My name is Brian McCullough. For the last 7 years, I've been the chief executive and head writer of ResumeWriters.com. I've spent my entire professional career helping tens of thousands of people find work, both online and off. I started WhoToTalkTo because of one simple phrase I kept hearing over and over:
"I posted my resume hundreds of times on the major job boards, and I haven't gotten even a single response."
I can't tell you the number of times I've heard this lament from clients I've worked with personally. I've heard it so much, it started to stick in my head and really bother me. I started WhoToTalkTo for this simple reason: I know the major job boards don't work very well. They certainly don't work well for job seekers. I know there has to be a better way.
In the career services industry, there are some basic facts about the major job boards that are well known to professionals, but not to the general public:
- Career professionals have known for years that by far the most effective way to find a job is through networking and personal relationships. Word of mouth hiring and personal referrals are consistently the number one way companies make external hires. In some studies, word-of-mouth accounts for far more than 50% of all hires. But the job boards don't do anything to help people network!
- The major job boards only account for only 7% of all hires. This is a shocking number when you realize that a sizeable majority of jobseekers turn to the big online job boards during their job search. Why are so many people using a tool that isn't very effective?
- The online job recruitment is very mechanized and impersonal. It can be almost impossible to find a named individual to apply/appeal to. Sift through the job ads you see online and see how many direct you to real people and how many direct you to a faceless, automated application process. The entire system seems set up to prevent direct, personal connections between employers and potential employees. This is manifestly to the job-seeker's disadvantage. Remember the old adage: "The best way to stand out is to help them put a face to the name." Today, that is nearly impossible to do in online job-search.
To my way of thinking, the reasons why the major job boards don't work are pretty obvious.
One problem is clearly scale: In the days when the classified section of your local newspaper was the only job-search resource, job-seekers might have to compete with only a handful (at most a few dozen) other applicants. Today, the major job boards are nationwide, even international. Each job posting online can easily attract hundreds, or even thousands of applications.
Another problem is ease of use. With one click of the mouse, a job-seeker can apply to hundreds of jobs at once. Spending five minutes online, job-seekers can fool themselves into thinking they've made all the job-search effort they need to find success. The thinking is: "I've just posted my resume 500 times. Surely, the law of averages means one or two of those postings will get a response." But ease of use does not translate into effectiveness. Remember, every other job seeker out there can carpet-bomb their resume into the internet void, just like you've done. And again, you're competing against thousands, not dozens of other candidates now. There's a similar lament that we professionals hear from employers all the time: "I posted one job online, got two thousand resumes, and 99% of them are unqualified." In the old days, at least your resume ended up in a physical pile on someone's physical desk. Now it's just a series of ones and zeros in someone's computer, the only thing to distinguish it being the number of bytes it takes up in the database.
Finally, the simple truth is that the major job boards are not in the business of helping job seekers find work. They're in the business of posting job ads. They're in the business of advertising. They are not at all interested in how effective their site is for job seekers. The only thing that matters is getting enough eyeballs to their site so that they can justify charging hundreds of dollars to employers who post job ads. It's just a numbers game to them, and the number of job seekers only matters to them vis-à-vis the traffic numbers they can sell to employer/advertisers.
For years, I've been hoping someone would build a better job board. If you think about it, the internet has changed the way we do a lot of things in our lives, but job seeking is still the same as it was in the offline world. Sites like Monster haven't brought anything new to the table; they merely took the help-wanted classified ad and put it on the internet. The internet has been revolutionary in bringing people together and creating networks of connections that were impossible before. This hasn't happened with online job search. If anything, the major job boards have made things less personal.
I've been hoping someone would bring the first new idea to job search since the internet came around. But instead of continuing to wait, I've ended up doing it myself. I just wanted to find a way to bring the personal back to the job search. My ultimate goal was to bring personal connections back into the equation. If job seekers and employers had a place to find each other in a direct, personal way, then surely that would be an improvement over what's out there now.
My three priorities for WhoToTalkTo are:
- Building a job board around the needs of the job seeker first and foremost. I wanted a model that would allow job seekers a way to do an end run around the automated job-application process and would allow them to take direct control of their job search.
- Designing a system that incorporates the job-search mechanisms that have proven to be the most effective: networking, personal connections, referrals and word-of-mouth.
- Creating a system that allows job seekers and employers to find each other directly, stripping away all the layers of filters and faceless automation in the current online job search models.
If all we accomplish with WhoToTalkTo is a system that is at least as good as what's already out there, then ok. At least we've offered a new alternative. Job-seekers can try the major job boards and they can try searching job leads on WhoToTalkTo and hopefully find success on one or the other.
But I really believe we offer something tangibly better for job seekers. At the very least, I know job seekers can find opportunities on WhoToTalkTo that are qualitatively different than anything they could find on the existing job boards. And I believe we've built a model that does something that hasn't been tried before on the internet: bringing the personal connection back into the job searching process. I truly believe that a job seeker can use WhoToTalkTo to find out exactly who's doing the hiring, get an idea about what they're looking for and can find out how to contact that person directly. We're putting the job seekers back in control of their old job search.
It's all about remembering that axiom: "The best way to stand out is to help them put a face to the name." WhoToTalkTo helps job seekers do that.*Some of the sources for the data quoted in this essay can be found at http://www.careerxroads.com/news/SourcesOfHire05.pdf and http://www.quintcareers.com/major_job_boards.html