It used to be the case that recruiters had to maintain a portfolio of job boards in order to keep abreast of their candidate market. And through a mix of CV database access and job advertising, it’d be possible to maintain a flow of suitable candidates as they became available in the market. The question is, as we approach the end of 2023 – are job boards still relevant and do they still matter?
What are job boards?
You likely know what we mean by the term Job Boards – but just to be sure: job boards are websites where employers and recruiters can post job openings, search registered candidates, and job seekers can apply for positions. Some operate in specific niches, whereas others cover a range of sectors – e.g. Indeed, Total Jobs, and CV Library – to name a few of the more popular ones. Along with the core functionality, you’ll often find additional services like CV alerts or watchdogs, AI assistance, recommended candidates that are automatically identified when you add a new role, candidate matching, and so much more.
Times have changed
With many of the recruitment businesses we work with or have worked with in recent years, there’s been a noticeable shift away from using quite so many job boards. This will be due to a combination of factors, but in our opinion, there are main reasons:
- Increasing prevalence of social media – meaning recruitment businesses can establish their personal and professional brands on platforms like LinkedIn and use this ongoing activity as a candidate generation tool.
- Job board consolidation – it’s no secret that there has been some major consolidation in the job board sector, with a number of large companies now owning a large proportion of the job board market. It often means agreeing a deal with one job board will see your role being re-published on relevant partner websites within the job board’s portfolio.
- Job aggregators – sites like Adzuna, Google Jobs, and others operate as job aggregators. They scrape the internet ingesting job listings wherever they find them. For well-designed and optimised recruitment agency websites, it means your jobs can automatically be indexed and appear on the likes of Google Jobs with no further intervention required. So why pay for job adverts on a Job Board, if your jobs can be broadcast to a wider audience in this way?
- Increasing pricing – As the job board market has consolidated, there has been a significant series of price ranges across the majority of platforms. This has led to agencies scaling back their spend commitments, and in some ways this becomes a vicious circle as in doing so it forces recruiters to look elsewhere for their candidate sourcing, and in the process realise that other channels and acquisition tactics do exist and work.
For many, a large part of the candidate market isn’t actively using a job board; they’re not looking for work, or haven’t updated their CVs online for a long time. This passive candidate market can’t typically be accessed via a job board. So recruiters have to look elsewhere and explore other tactics to reach these candidates. From a passive candidate acquisition perspective, it therefore makes sense to scale back job board use.
Owned vs rented media
These marketing terms relate to ownership and can mean different things to different people. Owned media typically relates to platforms you own and control, like your recruitment website; whereas rented media are platforms that are controlled by others. As such, with rented platforms, you’re never truly in control of your audience and a change in terms, pricing, algorithms, etc. can massively impact your business and you have little recourse when something like this happens. Job boards can be considered rented media by this definition. You pay to publish your jobs or company profile, or access their database of candidates – but your access is limited by how much you pay and the terms you sign up to.
Developing your own database
Over time, as recruitment agencies become more established it’s typical that their network of contacts, their internal database of candidates, becomes better developed. As such, it can often account for a growing proportion of candidate placements and in doing so, it will reduce the reliance on job boards.
As indicated earlier, the increasing use of social media – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, and others have led to a great democratisation of content. Anyone can publish pretty much whatever they want, finding and nurturing their own community and audiences on these massively connected networks. The beauty of social media is that there are limited barriers to entry and the cost of using the platforms starts at zero.
Using job boards (CRM/ATS/multi-posting tools)
So job boards probably do still matter, and are still a great source of candidates. Different job boards will be more effective for different sectors and geographies, so agencies will likely refine their job board mix over time as they find platforms that work for them. Job boards also change their attraction and promotion strategies over time too, so it’s important that you track performance of the job boards – because a declining job board (in terms of available/relevant candidates or vacancy applications) can be a strong indicator that it may be time to look at alternative platforms.
CRMs, ATS or multi-posting tools like Broadbean or Logic Melon, can make using job boards a little easier. They can typically broadcast your job to all available platforms – and this may include your own website, a variety of free job websites, and any platforms that you have contracts in place with from a paid perspective. Some of the platforms will also help aggregate your CV search facilities that job boards offer, making it quicker and easier to work with your job boards. Your mileage may vary here depending on the systems and subscriptions you have in your business.
Choosing the right job board
Choosing the right job board isn’t something that you can be told, in many cases. The right job board will depend on many different factors – from your available budget, sectors, location, alternative candidate sources, size of your team, experience, brand presence, internal database, systems and platforms in your business, etc. This is where a good, consultative recruitment marketing agency can provide invaluable advice. They can typically give insight into those platforms that work, drawing on their experience across the recruitment sector and looking at the bigger picture of a recruitment brand’s candidate attraction strategy to help identify where and how job boards can be used to best effect.
Job boards have been an essential element of a recruiter’s candidate attraction strategy for many years. However, in recent years their power and usefulness may be waning with increased democratisation via social media. Their effectiveness also depends on how well they are utilised, the level of budget commitment, and the spend from the job board itself that dictates their ability to attract jobseekers. By understanding your target audience, optimising your job postings, and continuously monitoring performance, you can maximise your return on investment in job board platforms and build an attraction strategy that’s right for your business.