Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Follow Up: Candidates Still Can't Find You

In last week's post I discussed the last three reasons why small, local businesses may not have a diverse pool of candidates to choose from. Instead of stating a somewhat-educated opinion about the matter and leaving it at that, I decided to prove my point with some data that I collected over a one-week period.

I reviewed 100 job listings over the course of a one-week period (September 23 - September 30). Of those job listings:
  • 40 job listings were duplicate listings according to Craigslist Terms of Use (the same ad was posted more than once in a 48-hour period)
  • 24 job ads included a company name
  • 36 of those job listings were anonymous 
I also discovered that of the 40 duplicate listings, 30 (75 percent) of those duplicate listings were posted by the same staffing agency in two related categories.

24 Companies Included a Company Name 

The 24 companies that included a company name were categorized as follows:
  1. Companies that maintained an online presence using Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Twitter, or a company website
  2. "More Than One" - companies that maintained an online presence using more than one of the methods above
  3. "Not Found" - companies that I was unable to verify the existence of using phone directories and Internet searches
  4. "Not Online" - companies that did not maintain an online presence; however, I was able to find company addresses and phone numbers for. 
Of the 18 companies that had a company website or social media account, 6 of those websites or social media accounts showed activity within the past six months; only 2 showed activity within the past three months.

36 Anonymous Job Listings

I sent 36 emails to the anonymous posters through Craigslist's messaging service. The message included my email address, a link to my website, and a link to this blog. The message was as follows:
 I received a total of 6 responses. These responses have been categorized as follows:

"Can you do this?"  These responses questioned whether or not I had the right as a user to flag the posts under the Craigslist Terms of Use (TOU). According to Section 4c. of the TOU, I have the right to do this if I have a "personal, good-faith belief" that the post violates the TOU.

"Blind ad" - the companies didn't want the employee that currently held the position to know that s/he was being replaced.

"Scam" - invitations to apply for positions within a company that does not appear to exist.

"Fine as is" - respondents in this category stated that they were confident that they could obtain personal information from applicants without providing any company information.


While this data does not conclusively prove anything, other than the fact that I'm trying to retain some of the knowledge that I acquired from college; it does suggest that job seekers need to be cautious when responding to blind job ads. My rule of thumb: if the information I provide in response to a blind ad isn't shared on my website or blog, I won't share it until the company that listed the position proves its credibility.

The findings also suggest that cautious job seekers may be dissuaded from responding to blind job ads; which would result in a decreased applicant pool for small businesses. The defensive stance taken by most of the respondents could be attributed to being confronted, the tone of the email, or it could be a sign that small business owners think that they do not need to maintain a competitive advantage in today's job market. As more workers leave the workplace, all companies will discover that the demand for workers will outweigh supply. A business can take proactive measures now to ensure that it has a diverse candidate pool, or it can wait until demand outweighs supply and take what it can get.

 Final Thoughts

There are few things that I found interesting in the responses I received. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned a staffing agency that had posted 30 duplicate job listings. I registered with this staffing agency online, went in for testing (as instructed by the website), and was advised by an associate that I would be called in for testing when an open position was available. I have called this staffing agency 5 times in the past three weeks regarding my availability to work, and I have yet to receive an appointment for testing.

The "Can you do this?" respondents seemed to think that I actually had the ability to delete their posts; even though I stated clearly that I am a job seeker, and that it was up to a Craigslist employee to determine if the post violated the TOU. It kind of made me wonder if they were disqualifying qualified candidates because they weren't reading the responses.

The respondent in the "Fine as is" category was kind enough to include a web-friendly image of his business card in his response to me. He indicated that times had changed, and stated that he understood why potential job candidates would be reluctant to respond. However, he stuck by his ad, and I did not pursue the issue. I personally think that adding the business card to the listing would have added some much-needed character to an otherwise uninformative, and boring, job listing.

The "Blind ad" respondent was a bit snippy towards me. Her tone implied that she thought that I was some snot-nosed, punk-kid upstart questioning her abilities as an HR manager. I took it as a compliment; I'll turn 40 next Friday, and it is kind of nice to be perceived younger than what I am sometimes. She pointedly asked me what company I worked for, even though the information on my website and blog indicate that I am unemployed, and I cheerfully responded that I was an unemployed HRM college student. I mentioned that I had been advised by several professors against placing blind ads for positions that were currently filled, unless the tasks performed by the person absolutely could not be temporarily assigned to others within the company, because the company wants rid of the employee for a good reason... Why continue to keep someone who is incompetent or insubordinate within a company when we know that other employees' exposure to this will lead to problems in the future?

She didn't respond; which is a shame, I really wanted to know her thoughts as a practicing HR manager. I guess the tone of the emails I sent to her were perceived as "provoking" instead of "thought-provoking." I need to work on improving this aspect of my personality.

Thoughts? Feedback?

Now that I've confirmed to y'all that I'm crazy... Perhaps what I did was impulsive, rash, and audacious. Imagine what I could do with some resources other than Craigslist and the desire to bug some hiring managers <insert evil laugh>.

On a more serious note: What questions popped into your heads as you saw the numbers? What, if anything, can small businesses in our areas take away from this?

 Post Disclaimer

The use of the company names and logos for Craigslist, LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, and Twitter in this article are not intended to imply that the contents of this article are approved by, endorsed by, affiliated with, or sponsored by any of these companies. Furthermore, Craigslist did not in any way explicitly or implicitly condone, endorse, approve, or sponsor my communications with the Craigslist users mentioned in this post.

The intent of this article is to illustrate my personal experiences and opinions about the misuse of social media in general. It is not meant to discourage existing and potential users of this social media from using social media for its intended purpose.

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