vouch for anyone else.
      So I imagine the response of many of the readers is, yes, what a shame OTHER people treat candidates like that.

    9. Lisa says:

      Hopefully some day we’ll have job boards that are smart. There are an awful lot of applicants out there applying for jobs that they are anything but qualified for, contributing to the noise and confusion. On the other end employers are not getting what they want, like Alex says. To suggest that candidates can’t apply to whatever job they want would be rather undemocratic, but the technology that matches candidate to job and vice versa is still pretty rudimentary.
      Jobfox has tried matching along the lines of online dating services like Match; sounds interesting, but I was less than impressed with the results. I kept felt like I was missing something- which is maybe why we all want the chaos at the end of the day, candidates and employers. We don’t want to feel limited in any way.

    10. Mark Birch says:

      Jason, this is a marvelous shot across the bow of an industry that has become horribly broken. Automation has not made the task of finding a job / hiring the right candidate easier, it has made it infinitely harder!

      There are a five key issues:

      1) We basically lift open the flood gates and let anyone apply for jobs, so we get a tsunami of resumes. Would it be so hard to actually ask candidates to do a little more work outside of loading up their resume? The candidate expends no effort or applies any thought to the submission process.

      2) We provide job descriptions that are hopelessly generic, out-dated and mostly irrelevant to the actual work performed in the role. Does the hiring manager even read these things or give any thought into what the job really needs from a candidate?

      3) The matching technology used is a complete joke. The information is either based on resume scanned key words (easily gamed) or built from eHarmony like questionnaires (too high-level for a proper analysis). When assessment tests are provided, they are based on unscientific psycho-babble.

      4) We places too much emphasis on past performance. Not every role is going to be the same, despite the job title being hired for. How about actually emphasizing the skills the candidate has in relation to the skills needed in the position.

      5) Recruiters are focused on the sourcing; care little for the actual match itself. Too much of the compensation is focused on sourcing, not enough on the long-term success of candidates. Therefore, the market is simply supporting the premise that more nets are needed to catch more fish. There can never be enough job boards in the universe of recruiters.

    11. Jason says:

      I couldn’t have said it better! Thanks Karen.

    12. Jason says:

      Alex, I agree there are many issues. The number of people applying isn’t one of them – it’s higher today than ever before. Sure, unemployment is one factor, yet the same jobs are being posted to far too many channels. Then, sites are aggregating them to each other, and there are those that have arbitrage traffic – in that they buy and sell it. The issue with this is that employers don’t have relationships with a lot of these sites, and they never see the Resume of the job seeker who assumed he or she applied to a job.

      Lisa, thanks for adding. We can’t feel limited, yet there is so much chaos with what we have today.


    13. Helene says:

      What sites do you recommend where the job seeker? Which ones have reputable practices. Which ones are just trolling for resumes?

    14. Jason says:

      Great point Robert. Did you publish the research? Sounds interesting.


    15. Jason says:

      Mark, very well said and all are valid points.


    16. Heidi says:


      I always LOVE coming to your site because you provide pertinent information. Thanks for sharing this post. The reality is as recruiters, talent management professional, human capital management strategist, talent acquisition leaders (you get my point), we are in the business of connecting people with opportunities.

      Notice I used the word “people”…people connect with people… this is a people business and requires the human touch. If a person is uncomfortable working with and managing “human resources”, they should not be in the business of managing “human/people/talent resource. Simply put if one does not like interacting with people (hiring managers and candidates) why is he or she in this business? If one is simply blasting resumes, managing a applicant tracking system I would question if that individual is really a recruiter. It seems they are more of a paper pusher than one who manages human resources.

      Honestly, is it fair to ask candidates to sit by a computer all day and stare at a screen looking for opportunities? In some cases they have to spend 30 mins to an hour applying for a job only to never hear from the company because their resume did not register with the key word? It makes no sense….

      Finally, I would argue that Technology should be leveraged to support us do our work better and more efficiently, but because we are a people business it can not replace the human touch. It should be used as a means to reach and connect with people.

    17. Jason says:


      Thanks, I appreciate your note. We always hear recruiting is a sales and marketing function – in HR. Yet, we can easily forget what happens to all of the prospects along the way of focusing on the one we “sell” to.


    18. Phil says:

      Great post Jason!

      As a former job seeker and a corporate recruiter I don’t really care if a company doesn’t get back to me with an update on my status…. Perhaps I’m too dulled to reality and have lost my expectations of civility but that’s just the way it is.

      What really frustrated me was the hour long application process of entering data, and answering questions that I knew had nothing to do with the job at hand. I know that the recruiters were going to pull up my resume to look at my last job title and to see if I was a job hopper, then they wanted to know where I live, and finally if I needed sponsorship to work in the US or had a criminal history. Based on these 4-5 facts they would make a decision on if they would spend more time on me.

      Why can’t we just send a resume and answer 4-5 questions….. Has anyone applied to Microsoft, Apple or Amazon lately. They each have awesome systems and they are fighting for top talent. They get it!

      If you don’t drop the stupid application process that no one even takes the time to look at then you will loose the war on talent.

      Note I didn’t apply for a job until I had an “inside” employee referring me first which also helps.


    19. Al says:


      I found this accidently but an very happy that I did. I am a job seeker and very upset at the industry and processes you have set up. There are major concerns I have on Key Words sterotyping by age, education, generic job descriptions and lack of follow-up by recruiters. By setting up all of the electronic capabilities, you have forgotten that there are poeple at the other end. Us job seekers are being treated less than a hot dog in a meat market.

      I have written separate cover letters, resumes and introductory letters for positions I have applied and have received less that a 5% response from the recruiters. This is both company located individuals and people whose only job is recruiting. That is a sad response rate. I have also had my private home number given to telemarketers calling about higher education–who in business needs more than a MBA and a technical degree? But I am still receiving calls and someone is making money on giving my name away.

      I have found all bu one of my own leads, I have searched job boards but have not found anything which describes the position in enough detail so I usually call the company and end up not applying because I get a 19 to 22 year old that is not qualified to make a decision on a senior manager.

      Your industry needs to clean up what is going on and needs to understand that some of us, like myself, when I do get a senior level position, how will you expect me to respond to your industry? I myself will find it interesting when I have to hire my first employee. I know the last person I hired, I called HR and said I am sending a candidate to you. I found a person knowing I would need one before I even sent in a job request. I will probably do the same in the future.


    20. Fred says:

      Funny, you’re guilty of what you accuse the boards and employers of doing. What’s that in the top right corner of your blog site (you’re using wordpress right)? Follow us on twitter? Join or facebook page? If you’re going to write this dribble and “apologize” then start by stopping what you accuse others of doing.

    21. Traci says:

      Nice post, I couldn’t have said it better myself. It was long overdue from anyone and you have the grace to state it so well.

      I was on both sides of the equation in the last year and my personal experience has changed my attitude about the process and the tools available, perception of some organizations, appreciation for those that do it right, and my commitment NOT be “that person” moving forward in the role I’m performing.

    22. Jason says:

      Fred, the icons you reference are for a community – one to network in and engage with. They aren’t to blast jobs through, or to mislead candidates by having them sign up, build a profile, and submit a Resume for jobs that don’t exist.


    23. Jason says:


      Thanks for the comment. We’ve heard similar stories from many – including a lot of HR professionals and Recruiters.


    24. Jason says:

      Al, you raise some valid and pretty serious concerns. As many have stated, networking and referrals are the best way to get into an organization and meet with leaders. Good luck with your search.


    25. Jason says:


      Thanks for pointing out a few organizations that are doing it right. I agree with your points on the application process with a lot of companies. That’s one of the reasons there is a significant drop off from those that start the process than the ones that actually finish it.

      As you stated, referrals are the best source, that is one thing that has never changed.


    26. Amber says:

      Hi Jason,

      Great post with some very valid points. I relate to both sides: Recruiter and Job Seeker. As a recruiter who is responsible for selecting top talent for my company, I find it hard to believe that recruiters can so easily and readily use the ‘cookie cutter’ method of recruiting, evaluating, and selecting talent. Any resume that I review is reviewed in detail. I always have multiple positions that I am recruiting for and found that some of our most promising applicants apply for a position but after reviewing their resume I feel that they may also be qualified for another position in my company and will always reach out to the applicant to inform them of the position. We have actually hired employees this way and they were a much better fit for another position.

      As far as using so many channels to recruit: I completely understand that this can cause problems for seekers as well as recruiters especially with the third-party job boards in the picture. However, I feel like the need to use mass channels, especially social media, has stemmed from job seekers frustration in having to go to individual job boards or even company web sites to search for openings. There has been an overwhelming message from job seekers that says ‘I’m willing to seek out work, but I also want the employer to seek me.’ Recruiters will go where the job seekers are at. Social Media has worked very well for us. It also allows us to create more of a welcoming message to the job seekers when we come to them via social media that they use frequently.

      I will be the first to admit that I’m not great at responding to all my applicants. Try as I may, I receive so many resumes that sometimes it feels impossible to respond to all. My main focus is to review them in detail. But, reading some of these posts though reminds me how important that is, so, will be committed to that from this point forward.

    27. Was published by Recruiter Daily, and excellent Aust publication. You might have to join to read (it’s free)

    28. Great post & I agree with Heidi’s comment that Technology needs to support a more efficient process & as a means for connecting with people and connecting those people with jobs — not replace the human touch. Technology never actually hired anyone.

      As a purveyor an applicant tracking system, I have a dirty little secret in that I would never post my resume online or submit it into an ATS without first contacting the company & making a meaningful connection. I prefer to define my own candidate experience.

    29. doug says:

      Really fine Post.

      I expect many senior managers who read this Post did a quick and nervous check of their company site’s recruiting page, social media pages, and so on.

    30. Michael Twede says:

      This is a great post.

      I have recently re-entered the ranks of the job seekers. After getting over the initial shock, one of the first things I did was register with the Employment Department. Then I was introduced to the iMatch system. After creating my profile and running a search, I had 136 matches. Later I discovered that most of these postings had staffing agencies listed in the contact section. From there it blossomed. I started submitting my resume online to these dozens of agencies and then it spidered into Monster, LinkedIn, and many other resource oriented sites and job boards.

      The process has gotten so complicated that I have two Excel spreadsheets just for tracking where I have applied and staffing agencies I am currently working with. Recording the job reference numbers helps, but you are never sure whose job number it is (agencies? companies?).

      Also on Monster sometimes they have a posting button on the frame surrounding the job announcement, but often times there is also a link in the job announcement itself where you can apply. Later I found out that the monster job posting submission goes to the staffing agencies and the link usually goes to the company, but sometimes goes to the agency as well. Any one else confused?

      The worst part for me is that sometimes (usually a day or two after a recruited represents me to their client company, I get an email from a different staffing agency offering me the same job opportunity. I don’t mind if I don’t hear back from a recruiter after submission, but it does bother me when they can’t keep track of each others clients.

      Networking and employee referrals are starting to look more appealing all the time!

    31. Rex Range says:


      Thank you for this. Finally someone in the recruiting community gives a damn about what we as job seekers are going through as we “bother” them to, um, try to help our families survive through the worst global economy in any of our lifetimes. Recruiters and their clients have been putting job seekers through hell for years now because the horrifying economy puts them in a position of power, and most of the morons walking this earth just can’t resist abusing any shred of power once they get it in their craven little hands. What they should be doing, what we were all put on this earth to do, is to take an even-handed approach and treat people properly no matter what the circumstances, and all help each other get through this. If you’ve created a million job websites but now don’t think they’re worth having, CLOSE ‘EM DOWN. If you have a brilliant new idea for getting hired that no one is talking about, TELL US.

      Thank you, Jason, for being a ray of light among recruiters. To all of the recruiters and clients who continue to grind us into the dust because you think you can get away with it: Payback is coming.

    32. Meg Lynch says:


      I really enjoyed your article and can agree, we have forgotten about the candidate experience. It’s all about the hire. We talk about branding and can’t walk the talk.

    33. Beth Ann says:

      Blunt honesty. How refreshing. And if there is such as thing as karma, I cannot wait to see it come around.

    34. […] guess I was scared. I want to start right now with apologizing to job seekers. Being in-between jobs is a scary place to be and sometimes our advice can be hard nosed and not terribly empathetic. And even when you have […]

    35. […] gave an example of job pollution last year in my post apologizing to job seekers and candidates: “The first job board was […]

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