Recruiting Myths: Website/Job Boards Are Most Effective Recruiting Tools

Illustration by Dreamstime
Illustration by Dreamstime

Editor’s Note: Humetrics CEO Mel Kleiman has been helping employers standardize and systemize the way they recruit, select, and retain frontline hourly employees/managers for over 30 years. He knows what works — and what doesn’t. This is the first of his “Recruiting Myths.”

By Mel Kleiman

While job boards and your website make it quick and easy for the employer and the applicant alike, they are by far less effective than the top three, proven sources of great employees — no matter what your industry is.

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  1. The number one source of proven talent is all the great people who used to work for you. When employees leave you to work elsewhere, they often discover the grass isn’t greener after all. In fact, research shows that 20 to 25 percent of employees have gone back to work for a company they once left. Imagine if 20 percent of all the good people who ever left came back to work for you. You’d have instantaneously productive people who require little or no training. All you have to do is ask.
  2. The second-best source of new talent is every new person you hire. All you have to do is ask them if they’ve worked with anyone who might be interested in working on your team. Do this even if you’re not looking to hire anyone at the moment. Build your recruiting data base now for the day you do have a need.
  3. The third best source is all your present employees. Research shows that employee-referred candidates are three times more likely to be a good match for the job. This is because you employees give these candidates much more detailed information about the job requirements and working conditions than you would. As a result, candidates only proceed with the selection process if they think it’s a good match. And, because they are such a good fit, referral candidates are also much less likely to quit or be fired within the first few months.

This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at


8 Comments on “Recruiting Myths: Website/Job Boards Are Most Effective Recruiting Tools

  1. Here we go again, yet another so called expert denouncing job boards. Yes referrals in general are the best way but according to many studies, job boards rank #2. And if you run a small business you are more likely to find more success with job boards.

    How exactly are past employees are great source? They left for a reason…

    1. Chris: You may disagree with Mel’s opinion, but he is a bonafide expert when it comes to recruiting. Reasonable people can certainly disagree, and it is possible for both you and Mel to have great expertise yet not see eye-to-eye on whether job boards work or not. I have seen surveys and studies that go both ways …

      1. Thanks John, I’m just getting annoyed about people making job boards into some sort of “has been” tool. The bigger/national job boards may be past their prime but niche and local sites still work for a large portion of employers. There will always be external sites to which you can post a job.

        The other issue is his first point about ex-employees. I just don’t see how people who quit can be the number 1 source. I’ve been in the business for 12 years and no hr exec has eve told me that ex-employees are the best source of talent.

        1. Chris — You make good points. Personally, I have always had good luck with job boards when I was looking, and I would recommend them to anyone today, but I know a lot of people who have had very little success with them.

          The “alumni” employee issue is getting a lot of attention these days, but like you, I wonder how successful the strategy is. I’ve always followed Thomas Wolfe’s maxim that “you can never go home again.” The one time I did return to a former employer, it was a most unpleasant experience.

          1. agreed John, ‘boomerangs’ would be the least effective in my eyes, #1 would be referrals from current employees (new or not)…those who haven’t had good experience with job boards may have positions too difficult to fill or who may not use them wiesly (i.e picking the wrong job board)

          2. Chris,

            As your friend and fellow job board owner, I was happy to see you in this conversation and completely understand and agree with most of the points that you’re making. I also am a firm (and, of course, biased) believer in the value that niche job boards deliver and I can see that you and I agree that job boards are not the best solution for every hiring need.

            The one quibble that I have with your comments is that you don’t seem to value referrals from former employees. I think that you’re envisioning situations when those people have left under bad circumstances but many, many people leave under good circumstances. For example, I worked while in grad school for Honeywell and quit about a month after I graduated. It was one of the hardest things that I had ever done as I loved my work, my boss was great, my co-workers even better, and I was treated very, very fairly. They also sad to see me go as I had been there for 2.5 years and really knew my job well and did a good job of supporting my boss. They asked if I had any suggestions for a student who was a year or two away from graduation and I gave them a list of names of people who I respected and felt would be a good fit. I don’t recall if Honeywell hired any (it was 20 years ago) but I was happy to refer good people and Honeywell was happy to consider my recommendations. I quit because they did not have the right opportunity for me due to my growth. If they had the right opportunity, I would have stayed without any hesitation.

  2. Chris, I would agree with you on the “you can’t go home again” topic – at least from my past experiences. However, I would also add that an employee who leaves on good terms and who has a network may just be the one who brings your next great employee into the fold. I’ve seen that happen several times.

    It’s the same as the idea that your current and new employees are good resources – we’re assuming you hire great people with networks who can really speak to your business and the opportunities that present themselves.

    I think it would be fair to say that, when using job boards either as a job-seeker or an employer, it is best to use it in conjunction with other tools to broaden your scope and make sure you don’t miss a great match. (And believe me, I have my own personal set of frustrations not only with job boards, but with the plethora of “experts” running about the internet posting their “expert opinions.”)

  3. @Mel:disqus
    : I agree with you 100%. I think proponents of job boards/website recruiting are the small percentage of people who have had success using them. But that does not represent the majority of job seekers’ experience. In the end, only 1 person can get hired per job posting. So no matter how many applicants apply to a job, get interviewed, short listed, and then told a decision – in the end, only one person will get the job and the other applicants will feel disappointed. If that happens a few more times (which is highly likely) then you’d be hard-pressed to find any job seeker praising a job board (even after they eventually get a job using one!).

    I advise job seekers to use the targeted networking method – meaning that they should be focusing on trying to get referrals to a hiring manager from either of the sources Mel listed. I’d use Mel’s method 90% of the time and the traditional “apply and wait” method only 10%. Applying online is really for the masses. The top candidates (or savvy ones in any case) use Mel’s suggestions. The only time online job boards are of any use is for a company hiring en masse or hiring for high-turnover jobs. Why? Because no way any sensible employee (former, current, or new) would recommend their friends to a crappy workplace.

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