Job Boards: They're not dead yet

Norm Clausen on August 1, 2014 12:48:00 PM EDT

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This is the third part in our ongoing series on recommended sourcing techniques. For other parts of the series, please view:

#1 Internal Promotions
#2 Referrals
#4 LinkedIn

Despite being pronounced dead more times than disco, the job boards have persistently reinvented themselves to remain a relevant, albeit diminished, factor in the hiring process. What was once a thriving empire in the early 2000s is now a fragmented industry dominated as much by a crowd of niche sites and aggregators as it is by the once dominant general job boards.

Still, their low initial cost and speed to initially post continues to warrant them as a viable consideration. While it's trending downward from 20.1% in 2011 to 18.1% in 2012, the percentage of total hires made from job boards remained at 15.4% in 2013 according to CareerXroads most recent reportwhich is still a significant percentage.  That's why we rank them as the third option in the spectrum of sourcing techniques employers should consider pursuing--behind internal promotions and internal referrals.

Great variations in size, popularity, and industry focus, however, lead to a wide range of costs and an even wider variety of results. Posts vary from free sites to $25 for major cities on Craigslist and up to $750 or more for some of the niche technology sites—all of which are relatively affordable when compared to other recruiting methods.

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This low initial cost, however, comes with plenty of rogue costs stemming from the job boards’ major flaw: lack of quality control. The public nature of these posts leaves a very low barrier of entry for anyone, qualified or unqualified, to get their resumes into your inbox.  With the larger, general job boards this translates into a virtual flood of unsuitable applicants to sift through. So, in order to consider using a job board, you must first assess which asset you’re more willing to spend: time or money.  Of course, time is money. So whether you’re paying internally for your workforce to sort through thousands of unqualified resumes in hopes of finding the needle in the haystack, or you commit to using a more expensive, hands-off approach like third party recruiting, you're going to pay for it in the end.

Over the years, niche job sites like Dice, eFinancialCareers (acquired by Dice Holdings, Inc. in 2006), Onewire, and a number of program language specific tech boards have emerged in an attempt to provide a lower volume, more targeted sampling of resumes. Depending on how targeted you go, advertising your position on a smaller site can come with the exact opposite risk. There’s a chance that you’ll get too few resumes to choose from. And with all the out of pocket costs coming up front, there’s always the gamble that your post could come up empty handed. Again, any failed search translates into rogue costs through lost revenue.  Being shorthanded means you have one less team member to make sales, bill hours, ship units, and other revenue generating tasks for your company.

Ultimately, your ideal candidate might not even be on a job board. Passive candidates—those that are currently employed and not actively seeking new employment—are not likely to be looking at job boards. If they’re actively employed in a similar role elsewhere, you may not be able to attract that perfect candidate with the ideal skill set, no matter how much you post.

The top job board at the moment is one that has strayed from the traditional posting model. The job aggregator, Indeed, allows you to advertise jobs through a pay-per-click model or just hope that their job scraping software finds the job on your company website and posts it for free. While it seems complicated, they’ve applied the Google model to job boards. They aggregate jobs from around the web for easy searches and sell advertised positions at the top of the list. And they’re very good at it, accounting for as many job placements as the next three biggest job boards combined. Others like SimplyHired and JuJu, with a slightly varied but similar business model, are also making their mark in a newer segment within the job board market.

Despite potential drawbacks, job boards still account for a significant percentage of all hires.  While they don’t command the market share that they used to, they remain a popular staple of the recruiting process. If you’re lucky enough to find that diamond in the rough, they can be one of the most affordable ways to source for new hires, despite the rogue spending typically associated with this method. While we don’t recommend them as an all-encompassing strategy, their affordability makes them an option to consider.  Your prior experience with job boards is the best gauge of success in the future, but it’s wise to have a backup plan in place.

Below, we've included a few pros and cons to using job boards as a sourcing method:


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• Affordable: Relatively low cost to post. Lowest overall cost if successful. • Not Confidential: Hard to post if you’re trying to replace an existing employee
• Fast: Quick and easy to post. Resumes start to come in almost immediately. • Hassle: Open to public, which can lead to constant follow up by candidates and repeated solicitation by recruiters.
• High Volume: Post your job to a general job and let the flood gates open. • High Volume: Sifting through a mass of applicants can be overwhelming, and the time spent greatly brings up overall cost.
• Integration: Many job boards have built-in posting mechanisms within major ATSs. • Poor Value: High quality passive candidates are not typically available.

For a full discussion of different recruiting strategies, download our recent guide: Source Talent Like a Pro: The 6 Strategies That Top Companies Use to Win the War for Talent.