Job Boards – Challenge, Opportunity, and Changes Ahead

Kyle Power

Sr. Director of Interactive Marketing, CHG Healthcare Services

Kyle has been key in introducing a testing culture at CHG to increase the efficiency of its marketing spend and channel allocations. Kyle really appreciated a quote from Michael Eisner of Disney early in his career stating that “Failure is essential for any company to succeed” as it falls in line with Kyle’s approach of “fail fast, succeed faster.” 

As the year wraps up, it’s likely that every person involved with hiring and staffing is reviewing their results and thinking about 2019 plans. If they read the headlines, it’s all about AI, automation, programmatic, and acquisitions. One topic that never seems to get the credit it deserves and almost feels like a dirty word is job boards. It seems like everyone has written them off like they are all going to go the way of the dodo. I don’t agree with that thinking at all. I believe that opportunity exists for job boards and the recruiters who use them effectively.

There seems to be too much discussion around job boards and redefining them by classification. Does it matter if the service is technically an aggregator, a duration posting site, an arbitrage site, a niche content site that only has jobs as a monetization model or a network of similar career-minded individuals? All of these solutions are potential assets to use to attract talent. All of them are not created the same, but they fundamentally focus on a similar result.

To use an analogy, trout, piranha, and carp are all fish even though they look different, eat differently, and are viewed differently in various parts of the world. I would never expect to catch different types of fish in the same type of water. Catfish, snapper, and bluegill live in disparate waters, and I would need to go to those specific waters and use varying lures to catch them. Job boards are the same in their current state. They are large aggregators which are broad-based and comprise numerous candidates across different verticals. However, they may not have specialized labor or may force you to sift through a lot of possibilities in order to get to the right candidate. Niche sites, on the other hand, don’t have the volume of candidates that aggregators do, but they generally deliver more qualified talent. These sites can perform well for hard-to-fill roles. For the customer, it’s about testing and finding the partners that work the best for any given scenario. Currently, we partner with more than 40 job boards and have seen the investment shift between them over the years, but the overall budgets still increase every year, and they have since the great recession.

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What matters most is the quality, not the size, of a site. It does not matter that a site has 20 million candidates if those candidates are not the ones I’m looking to find. I want talent that can be placed in the roles that are open now or will be in the future. If a rep came in and told us that there are 10,304 unique individuals that searched for the term “travel nurse”, that would mean something. The challenge is that most job boards get compensated by click or posting and don’t empower the advertiser to try and restrict unqualified traffic. Coming from a paid search background, I would love to have the ability to block my job from certain queries in order to get better traffic and create a better job seeker experience for the partner. Google appears to be the most aggressive in trying to solve the seniority (title mismatching a title in the description) and conceptual (server in a restaurant vs. software engineer working on a server) elements of the search and as they grow their partner network, I expect others to make this an area of focus. To return to the fishing analogy, instead of heading out to fish with a single lure, you have to be prepared with multiple lures and be willing to change them up based on the conditions and what you are trying to catch.

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It isn’t all clear water ahead for job boards, however. There are challenges both old and new that are forcing change. Some will survive and thrive, and others will struggle and close. Large companies will continue aggressive hiring and have the ability to have more face time with clients and provide different solutions to them. Google has decided to enter the job market, and although Google for Jobs isn’t perfect — and in fact has a lot of flaws — it has shown that Google can quickly disrupt a market. Some people have partnered with Google, some have not, and others have struggled to be included. Other challenges are the rapid development of technology to provide better candidate/company matches along with the well-funded companies continuing to make larger strides than their peers.

One thing is clear: the industry is changing and will always be changing, which means opportunity for those willing to take the necessary risks and/or make the necessary investment. From the customer perspective, focusing on quality delivery for hard-to-fill roles can be very lucrative and make small risks pay off just as much as trying to be the biggest and broadest. Job boards that stay focused and deliver value to the job seeker and the recruiting industry will always be relevant and act as a valuable partner to recruiters. Having a customer-first mentality and a willingness to take risks is key to the future success of job boards.

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