So you are probably wondering what is this guy on about?. A promiscuous digit and recruitment, well let me explain.

The promiscuous digit is the second finger on the right hand, it is the one that we use to “click” on a mouse with, it is the digit which gives us immediate access to a world of information and gives us what we so often seek today, instant gratification. If on a shopping site we see a product we want, we click, we buy all with the promiscuous digit, it gives us control, power and speed.

By clicking with the digit all is revealed instantaneously and in my view it is the reason why so many jobseekers when applying for jobs on-line often don’t get a response to the jobs they apply for (their qualifications, skills or location do not match the job requirements). In responding/applying to advertisements so quickly, we fail to read then.

BUT it wasn’t always like this!l some of you may remember a thing called a newspaper, we used to look for jobs in them. We would go through each page looking for the right job, once found you might ring (the job with a pen or the company with a phone) but normally you would be asked to send your CV.

Yes post a CV!!, so you would prepare your CV, write a bespoke covering letter, often you would cut the advertisement out and clip the CV and letter together, put in a plastic folder and then send the CV/letter by post.

So what? I hear a cry and get to the point – the point is TIME, today you see an advertisement on a job board and before you have even had time to properly read the advertisement you are hitting the apply on-line button, uploading a CV, filling out an on-line application and all with the promiscuous digit at speed. Instant self gratification and I hear stories of jobseekers sending of 100’s of on-line applications every week. We read the headline, salary and in a nano second our brain says “ looks OK” apply, next job.

Is this true?, yes, I have spent years analysing how jobseekers use the internet to search for a job, use job boards to apply and use company career sites. When you, the job seeker is on-line you do these things, you work at speed, you apply to jobs without reading the full content of the advertisement. The worst mistake is location, this is missed or disregarded all the time so you apply for jobs in locations that you never have an intention of moving too.

Equally and another reason for CV spam is the quality of copy written by those advertising, copy such as “Sales Manager North West, FMCG, Retail Exp required Salary $30k plus benefits” does not exactly allow a considered decision..

So what is the result? 1000’s of irrelevant CV’s spamming up recruiters in-boxes ,and because recruiters suspect this, they don’t look at or respond to these CV’s and equally with their “promiscuous digit they are at best ignoring or at worse deleting CV’s at the same rate as job seekers send them.

Am I mad or is this an issue?

Who is reasponsible and how do we change this use of the promiscuous digit?

Views: 228

Comment by Gareth Jones on March 1, 2010 at 4:09am
Its a huge issue Keith. For most job seekers, a job is only 'a click away' - and so nicely put as the 'promiscuous digit' because that's a perfect term for it.

It is far too easy to apply for a job now. And far too easy i guess to delete applicants. The need for speed has just resulted in a mess, a huge lump of confusion and angst, that no one seems to want to take responsibility for. And the upshot is that the process of recruitment is no more efficient or effective in real terms than it was when we handled CV's in paper form. Yes i'm old enough to remember that too!

Its a joint problem Keith, but fundamentally we have made it too easy to apply for a job and the level of investment in recruitment technology over the years has been way too low.
Comment by Keith Robinson on March 1, 2010 at 6:22am
Thanks Gareth,

Never sure with an issue like this if it is a real issue or my imagination.
Comment by Alasdair Murray on March 1, 2010 at 8:00am
I think your blog in many ways relates to the one I wrote a couple of days ago Keith, namely in so far as a lot of people don't listen, or read, properly. They just scan through an ad, see the job title, location and the salary and click 'apply'.

It's not helped by the fact that so many recruiters post up terrible cut and pasted job descriptions that do nothing to encourage people to read. They are totally devoid of allure.

Maybe what needs to happen is that there needs to be a second layer to the job application process online. The scan reader is afced with a page whjere they have to click on a few buttons which ask 'screening' questions such as "have you got substantial experience in this field'? 'Are you qualified in XYZ'? 'etc. etc. That way automatically the people who are not up to doing the role are weeded out BEFORE their application reaches the recruiter.

That and recruiters committing to upping the quality of their job board posts would maybe make a difference. I am certainly trying to encourage it here
Comment by Alan Whitford on March 1, 2010 at 12:40pm
Hi Keith

Well, the old promiscuous digit gets dusted off again :-) Funnily enough, I brought it up last week at PharmaTalent 2.0 (with attribution, of course). The technology to pre-screen/sift the candidates has been available for years, from the so called 'killer' questions to parsing CVs and extracting CVs into structured data profiles - all to aid the recruiter.

Alasdair's offer to write ad copy for free, with payment on results, hopefully will bring a few ads into better and more relevant shape, but as long as employers (or their agents) do not focus on quality ads and a robust and relevant screening process, the problem will continue.


Comment by Gerry Crispin on March 1, 2010 at 5:06pm
I'm surprised you can remember what it was like in the pre-promiscuous digital age Keith. lol.

I would be happy to have an appropriate debate at the next event where we both are in attendance because I'm very doubtful that the promiscuous digit accounts for even 1% of the problem of mismatched jobs and job seekers. Better yet- you sit at a computer and apply with your promiscuous digit to 10 jobs...any 10 you want while I, at another computer will find 10 jobs, print my resume and mail them with a unique coverletter to each and every company just like in olden times when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

I'll wager you a very large stack of embarrasing acts that I can apply to 10 firms the old way in less than 1/2 the time you can with your promisuous digit. I would also suggest that if the firms answered my mail the way they did in the "old days", I would get twice as many to respond as you do with your "not-so-instant" application.

Your point is well taken that there are problems with online applications attributable to a misinformed and poorly coached group of job seekers but they aren't the cause of the black hole...and they can't possibly apply as easily as you say....and my data, collected over the last 10 years represents thousands of applications (as many as 2000 by myself alone) and that is what I'll use to prove my point.

Hope all is well.


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