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Wishing Doesn't Make It So

Posted by Colin Kingsbury

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Jul 11, 2006 1:17:00 PM

John Sumser is never one to mince words. Today he writes,
The next time a vendor who you about the Resume glut caused by Monster show them the door and offer to see them after they've looked at the market. That story about a resume glut was true at the bottom of the economic cycle. We're now at the top. No one is complaining about a resume glut anymore.
As the old saying goes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

I decided to do a little data-mining based on a sample of jobs filled by customers using our applicant tracking system to see if this was true. I came up with a sample of about 750 reqs which were primarily filled by job board posting over the past twelve months. Staffing firms were excluded from the sample.

The chart to the right shows the results. (click to enlarge) 53% of reqs received 25 or fewer applications. 15% received 26-50. But nearly 20% received 100 or more, and another 15% received 51-100. The positions receiving 100 or more ran the gamut from hourly manufacturing techs to vice presidents, in locations all over the US. Nearly every client had at least a few positions that got positively flooded, many in a matter of days.

John is right to say that the world is shifting. But when he writes,
"All of the new technical tools we see have one underlying thing in common. They are all reflections of a day and age in which paper processes dominated the hiring world... After 25 years of desktop computing (we got ours in 1981), it is nothing short of astonishing that the mental model behind computing is paper.
he reveals that he suffers from the malady common to IT analysts which I call novelty derangement syndrome. This is the situation where one becomes so entranced by the sheer perfection of an idea that they fail to take sufficient account of the challenges to its success. (And, the punch line)

Will the way we recruit change enormously? Yes, no question. But if you are a recruiter making decisions on how to go about getting your job done it is important to focus on the world as it exists today and will continue to exist over the next 2-3 years. You are not a venture capitalist making bets on where the next billion-dollar company will pop up. You are a tactical operator with a dozen or more short-term objectives to accomplish. The more we as individuals enjoy new tools and toys, the more risk we run of losing our focus.

As a vendor, I would disagree with the one quoted in John's article who called Jobby "very bad." I think it's a neat idea and if you're recruiting AJAX/Ruby developers it may become a key resource in the next 12-18 months. But if you're recruiting manufacturing engineers or marketing coordinators it could still be 3-5 years before it's mainstream.

Unless you want to try pulling an Ericsson and getting rid of everyone over 35, you're still going to be sorting through resumes the old-fashioned way for years to come. Buggy whips may be pretty useless today. But in 1910, a bale of hay would probably have gotten you farther than five gallons of gasoline. 

* Those of a certain philosophical bent might also characterize this as a form of immanentizing the eschaton.