Anyone with their ear to the ground in talent attraction circles will have been hearing about ‘the death of job boards’ for some years now. Technological developments have given rise to smarter, more targeted digital recruitment advertising—platforms like Google Ads and programmatic and mobile advertising. The rise of social media has changed the recruitment landscape even more—in 2021 79% of job seekers used to social media in their job search.
The fact is, though, job boards like Indeed, Reed and Totaljobs are still very much a part of the recruitment landscape. Employers that work with third party recruiters still expect to see their jobs listed on job boards and a 2022 study found that job boards are still used by 64% of job seekers.
So, are job boards still effective? Or is it just a case of ‘old habits die hard’ on the part of the employers? Read on to find out.
The rise of social media and the ongoing talent shortage has forced recruiters to get smarter and more proactive about how they recruit talent. At a time when job vacancies outnumber unemployed people, no longer can recruiters rely on job seekers to apply for a role after seeing an ad on a job board.
With active job seekers in short supply, recruiters increasingly target the passive job seekers who make up about 45% of the UK workforce. These are candidates who are in a role but might be tempted to leave if the right offer came along. Because they aren’t actively looking for work, passive job seekers are more difficult to target with recruitment messaging. That’s why recruiters are turning to smarter methods like programmatic ads and social media that don’t require a job-seeking keyword typed into Google to display a recruitment message.
Not all sectors are as reliant on hooking in passive job seekers, though. In sectors like hospitality, health care, IT and advertising, where there are still high numbers of active job seekers, it makes sense to have job boards as part of your recruitment strategy, especially when you consider the relatively low cost of placing job board ads.
Measuring website traffic (using an extension like Similar Web) reveals that Totaljobs still gets 12 million monthly UK visitors and Indeed 57 million. Not only does that prove the continued popularity of job boards, it also means they still rank highly on Google for job-seeking search queries and can give your job ad visibility. If there are active job seekers in your sector, there’s a great chance they’ll see your ad if it’s on a job board.
Use the job board best suited to your vacancy. Big, generic job boards like Indeed and Totaljobs are great for volume hire roles but there are also highly specialised job boards like Exec-appointments that can provide a highly relevant audience for CEO-level appointments. You can find out which is the best audience for you by asking the job board in question how many users they have registered with the skills you’re after.
Make sure your job posting is visible. Different job boards will use different algorithms to determine job post ranking. Do some keyword research so that you can optimise your post by including keywords in your job copy where they need to be in order for your post to rank highly.
Put some personality into job copy. Laboured, dry job copy that’s full of exhaustive lists isn’t engaging and will always lose out to punchy well-written copy. Not only does personality-filled good copy grab attention, it can also give a flavour of your workplace culture. As well as appealing to the people who will fit with your culture, it’ll encourage those who might not get on with the ‘vibe’ of your company to deselect themselves. This will mean a much higher chance of well-matched candidates being among the applications you receive.
Make sure your ATS offers the best possible candidate experience. If you link your ATS to a job board, this is where your candidate’s journey with you begins in earnest. It's important to get it right. Make sure the application process is smooth and, again, put some personality in it so you can give them a feel for your employer brand and culture.
It would be easy to draw the simple conclusion that job boards are great for attracting sectors full of active job seekers but not for more specialised roles where most of the best talent will already be in work. The picture becomes more complicated when sectors reporting high numbers of active job seekers are, as in the case of health care, some of the most difficult to recruit for.
Cases like this highlight the importance of a multi-faceted recruitment strategy. Job boards will certainly help you reach the bottom-of-the-funnel job seekers who are ready to change jobs immediately. However, the likelihood of them jumping on board with your organisation is vastly increased if they’ve come into contact with you previously. It’s about building touchpoints—research has shown that three touchpoints are required before a candidate will engage a prospective employer.
This is where things like content seeding, social media marketing and smarter ad technology like programmatic ads come into play. They’re methods used to court passive job seekers but they can also help target active job seekers. Working alongside job board campaigns, they’ll help deliver candidate touchpoints that mean when a job seeker finds your ad on a job board (or elsewhere), they’re not coming to you completely cold and will be more likely to engage.
Looking for more information? Read our overview of the best media for recruitment advertising here.