The Top 7 Recruiting Fails For 2012 15 Comments


2012 was a great year in recruiting.  After attending several recent events and networking with recruiters, recruiting leaders, and job seekers now is a great time to reflect back and publish what we’ve recently heard as the top 7 recruiting #fails in 2012.

  • #7 – Recruiting with Pinterest:  Gag.  Enough said.
  • #6 – Mobile Recruiting:  Mobile recruiting is a hot topic and has been for a couple of years. What’s being defined as a fail is the pace at which it is being adopted and the integration within recruiting processes, the candidate experience and job applications. The good news is there is a tremendous amount of work taking place and companies like JIBE are paving the way.
  • #5 – The Taleo Acquisition:  2012 was the year for acquisitions in the HR Tech space. Word on the street is the Taleo acquisition by Oracle can be defined as catastrophic.
  • #4 – Social Recruiting: You can access “The Truth About Social Recruiting Headlines” for some of the statistics we gathered earlier this year. Companies like and Cachinko are 2 examples that have been mentioned as social recruiting losers.
  • #3 – Talent Communities:  Pick the buzzword from network to community, the concept is often mis-labeled, mis-classified, and isn’t well defined.  Just ask job seekers for their opinion.  One group recently shared, “Talent Communities, my A$$. Figure out the basics and deliver on those. Signing up for a job alert isn’t the definition of community”.
  • #2 – BranchOut: 7 months ago BranchOut received an additional $25 million in funding and was boasting 25 million members. Fast forward to today, the app has plummeted to usage between 1.9 million to 2.8 million monthly active users – from 13.5 million earlier this year. The comedy behind this is some of the reporting that called BranchOut the LinkedIn killer just earlier this year.
  • #1 – The Facebook Job Board:  A few weeks ago I published “The Facebook Job Board Debacle” referring to the social jobs partnership so I won’t rehash it. I’ll simply add a quote from a conversation last week with a Fortune 500 recruiting leader who stated, “The 5 organizations behind one of the biggest recruiting fails in the past 5 years should be spanked, and spanked hard”.

Have other examples to share? Feel free to email them in, or leave them in comments. Cheers to 2013!


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: Tuesday, December 4th, 2012
  • This Post Has 15 Comments

    1. H. Shott says:

      Great list. I agree with most. However, you missed as a fail in 2012. From BeKnown and ever more layoffs rumored to their stock. The opportunity to capitalize in recruiting was theirs to take all year!

    2. Interested to know why people think the Taleo aquisition is a disaster? Clearly Oracle needed the deeper product expertise and some of the senior management. What went wrong after the acquistion ?

    3. Tim Sackett says:


      Great list – Talent Communities are a joke – 99% of corporate recruiting departments don’t have the extra staff to really do this well, and even then their isn’t any ROI. Mobile recruiting is something sold by vendors, but in reality how many people are really applying for and looking for jobs on their smart phone? They still go to a big screen to apply, search, etc. I can’t see that really changing very quickly – but I might be wrong.

      I think you, like most in the Talent industry, have missed the Facebook thing! Potential to be a gigantic source, but like most good stuff in talent, you have to put work into it – you have to actually pick up a phone and call someone you’ve sourced – again 99% of folks won’t do this – so they think FB is a failure for recruiting. Good. Let’s keep it that way – so I can keep making money sourcing candidates off it!


    4. Jason says:

      To add to #3….call it 3.1….”passive candidate” as one of the most overused, miss used, and misunderstood buzzwords in the industry.

    5. Jason Buss says:

      Tim, thanks. Re: the Facebook thing – I am referring to the social jobs partnership, not Facebook as a source of talent. Great recruiters source and pick up the phone, lousy recruiters latch on to job boards (like the social jobs partnership) and hope like hell someone good applies. :)

    6. The Bullhorn deal made it under the wire in 2012 – may it pan out as well as Oracle/ Taleo

      Of course, the #1 recruiting fail of 2012?

      Paul Ryan.

    7. I have seen some Alpha work recently in the Valley around FaceBook and I would sustain for calling shots on it as of yet – very early days and reach and targeting potential cannot be underestimated. Also it is truly social unlike LinkedIn.

      Mobile – hmm Tim I think every data is poiting our that this is the way how we will be consuming WEB and jobs included – cannot see why I need to go to Big screen to apply except if application process is clumsy and set in last decade.

      Talent Communities – fully agree, not explained well yet, actualy no one knows what it is realy as of now. I’d say we should think more in terms of “interest networking”.

      Part of the confusion here is that social networks are often leveraged to construct interest networks, but the end shouldn’t be confused with the means. By definition, a social network organizes information about people and their activities. An “interest network” organizes information around a set of interests, which may be yours and yours alone.

    8. Deb Allen says:

      Thank you for the confirmation of Branchout, amazing what some people in my industry latch onto just due to media hype. Completely agree on the Talent Communities. Great article.

    9. Lauren Smith says:

      Great read Jason – but I gotta defend #3 Talent Communities :)

      You’re right that they’re often mislabeled – a database of contacts certainly isn’t a community.

      At Ascendify, we believe that a true talent community is like a private social network at the corporate career website. It requires 2-way communication so that employers can build relationships with candidates overtime. “Candidate nurturing”, if you will.

      A talent community should get candidates signed up within 60-seconds, and give them access to:
      – their mutual social connections to ask for referrals
      – Q&A with employees & hiring managers
      – recommended jobs
      – company culture & news
      – an enjoyable candidate experience

      If candidates aren’t yet ready to apply, a TC is the best place to keep them warm until the time is right.

      I’ll leave a best practice guide, if anyone is interested.

    10. I couldn’t have said these better myself. In fact, I already said some of these myself elsewhere…. Let me add a few more, not necessarily 2012 specific, but (unfortunately) rather timeless:

      1) Anyone who talks about “the war for talent”. They’re really talking about “the war for your recruiting budget” which THEY want to win.

      2) Anyone who feels most companies should emulate what rich “employers of choice” do to hire. A somewhat better policy might be to carefully study what these companies do, and do the opposite.

      3) Companies that believe it to going to an expensive recruiting/sourcing convention or hiring a well-heeled and famous recruiting consultant will get you better results than asking what your own people (who actually do the recruiting and sourcing) need and suggest, and then implementing what we say.

      4) Founders, CXOs, and sr. executives who wouldn’t dream of deciding legal or highly-specialized financial matters based on their own information, but think they know the best ways to hire.

      5) Hiring managers (at any level) who think that there is a link between academic attendance/GPA and the ability to do a job well in *most fields. (If YOU think there is, show me the formal, peer-reviewed studies that say so.)

      *I believe there IS a small correlation for attorneys.

    11. Jeff Sassenscheid says:

      Great article –

      The Taleo/Oracle transition is uncomfortable to watch from afar I can only imagine the internal issues. Oracle decided it wanted to be an ERP with a side bar specialization?

      Not sure the other acquisitions in this space over last 3 years are fully shaken out yet or are even know what and who they are yet – Peoplefluent????

      Keith H. your commentary is dead on in my opinion particularly about C suite believing they know about selection, process, true costs, etc.. But the comments about education are soooo true. When I was doing my internship for law school ( which thankfully I did not attend), the attorney I worked under was a sage for sure, and he said the following which in 19 years I consistently see as accurate: ” A’s become teachers, B’s become judges and C’s become rich”…

    12. Dave White says:

      I cannot agree more! This is right on the money! I see so many small companies buying into the hype of these fails and drop proven recruiting approaches in the hopes that there is some magic pill in all of this. All that happens is they waste time and money with little results. Thank you for this article.

    13. A true talent community requires not just two-way communication between recruiter and candidate. I think it is better to describe it as both vertical and horizontal in that recruiters and candidates should each be able to initiate and carry on conversations with each other but also (horrors!) candidates should be able to initiate and carry on conversations with each other.

      What kind of a community prohibits peers from interacting with each other? The only answer I can think of is a dysfunctional one.

    14. Catherine Tassano says:

      Great article. Whatever happen to recruitment done the old fashioned way, and done well? There are some great initiatives out there but nothing ever compares to knowing your industry, your business, and your candidate market well and flexing style where needed. All too often I see businesses getting hung up on the “new great thing” before they have looked at the gaps in their basic processes.

      I’ll be watching this space regarding the taleo acquisition however; I am still hopeful that this could improve the oracle offering rather than be detrimental to taleo.

    15. JobSeeker#24 says:

      The whole experience about using Taleo is horrible, at its best. I wonder why all these big companies are still using it – it just takes out any motivation for job application. The user interface looks like it has been designed in 1980s. Practically you have to re-enter your resume again, even after uploading!! Half of the features does not work in popular browsers like Chrome and there is no way to ask for support, if you are stuck.

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