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Table of Contents

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Is your organization posting jobs and hoping that great candidates will magically apply? This tactic is called “post and pray,” and it’s not the most effective way to recruit top talent. Read on to learn more about alternatives!

What Is Post and Pray?

“Post and pray,” or P&P, is a pithy term used to describe the passive approach to recruitment when an employer posts an open job on a job board, takes no additional action steps and hopes that great candidates will apply for the job.

Is Post and Pray a Relevant Recruiting Strategy?

In short, no. Post and pray is not a relevant or research-backed successful recruiting strategy. This approach is incredibly passive and tends to result in small talent pools, poor quality of hires and absolutely no diversity of candidates.

Reasons Post and Pray Doesn’t Work

Folks who spend time recruiting and hiring likely already know that P&P doesn’t work but they might not know why. Below are a few reasons this hiring strategy is sure to fail.

Not All Job Boards Are Created Equal

In order for candidates to apply for your jobs, they have to first see those jobs, so if you’re posting on your company’s own jobs page, you’re losing this battle. With regard to generic job boards, in my opinion, this is a quantity over quality situation. Sites like Indeed are consistently ranked as the best job boards, but after a decade of recruiting and hiring somewhere around 500 candidates, I have yet to hire more than a handful who came through aggregated platforms. Of course, that’s anecdotal, and Indeed does have a huge network of jobseekers, so it really depends on the position you’re hiring for.

If you’re seeking entry-level workers, sales and marketing employees, etc., sites like Indeed might be a good fit. However, if you’re looking for highly-specialized professionals in niche fields, skip Indeed and head directly to job boards that target that population. If your organization works in the nonprofit sector, Idealist is a great resource. For jobs at colleges and universities, HigherEdJobs is the go-to. If you want to hire engineers, Engineering.com is your friend. Try a quick internet search to see what sites come up for various industries.

The Market Has Changed . . . Dramatically

Jobseekers today inarguably have the upper hand when it comes to picking and choosing which jobs and companies they’re interested in. If you wait until you have a job opening to try to build company brand awareness, it’s way too late. P&P relies on a short-term solution to a long-term challenge — relationships. You should be building relationships with your potential job candidates all the time, not just when there’s an opening. Jobseekers expect to be wooed by companies, not treated like commodities.

In-Group Bias and No DEI Strategy

Post and pray fails to consider the targeted outreach that increasing DEI requires. If you care about attracting a talent pool with a great variety of diverse candidates, you need a more targeted approach. P&P relies on a tiny network of candidates who already know your company. Unless you’ve already done robust DEI work, that likely means your target audience base probably isn’t very diverse. And, unless you’re including a diversity statement on your post, P&P doesn’t give you the chance to highlight your commitment to diversity in hiring and share with candidates why your company is a great place for them!

Alternatives to Post & Pray Recruiting

Finding great candidates can seem overwhelming and can lead recruiters to use P&P as a tactic, but there are other and better ways of achieving results. Some great alternatives are as follows (note: these methods work best when used in conjunction with each other).

Networking

You and the hiring managers at your company likely have some established networks at your disposal, and there’s no better time to leverage them than when you’re seeking new talent. Professional associations, membership groups, listservs and more are all great ways to spread the word that your company is hiring. Ask your hiring managers what industry-specific groups and networks they’re part of, and then ask them to send some personalized emails with the open position information. You can also do this by scanning your competitors’ websites for contacts doing similar work. A great way of soliciting in a zero-pressure manner is to say, “If you’re not interested in this position, would you mind passing this along to anyone you know who might be a good fit?”

Referrals

Does your company already have great employees? Put them to work for you by creating a recruitment referral program. In short, this is a program where your employees receive some kind of reward when someone they refer is hired. Companies like PURE ask new hires if they know anyone else looking for similar work, and they estimate that roughly 50% of their employees have been sourced through referrals. Salesforce takes this idea to the extreme by hosting happy hours where employees are encouraged to invite friends from outside of the company; recruiters and hiring managers get to meet potential hires informally.

Word to the wise: exercise caution with referral programs. They can lead to in-group bias as previously discussed, so it’s best to use referrals if your employee base is already diverse. Intel created a win-win situation by offering referral payments for successful hires, and the bonus is doubled if the hire is a woman, minority or veteran.

Recruiting Partnerships

For particularly hard-to-fill positions (highly specialized or sought-after, tight market, etc.), don’t overlook the value of partnering with a recruiter or recruiting firm. There are many models available: freelance recruiters who specialize in the given field, retained executive search firms (paid up front) and contingency search firms (you only pay if you hire a candidate the firm presents). Recruiters have much more time and resources to devote to finding you the perfect candidates than you do!

Job Fairs and Community Resources

Especially for companies hiring labor-related and on-site/in-person positions, job fairs are still an excellent way to meet potential candidates, as are local chambers of commerce and community events. These events have the added bonus of allowing you to really connect with people and show them what sets your organization apart — and don’t forget the free swag!

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Post and Pray

P&P rose to popularity due to a convergence of factors, namely that it’s quick and easy with no effort, and the hiring market was saturated with jobseekers all vying for the same positions. In those conditions, even though it’s a suboptimal recruiting method, P&P was able to achieve some success.
Actually, no. Many employers still use P&P via job boards, listservs and more. Social media is definitely one avenue of P&P (LinkedIn is a big one), but there are many other ways it shows up in the recruiting space.

Tammi has 8+ years of progressive HR experience in a variety of industries and settings, including nonprofit and higher education. She believes that doing HR well means being a true partner and collaborator with every part of an organization, and by saying “yes” to creative problem solving wherever and whenever possible (and legal). Her favorite work includes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB); the how and why of hiring and retaining great people; helping to sustain an organizational culture of trust, empathy, and candor; and anything else that prompts employees to say they love where they work. In her free time, you can find her wandering outdoors, studying clinical herbalism, tinkering in the kitchen, dismantling the patriarchy and white supremacy, and hanging out with her cat, Emily Dickinson.

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