Online Applications Irk Executives

As popular ERE columnist John Sullivan has warned, the way to an executive’s heart is not through a tedious online application process.

As Sullivan points out, sending the best talent you can find to your corporate website to make them fill out the same painful application anyone else coming to the site would fill out is beyond ineffective.

And a new study shows that Sullivan’s philosophy is right on the money.

This latest study by Norwalk, Connecticut-based ExecuNet (site; profile) says executives seem to be a paranoid bunch, not only doubtful that their resumes will land on the desk of the right decision-maker, but also skeptical that the position even exists.

The firm’s 2008 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report on trends affecting the corporate leadership employment market shows that approximately 74% of executives believe their resume probably never reaches the decision maker when submitted electronically through a company website.

And 72% of executives agree or are unsure that most positions listed on online job boards are phony or already filled.

Of course, the survey also shows that nearly 86% of corporate HR executives and 61% of search firms don’t normally post positions with a total compensation of $200,000 and above on public websites.

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According to ExecuNet, this is because corporate recruiters lack the time to sift through unsolicited resumes. They turn to their networks or employee referrals for leads, while search consultants also prefer to initiate the outreach rather than dealing with the thousands of resumes they receive online each day.

As ExecuNet notes, there is simply no substitute for an expanded diverse network of connections to compensate for the lack of public job postings at the executive level.

Other Executive Findings

The firm’s 16th annual survey of 4,349 executives and 718 search firm consultants and HR professionals shows other interesting trends:

  • Be prepared for the departure of some of your key executives this year, but don’t expect an improved compensation to keep them. Despite total executive compensation increasing 5.7% in 2007 — and expected to grow another 6.2% in 2008 – just 12% of executives jump ship because of money.
  • Executive recruiters expect search assignments to climb 17% in 2008, while corporate recruiters are forecasting a 10% increase in executive-level job opportunities at their companies.
  • The industries expected to generate the most executive job growth in 2008 include high-tech, healthcare, business services, pharmaceuticals/biotech, and energy/utilities.
  • Approximately 60% of employed executives report they are satisfied with their current jobs; the remaining 40% are bored or crave advancement.
  • About 51% of all executive compensation packages negotiated in the past 12 months featured perks, including company cars, club memberships, housing, and favorable loans — up from 38% in 2006.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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