The reasons recruiters use job boards

Matt Buckland | Workable General |

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 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 a ‘now hiring’ sign. A place for disinterested window shoppers and little else. Despite all manner of attempts to ‘fix’ broken job boards, they remain a constant. Even job board providers have started to see the allure of adding shiny new features. The humble job board was transformed with rich media, live chat, and some very web 2.0 rounded corners. All the while it was supposed to be dying. While talent teams worried about the next big thing and why they should throw away adverts altogether and only hire via social networks, the majority of the industry kept posting jobs and people kept applying.

The reason for the dystopian rhetoric 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 role, they’ll be overlooked in favour of a second candidate who wasn’t considering a new job, because they’ve taken more effort to convince or were harder to find.

As Talent Acquisition has moved away from the personnel departments of old, they’re 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 job description and filling a pipeline over waiting even a day for responses.

So how to use job boards? The best way is, unsurprisingly, for their intended purpose. Job boards are places where the best job advertisement wins. They’re 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.

The secret life of the job board

However, there are other reasons why you should start paying more attention to the humble job board again. Amongst all the noise of terribly constructed inducements to apply, (lazily posted and 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 about 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 counteroffer from a rival company, checking their offer against the advertisement’s competing 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 ad is an attempt to show a company in its 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 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’re carving out new niches or seeking mass appeal, there’s always something to be learned.

In that spirit, take a look at jobs.workable.com. 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 that you can use in your own advertising. You might even find your next role.

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Matt Buckland

Matt is the VP of Customer Advocacy at Workable. A Workable customer-turned-employee, he was previously Head of Talent and Human Resources at a fast growing UK startup. Find him on Twitter at @elsatanico.

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