Talent acquisition is dead. You’re a zombie. The world is over.

Really. You should pack your bags and head to your underground fallout bunker because it’s all over.

…Or at least that’s the conclusion people would come to if they believed what was being regurgitated at HR events, going viral on LinkedIn and being written about on HR blogs.

I get it. The world lives for shock value (I mean look at the title of the article you’re reading right now!), so saying things like “recruiting is dead” or “job boards are dead” gets clicks and somehow makes people feel like they know what they’re talking about. Or maybe it even makes the person saying it feel like a “thought-leader”, “influencer”, “revolutionary” or “contrarian”.

The only thing that’s dead, is the people saying everything is dead. They’re the zombies flocking to flashy, short-term tech and outspoken, self-proclaimed thought-leaders like fresh flesh in a post-apocalyptic world.

Instead of claiming that “everything is dead” and that we’re all helmet-deep in a “war for talent” (a different blog post for a different day), it’s time that the doomsday talent acquisition professionals take off their gas masks, drop the nailgun and realize that the talent acquisition world isn’t a barren wasteland occupied by brain-eating zombies, mummified technology and expired techniques. Rather, it’s a living, breathing industry that’s evolving, maturing and adjusting to the world around it. And that maybe, just maybe, the people claiming these things are dead, simply haven’t adjusted their strategies to accommodate the changes needed to stay relevant.

“The present moment dies every moment to become the past, is reborn every moment into the future. All experience is now. Now never ends.” 
~Deepak Chopra

There are a ton of things I’ve heard echoing in the halls of Talent Acquisition events but in this post I want to focus on three things in particular that are being proclaimed dead but are very much alive and well.

Recruiting is Dead

I recently read a blog post proclaiming that “recruitment is dead”. One argument that was being used as a basis for that assessment? The author wasn’t being recruited on LinkedIn.

That’s like me claiming that marriage is dead because I’m not getting any marriage proposals on Tinder.

LinkedIn is a single tool in the recruiter toolkit. Yes, some recruiters use LinkedIn almost exclusively. Yes, there are some horrible, lazy, borderline criminal, recruiters out there. But there are also extremely talented, empathetic, successful recruiters doing incredible things for their employers and clients.

One of the more recent arguments that’s surfacing at HR events and online is: recruiting is dead because of AI… or big data… or bots… or machine learning… or propensity algorithms… Or all, at the same time.

At a recent HR event, I was watching a panel discuss the future of Talent Acquisition and the panel was asked, “what does the future have in store for talent acquisition”. And one of the panelists jumped in immediately, “all I’m going to say is AI & bots. A…I… And… Bots.” #micdrop?

Like that’s literally the only thing in the future of Talent Acquisition.

Big data, AI, machine learning, propensity algorithms and chatbots. Yes, they all have a place in Talent Acquisition. But at some point, the process requires a human. Remember, Human Resources.

Sidenote: Remember when Siri used to serve up a list of the nearest bridges when a user told her that they wanted to jump off of a bridge? Luckily, humans intervened and reprogrammed her to give info on suicide prevention hotlines.

Technology is definitely part of the answer and will replace some of the pieces traditionally done by humans but the human elements of recruiting will become that much more important. And while the technology will become increasingly critical to the recruiting process, that technology will be utilized to augment the recruiting process and empower recruiters, not replace them.

The invention of the car didn’t kill the transportation industry, it transformed it from a slow, slightly inconvenient, pretty smelly experience into something much faster, convenient and less crappy (literally).

So how do we breathe life back into recruiting? Focus on the parts that are most human and figure out how to make those parts much better. Use technology to support the elements of recruiting that humans have been empirically poor at and double-down on the elements that require a human touch.

Look at companies like Shopify, Kinaxis, Klick Health, Hootsuite and Johnson & Johnson. How is it that these companies are able to recruit great talent over and over? They’ve figured out what works and are doing an incredible job getting the people they need. My bet is that if you asked any of the recruiters about the current state of recruiting, they would tell you it’s alive and well.

Job Boards are Dead

Last month Glassdoor released a report on some of their successes. And while there were some interesting findings, there were two numbers in particular that lend to the argument that job boards are not dead.

  1. Glassdoor has been growing on average 28% per month since January.
  2. An applicant applying through Glassdoor is 2x as likely to be hired.

So it’s not that job boards are dead, it’s that the candidate expectation of what a job board should be has evolved. The data shows that job board traffic is trending downwards. Does this mean that they’re all dead? Not at all. It means that the companies posting to them are failing to do so in a way that sparks interest or garners attention.

Or it means that traditional, big-player job boards are failing.

The decline of job boards may be because they are saturated with postings that are being scraped instead of natively posted. In many cases, this introduces an extra step for the candidate as when they click the “apply” button on the scraped posting. As a result, they’re redirected to the original source of the posting to vie the exact same posting and click “apply” again.

Would you not also stop visiting job boards if they were actually adding an unnecessary, mostly underwhelming step to the process?

Sidenote: just because your career site is being scraped by a job posting aggregator doesn’t mean you’re using a job board. Just like being strapped to the mast of a sailboat doesn’t mean you’re now a sailor:

Being scraped by a job board doesn’t mean you’re using a job board. Being strapped to a boat doesn’t mean you are a sailor.

So how do we breathe new life into job boards?
I would argue that Google jobs is doing just that. I would argue that Glassdoor has been doing just that. I would argue that job boards like Dice are doing just that.

Raising the quality of the posting is critical. Following Glassdoor’s lead and offering more than poorly formatted, million-bulleted, scraped job postings is the new standard.

Job boards can be ridiculously effective if a recruiting team takes time to ID where their ideal candidates are going to search for jobs and then optimize for those candidates and those sources.

Job Postings are Dead

In a recent sales meeting with a major employer, the talent acquisition lead actually told me that she didn’t care if candidates read her job postings because she believed they are interfering with the application process and said that “people don’t even pay attention to them anyway”.

She proclaimed that job postings were dead.

Nope. Not the case.

Her job postings were most definitely dead, or at least in need of major resuscitation, but job postings as a whole are becoming more important than ever.

Job postings are one of the most effective ways to weed out the poor-fit candidates and attract the great-fits.

Job postings give an opportunity to tell a brand story, give context to the industry, company and role that you’re hiring for.

Job postings are meant to be an extension of your career page, social networks and employer brand. They’re meant to give crucial insight to the candidates. Especially when you’re not sure how people are arriving on your postings, it’s so important to include your brand story front and centre.

So how do we breathe new life into job descriptions? By giving candidates what they want. By turning job postings into experiences. By writing highly contextualized descriptions that align with the candidate’s consumer expectations. By introducing branding, video and whatever else it takes to show candidates the type of company they’re applying for and how they match up.

Need a place to start? Look at how AT&T is building their job postings into full-blown experiences that are a complete extension of their brand and completely aligned with consumer/candidate expectations.


Claiming that everything is dead is easy. What’s hard is revising your talent acquisition strategy to evolve with the needs of your candidates, industry and organization. The hard pill to swallow is that usually, the things that you’re claiming are dead, are the biggest gaps in your talent acquisition strategy or toolkit.

Yes, social is extremely important. Yes, inbound is massively critical to a talent acquisition strategy. Yes, mobile is a necessity. But keeping up with the evolution of tenured talent acquisition sources is equally as important.

There’s undoubtedly a need for massive change across many talent acquisition tools and functions but a need for change most certainly doesn’t equate to those things being dead. If that was the case, then we might as well give up now.

Next time you hear somebody declare that something in the world of talent acquisition is dead, ask yourself if the person making the declaration a true visionary or simply a zombie looking for a brain to eat.