The Classified Ad

The “help wanted” ad, or job posting, is a strange and unique animal in the world of advertising and marketing.

Most forms of advertising try to attract as many people to the product or service as possible in the hopes of selling lots of units. In the case where the units are limited, the price will rise as demand rises. More traffic is good, it either means selling more units, higher prices, or both.

Recruitment advertising doesn’t work this way.  The recruitment classified ad, or help wanted ad hasn’t really changed in 50 years (other than moving online, now it’s called a “job posting.”)  A job posting attracts lots of people, but there is only one job. So it creates a huge amount of work for the person who needs to review all of the applicants. Because there is no filter on who can apply, many unqualified applicants “throw their resume in” in the hopes of being considered for the job or for a different job.  The pervasiveness of the Internet has made the problem worse, not better. Job seekers dash off resumes for jobs with very little effort.

The statistics are staggering. Most employers will tell you over 90% of the applicants for online job postings are unqualified. One Fortune 100 company told me they received over 1 million applicants last year for 17000 openings.

It is quite obvious that the traditional job boards are not helping companies—they are still promoting a basic “help wanted” ad unit.

Niche job boards do make things a bit easier. In theory, by posting a job on a niche board (with a smaller, targeted audience), the applicants should be more qualified. And they are, to some degree, but there is still nothing stopping unqualified people from applying.

The solution really requires a different set of thinking from old line recruitment people, and from traditional advertising methods.


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