The best aspect of the digital era is the free flow of information. You can find blog posts, mobile applications, podcasts, and videos on any topic. Including finding work. There certainly isn’t a shortage of free information. But is it? Just because something is free does not mean there are no strings attached. My mom always said if someone offers you something for free, it could be your most expensive experience.

Everything costs. Time, money, energy, and now digital currency. When it comes to using the internet as a job market these wise words of my mother couldn’t be truer. “Free” access to view jobs, “free” access to job seekers, “free” information about getting the best jobs, and thousands of blogs on how to write the best resume.

Of course, “free” access to hundreds, if not thousands of resumes as employers. 

So what does it really cost you?  

If You’re a Job Seeker 

  1. Time: Count the hours that you spent working on your resume. The writing, editing (hopefully), and then setting up new profiles on multiple systems. At that point, add 25-30 mins correcting data that, in theory, uploaded “automatically” from your resume but now your job title is, “Speaks Chinese” and the date you left your last company field contains your last name. After correcting the data, you fill out all of the required profile information and then click Apply. Each job can take you between 35 minutes to an hour if you actually had enough patience to hammer through all of the barriers to entry. That doesn’t even count the time spent if you hustle and add printing costs for resumes and the door-to-door delivery.
  2. Money: The money you spent if any and the lost opportunity costs of wasting your time when you might have been doing something else that had made you money.
  3. Energy: The emotional and physical energy that it takes to apply for jobs is expensive. Hope and disappointment. The always being “on”. It is similar to dating. And if you’re a Millennial or GenZ, you want to stay optimistic but the let down is emotionally taxing.  Right now, this rollercoaster ride is part of our livelihoods. We feel for the job seeker and know that this process is such an energy suck. We know there is a better way.
  4. Digital Currency: In the digital era, your footprint is worth millions, or according to Facebook $20. Every time you click APPLY you give a company all of your personal information and your work profile. Isn’t that weird when you think about it? While you are looking for work, at the very least, some job board company has taken your time and energy and turned it into revenue. And, statistically speaking, an applicant will only get acknowledgment from 20% of the jobs they apply to use a job board. Every time you click apply, you give that application system your personal information. So, not only are you irritated by having to do the same thing over and over again but while you spend hours of your life getting nothing in return, those systems and businesses monetize your data. Not to mention the data that employers and job seekers gave to these companies every time you hit apply, create a profile that they can potentially monetize to sell outside of their business ecosystem. Some of you may not care and feel like it is what it is, but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Do you want the truth? 95% of job boards are dressed up marketing platforms. Their goal is to build up the volume to sell pay-per-click for employers offering a job. Most of them started by scraping employers’ online job pages and offering those same jobs on their webpage. This cut the employers’ control of their own employer brand and job offerings out of the equation. Remember, job boards need a huge volume of jobs and applicants. In the job market, that is what it takes to deliver an “experience”. But when it’s a marketing platform, the jobs shown as available may not even exist anymore.

If You’re an Employer 

  1. Time – Count up all of your hours as an employer related to every task in the hiring process. When you have the number you will know what time investment you have made. When it comes to entry-level work, it can double and triple because those jobs are typically “holding” jobs until someone better comes along, or “discovery” jobs. Meaning, is this the right job and the right environment for the candidate? Both of those circumstances are normal for employers, but how we manage them needs to have a different process altogether. A bad hire is a miss for multiple reasons. Expectations and misaligned expectations are the worst time suckers.
  2. Money – Using the old school methods of the past 30 years, the average cost to hire someone is now $16,000. The elevated cost can be attributed to a handful of factors. One I’d like to emphasize is that by offering free information in exchange for a job, employers receive the “spray and pray” keyword-bingo resume dump. The resume business itself is an entire industry outsourcing the writing of 20 versions of someone’s work history to outsmart the evil algorithms so that an applicant can get their foot in the door. Nothing stops them from applying to every single job. Why would a marketing platform stop them? They want pay-per-click fees for your job posts.
  3. Energy – As an employer, you make hundreds of decisions for your business a day. The energy that it takes to manage the hiring process shouldn’t be the most complicated or the most frustrating one.
  4. Digital Currency – An employer’s job post is worth billions. Jobs posted on public platforms you let your competitors know what you’re doing whether you want them to know or not. You help give rise to data systems using your information who then move to create “strategic advice” and “consulting” offerings to give you advice on how to manage and use that data. You allow another marketing platform to up-charge your company a price per click to reach more eyeballs on your job. And, if you use applicant tracking systems, you’ve given them hard data to monetize and charge you while doing it.
  5. Truth – The number of jobs posted on job boards (aka marketing platforms) that aren’t available increases every year. Employers are struggling to protect their employer reputation from internet bots that scrape public postings from their websites to post on someone else’s marketing job board without permission. So much so, that employers have had to put warning signs on their websites letting interested applicants know of the scams. Companies do this because marketing platforms are lucrative. And, getting job seekers to visit their site and apply for free is big revenue for them. According to one of the oldest marketing platforms for jobs, they have over 7M resumes and job seekers. If that’s accurate, then we either have a lot of people looking for jobs that don’t have skills or job posts that aren’t active.

So in the game of free hires, who is really winning?