How Social Recruiting Is Revolutionizing the Job Hunt: A Q&A with the CEO of JobFox

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When it comes to finding your next employer, online job boards are out and social recruiting is in, says Robert McGovern, the chairman and CEO of JobFox.com, a free website that enables job seekers to tap into private hiring networks at companies where they want to work.

JobFox debuted in 2006 as a traditional online job board, but relaunched in February as a social recruiting site.

The shift reflects the changing hiring landscape: Employers are increasingly finding job candidates on what's being called "social job boards" like JobFox and LinkedIn, rather than traditional online job sites, McGovern says.

And McGovern knows a thing or two about the traditional sites, having founded CareerBuilder.com in 1995.

JobFox aims to connect job seekers with the people at companies actually responsible for hiring -- a far more effective strategy than sending a resume down the digital "black hole" of online job sites, he says.

Robert McGovern, CEO of JobFox.comMcGovern (right) spoke with DailyFinance about how JobFox is recasting the job search.

DailyFinance:
What's the job search picture like these days?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are three million job openings in the U.S. If you take the 9% unemployment rate, and workforce of 140 million people, that gets you to 13 million unemployed, but there are only 3 million jobs open. If you fill every job, you end up with 14 million people with no jobs. That's making job seekers very frustrated.

McGovern:
Why do you say traditional online job sites are in decline?
What I hear constantly from job seekers is, "I've applied for 100 jobs from Monster or CareerBuilder, but have not heard back." I tell them your odds are one in 300.

A typical job right now is receiving 200 to 300 resumes per job, but they're only hiring one person. So the rejection rate is 99.8% on the online job boards. Online job boards worked better when there was a surplus of jobs and a shortage of job seekers. The recession has clobbered the electronic classified model. Smart people are saying, "I'm going to do something different."

How does JobFox work?
It's finding a job through connections, or finding the right person for a position through connections. The recruiter creates a network and job seekers can join that network, and employers can invite job seekers to their network.

How do employers leverage the site?
Networking has always been the great hope of recruiters, and we're finally delivering it. Companies would love to be able to network for every position, but they don't have the time. We came along and said, "We have a way of doing it." If a professional recruiter called you about leaving your company, and you're not interested now, their next question would be, "Who else do you know?" That's what our service does: It sets up networks of people. These are companies that have told JobFox, "We'd like to build a network of professionals through the site. So I'd like to build pipelines of those people."

Let's say you're Citibank, and you're going to hire 30 IT people, 145 sales people and 20 accountants. They say, "Let me build an inventory of those people on JobFox so that when a position comes up, I already have a pipeline of candidates." Our service builds the network for the employer. What employers like to do is recruit from a network of people they have already identified and know are qualified for jobs. Recruiters are saying [to job seekers], "You can communicate with me through JobFox," which is the intermediary here.

How much of an insider track does JobFox have to recruiters and jobs across industries?
There are 7 million recruiters and job seekers using the service per month. Our primary focus is on professional level positions. My definition of professional is non-hourly jobs. Most companies who have a network on our service are hiring today, or are hiring within a three-month period.

We make networks for 7,000 companies in the U.S. today across all industries, and 240 different professional [specialties] are represented on the service. For broad careers like sales and marketing, there are thousands of networks, but for narrower specialties, like architecture, there might be 100 networks.

There's everyone from Hewlett Packard and American Express to smaller, more obscure boutique companies. One company can have many different strands -- or professions -- of their network. General Electric, for example, might have a sales network, an accounting network, an IT network.

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How are job seekers networking directly with hiring professionals on the site?
People join JobFox's networks for all different reasons: Some want to find a job tomorrow because they got laid off, and some people say, "I want to upgrade in the next six months." It's a one-on-one relationship between the job seeker and the recruiter who works for the hiring company, and runs JobFox's network.

Job seekers are coming on and requesting to join recruiters of networks. The job seekers tell us their skills and the employers say, "I'm looking for people with these types of skills for my network," and we match them up. A job seeker is going to see that there are probably 200 networks there to join within their profession, but he might only get accepted to 30 of them. You can look at the jobs associated within your network, and apply to them.

What does it take to get into a network?
Normally, employers are going choose you if your skills are relevant to their needs.

How are job seekers chances of landing a position through JobFox better than on other sites?
When the employer accepts you into their network, they've picked you. This is a way to potentially get called before the job is even open. Many times a job is filled [via JobFox] without it even being advertised. Employers inform their JobFox network about what's happening in that profession and that company. Many times they only talk to their employer's network on Job Fox, so many times [job seekers] get the inside news.

[If an employer] advertises a job on Monster.com, they'll receive 300 emails, and they're going through this tremendous filtering and sorting. Through JobFox, employers have already identified the 100 best sales people, for example, in the market, and you have already been networking with them. So instead of looking at 300 resumes, an employer is going to say, "Let me look at my network on JobFox." The employer has already handpicked those people. The job seeker is starting with a foot in the door, because the employer picked you because they were interested in you -- before they even advertised the job.

How does JobFox differ from LinkedIn, for example?
We are 100% focused on recruiting and finding seekers a job. LinkedIn is trying to do a lot of things: They are trying to be a social network by competing with Facebook in the morning and Monster in the afternoon by recruiting with job listings.

Also, if you're starting to make LinkedIn connections with journalist friends, for example, at other magazines and newspapers, they're going to know you're looking for a job. On JobFox, the relationships in our world are private.

What's your success rate so far?
People get hired on JobFox 15 to 20 times a day. Recruiters are signing up to use the service at accelerating rates. Over the last three years, Monster's business has been contracting. Recruiters are shifting their dollars to companies like JobFox and LinkedIn.
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