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The real reason why job boards are struggling – by Keith Potts (founder of and Talenetic)

Feb 03, 2015

I often hear from recruiters that job boards don’t work as well as they used to, particularly so in a world where so many use their mobile devices more than their desktop computers. Actually, the problem is often not only found at the job board’s end but at the recruiter’s too, as many recruiter websites, corporate and agency are stuck in the past. They are not ‘mobile friendly’. They are not connected in a meaningful manner to social media channels and social media approaches. Many recruiter websites just haven’t kept pace with the change in society and technology. Often people try to make the old systems fit the new world, but a better option in my opinion is to replace the old with the new. But that can be a costly and risky endeavour. It is not immediately revenue generative. It is uncertain what effect this may have on SEO and conversion rates.
But times have changed.

The new world requires flexible systems

These days it can be cheaper and safer to replace an old system instead of trying to upgrade your existing one. Cheaper in actual terms, but also in opportunity cost. The new system will be mobile enabled, connected to social, equipped with best of class UX and SEO and most importantly easily manageable, customisable and integrated into other systems and suppliers in the ecosphere, be they upstream or downstream, whether CRMs or candidate facing applications such as video interviewing. If your technology and provider can’t deliver this, it will be hard to deliver success in our fast changing world with its ever increasing consumer demands.

Your website is the only external touchpoint

Your website is your retail store. The processes on your website influence the experience a job seeker (and client) has with your brand. It is often the only touch point for the external audience. A lot has been invested – as usual during a recession – into internal processes, reducing costs and increasing effectiveness. But the external component may have been neglected.

Be your own job board!

In my view, your own recruitment website can be as effective as a job board. Aggregators and social media channels have the potential to increase the amount of traffic coming straight to your own recruitment website. Instead of being restricted only to receiving applications via a job ad placed on a job board it is easier than ever to bring much of that traffic direct to your virtual front door. But you need the tools to make sure that when this happens you are ready to welcome it effectively.
Aggregation can be your friend… but beware! Whilst you can use them to attract traffic to your own company job board, the aggregators are forcing a change in the job board business. In the early days of online recruitment there was much concern amongst recruiters that the job boards would cut out the middleman and offer a wider range of recruitment services. If this happened the role of the recruitment agency would shrink. But so far this has not really happened. Recruitment agencies are as relevant today as ever but the job boards, faced with ever easier ways for recruiters to bring jobseekers directly to their door, will need to reinvent their own role. In my view this is very likely to resurrect that threat to recruiters. If your clients can get a full recruitment service from a job board, why wouldn’t they do so?

Upgrade your website

The best way to defend against competition is to give your customers a positive experience. Nowadays this experience is delivered mainly via a website. Your website is at the heart of any external experience and interaction. Make sure it works for the clientele you are trying to attract. Make sure it is equipped to deliver your content to them in the channel of their choice -be it mobile, be it social, be it search. Insist that it is flexible and can easily integrate with the other systems you rely on. Your website is your powerbase. Make sure you do everything you can to attract jobseekers straight to your own front door. When we started our first job board in 1995 we soon found ourselves in the midst of a growing swarm of better funded competition! But we stuck to our view that if we kept doing the right things for the job seeker we would win out – and it worked. I suggest you do the same!
This article first appeared in the December edition of The Global Recruiter