Is the “Black Hole” caused by inflated egos and speed reading?

Posted by Thomas Murphy

May 6, 2013

We have all heard the complaint moaned countless times, “Why don’t recruiters get back to me?!” The infamous Black Hole of the application process, as we call it in the industry. Dare I reply on your behalf, “Because you never should have applied in the first place and already have stolen my valuable time?"

At TheLadders, our client support teams devote much of their days helping recruiters redesign and rewrite their job descriptions to ensure maximum exposure to finding the RIGHT candidates. Even then, we often hear how recruiters must sift through piles of unqualified applications where the job seeker does not meet the position’s minimum requirements.

Through the use of cutting-edge “eye tracking” technology, TheLadders recently studied exactly how much time job seekers spend (not much!) reviewing online JReqs, in addition to what items they find the most valuable (the full research is available via TheLadders’ white paper).

TheLadders heatmapThe study concluded that:

  • Job seekers self-report spending up to 10 minutes viewing a job

  • On average, they actually only spend between 39.7 and 76.7 seconds

  • Job seekers are able to identify good fits at a rate of only 38%

  • On average, 62% of recruiter-reviewed resumes are a complete waste

With a nod to Mother’s Day, our well-meaning mothers raised us to be polite and professional individuals who would happily respond to inquiries sent our way. However, when job seekers are either too hasty in their application process or lacking the self-awareness to realize that certain jobs are above their skillset, the result is dozens – if not hundreds -- of resumes which must be reviewed (many of which are way off the mark). In any other situation, one would not be expected to take the time to close the loop with someone who has already been a waste of time.

That said, the study did result in several enlightenments for job seekers, employers, and TheLadders. Job seekers spent a majority of their time reviewing:

-          Job title

-          Job details (location, salary range, recruiter profile)

-          The top of the job description (the bottom was ignored or simply skimmed)

-          Job requirements, but very little time

Knowing how JReqs are digested, employers should spend more time creating clear and informative job titles, crafting robust job details and profiles, and moving any important or required information to the top of the JReq.

Even if you do your homework as recommended above, it is almost impossible to deter job seekers who think that their lack of qualifications can still land them the job. Thankfully, this is where TheLadders steps in with a strong dose of reality. TheLadders Scout is our new competitive-analysis tool which allows job seekers to see how they compare to others who already have applied to the job. No level of bloated self-worth can stand up to the blatant truth that they might be competing against other job seekers that have more and better experience. Our study showed that when job seekers were shown Scout during the application process, they were 35% more likely to identify if a job was a fit.

TheLadders Scout resized 600

As we delve further into 2013, TheLadders will continue to research the complex dance between employers, job seekers, and jobs. By truly understanding this tri-directional relationship, we will  help create industry best-practices and also innovate services and features, such as TheLadders Scout, which will make employers better, faster, and more successful in their hunt for the right person for the right job.


thomas murphy headshot

Thomas Murphy, Director, Client Relations & Sales, Employer Marketing. Tom works with his teams to understand how employers use technology to help them find the best candidates. When not talking shop about HR, he is channeling his old D1 athleticism to get in shape so he does not embarrass himself at the team triathlon this summer.

Topics: Recruiting & Sourcing