Niche Job Boards Remain Steady Even as the Monsters Fade Away

Though the big sites get all the headlines, there are hundreds of other niche job boards who do a great job helping employers target a like-minded audience. Whether they are an industry site like AuthenticJobs for tech jobs or a local network like JobsintheUS, niche job boards bring together a focused audience built around your needs. They should always be part of your recruitment strategy.

Niche job boards

Lately there has been a lot of negativity being associated with the term “job board”. Much of that stemming from the one company that helped start it all. Monster. Their “bad press” is casting a shadow over the rest of the industry that is doing just fine.

But I am here to tell you different. Don’t lump in the failures of a few big players with the rest of the industry. There is a difference between the Monsters of the world and the smaller sites that tend to prove more useful (and less expensive).

As a job board & HR tech consultant I have worked with hundreds of these sites over the years and continue to do so today. There are many profitable sites you don’t even know of that are driving quality candidates into applicant tracking systems the world over.

SIDE NOTE: I have categorized over 1,100 job boards online in a free public database. Click here for access.

To be fair, there have also been many sites that have faltered or faded away over the years. These sites failed to keep up with the times and didn’t evolve fast enough so they stopped being relevant. It’s quite easy to start a job board today, but not many know how to properly manage and market it. Today’s job boards need to understand internet marketing techniques and pick the right niche to go into. Unfortunately, I see a lot of job board entrepreneurs unprepared for that challenge.

A Recruiter’s Perspective

Having spent a time as a recruiter the past few years I also have some real-world experience to lean on for this discussion.

My first job in recruiting was for a small software startup. As the first & only recruiter at a 10 person company I had no choice but to rely heavily on job boards to get candidate flow started. I had several jobs to fill and I was starting from scratch. It was a software company so I used a mix of Indeed, Linkedin, some local boards and a tech site or two. While the big sites delivered a quantity a candidates they weren’t necessarily the most qualified.

Over time I was able to create a career site, do sourcing and attend events to attract talent but job boards always remained important to my talent acquisition. I needed to advertise the fact that we had jobs because no one knew about us yet! That is a fundamental truth of recruiting which will never change.

Within a month I hired a Sr Network Engineer off a job board, then a tech support guy and salesman too. Sourcing people through resume searches and LinkedIn also delivered candidates but is hard to scale for a small team of 1. If I needed somebody quick (which is often the case in business) job boards were able to keep the resumes flowing.

The Small Business Hire

Not every company however has the luxury of hiring an experienced recruiter. In many small businesses, recruiting is often left up to the business owner or an admin who has neither the time or skills necessary to source a person off the internet. That’s why job boards are so vital to SMBs. They act as an advertising channel to find talent and tell the world “we’re hiring”.

Hiring is very different at SMBs. If job boards didn’t exist today, many of their openings would go unfilled for months at time. And since most job growth comes from SMBs, they will always need job boards to market their openings. Job boards act as the recruitment marketing function for small business. (Nor can SMBs always afford the premium salaries associated with sourcing a candidate from another company)

Bigger companies have the luxury of established brands, bigger budgets and more resources. Those companies rely heavily on referrals, sourcing, and other means to fill their openings. Job boards only represent 15-20% of external hires in these cases.

The job market is tightening…there are now a record number of jobs being posted online (5.9 million) That is a sure sign that employers are having a harder time filling open positions, which means they’ll have to spend more money to attract the people they need.

Today’s employers must to do more to differentiate themselves in order to attract the right candidate. That takes money and expertise. Job boards (both large and small) will benefit from that. It also means crafting a message that resonates with candidates. If you post a crappy sounding job description on any job board, you are going to get crappy results. Don’t always blame the job board if your ad isn’t pulling in resumes.

There is also an appetite for these sites from bigger players and VC’s. Just look at what’s happening in funding and acquisitions. Job boards are getting money or being acquired. Snagajob, Ziprecruiter and other new job startups have gotten tens of millions in funding. Heck, RecruitHoldings bought Indeed, the biggest job board of them all, for something like $1 billion.

Job related startups are also on the rise. I write about them frequently each month in my RecTech newsletter. Take a site like WayUp which helps companies hire students and recent grads. It’s only a few years old and doing a great job helping companies fill entry level jobs and internships. (I was a happy former client).

On WayUp you don’t pay for postings, rather you pay per applicant delivered. It’s essentially a job board with a non-traditional revenue model. The new sites may sound different but they are mainly derived from traditional players. Applicants go into a dashboard or your ATS.

There are now also job board marketplaces embedded into ATS dashboards from great companies like Greenhouse, iCiMS, Workable and Smart Recruiters. These vendors have known all along how important it is to advertise your job once you create it. Now you can do it all in one user experience.

And what about job seekers? Where would they find openings if job boards did not exist? They’d be lost of course. The average job seeker is not a job search expert. They need to know who is hiring and job boards do that efficiently through email alerts and keyword searches.

There are probably some reading this that are now saying ‘yeah Chris what about the resume black hole and all that’. To them I say this. You don’t have to spend all day looking at job boards. Simply set up job alerts on the boards relevant to you to free up your time for other parts of the job hunt. The resume black hole was not caused by job boards. That is the fault of employers and their old antiquated resume systems where your application went to die.

Smart job seekers try and go straight to the hiring manager or find someone who knows them but they normally learn about the opportunity online, usually it’s a job board or the employer’s site.

What’s Next

Today’s recruiter has never had more ways to find talent than they do right now. The landscape is littered with all kinds products, tools and services promising to deliver the candidates you seek. These guys haven’t been around the block yet so be skeptical. Try before you buy is still a good rule of thumb for any new product.

For those job boards that stay relevant…meaning those that continue to focus on delivering quality applicants. They will always find a place inside the recruitment marketing ecosystem.

Those that don’t will be replaced by newer versions that look and sound different but in the end still drive candidates to your ATS or inbox. Perhaps it may be a chatbot that asks you where you want to work and sends you a quick summary of jobs that match your query, asks you some pre-screening questions and then lets you apply. It’s just a new twist on the age old process of finding a job.

So as the Monsters fade away, the niche boards still remain. It is up to them to stay there. Stay focused and you’ll stay in business.

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