Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The End of the Easy Internet Prospecting?

I have been wondering if agency recruiters are now past the "Golden Age" for using the internet to prospect for clients. Allow me to explain.

In the days before the internet, candidates and recruiters alike found out that a certain company was hiring either through the newspaper or other print media, or through a connection. Recruiters had to work to find the right people in an organization to get their job orders and so forth, as did candidates for that matter (certainly sending a resume via mail or fax sometimes led to a job, but it just seems so primitive in hindsight!).

Then the internet came and along came e-mail and job boards. Suddenly it was a lot easier and cheaper for companies to advertise their positions, and easier for recruiters and candidates to find those positions. The flip side of this was that it suddenly became a lot easier to identify the hiring contacts because everybody put their e-mail address on their job postings to receive resumes.

I worked briefly for a recruiting company in the early 2000's that capitalized on this by developing software that dug out e-mail addresses from job postings and sent blast prospecting e-mails. Most would get rejected, but even a very low response rate led to numerous job orders with almost no work.

For the last several years, companies have gone away from receiving resumes at direct e-mail addresses and gone to anything from a "careers@company.com" e-mail address to applicant tracking systems which avoid e-mail all together. The result is that we are largely back to where we were before the internet! Candidates submit their resumes to a website just like they sent it via e-mail, and hope that somebody looks at it. Recruiters can see the jobs posted, but have to go back to old-fashioned prospecting to find the right contacts to turn those postings into Job Orders.

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