To flesh out my
LinkedIn job posting experiment, I put up a free want-ad
with the same description on craigslist.com.
So far, my notes on this whole experiment are:
- After posting the LinkedIn want-ad, I immediately got a call (a
phone-call!) from a recruiter. I hadn’t posted a phone number, so
he must have had some BMC directory number. Man, what’s the deal
with recruiters. They’re, like, totally annoying.
- The night I posted the LinkedIn want-ad, I got an email from a
guy who basically said, “I’m not interested in the job you posted,
but I’m interested in ‘getting in’ at BMC.” Hmmm… OK.
- After posting the
craigslist.com listing I got more than 10 applicants in a
day. I’ve forwarded them all the applicable (some wanted to be
part-time, not full-time, etc.) ones to the hiring manager. The
quality seemed to range from “just out of school” to “long time
In summary… LinkedIn: 0 useful responses 2 days. craigslist.com:
10 useful responses in 1 days. (a few days after posting it, I’ve gotten
20 applicants from craiglist and nothing else from LinkedIn.com)
Quality of Applicants
Now, I have no idea about the quality of applicants from the craigslist
listing, but the quantity is certainly better than LinkedIn’s
0. We’ll have to see if/once we get any of them in here.
The person who contacted me through LinkedIn (who wasn’t interested
in the actual position, just establishing contact with a BMC person)
seemed well seasoned from his profile. But, again, he wasn’t applying
for the job I’d posted, so his application didn’t score points for
Past experience with craigslist.com
We got one of our current employees from another craigslist.com
want-ad I put up last summer. She doesn’t work in my group, but from
what I know, her quality turned out to be quite good.
Cost: $95 vs. free
The post I made to LinkedIn was free ’cause I slipped in right
under the wire of the free period for job postings. It’s since gone
up to $95/30 days.
The post I made to craigslist.com, since I was posting to Austin,
was free, as always.
Hypothesis: craigslist.com is better
I’m going to predict that craiglist.com will turn out to be a
better recruiting tool for the position (contract programmer) than
LinkedIn. The reason for this, I think, is that LinkedIn attracts
higher level, non-programmer types. Just surf around in the
Profile-pile, and you’ll see that most people are not “workers,”
they’re usually “management,” or, at least, “sales.”
craigslist.com, on the other hand, seems to attract worker
types. I have no idea if it attracts management types.
Grassroots Recruitment & LinkedIn’s Missed Opportunity
BMC offers a referral bonus (in the low $1,000 range) for full-time
employees. That is, if you refer someone who gets accepted for a
full-time job, you get a nice little bonus. So, if you know, or can
get, someone to fill an open, full-time position at BMC, it’s well
worth your while to talk with friends, or post your own want ads for
I’m tentatively calling this kind of recruitment “grassroots
recruitment” because it’s not done by the company’s official HR or
recruiters. There’s probably a sexier name to give it. Whatever.
My Experience as a Grassroots Recruiter
Because of the referral bonus, once I started working at BMC, I
would try to get all my programmer/IT friends to apply for open
jobs. So far, I’ve referred two people that way. Once I (and my other
friends) exhausted that pool of people, I started putting up want ads
for open positions. I’ve only done this once, but it brought in a
person who was hired for the job. So, I’ve gotten to referral bonus for
people I knew, and one for someone I found through a want ad.
Now, when it comes to me posting those want ads, I’m not going to
pay to post them. It’s not worth the gamble of me paying my own money
for the possible payout of a bonus fee. So, craigslist.com fits this
perfectly: it costs nothing for me to post but my time. It is
worth my the gable of “spending” my time to post these want ads.
So, therein lies the problem for LinkedIn: if they’re charging
$95/30 days for a want ad, I’ll never use them for recruitment. More
than likely, other individuals at companies won’t use them
either. Only the official channels (HR and recruitment) will use
Which is all to say that LinkedIn’s want-ads will probably only
attract the same listings that other sites have: those posted and paid
for by HR departments. In my opinion, both as a job seeker and recruiter,
that type of posting is the least desirable.
What Job Seekers Want: Real People
If I was looking for a job, I’d want to find posts from individuals
at the company, actual people, that I could start having a
conversation with because:
- I’d know that if an individual was putting up
the post, they’d be much more motivated to push my application/resume
through all the bureaucratic hurdles that the HR department would put
- More than likely, the individual would just forward my stuff
directly to the hiring manager.
- I could ask the individual about the position and get real answers from
someone who knew.
- The individual will probably have written a job posting that’s
much more descriptive and accurate of the position than the official
listing. Even if the write-up is vague, I could talk to them and get
good answers (see previous point).
What Recruiters Want: Online Hipsters
The most ideal candidates will be your hard-to-find, smart, online
hipster types. These are the people who not only know what the
difference, in Java, between
.equals() is, but also are up to date on all the cool
knew software gadgets, ideas, and trends. You want people who have
fresh and new ideas, and the drive to get them done.
When they’re looking for a job, these kinds of people don’t look
through news paper want ads, monster.com, and other dumping grounds of
boiler-plate want ads. They go to places where individuals post want
ads, not where HR people do (well, unless they’re really with-it HR
people ;>). That is, they go to sites where grassroots recruiters
post want ads.
Generally, the people who go to the more traditional want-ad places
are…more traditional people. This might be OK in more traditional
industries, but in software, it’s not the most desirable characteristic
you want…unless you’re someone like SAIC or Lockheed who’s looking
for stable, FBI-vetted people who’ll work for 5-10 years on the same
missile simulators written in ADA. (There’s nothing wrong with that
line of work, it’s just not my cup of tea.)
LinkedIn’s Missed Opportunity
So, the point is: the people you really want in software aren’t
going to be looking at sites like LinkedIn for jobs because grassroots
recruits aren’t going to pay the $95 to put up a want ad. I predict
that LinkedIn’s want-ads section will just be another dumping ground
for the same old lame want ads you find at monster, dice, yahoo, and
where ever else. It won’t help companies find extremely good software
What LinkedIn Should Do
To grab back the missed opportunity, LinkedIn should offer a free
listing service. Maybe it would only list your want ad for 3-7 days,
limit the description to 200 words or less (not the 4,000 their pay
ads do, if I recall), and do anything else needed to create a pricing
structure where they could offer both free listings and for pay
With this model, they can foster the grassroots recruitment that I
know they want to have: LinkedIn is about social networks, which is
about people talking with other people. By pricing
people like myself out of posting want-ads, they’re eliminating half
of the conversation.
Classifieds In General
craigslist.com manages to be a successful classifieds site,
and they got bought by eBay. Any service providing want-ads
and classified would do well to study craigslist.com closely:
- How is craigslist.com, as a company organized and run such that they
can offer the majority of their services for free?
- Why does your company have to charge for listings? Do you have
too much over-head? Is your software written in too complicated of a
language requiring lots of money for development and support?
- Why does craiglist.com attract so many people? It’s free,
simple, and open. LinkedIn seems to be on the verge of having none of those.
The alternative to learning from craiglist, and changing in
response to that new knowledge, is to get out-marketed by the
scrappy, but hugely successful site.
Update: this post gets hit with spam comments way too often, so I’ve turned off comments. If you’d like to add a comment, please email me or simply add a link to this post in your own comment on a blog.