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The Influencer Marketing Model in Recruiting - Part 2: A Product-Market Perspective

You can’t fit all of human behavior into a product. So unless you want to offer services to supplement your product's limitations, you have to make concessions. What are you willing to give up to get more of?

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This is a follow on to Part 1 which looked at this topic from a recruiting perspective.

I’m specifically interested in the trade-offs that those building products in this area face. IMO, those trade-offs are indicators of domain expertise and ultimately product-market fit.

1. The market trade-off.

This is essentially a three sides marketplace consisting of influencers, candidates, and employers.

In this model, the influencer is bringing the candidates to the product. Therefore, the influencer side is responsible for driving the growth and controlling the quality of the candidate side.

The company building the product has made the calculated choice to release control over the candidate side of the market and instead focus their acquisition energy on employers and influencers.

The company is betting that if they can acquire enough influencers—with lots of followers—and employers—with enough open job reqs that match those followers—revenue becomes a numbers game. If enough volume enters the system, the probability of matching increases. And even if matching doesn’t occur for an employer right away, volume (aka candidate supply inside the system) creates the illusion that the likelihood of matchmaking is high. And therefore, it’s in the employer's best interest to stay in the system.

When it’s a SaaS model and employers are paying monthly to use the product with or without results, illusion equals retention. It all comes back to FOMO.

2. The product trade-off.

You can’t fit all of human behavior into a product. So unless you want to offer services to supplement your product's limitations, you have to make concessions. What are you willing to give up to get more of?

In this model, the product builders are willing to give up control over quality to get volume.

Within the context of recruiting, what the creators of these products are failing to understand is that volume is the enemy of recruiting.

Recruiters know that most conversations with high-demand folks are the result of a few select activities:

  • Targeted sourcing based on precise criteria.
  • A referral.
  • A personal introduction from a trusted source.

Having recruiters dig through a sea of unfiltered, unvetted profiles inside a marketplace platform creates massive friction (time) and in no way alleviates the burden of sourcing. If anything, it’s adding an additional layer of filtering to an already challenging and tedious process.

In the end, I'm skeptical that volume and trusting that influencers have qualified followings are the right trade off's to be making.

It feels like quality (are-you-qualified-on paper-to-do this-job-exceedingly-well) is and will always be the holy grail of recruiting.

Trade for that.

P.S. I’m painting with a broad brush here. Apply your own context to account for individual variations.

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