May 14, 2013

Job Boards: Make this One Change and You Might Survive

evolveLast year I wrote an article also on suggesting that the “job boards are dying” brigade had got it wrong. Job boards were not dying; they were doing ok. Maybe not prospering but chugging along with no imminent likelihood of them all going out of business. But now, I’m not so sure about their future long term because we recently did some job board advertising which didn’t work.

We placed 2 separate jobs onto 3 leading job boards. Not the easiest jobs to fill I grant you, but how many responses did we manage to get? Thirty? Twenty? How about two and neither were suitable. So we spent over $500 and got nothing but our time wasted and a bitter taste in the mouth. We certainly won’t be using or recommending them ever again.

So I return (yet again) to why job boards won’t share the risk with the advertiser? The post and pay upfront pricing model is hopeless. I pay all the money and get nothing for it. Why won’t the job boards work on a pay per application basis? I do know why and more of that later. I would go further and suggest that job boards implement a PPRA model…..that’s a pay per relevant applicant model. Indeed has pioneered the pay per click approach…..that’s ok, but still a lot of risk on the advertiser – so why not go one step further and simply say that you only have to pay if you actually want to interview the candidate? As the recruiter, we get what we want which is no up-front risk and we’re only paying for relevant candidates.

Job boards, listen up. Here’s how you do it:

1. I post my job to your site free

2. The job seeker reads the advert and applies directly to the job board, not the employer, but they submit their details into the back office application tool.

3. I login to the back office and review all the applications but crucially none of them have the candidate’s contact details on.

4. I click a ‘release contact details’ button if I want to contact the candidate

5. Each candidate I contact costs me perhaps $80 a candidate or whatever figure the job board charges.

I mean, how difficult is that? You’d get plenty of jobs posted as there’s no upfront pricing. You’d get plenty of companies giving you repeat business even if they had the same disappointing experience we had… because it’s not costing them anything.

So why won’t the average job board adopt this pricing approach? Here are a couple of ideas:

1. They know their site is not actually very good at delivering quality candidates and would fear the consequent huge drop in revenue

2. They would worry that the applicants would apply direct to the company’s website, thus making it impossible to track the source and charge the employer appropriately.

However, the real reason that job boards probably won’t revert to this pricing model is because 90% of their revenues (some a bit more, some a bit less), come from staffing agencies that prefer the pay upfront approach. Why? Well, because job boards are a way for them to populate their applicant database. Frankly, they don’t care that much whether the $20 it costs them for a job credit actually gets the right candidate so long as they are getting a constant stream of applicants that can be funneled into their database ready to be recycled for other jobs at other clients. For them, the $20 is a good investment because it draws in candidates that might not be right for that role, but can be used elsewhere.

So here’s my plea to job boards: Why not keep both direct employers and staffing agencies happy by offering a dual pricing strategy? The user can choose whether they wish to pay upfront or pay per relevant applicant. Is it really that hard to do?

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Nick Leigh-Morgan is the MD and founder of iKrut, the world's first free applicant tracking system with enterprise-level functionality. Nick has more than 20 years of experience in the recruiting industry, covering staffing firms, direct employers, and Web-based recruitment software. A graduate of economics and politics, Nick specializes in publishing articles on the future of recruitment.