Blind Job Postings are Bad Mojo

by George Blomgren

I’ve been asked to do blind recruitments many times over the years. When I push back, I’m always surprised to discover that many employers aren’t aware of the downsides. Frankly, the downsides are so bad, I suggest that you do anything you have to do to avoid blind recruitments.

There are four primary reasons they are such a mistake.

1. Why is it blind?

Job seekers will scratch their heads and wonder what circumstances led to the blind posting in the first place. Wherever their imagination takes them … it won’t be good. Ask yourself: what kind of candidates will accept your secrecy, and apply regardless?

2. The obvious assumption.

Lacking the answer to #1, most savvy job seekers will assume the most common answer. You are secretly replacing someone before you yank the rug out from under them. No matter how good your reasons for doing that (if that’s even the correct reason), think of it this way. When you post blind, this is the ONLY thing job seekers think they know about you: that you are the kind of employer who does things like that. (Again, you won’t be given a chance to explain your reasons.)

3. Rightfully paranoid.

Job boards are full of job postings that aren’t what they seem to be. Scams, identity theft, employers/recruiters building up their resume database, etc. Smart job seekers are very cautious about which jobs they apply for. For obvious reasons, blind postings are inherently suspect.

4. The best talent cares what team they play for.

To the extent that you may be an employer of choice and have a great brand and a powerful story to tell candidates … a blind posting just throws all that goodness away.

If that’s not enough, here are three more reasons…

5. Your blind recruitment frequently won’t stay blind on the inside.

I have seen secretive recruitments compromised in so many different ways — well intentioned friends in HR, billing snafus, once when a hiring manager was confronted with a rumor about an impending termination (although it was just a random rumor, it happened to be true and the hiring manager spilled everything).

6. It also isn’t blind as you think it may be from the outside.

Unless you are a very common type of business in a large metro area, any level of detail can identify you. I once worked with a cataloger turned ecommerce retailer in rural Wisconsin, when they were trying to secretly replace their IT/web guy. As I pointed out to them, they would have to specify their location in order to post the job. In conjunction with any detail about the core requirements (like knowledge of their ecommerce platform), their identity was immediately obvious to anyone in the area with any IT knowledge … including the incumbent.

Note: pure sourcing or hiring a headhunter (instead of just doing a blind posting) doesn’t solve this problem. Candidates will still quickly figure out what employer is being represented, and chances are good that people with similar skill sets know the incumbent.

7. Once it’s exposed, the fact that you tried to keep the recruitment secret often backfires,

leading to a much worse situation than whatever you were trying to avoid. The retailer I mentioned above learned this the hard way. (Important lesson: never piss off the only person in the company who knows all of your really important passwords. Furthermore, the only person who even knows exactly what all that list of passwords consists of.)

Whatever your reason for wanting to do a blind recruitment, there are almost certainly better alternatives.

Bottom line, think twice before posting blind.

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