Are women working harder so the boys can watch college hoops?

Posted by Thomas Murphy

March 25, 2013

"Nothing will work unless you do."

-- John Wooden, American basketball player and coach [tweet this]

Working for a data-driven tech company, real-time usage from our more than 5 million members is posted on any wall that can handle the weight of a flat- screen TV. So, when I was walking to our kitchen on Thursday evening, my heart skipped a beat. Our site usage was visibly lower than usual. After grabbing the umpteenth Diet Coke of the day from our communal fridge, I remembered a story my father had shared recently.


Earlier in his career at a global financial institution, he and other executives almost made an expensive and hasty decision, based off of late-March data. However, that was until he remembered the effects (now, well-documented) of workplace productivity during March Madness. Unlike the masses watching their favorite college teams hit the hardwood*, we have spent the past few days monitoring both jobseeker and employer site usage. Are we, too, victims of this annual insanity?

TheLadders Job Search Expert, Amanda Augustine, always tells her devotees to treat their search like a full-time job. Well, apparently they are taking her advice. Just like corporate America loses productivity to their obsession with bracketology, job-seeker searches fell almost 30 percent during game-time in comparison to historical site usage.

Cameron Crazies might not be as fanatical as they claim. In fact, it turns out the decrease in site usage was not specific to one region. Even though the South has 20 teams in the tournament, just like every other region, their dip fell between approximately 20 to 30 percent.


TheLadders’ data shows that a few stereotypes may offer some truth:

  • Men were 10 percent less active in their job search than women, and
  • All men are not created equal: those making under $100K, were 5 percent less active than those commanding higher salaries.

Could it be that March Madness proved too distracting for the young men who are starting out their careers, but still have vivid memories of keg parties celebrating their favorite basketball teams? No matter the reason, they certainly can learn a lesson from women making over $100K, especially as this group was the least affected during game time.

When we initially started reviewing the numbers, I sat there smugly. Apparently, our employers found an antidote for the madness. The usage by employers the past few days appeared to be following our trend of continual growth. That said, to really understand the effects of the NCAA games, we had to normalize the data since employers using TheLadders has grown by 18 percent in Q1 2013.

It seems that although we boast some of the country’s most productive employers, they, too, are no match for the big dance. During game time, employer searches decreased by more than 5 percent.

The dip was modest…until gender was brought into the equation. Then, our female employers worked extra hard to hide the slacking by their male counterparts.

  • Searches by females INCREASED by 22 percent
  • Searches by males DECREASED by 11 percent

Could it be that men are more interested in sports than their job, or maybe women are just better multi-taskers who can handle watching ESPN while getting it done in the office?

In the end, it seems that no one is totally immune to the fun and excitement created by the tournament. Nonetheless, not everyone is slowing down. During these times, the most serious jobseekers are demonstrating their work ethic, while our female employers are hustling even more than Aaron Craft with his three-point buzzer beater.

*I, of course, took a break to watch Davidson get robbed on Thursday afternoon. It is still too raw to talk about, but “It is always a great day to be a Wildcat!”


Thomas Murphy is the Director of Client Relations & Sales, Employer Marketing at TheLadders. 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. Follow Tom on Google+

Topics: TheLadders Insights, Recruiting & Sourcing