Can a Crowdsourced Approach to Executive Recruiting Beat the Experts?

Can a Crowdsourced Approach to Executive Recruiting Beat the Experts?

Erin Griffith at Wired profiles ExecThread, a site where executives can share and find job opportunities within an exclusive network of their peers. The site is the brainchild of entrepreneur Joe Meyer, who realized the potential for disruption in executive recruiting when he sold his startup HopStop to Apple in 2013 and was approached by dozens of recruiters bearing job offers he didn’t want:

He quickly realized that C-level job opportunities weren’t listed on job boards—they came through friends or colleagues. So he decided to share the 99 job opportunities he didn’t take with his network, building an informal online community of high-level professionals. The hope was that his professional contacts would share their unwanted “hidden” job opportunities, too. …

Over the past two years, the site has grown by word-of-mouth to 15,000 self-described “high-caliber” members. Of those members, 80 percent are vice president-level or higher. Cumulatively, they’ve discussed more than 7,000 jobs. Beginning Thursday, anyone can apply—but you may not get in. ExecThread vets applicants based on recommendations from existing members, how networked applicants are, how willing they are to share job postings, where they’ve worked, and what titles they’ve held. Existing members vote on incoming applicants.

Meyer tells Griffith that he hopes for ExecThread to “democratize” high-level job searches by allowing executive candidates to compete for opportunities that are not pitched directly to them by recruiters. He believes the site can do a better job of sourcing talent than executive recruiting firms, but also envisions eventually monetizing ExecThread by selling users’ data profiles to those firms.

The interesting feature of ExecThread is the participation of executives sharing job posts in addition to those looking for jobs. A typical corporate hiring structure is a “pull” strategy, such as using a job board to market a vacancy. Executive recruiting is much more targeted, of course, but recruiters may not know whether the candidates to whom they are reaching out are actually interested in the positions they are trying to fill. The crowdsourced approach enabled by a site like ExecThread creates more opportunities to match candidates with ideal positions without much work. Sharing an opening within a network of active and passive candidates could be a more efficient way to find a candidate who is both qualified and interested than approaching many candidates individually.

This reflects a broader trend in the recruiting space, not just executive recruiting, which we have observed in our research at CEB (now Gartner). The talent market is tighter than it has been in years, high-quality prospects are overwhelmed with messages from recruiters, and they are making themselves harder to find. Employers therefore need to be more selective about sourcing and reaching out to receptive candidates. CEB Corporate Leadership Council members can read more about how the recruiting landscape is changing in the Q1, 2017 issue of Talent Acquisition Quarterly.

This change is also having an impact on internal recruiting: One of the key findings of our New Path Forward study (which Corporate Leadership Council members can read here) was that employers need to build awareness of opportunities within the organization before employees look for a job, and “push” the right opportunities to both active and passive internal job seekers at the right time.