I saw an ad recently for one of those major job boards. You know the kind. Back in the day they changed recruiting by putting the job ads that used to fill up newspaper classified sections on the internet. It was liberating. It felt revolutionary. Then these guys went a step further. They took the paper resumes that we were all required to bring into interviews and put those on the internet - and made them searchable. Suddenly everyone was talking about "E-recruitment" and how recruiting would be changed forever.

Still pricing like its 2006... 

And it was. But despite huge advances in the Job Board experience for job seekers and employers (you can just call these "huge advances" Indeed, if you want) people are still paying for Job Postings. Honestly, this blows my mind. But, I understand. Not everyone spends as much time in the data as I do. So, let's take a step back and look at why you should never, ever again pay simply for the privilege of posting your job online.

One Talent Pool. (Almost) All the Job Boards.

Job Boards attract Job Seekers. A Job Seeker is someone actively searching for jobs. Almost without exception, anyone searching for jobs lands - at least once - on a Job Board. Just try it right now. Search for your job title in your area. Who comes out on top? If you don't feel like running your own search, check out the image below:  

Google search results for "recruiter jobs raleigh nc"

With only one - significant - exception, all of the top listings are from Job Boards. I didn't want to use such a long image, but if you scroll through the first page (the only one that really counts on Google) there was only one more exception - a link to another recruitment agency that looks like its been hiring recruiters for a long time.

The strategy and practice of improving search rankings is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I'm not going to bore you with the technical details, but, in SEO, volume matters. The more people who search for something, click to your website, and spend some time there, the better your search rankings will become. The longer you do this, the harder it becomes for other people to get ahead of you.

But what about that exception? Well, they had to pay. If you're willing to pay, you can start diverting some of that free search traffic to your jobs. But guess what. It's not easy. It's not even as easy as being willing to pay the most (just ask Monster). Google also takes quality into account. So, to start getting to the top of internet searches, you have to work at it for a long time, and, you're going to need to pay. For most of you, that means hiring new people, upgrading your website, and allocating budget to content and search marketing. For most recruiting departments this just isn't on the table (though it should be). Not only are most recruiting leaders unaware of how SEO and its counterpart SEM work - even if they were, they don't have a team (or in some cases, the budget) to manage it. So, what do they do? They use Job Boards.

So why does any of this matter then? We can all just use Job Boards and move on, right? Well, yes - and no. I'll explain. All of the Job Boards, from Indeed to Glassdoor, compete for the same audience: Job Seekers. Just look at this chart:

Every Job Board depends on search traffic from Google for its livelihood. This means that everyone, Indeed, Ziprecruiter, Snagajob, Velvetjobs, etc., etc. are all fighting over the same searches. And that's the first reason you need to be strategic in your Job Board strategy: with Job Boards, less is actually more. The more and more Job Boards you post to, the more and more you end up competing with yourself - and paying for the privilege. The second fact you need to be aware of - and this is almost as important as the first: every major Job Board - with the notable exception of LinkedIn - depends on Indeed. You can see that on the chart above too. Here's something else you should know: What's the #1 action people take after visiting a Job Boards? That's right, they go right back to Google or the Search Engine of their choice and keep searching:

This means that - despite the circularity - there is value in posting your job on multiple Job Boards. Why? Because if someone runs a search on Indeed and doesn't find what they're looking for, they often head right back to Google, and run a very similar search. However, this time, they're probably not going to click right back to Indeed. Maybe they'll try SimplyHired.

So post to multiple Job Boards. But please follow one very, very important rule: never pay just to post your job opening. After you've ensured that all your jobs are posted to Indeed, LinkedIn and SimpyHired your Job Board Strategy is about 90% complete. Every gain in Job Board productivity from here on out will be marginal. If you use a major ATS like Taleo or iCims, you should be able to post to all three sites plus Monster for free. Do it. Your paid Job Board strategy should require a relatively small investment. Why? Because job postings are free, at this point, almost universally. But don't take my word for it, just ask Sal.

What Made Sal Sad and Everyone Else Glad

Sal Iannuzzi had luxury box seats for the Job Board's evolution. When he became CEO of Monster in 2007 he presided over half of a dominating duo. Along with Careerbuilder, Monster commanded budget from recruitment departments worldwide. In 2007, 94% of respondents in CareerXroads Source of Hire 2007 study reported that they purchased Job Postings and Resume Database Access from Monster. 81% purchased the same from Careerbuilder. Times were good for the big two. Seven years later, Iannuzzi stepped down from his role as CEO having presided over a 90% decline in Monster's stock value and a 93% decline in their market share. Times were less good.

Monster's come a long way - down that is. 

What went wrong? In what would be his final earnings call, Iannuzzi summed it up quite nicely. Competitors were "seeking to win business by reducing prices," he explained, continuing "to demonetize the industry's traditional classic products." A new dominating duo had risen to power during Ianuzzi's tenure. These new players flipped the recruitment space on its head by putting all their emphasis on the Job Seeker's user experience. On the one hand, Indeed (and its imitators) succeeded in virtually commodifying commodified the Job Posting by putting all jobs (for free) in one centralized search engine. In the other, LinkedIn transformed the resume into a content strategy.

As Monster and LinkedIn both rush to save their own Job Boards by giving job postings away for free the commodification of the Job Posting is virtually complete. (That doesn't mean, though, that you can't still spend around $300 for a Monster or CareerBuilder posting if you want to...)

Should You Ever Pay For Job Postings?

Yes. There are three situations in which paying to post jobs to a Job Board makes sense:

  1. If you don't have free distribution setup to Indeed, SimplyHired, and LinkedIn - pay to get distribution setup. But stop there. Seriously. You don't want all the Job Boards. You don't even want a lot of Job Boards. Get those and you're on your way. Unless...
  2. It's PPC. This option includes Glassdoor, Indeed, SimplyHired, ZipAlerts and a growing list of others others. Honestly, every single one of these offers pretty poor PPC options. But, they can be worth it (article for a later date). If you want to see a Search Marketer laugh, show them Indeed Sponsored Jobs Dashboard. If you want to see them cry, make them use it. Remember though to always ensure that they're not going to compete with you. For example, I see companies that sponsor jobs on Indeed and SimplyHired, and post all their jobs to LinkedIn via their ATS - and pay ZipRecruiter to also sponsor their jobs and post their jobs on all these places. If you can't do it, fine, pay ZipRecruiter. But if you are doing it, please, please don't pay someone to take traffic away from your own ads. That's madness (and it's actually happening).
  3. You're paying for access to a skilled and difficult to access community. Job Boards like the one run by StackOverflow or Github might make sense for you if you're hiring, say, a DevOps Engineer. Because these sites, and others like them, have earned the trust of their audience. This means jobs posted there might be seen and considered by a group of jobseekers and potential jobseekers that aren't showing up on sites like Indeed. Now please, please don't think that I'm just saying "Niche Job Boards". Most small job boards survive by picking up the scraps that Indeed leaves on Google - and then by paying Indeed to get a little more. Most of them also have very, very poor user experiences that can actively harm your brand through spammy opt-in tactics. Community-driven Job Boards are a rare species. Only a very few are worth your money. 

Recruitment Advertising In A Post-Job Board World

I was reading an article recently on LinkedIn's blog. According to LinkedIn's latest survey, Job Postings are the most common way that people interact with your employer brand. LinkedIn goes on to offer some good tips on how to improve your job postings. But, I think the survey highlights a larger issue. If Job Postings define your employer brand, your employer brand reaches a very small audience.

In another LinkedIn survey, LinkedIn discovered that no more than 25% of the workforce is actively searching for a job. As Job Postings diminish in value, recruiting departments should be discovering new channels and uncovering new ways of reaching and attracting people to their jobs. This latest survey by LinkedIn suggests that's just not happening.

Job Postings will continue to offer an essential value to recruiting departments for years to come. But it's time that we begin rethinking the limits of that value. We need to think beyond the Job Posting towards a more data-driven, and marketing-powered future for recruiting.

Views: 1022

Comment by Anna Brekka on August 28, 2015 at 1:51pm

Thank you Joe - excellent post, great information.  

Comment by Joel McLean on August 28, 2015 at 5:16pm

Thanks, Anna!

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