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The addiction that almost all Australian recruitment agencies have to running ads on job boards is like most addictions; one that is grounded in habit and impulse and rarely subject to any form of objective analysis.

If that clear-eyed analysis was undertaken I suspect many agencies would change their approach to advertising jobs on job boards.

One agency had the courage to undertake such an approach, and they are now reaping the benefits.

Jigsaw Search is a small Australian-owned specialist procurement and supply chain talent management consultancy, established in 2006.

In 2010, the directors decided to process map their business workflows. The purpose being to understand and quantify the time and cost involved with each step in the process with the ultimate goal to improve productivity throughout the company. 

The Jigsaw directors identified twenty core processes; examples being taking a job brief, sourcing candidates, interviewing a candidate, etc. 

They then defined the desired outcome of each process using flow charts as well as identifying the average time and cost of each process.

After this had been completed for each of the twenty core processes, there now existed an objective way to question and critique each process. The immediate goal was to make each process quicker, cheaper and more efficient. 

In reviewing the process of managing job board advertising, it was discovered that an average of 6.5 hours per job per consultant was spent on:

  • writing of the ad
  • taking and returning calls from phone response
  • reading cover letters and resumes
  • rejecting candidates by phone and email

Each Jigsaw consultant received, on average, 5 new assignments per month, each one being advertised.

The equated to 4 whole days per month per consultant spent on job board advertising. At an average consultant salary cost of $60 per hour, this equated to $23,700 per annum per consultant of lost productivity.

This was inefficient because when the Jigsaw directors analysed a full year of placement data on    ‘candidate source’ they discovered that 95% of placed candidates were sourced either from the existing Jigsaw database or had been proactively sourced via LinkedIn or a referral. Ad response placements were less than 2% of all placements.

As Jigsaw is a niche specialist and is widely known within its target market, there were very few ‘brand exposure’ benefits of job board advertising.

The process mapping analysis also identified that when consultants were proactive in their candidate searches there was significantly more candidate exclusivity and much greater quality compared to candidates sourced via job board applications.

The conclusion was that all the time invested in candidate sourcing via advertising was dead time and prevented the consultant from proactively sourcing candidates that inevitably were of higher quality.

Two years’ ago the Jigsaw directors made, what the data said was an easy decision; to totally cease advertising on job boards and instead have consultants proactively source all candidates. This was such an unusual decision that industry news service, ShortList ran a story on 5 April 2012 about the Jigsaw decision.

In place of running ads on job boards, Jigsaw Search developed a job search app. Unlike other Apps that are merely blanket job alerts to anybody who registers their criteria, Jigsaw Search’sMyProcurementJob App only releases details of new jobs to a pre-assessed and registered selection of candidates already registered with Jigsaw.

Once a procurement professional has been interviewed and assessed by a Jigsaw consultant they are allocated a Jigsaw ID code which they use to activate the MyProcurementJob App. The registered candidate instantly receives details of all current roles that match their skills and any future roles once an ad is posted to the Jigsaw internal system. This creates instant job notification to pre-qualified candidates.

Once the candidate receives notification of a new vacancy, with one tap they apply or decline to apply, for that role. Once an affirmative response is received the relevant Jigsaw consultant calls the candidate to provide further job information and gain their permission to represent them to the client.

Here’s an example of how it works in real time relayed to me by Jigsaw Director, Gavin Bell two weeks’ ago:

Jigsaw received a new role at 10:15am on Monday. At noon four well–matched, interested candidates (three of whom had applied via the App) were submitted to the client. Within two hours, the client had confirmed all four interviews, to take place over the following 10 days.

As Gavin said to me, ‘Ross, this is the beauty of what we have created: No advert needed, no ongoing applicants to manage and very little additional work needed to fill the role. Our consultant is now free to get back to sourcing new candidates and new roles. 

This example is typical: We have often referred the three most suitable candidates in the market (including the one the client will eventually hire) before a competitor’s Seek ad has been posted, which means that all our competitors have really done is place a document on the web that is going to generate administration for them over the next couple of weeks and, in most cases, generate zero dollars because we will have already filled the role.

The result?

Jigsaw Search’s gross profit per consultant increased 12% (ie $40k per annum) and job ad spend ceased, saving $21,000 per annum.

The total number and quality of candidates added to the Jigsaw Search database increased.

Further benefits of the Jigsaw Search approach to job ads and candidate sourcing are:

  1. No wasted time talking to candidates that you can’t help who, despite you being honest with them, will probably pass on negative comments about your inability to help them.
  2. A compelling point of differentiation in the market. For example a Jigsaw Search consultant would say to a client or prospect something like: ‘Any agency that is talking to you about advertising is basically saying “we don’t know who is best for this role and we will have to go fishing for someone, which may take a while”. Instead I can send you our vetted shortlist tomorrow.’
  3. One less process, job advertising, that needs administration and training resources devoted to it, and
  4. Removes consultant inbox stress and administration time.

In an era where speed of response and quality of candidate are critical differentiators for any recruitment agency, Jigsaw Search are providing a market-leading example.

Jigsaw Search had the courage to ditch job board advertising because an objective analysis proved it was an unproductive and costly source of quality candidates.

What does an objective analysis of your placed candidates, by source, say about the effectiveness of your job board advertising, LinkedIn use, referrals and internal database use?

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Jade Harvey

I have personally avoided most job boards, in particular Seek, for the last few years as the quantity of the responses always outweighs the quality. Now that I run my own boutique consultancy we have a policy of not advertising via Seek (however we do sometimes use some other free boards). There is no value add to a client in running a process that they can very easily and cheaply do themselves – our value add comes from our network and connections and we run an "inventory" recruitment model so in the majority of cases we can shortlist a role within 24 hours with existing, pre-qualified and screened candidates.

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