baseballIn recent years, social media and search engines have gained popularity as sources of hire, while job boards are starting to be perceived as archaic. When most job boards operators hear this they are confused because, when they analyze their data, the number of candidates they deliver to employers has remained substantially the same.

So why is there this shift in perception? To answer this question we have to look back at what has happened in the talent acquisition marketplace in the past decade.

One of the most significant factors is the growth of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs). According to Josh Bersin, Business Analyst with Deloitte, 60% of all employers now use ATSs; while these systems are considered necessities for large companies, many ATS platforms have been developed to serve the needs of smaller organizations as well.

This is a significant development for job boards. With every year that goes by, a larger percentage of their jobs postings require candidates to be redirected to an ATS to complete an application. As technology consumers, we’ve all come to expect a seamless “user experience” like the ones we get on Uber and Amazon, where our transactions and information exchanges take place very smoothly. This is where the application process for job seekers falls short. The process of logging in, answering questions, uploading resumes, and creating profiles on the job board, then getting redirected, landing on log in pages for the ATS, then answering the same questions and uploading resumes again all make for a terrible experience.

Now imagine going through all of this again and again just to apply for more jobs.

According to a 2015 study by Appcast, nine out of 10 candidates that start an application on a job board do not finish the application on the ATS—and they’re not counted by employers as received candidates. If only one in 10 candidates completes the application process, the job board value employers are seeing has plummeted dramatically. If a professional baseball player’s batting average were .100 (like job boards), he would be shipped off to the minor league, which is what is happening to job boards.


How Do Job Boards Get Back to the Major League?

Job boards need to raise their batting average on delivered candidates to reclaim their title as the undisputed king of source of hire. The way to do this is by improving the candidate experience while the candidate is still on the job board.

For example, let candidates use their profiles to apply for multiple jobs—ensuring that they don’t have to enter the same information over and over again. This is especially important on mobile platforms, where saving keystrokes is vital. Job boards need to reduce “friction” for candidates, whether it means keeping candidates on the job board and submitting completed applications or exporting profiles to ATSs to prepopulate application forms. Reducing friction increases the likelihood of candidates completing their applications.

If we can improve job boards’ batting average to .300, we’ll triple the number of completed applications employers receive, and we won’t even need to increase our talent pool to do it. This would not only put job boards back in the majors , it would send them to the All-Star Game!

The truth is … batting .300 is an extremely modest goal for job boards. We should be aiming to keep 80% to 90% of candidates from abandoning the application process. This is doable. But job boards need to improve the candidate experience soon—before their competitors widen the competitive gap any further.

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