Should You Source eBay for Candidates?

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Mar 7, 2011

According to a blog post by Andy Headworth, you just might want to keep an eye on eBay for job seekers in the future. Headworth brought to my attention an article in The Bristol Evening Post last week about a man named David Wood who listed himself on an eBay auction as ‘For Sale an Experienced Sales Representative.’

Creative, yes? But even according to the man, “If any one copies my example its [sic] not going to have the same impact.”

We see this in our sourcing efforts quite frequently — someone comes up with some innovative new way to source candidates, like leveraging social networks to reach potential job applicants or building specific talent communities. But then things get out of control as more and more companies and individuals adopt these strategies, and those most adversely affected end up being the job seekers.

Just look at Ning communities — they were a novelty when it was first found that you could create a closed community and invite job seekers to join, share amongst one another, and check out your jobs. Today, there are nearly 2,000 ‘communities’ on Ning that come up in a search for the word “jobs.” And LinkedIn? If you do a search just for the word “jobs” in Groups, there are over 13,000 that come up. If you were a job seeker, wouldn’t you find this a daunting number of groups or networks to peruse? Even if you narrowed it down to a specific industry, how do you determine which one is the best, offers the best and most relevant resources, and can potentially the most opportunities for finding employment?

As this particular story spreads, you can guarantee there will be more people who attempt to “auction” themselves off on eBay for employment opportunities. Just like sourcing and recruiting strategies, there is a curve of ‘innovation,’ and hence, exhaustion. Check out Everett Rogers‘ chart on the diffusion of innovation:

I would consider Wood to be somewhere between Innovator and Early Adopter — since others had (fruitlessly) attempted this on eBay before, he was not the originator of this approach to job search, however in his instance he gained media coverage and has helped to bring the idea of auctioning oneself on the site to light to other opportunistic job seekers. As well, auction/for sale sites have been being used by job seekers for awhile anyhow — just look at Craigslist. But getting creative with job search on eBay is new and exciting…and it seems to have paid off for Wood — at least from a publicity standpoint.

On Headworth’s post, Wood left a comment which included being contacted with three job opportunities (none of which seemed like they interested him), featured on a local news program, and contacted by eBay to assure him that his listing would not be pulled because it did not violate any terms of service. Headworth responded to this with, “Does this mean that your profile won’t be the last person we see promoting themselves on EBAY?”

So back to the original question of, “Should you source eBay for candidates?”

I’m going to say no (and it seems that Headworth might agree as well) — at least not yet, because while there has been a bit of buzz around this, it doesn’t seem to have produced any real tangible success yet, so the return on the time investment at this point would probably be very small. What would you say?

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