Why the Job Board isn’t Dead After All

Why the Job Board isn’t Dead After All

The death of the job board has been predicted for about as long as I can remember. Almost as soon as the old school classified adverts moved online there were those that said it wouldn’t work. With each new technical leap we were supposed to be abandoning the lowly job board. If you believe the naysayers right now I think we’re supposed to be submitting video resumes via the the blockchain… but we aren’t.  The job board is still there, ever present and doing what it’s always done, recruitment’s “uncool” guilty secret – people apply and get hired using job boards every day.

For most people the job board is simply an online version of of a print advertisement. Like browsing in a shop, a place for disinterested window shoppers and little else. Despite all manner of attempts to “fix” the broken job boards they remained a constant.  Even the job board providers started to see the allure of adding shiny new features. The humble job board became transformed with rich media, live chat, and some very web 2.0 rounded corners. All the while it was supposed to be dying. Whilst talent teams worried about the next big thing and why they should throw away adverts altogether and only hire using a social network the majority of the industry kept posting their jobs and people kept applying.

The reason for the dystopian rhetoric about job boards can be traced to two things. The myth of active vs. passive candidates and the advent of more observable effort in talent acquisition teams. The industry has long held issue with those people marked out as
“Active” candidates. It’s as if the very act of looking for a job for some people makes you less qualified to do that job. This is a great example of selection bias based on the effort of the selector. In other words if a qualified candidate who wants a job they’ve seen advertised applies for the a role they will be overlooked in favour of a second candidate who wasn’t considering a new job because they have taken more effort to convince or were harder to find.

As Talent Acquisition has moved away from the personnel departments of old they are under more pressure to demonstrate progress. Working closely with demanding hiring managers means dealing with their impatience. Coupled with measurement by metrics like “number of interviews” rather than “offers” or “hires” incentivises behaviours like active sourcing over crafting a great advertisement and filling a pipeline over waiting even a day for responses.

So how best to use job boards? The best way to use a job board is unsurprisingly for its intended purpose. Job boards are places where the best advertisement wins. They are online content coliseums where job ads battle it out for the attention of an audience. To win all you have to do is ensure that you write better copy than your competitor. It’s often the case that those people who never get any good candidates applying directly are the same people who post an internal job description where they should be posting a punchy, engaging advert.

However, there are other reasons that you might like to start paying more attention to the humble job boards again. Amongst the all the noise of terribly constructed inducements to apply and lazily posted, out of date there is hidden gold. As a recruiter there’s more to a  job board than just posting jobs. Imagine a place where you could examine your competitor’s salary and benefits offering, their tech stack, even get information of large new projects or changes in technical direction. The job board is that place.

The next time you are looking for a Java developer you could start by finding other companies near you that use Java for example. The next time your CTO is contemplating changing tech you can advise on how that choice will affect their ability to hire when they need to. If you have a candidate with a counter offer from a rival company checking their offer against the advertisement’s promise can be a great way to sew a seed of doubt and turn the odds in your favour. Perhaps best of all a well written job advertisement is an attempt to show a company in it’s best light. What better resource to learn about competitors (or people you know are doing well at hiring) than to look at their own idealised image.

A job board with an engaged community of companies, those that really understand how to hire well, is a great opportunity. Instead of embarking on the the next new cure all for recruitment take some time to see how others are doing, because for all the naysayers there are new job boards arriving all the time.  Whether they are carving out new niches or seeking mass appeal there’s always something to be learned. In that spirit have a look at http://workable.jobs.com and see the incredible variety of companies of all shapes and sizes all over the world that are sharing their information and looking for people to join their ranks. You may learn something new you can use in your own advertising, you might even find your next role.