April 26, 2012

How to Evaluate Job Boards

bad appleWe all know that social media is set to dominate and transform the landscape of corporate recruitment forever. However,  the CareerXroads Source of Hire Study 2011 has shown that, perhaps just for the moment, the traditional job board is still in the driving seat when it comes to recruitment, being six times more influential a recruitment channel than social media.

In fact, job boards are currently the source of 20% of external hires compared to social media which accounted for only 3.5%. I am not here to bash social media, as the CareerXroads survey notes the rapid growth in influence of social media as a recruiting tool. However, since job boards are still the second biggest supplier of hires, just behind referrals, I thought it would be useful to present some advice on how to evaluate job boards for suitability. Below, I have set out several questions which you can ask of each job board to help determine whether it will suit your needs.

1.) How many visitors does the site get?

Don’t assume the jobs site has high traffic levels, no matter how professional the site may look. You need to be sure that the site has a significant audience, so your recruitment advertisement will have decent exposure. The job board should be able to supply you with data relating to its monthly traffic. Alternately you can use resources like Alexa, Compete and Quantcast, which can supply you with traffic estimates for the website. If there is very little traffic, think twice about the amount of visibility your job might receive.

2.) How engaged is the audience?

It is not enough for a job site to have visitors, these visitors must also be engaged and actually viewing the vacancies and reading the content. Audience engagement can be measured through monitoring stats like ‘average page reads per visitor‘ or ‘average time on site per visitor‘. A higher number may indicate that visitors are more engaged and are more likely to see your posting. You may need to ask the job board itself for this information. If they are not forthcoming, try Alexa again as they can provide information on the ‘average page reads per visitor‘.

3.) Does The Site Audience Demographic Match Your Needs?

It doesn’t matter how many visitors a job site has if very few of them are actually looking for the kind of vacancy that you are offering. A good way to assess whether the job site’s audience profile is suited to your vacancy is to look at the jobs that are currently being advertised. If you find that similar jobs to yours are being advertised, it is likely that the site is drawing an audience that will be attracted to your job postings. More is better!

4. How much does it cost compared to competitors?

You need to know the cost of the site and see how it compares to similar sites. If it does cost more than the average, it should be clear why, for example: it has more traffic, it’s a niche site, better customer service etc… Otherwise you may not be getting your money’s worth, and it may be more prudent to choose a more economical alternative and enjoy the same services as the more expensive option.

5.) Does the site include some form of candidate filtering?

The ease with which candidates can make on-line applications means that employers can become swamped with unsuitable applications. We all know how frustrating this can be. Therefore, the best sites will offer some form of online filtering questions, reducing the number of unsuitable applicants, making your selection process more efficient.

6.) Does the job board offer a ‘job alert’ service?

The best of breed job board will enable their job-seekers to sign up to a job alert service so they can be notified when new vacancies appear. Job boards that offer this service are likely to have a more responsive audience and can enable you to tap into the passive candidate market.

7.) Does the site have jobs search and career advancement advice?

Typically, sites with just job search content will attract just active candidates, whereas those with career guidance content will attract active and passive candidates – thereby widening the reach of the site. Therefore, try and favour sites with both job search and career advice content to maximise the reach of your adverts. In addition, consider niche content sites that aren’t about careers, but still catered to a specific audience. CIO.com, for example, is not a job board, but may offer a highly targeted audience.

A final word on niche recruitment sites.

Many professions such as accounting, sales, technology or engineering have niche job websites targeted specifically to their profession. Typically, you will receive more targeted applications from these sites, but you may lack sufficient volume/choice. At the very least, a good niche job board should offer to supply you with an ongoing report showing number of reads per vacancy posting. Sites which offer this kind of transparency are confident in their traffic figures. If a niche site is not able to be transparent about its traffic, you might be better advised to go elsewhere or look to the major job boards and job search engines.

Read more in Job Boards

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.