What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Column: ZipRecruiter turned hiring into a beauty pageant where everyone loses

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


It’s become a routine complaint in today’s economy: Employers groan that they can’t find the workers they need to fill jobs. But our readers reveal what seems to be the underlying problem: the methods employers use to recruit.

Grouses one job seeker: “The number one factor accounting for double-digit increases in the average length of unemployment is the reliance on job boards.”

If employers rely largely on job boards to hire, yet can’t fill those jobs, and if job seekers are crying that job boards don’t help them get jobs, then what’s really going on?

Follow the money

It’s the job of Human Resources departments to deploy their recruiting budgets to fill jobs, but is HR spending its money wisely?

ZipRecruiter, a venture-funded, privately held company, markets itself to employers as “The Fastest Way to Hire Great People.” It lets HR departments “Post to 100+ Job Boards with One Submission.”

ZipRecruiter web ad

A ZipRecruiter ad.

You’ve probably heard the ads – on NPR One or Bloomberg or some other radio station. (Back in June, ZipRecruiter even accidentally placed an ad on a white nationalist podcast.)

In a long-running Bloomberg radio ad, ZipRecruiter features an employer who says:

“Hiring people is probably the worst part of my job. It’s such a hassle — the searching. The sorting through resumes.”

Man, doing HR work really sucks. Is that an HR manager grousing? Or maybe it’s a hiring manager? Imagine a sales rep at your company complaining about what a hassle it is to sell.

Yet, HR executives ponied up over $100 million in 2016 to ZipRecruiter for help filling jobs.

According to USA Today, “Zip makes most of its money by charging $249 monthly to employers to post [their job] listings.” That’s a lot of job ads. That’s a lot of passing the buck.

Is HR paying for job candidates — or to be insulted?

What’s it like when the vendor you rely on to do your job for you blares to the world that your job is one big bother? Do HR execs love being insulted? Well, they keep paying for it. “Revenue is up 270% since 2013,” reports USA Today.

HR seems to love being abused.

“We started using ZipRecruiter about three months ago. Right from the start you could tell it was going to make hiring a lot easier.”

HR also loves getting millions of job applications that no human ever needs to touch. Candidates “roll in.”

“One click and my job was posted to 100 plus job boards — all the top sites.”

One click and a job is sprayed all over kingdom come.

The talent is insulted, too

Job seekers, however, aren’t as enthused. One wrote to me:

“I heard an advertisement for ZipRecruiter on the radio. In short, you can post a job on this site and it simultaneously posts it on other job boards and social media outlets. Does HR really need that many applications? Especially in these times?”

The challenge for employers who live in this job-board ecosystem is not just to pick good hires. It’s to survive the hordes of inappropriate applicants the job boards gleefully deliver. Does HR really need “all of the candidates” from all of the job boards in HR’s “dashboard”?

What does HR do with them? Says the HR manager in the ZipRecruiter ad (emphasis mine):

“All of the candidates came to my dashboard and it’s easy to compare them. Thumbs up if I liked them, thumbs down if I didn’t. No emails and attachments, printing up docs, phone calls, none of that.”

Imagine: None of that. No “docs” — no resumes, no application forms. No communications with applicants — “no emails, attachments… phone calls…” Nada. It’s 100 percent keywords. So who needs an HR department?

ZipRecruiter takes care of everything for your company — including turning job applicants into your own private digital beauty pageant.

Except really ugly stuff happens in beauty pageants when there’s no regulation. And while some venture-funded firm sucks up the profits, job seekers keep clicking for the next opportunity.

Job seekers & HR: hapless marks

While ZipRecruiter’s investors are cleaning up, job seekers are left drowning in the mess left behind by the job boards.

One job seeker says it for many:

“My Gmail inbox is littered with e-mails from ZipRecruiter, Indeed.com, and others. It is so frustrating to go through the daily search and submission only to get the robo-e-mails from ‘Phil@ZipRecruiter.com’ — the Job Seeker Advocate — and similar messages from Indeed and others. Sometimes I think it’s all one big bizarre video game and I am the hapless mark helping to feed the Monster(.com?). At first, I viewed them hopefully, but now I see them as a part of a giant ruse.”

Another job seeker peals out:

“Things have changed too much for the worse. The old, tried and proven Agencies have gone to wayside and replaced with kids calling me…Saying, ‘Hey, I saw your resume on Indeed or ZipRecruiter or LinkedIn, etc.’ If you put enough monkeys in a room with keyboards eventually semblance of a word will be achieved. If this is how Americans get a decent job nowadays … [oh my god].”

Judging from how ZipRecruiter insults the HR profession in its radio ads, and judging from how much HR spends on ZipRecruiter’s services, we have to ask who is the more hapless mark: job seekers or HR?

Dear Readers: What’s your experience with ZipRecruiter? I’d especially love to hear from folks in HR: How do you feel about how ZipRecruiter portrays you?


Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

Latest News