In Pursuit of Profit
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Pre-pandemic many companies successfully used job boards like Indeed to hire high quality accounting and finance candidates. Due to their heavy advertising during this time, what I like to call the “Indeed Effect” emerged. Companies turned to job recruiting boards like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and LinkedIn in droves to meet their recruiting needs.
Like you, I was seeing the impact of this first-hand: many companies in need of external recruiting help were quickly, easily, and cheaply able to find highly qualified candidates by posting an ad on an online job board. And as time went on, the results got even better as job board technology continued to evolve. The big names in recruiting became extremely transformative to the hiring process during this time, continuously refining their technology to improve the search process. As a result, even recruiters like myself benefitted from the phenomenon, often receiving high quality applicants to our job posts as well. Using these tools became an integral part of our recruiting process.
Fast-forward almost two years and the tide has almost completely changed.
The volume of online applications these days has dropped significantly, as has the quality. A majority of those who are applying are out of state/country and rarely have qualifications that are even in the ballpark of what is desired. (Perhaps you’ve noticed this too?)
So, what happened? And what can you do about it?
It’s nearly impossible to tell for sure why the volume of applicants has decreased so significantly, as that would involve talking to an unknown population. However, my hunch is there are two main reasons:
1.The “Indeed effect” wore off.
During the heyday of the big job boards, employers and job seekers alike were in love with them. But, as time went on, the infatuation wore off. Why?
As it turns out, online applications are only as effective as the person reading the resume on the other end. Companies who needed recruiting help turned to Indeed thinking that would solve their entire recruiting problem. But, in many cases it significantly increased the volume of incoming resumes for an already overwhelmed or underqualified reader of the resumes. And as companies got leaner during the pandemic, this only exacerbated the problem. Companies have now become aware of this and have stopped relying on job boards as heavily.
At the same time, job seekers became disenchanted with job boards. “I’ve submitted a bunch of applications through Indeed but haven’t heard back on most of them” is something I heard on a weekly basis over the last two years. This experience has caused the active pool of candidates to stop relying on the job boards as heavily, if at all.
2.The pandemic caused a decrease in the amount of candidates actively looking for work.
Accountants are, by nature, generally averse to risk. When you layer in an extremely high level of uncertainty, like we’re seeing in a global pandemic, whatever tolerance for risk someone had to move jobs goes way down. I’m witnessing this first-hand. More than ever before I’m having conversations that end with “It will take an amazing, almost perfect role for me to move jobs right now.”
What Can You Do About It?
The effects of this situation can be felt by both candidates and companies, but fear not, both can do something about it!
Candidates: Keep Applying to Jobs on Job Boards… But Go Further
You should continue applying to jobs on job boards, but don’t stop there. After you apply follow up to ensure your application doesn’t go unnoticed. At the very least, a job application should yield some level of feedback to help a candidate know where they stand. Before following up to get this level of feedback, you must first determine if the job ad was posted directly by the hiring company or by a third-party recruiter.
If you’ve applied directly to a company’s ad, you can follow up with a nice note via LinkedIn or email (if you’re able to find their email address on the company’s website) to introduce yourself, indicate your level of interest and qualification, and request feedback. This can set you apart from other candidates and can also provide a human element to just another resume, getting the hiring manager to say, “Oh, I remember seeing that person’s name, let me pull their resume out and look at it more closely.”
If you’ve applied to an ad posted by a third-party recruiter, follow up with a connection request on LinkedIn with that recruiter, or visit their website to get in touch with person who posted the ad. A brief, courteous tap on the shoulder can be helpful for many recruiters, especially during extremely busy times like these. Even if you’re not a fit for that specific role, you can set up time to talk to the recruiter about your background to help identify future job opportunities.
Companies: Keep Posting Job Ads
Companies should continue to post job ads but should consider modifying their approach and utilizing external assistance.
Consider identifying specific skills or experiences in your job post that will target the most qualified candidates and prevent unqualified candidates from applying. The job sites use keyword algorithms to proactively target candidates, so be exact. Whether it’s a specific accounting system, pronouncement, or skill you need, try calling it out.
Take advantage of pre-screening questions many of the job boards have now. This relatively new feature lets you include required questions for applicants to answer when applying. Simple questions like “Do you currently live in Seattle?” or “Do you have at least three years of experience with QuickBooks Online” can tell you invaluable information and save precious screening time.
Consider engaging a third-party recruiter to do the hard work for you. A good recruiter will post a well-crafted ad and screen everyone who is applying, using their expertise and saving you time. They will also find you candidates who are not applying to ads by targeting the large population of passive candidates. It might not shock you to know that passive candidates are the most likely to take new roles, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that according to LinkedIn passive candidates make up 70% of the workforce.
There’s no doubt that technological innovation on job boards like Indeed, ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn have changed the hiring landscape. Despite the heavy decline in applications through these channels since the pandemic, they remain a highly useful tool today when combined with thoughtful follow-up and full utilization of the tools. What hasn’t changed though, is the importance of using a recruiter. Whether you plan to replace job posting ads with a third-party recruiting company or complement them, a recruiter will relieve the stress of recruiting during these increasingly busy times.
Contact us today to learn more!
About the Author
Quinn Finnigan – Recruiting Services Leader
Quinn is a native Washingtonian, born and raised in Tacoma and Lakewood. Having lived and traveled all over the world with stints in Portland, OR, Salzburg, Austria and Maui, HI, he returned to his roots in 2008 and now lives with his wife and two children in Issaquah.
A proud alumnus of The University of Portland, he received his undergraduate degree in Accounting and began his career at Deloitte in the audit practice for three years prior to taking a “quarter-life crisis” break to live and play in Maui.
After a year of fun and soul searching (surfing and sailing) he returned to his accounting roots and for the next seven years grew professionally in corporate accounting and finance working for the Seattle Seahawks and Amazon.
Quinn actively sought out the recruiting industry in 2015 seeking to redefine his definition of career success and has been serving Puget Sound based middle market companies helping them fill Accounting and Finance positions through contingent placements for over five years.
Having found his passion and expertise, he greatly enjoys serving Pacific Northwest based organizations with ASP and CFO Selections.