Spammity Job Spam

By Ben Gotkin


Nobody does.  But the spam I am referring to is what has become the endless, pointless, directionless supply of job spam that has taken over social media.  I see it constantly on Facebook, Twitter, and especially on LinkedIn, and honestly, I’ve just about had enough.

Why do I let this bother me?  Because to me it is a clear representation of one of the key things that is wrong with recruiting today, recruiting without a plan or a strategy.  It used to be that ‘Post and Pray’ applied to use of job boards, as in “I’m going to post this poorly written, rather generic job description on {insert job board name here} and pray that the perfect candidate that I want to hire happens to search that job board around the time that the job was posted, finds my job, and is compelled enough to actually apply.”  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slamming job boards as much as how they are utilized (usually without a plan or strategy).  Job boards, when used correctly, can be very effective in filling certain types of roles.

For a while now, we have seen this behavior replicated in social media in the same fashion, typically without any rhyme or reason.  Why?  I believe that this occurs for three reasons:

1)      Social media is HOT!  Everyone is doing it.  Even though source-of-hire surveys still have yet to broadly demonstrate that social media channels are actually a top source of hires, too many recruiters have been convinced that they must use social media as a source, even if they don’t know how to effectively leverage social media as a source.  Since they don’t know, what do they do?  They post their jobs indiscriminately.

2)      A one-size-fits-all recruitment strategy.  How often are position-specific sourcing strategies developed for each specific job to be filled within an organization?  Not very often I’m afraid, so we post all of our jobs to the job boards, and by extension now, we post all of our jobs through our social media channels.

3)      Technology has made it easy.  So if social media is the ‘IT’ thing in recruiting now (everybody’s doing it!), and since we treat all our jobs the same when it comes to sourcing, when technology is available to automate these jobs to be posted across a variety of social media channels, groups, etc., then why not take advantage of that?

Nowhere has this become more apparent than on LinkedIn, where job spam has rendered numerous groups practically useless.  How many ‘Recruiter’ groups do you belong to that have been taken over by large volumes of job postings?  If I’m going to participate in a LinkedIn Recruiter Group, I’m going there because I want to engage in recruiting-related discussion topics, or maybe even to be exposed to job postings for Recruiting Managers/Directors, Sourcers, etc.  I could give a hoot about your project manager or help desk job.

I manage a large LinkedIn Group that is closed to Recruiters ONLY.  That’s right, about 1,400 Recruiters in the DC Area ONLY.   This group was created to generate community and conversation about topics that are relevant to the local recruiting community, and it is encouraged that local Recruiting jobs be posted there.  If I’m a Recruiting Leader in the DC area, it would be one of the first places that I would go to post a job that would end up in front of a highly relevant audience, oh, and I’d search the group too to proactively source members of the group.  So, we get a few local Recruiting jobs posted there, I’d certainly like to see more.  But what happens instead on a daily basis is the posting of Project Manager and Help Desk and Administrative Assistant jobs.  I have posted in the group on multiple occasions that they won’t find those types of candidates in this group, at all, ever!  I delete these job postings immediately and have made it clear that I will do so.  Honestly, I’m not sure that the folks that post these jobs even know that I’ve deleted them as I never hear back about why their job was deleted, and I have strong suspicion that most of these postings are posted here in an automated fashion.

I’ve seen too many other groups taken over by irrelevant content and job postings, I rarely even visit or pay attention to those groups any longer.  Many others on LinkedIn have become fed up with the reckless or automated behaviors or actions and have abandoned the site for more ‘safe’ and relevant online niche communities.  Companies have also limited their social media strategy to automated job postings on their Facebook pages and Twitter profiles, offering little to no engaging content, just a constant list of jobs (which people can find just about anywhere BTW).

Just like job boards, social media when used correctly, can be a highly successful way to source and engage talent in a highly targeted manner.  But this only happens when organizations and recruiters take the time and effort to think critically about their job openings, what type(s) of candidates would be a good fit for those roles, and where those candidates are most likely to be found.  In the Fast-Good-Cheap Continuum, we need to stop sacrificing Good for Fast.  It’s important to have an efficient sourcing process, but speed can kill (if not leveraged correctly).  Post-and-pray, whether with job boards or with social media, is NOT a recruiting strategy.

Look, all I’m asking for is for recruiters to take a step back, have a meaningful conversation with their hiring managers to develop a realistic plan to source highly relevant talent for their job openings.  For some jobs, it may be a combination of focusing on proactively seeking employee referrals and searching and reaching out to candidates found on LinkedIn.  In some cases it may be posting on job boards and posting jobs in highly relevant social media groups and channels.  Be critical of any technology vendor that advises you that they can make job posting easy and efficient for you, even on social media.  I had a conversation with a friend towards the end of last week, one of the top recruiting leaders in corporate America, and he stated emphatically that effective sourcing efforts rarely occur without a plan.  Our training at Recruiting Toolbox reinforces this concept as well.

Reactive, ‘inbox’ recruiting is not a value-added function, especially when little-to-no critical thought is applied.  If the corporate recruiting function wants to reposition itself as a true strategic partner, then it’s time for recruiters to apply actual strategy through a highly-targeted sourcing plan that will optimize the ability of an organization to hire the best talent for the job, not just candidates who happen to apply because they ran across the job randomly on LinkedIn, Twitter, a Job Board, etc.

Had enough job spam yourself?  Well, here’s a spammity-good Monty Python sketch to take your mind off of it for a while: