Oh, to be the new kid on the block! Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of social media are experiencing that thrill – they’re new, exciting, and can do no wrong.

A while back, job boards were the new kids. No more messy newsprint, no more limits on ad length, immediate results – what was not to like? Recruiters flocked to job boards and, in the process,
made many boards very profitable.

But things have changed. Job boards are old news, like those ugly, dependable leather shoes your mother made you wear to ‘protect your feet’. Sure, job boards continue to connect millions of job seekers with
millions of employers – but they’re boring (at least, that’s what the pundits say).

And so we come to the subject of this post: Why do (some) recruiters hate job boards? I find this fascinating, because of course lots of recruiters don’t hate job boards. But a vocal sub-group does, so let’s see why:

  • Job boards are too expensive: That can translate into “too many $$ for too few candidates”, “just too damned high”, or “not free like social media”. Seems to apply primarily to the ‘big’
  • Job boards’ results aren’t what they used to be: Usually comes from recruiters who have been in the market for more than 4 years.
  • Job boards are filled with bad postings: In this case, a ‘bad posting’ can range from a ‘work at home’ scam to a duplicate posting.
  • Job boards don’t attract the right audience: The audience is too old, too young, too unskilled, too high-priced, etc. Again, depends on the recruiter.
  • There are too many job boards: In other words, too many choices, and all of them are bad.

As a mentor once told me, when a customer says you’re too expensive, he or she is usually telling you something else – and it’s your job to find out what that something is.

In this case, when recruiters tell job boards they hate (well, maybe hate is too strong – loathe?) them, the job boards in question should find out what the real problem is – and try to
fix it.

At the end of the day, I believe the vast majority of recruiters focus on results – and if job boards can produce the best results, then recruiters will use them. Even if job boards aren’t the next big thing.

Views: 388

Comment by Alasdair Murray on May 5, 2010 at 3:08am
As you know though Jeff, the job boards are filled with bad copy and bad copy doesn't sell, so recruiters also need to take a look at what they are posting. Job seekers aren't lemmings. They won't simply gravitate towards any old ad. They need some kind of allure, just as people won;t just buy the first house they see or any make of car. I sometimes feel that recruiters forget that fact. You want a better response, take a good look at your copy. Does it sell the role and the organisation, or does it merely state the bare, boring facts of the job description?
Comment by Kevin Jenkins on May 5, 2010 at 11:18am
Job boards are what they are and they serve a useful purpose if you aren't after more than what they have to offer in terms of candidate quality. Simply put, A-players do not post their resumes on job boards, so if that is the caliber of candidates your client expects than job boards are not the right tool for your search. LinkedIn would serve you much better. I don't think job boards are very valuable for high quality candidates with rare skill sets. Such individuals are never "active" long enough to have to resort to job boards to find employment. They are usually recruited before they've even cleaned out the workstation of the company they are leaving. Furthermore, obviously, you will never find talent on job boards for highly strategic roles. These people must be "recruited" out of competitive companies.

Having said that, job boards are a fine source for active candidates of the B-player and C-player variety, again, A-player talent is scare and they don't end up there. But B and C players are needed as well when hiring for positions that require a commoditized skill set, In other words, skills that can be widely found on the talent market.

Another thing to keep in mind is when you do find a great candidate on the job boards, so did thousands of other recruiters which means your client will have stiff competition in terms of getting their offer accepted.

Finally, as mentioned above, job boards are ridiculously expensive for the quality of resumes they offer (at least in my case).

Another point is that job boards tend to make recruiters overdependent on them; these recruiters simply aren't providing the type of value businesses should be paying for. But hey, if they're willing to pay for it there money spends as easily as harder earned money, so why not?

In conclusion, I think the value of job boards has everything to do with the type of recruiting one does. As a web technology recruiting who needs to provide top tier candidates to keep the orders coming in, job boards would never work for me. But that may be entirely different for recruiters in different industries who are recruiting at different levels.

Anyway, that's my humble take on job boards. I don't think the future looks very bright for the business model.
Comment by Phil Peters on May 5, 2010 at 11:21am
To me, the main problem with job boards is that you will only find active candidates that everyone can access....including my clients. I prefer to find the passive ones who could be open to the right opportuniy
Comment by Kevin Jenkins on May 5, 2010 at 11:24am
Exactly, Phil.
Comment by Jeff Dickey-Chasins on May 5, 2010 at 11:28am
Kevin, you say that you don't think the future looks good for job boards. But you also say they are good sources for 'B' and 'C' candidates. Do you see the boards no longer providing those types of candidates? Or do you see something replacing them as a reliable supplier?
Comment by Alasdair Murray on May 5, 2010 at 11:28am
I'm passive but I have a number of job alerts in place with job boards just in case a suitable vacancy should come up. A national newspaper, a generalist site and a niche one. I really am not looking but I like to keep an eye on the market as I am sure many like me do. Half the reason response is so often poor in my humble opinion is because the advertising is poor. That leads recruiters to believe that job boards are only inhabited by poor candidates. It's a a sweeping generalisation.
Comment by Kevin Jenkins on May 5, 2010 at 11:37am

The problem is that the business model is not sustainable. As more an more recruiting tools emerge every candidate will have a plethora of options and since the job boards will be abandoned due to the cost the candidates will be better off utilizing other newer generation sources. Now, this is not to say the smart job boards won't reinvent themselves - but if they do, they will look much different than they do today. I think in general as we move forward into a web of open data these walled-garden pay-for-data business models will hard a hard time sustaining themselves.
Comment by Alasdair Murray on May 5, 2010 at 12:01pm
Surely this plethora of options isn't going to make seeing the wood for threes and=y clearer for candidate or recruiter though? Many seem intent on getting the cost per hire down to zero, but when you pay peanuts you generally get monkeys as the old saying goes. I think there is and will always be a place for decent, informative websites that are maybe niche in the future but which carry industry news and articles of interests as well as job posts and job alert facilities.
Comment by Kevin Jenkins on May 5, 2010 at 12:10pm
With all due respect, I'm not so sure that analogy is accurate Alasdair. The job boards are very expensive and you have mostly peanuts there; whereas social networking sites and professional business sites like Linked can be used for free and you have lots of excellent high quality candidates there. I agree about your point on niche sites, but I'm not so sure that the price of access to resume source services carries over to the value of the candidate hired.
Comment by Jeff Dickey-Chasins on May 5, 2010 at 12:18pm
Kevin, I guess I'll have to agree to disagree with regard to the job board model. It's not perfect, but it does provide millions of candidates to millions of companies - and those companies continue to use the job boards because they work. I suspect your real beef is with the 'big' boards. The niche sites tend to be high return on investment. Yes, the industry will change, and yes, the successful boards will incorporate social media as part of their offering. And no, social media will not remain 'free'. In fact, LinkedIn is already charging for job postings, certain levels of data access, etc. I expect to see the same in other social networking sites. I think it's the old 'if you want to play, you gotta pay'. The market will decide.


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