… But mostly yes.
If you hopped in Doc Brown’s DeLorean, went back in time about 25 years, and walked into a staffing company, you’d see lots of people in torn jeans and neon tops scurrying to place dozens of newspaper classified ads. That was standard operating procedure. Because with the internet still in its infancy, web-based job boards, social media, and other recruiting tools were barely born, let alone widely used. But that’s not the case anymore.
The case now is that there’s loads of recruiting tools out there. Most of them are digital. Many are inundated with spam and going to the wayside. Some are still being experimented on and toyed with. And several are of questionable value. So where do newspapers fall in this vast landscape of options? Are they totally dead? Slowly declining? Relatively stable? Making a comeback?
Staffing Talk intended to find out, so we reached out to hundreds of staffing professionals like you. And this is what we found out.
Surveying the Masses
The results of our three-question email survey to about 2,000 people show some bleak statistics for newspaper classifieds. More than 80% of respondents said their use of newspaper classifieds has gone down over the past 5-10 years. In addition, almost 90% of respondents said less than one-tenth of their recruiting efforts are spent on newspaper classifieds. And the final kicker: nearly 80% of respondents said their company/firm doesn’t use classifieds to recruit or fill job order WHATSOEVER!
Our survey yielded comments such as:
“I’ve been in recruiting for five years and I’ve NEVER used a print classified.”
“Ceased placing regular classifieds in 2008.”
“We haven’t used them in years.”
An Issue of Price
“I’ve been in business over 40 years, and we used to have a heavy spend on classifieds,” one survey respondent wrote. “Social media and other more cost-effective programs serve us well now.”
Several of the people we spoke with alluded to this same trend. While newspapers offer a service with a fixed or increasing cost, the digital age presented services with reduced costs or no cost at all. So the question became simply: Why pay for a something that I can get free elsewhere?
“It became a cost issue – too much money for an ad and not enough of an audience,” another respondent wrote.
An Issue of Audience
Similarly, newspapers in general present a fixed or declining audience, while many digital services yield an ever-increasing audience as people continue to shift towards the web. So unless they’re looking for something extremely specific, recruiters like Jeannette Thomas, a public sector consultant out of the Ottawa area, have turned to the internet.
“Any staffing that I have been involved in for the past 10 years has not used newspaper classifieds,” she responded to our LinkedIn discussion on the topic. “There is organization-wide websites for publicly posted jobs now, and the response to the postings is usually overwhelming. Of course there are always those positions for which only a few people are qualified. In these cases advertising and networking may be required to find people who are not involved in an active job search.”
An Issue of Time
One of our respondents brought up the convenience of time as it relates to internet job boards. While newspapers have a relatively quick turnaround of a single day, in cases where recruiters have to rapidly fill job orders in the same day, newspapers can’t fit the bill.
An Issue of Case-by-Case Basis
So far we’ve talked in very general terms, but for both newspapers and internet services there’s several variables that come into play. Things like readership/usership numbers and demographics, degree of quality, and the types of jobs you’re looking to advertise.
“I recruit for manufacturing positions, and many (60%+) of my candidates do not have regular access to a computer,” said Victoria Spain, a staffing consultant out of Cedar Rapids, IA. “So yes, when we have a recruitment drive, we do post in the newspaper for those positions, and we do get an overwhelming response to it.”
For some, internet job boards have become too bogged down by spam and the unqualified.
“I don’t like overwhelming responses,” says Wendy O’Donoghue, owner of Alert Employment Consultants in South Africa. “I prefer fewer, more suitable responses. I use the internet, but in certain cases newspapers can be useful.”
For Brenda Darling, who does IT and bookkeeping for Staffing Partners in Ohio, the situation is more complex. They have four branch locations in Ohio, and each uses newspapers differently. Their Youngstown branch doesn’t use them whatsoever, while Canton “swears by them” because “readership is strong.” The others had placed newspaper classifieds because the newspaper’s online job boards got lots of hits and results. Or at least they did until the paper required payment for online readership, and now the branch has opted out of that paper’s classifieds.
While the vast majority of people we talked to said they use newspapers sparingly or not at all, some still see value that may help keep them alive a little while longer.
“I feel that every job posting should be based on: ‘How are we going to get the best results?’” said James Stoyles, managing director of NPR Recruit out of the U.K., who recommends classifieds for national multi-placements. “If that includes newspaper job ads, then it works for me.”