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Job Boards Are So Over. TalentSeekr Targets And Recruits Through Ads Instead.

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Even though unemployment is at the highest levels in a decade, companies are still finding it difficult to find the best qualified candidates to fill the positions that are available. The reason for that is because more often than not, the best qualified candidates are already employed and not necessarily looking for new jobs. Certainly not on job boards like Monster.com or HotJobs. So if the best candidates won’t seek out job openings on employment sites, the jobs need to seek them out.

That is the idea behind TalentSeekr, which is essentially an ad network for jobs. Companies fill out what jobs they are trying to fill in what locations, then TalentSeekr creates and tests multiple ads across the Web—social networks, blogs, forums, search engines, you name it. Based on the response rate and quality of the applicants that come through the ads, TalentSeekr optimizes the mix of ad types (banner, text, video, creative elements) and placement. (Watch the video below to see how it works). If more qualified applicants are coming in through LinkedIn than Facebook, it readjusts the mix. (In fact, LinkedIn makes a lot of money through recruitment ads on its own site in much the same manner. TalentSeeker is attempting to apply the same principles in a more distributed manner across the Web).

“What we are doing is what job boards did to newspapers. Everybody knows the space is about to shift big,” says Ryan Caldwell, the CEO of EnticeLabs, the company behind TalentSeekr. EnticeLabs was founded in August 2007, and funded with $1.3 million in angel money so far.  It’s been operating in a private beta until recently, and already counts among its customers Dell, GE, IBM, Adidas, Rebock, Google, and Microsoft. In addition to TalentSeekr, which is aimed at companies looking to recruit, EnticeLabs’ other product is CareerAds, which is aimed at blogs and Websites looking to display job-focused ads.

TalentSeekr’s approach takes longer than filling a job on Monster, but if you are looking for 3,000 SAP consultants, it could be a better approach.  If you are looking to just fill a single position quickly, you are probably still better off with Monster or some other job board.  Hiring managers get a dashboard (see screenshot below) which shows the number of ad impressions, clicks, and ultimate applications resulting from the ads, as well as the geographic distribution. The average clickthrough rates for TalentSeekre ads can range from 0.15 percent to 0.37 percent (see table below).  Then among those who click, the application rate can be anywhere from 0.22 percent for medical jobs to 2.68 percent for tech jobs.  But with an average cost-per-click of around $1, and an average cost per qualified applicant of anywhere from $200 to $2,600, it still beats hiring a headhunter.

Job ad networks have been tried before by both large companies (Monster has its Career Ad Network) and small. A Y Combinator company called SnapTalent tried this before shifting over to career fairs, and ultimately deadpooling (their site is no longer online). Caldwell isn’t worried about the same fate happening to EnticeLabs because he’s gone after big enterprise with thousands of employees first, rather than the other way around. “This is not something where you can do a cute little startup,” he says, “you need scale.”

The other thing that gives him confidence is that big employers like IBM and GE are talking about shifting large online recruiting budgets away from poorly-performing job boards. Since TalentSeekr already tracks the performance of its ads, it can also plug into applicant tracking systems used by HR departments to get feedback into how the people hired end up doing in terms of job evaluations, longevity and other factors.

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