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Making Job Boards Work

There's a paradox in recruiting today. Two recent surveys confirmed the effectiveness of job boards in recruiting new hires. And at the very same time, there's been a chorus of complaints that these sources produce too many candidates of too little quality. Can such a contraction be resolved? Absolutely. By shopping smart for job boards and then using them well.

The CareerXroads 2011 Source of Hire survey found that, after referrals, job boards were the #1 source of employers' new hires. Employee referrals accounted for 27.5 percent of external hires and right behind it were job boards at 24.9 percent. The next highest source of new workers was the corporate career site at 18.8 percent.

The first quarter results of our 2011 Source of Employment survey here at WEDDLE's also put job boards at #1. Better than four-out-of-ten of our respondents (40.7 percent), said that posting jobs on a commercial job board was the sourcing strategy that provides the best quality applicants. In second place was posting jobs on their own corporate career site, which was selected by 11.1 percent of the respondents.

Despite this clear success, however, there is no lack of criticism about job boards. Legions of conference speakers and bloggers lament what they describe as a "fire hose" or "tsunami" (take your pick) of unqualified candidates who clog up applicant tracking systems and waste recruiters time. If they are to be believed, for every recruiter who uses a job board successfully, there's another one or two or three who don't.

What causes this paradox to occur? No single source of talent can meet every employer's every need, but job boards are effective if you know how to make them work. In other words, as with any other product or service, you have to be a smart consumer and a smart user to get the outcome you want.

Being a Smart Consumer of Job Boards

There are, by my count, over 100,000 job boards in operation today. They offer a wide range of features, services and fees. Some have been in business for a long time and some are all of 15 minutes old. Some provide access to a broad swath of the workforce, while others specialize in a profession, craft, trade, industry or affinity.

While there are many differences among all these job boards, however, one fact is true about all of them: No single job board can meet all of an organization's staffing needs all of the time. For that reason, I suggest that you use a 6:1 sourcing strategy.

The 6:1 strategy looks like this: 2GP + 3N + 1D = 1GH, where:

  • 1GH is 1 great hire

  • 2GP denotes 2 general purpose job boards

  • 3N denotes 3 niche sites, 1 that focuses on the career field for which you're recruiting, 1 that focuses on your employer's industry and 1 that focuses on the location of the opening

  • 1D denotes 1 diversity site.

This formula ensures that you probe the full range and depth of the talent population. Moreover, it stands up to scrutiny even by the CFO. Using the Saratoga Institute's analysis, the cost of a vacant position is easily one times its salary and can range - depending on the importance of the job - up to ten or more times salary. The cost of those six job postings, therefore, pales quickly in the face of that kind of to that financial bleeding.

To use the 6:1 strategy effectively, however, you also have to know how to select the job boards that are most likely to provide the best candidates for your particular opening. I suggest that you consider the following criteria in making your evaluation:

  • Monthly visitor traffic in the demographic for which you're recruiting;

  • Price of the posting and whether it provides access to the site's resume database, if it has one;

  • Whether the site offers a job agent, the preferred job search tool of passive prospects;

  • The attention span of the site's visitors, measured in pages of content viewed per person or the average time on site per person (the higher that number, the higher the probability they will actually see your posting);


  • The kind of content featured on the site (sites with job search content attract active job seekers, while sites with job search and career advancement content attract active and passive candidates).

Are there other criteria for evaluating a job board? Of course. For example, my 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet provides over twenty types of information to describe the features, services and fees of the sites we feature. Regardless of which criteria you use, the key is to act like a seasoned consumer. Identify your alternatives, evaluate each using the same factors, and then patronize those that provide the best return on your investment of time and money.

Such smart consumerism, however, only gets you halfway to success. To realize that maximum return on investment, you also have to be a smart user of the sites you select. I'll cover those best practices in my next newsletter.

Thanks for reading,

Visit my blog at Weddles.com/WorkStrong.

August 2011
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