The range of benefits of an online job board includes low setup costs, no stock, and minimal expertise requirements, and that is aside from the fact that recruitment services are the fifth most commonly searched for commodity on the Internet. Online recruitment is clearly a winning formula.
Of course, this means that competition is high for a slice of the recruitment cake, especially under the current challenging economic conditions, with jobs scarce and candidates numerous. In these circumstances it is vital to maximize the effectiveness of a job board.
In this article I will present 11 key ways to give your board a boost: four of these methods will improve the appeal of your board to employers and agencies, four will help to attract and keep the most and best job seekers, and the remaining three are general suggestions that no job board can afford to ignore.
Be Cost-Effective There are many ways in which an agency or employer can advertise a vacancy. In trying to attract business, your job board is competing not just with other online recruitment services but with a variety of other forms of advertising, such as the press and radio. Online recruitment has many advantages over these traditional media, but potential advertisers are unlikely to use your services unless the basic price of advertising is competitive.
Fortunately, the costs of offering recruitment services online are low enough that competing on price shouldn’t be difficult. It’s often possible to offer rates up to 80% lower than are typical for traditional advertising. As a job board administrator, you should make it your business to research what both your traditional and online competitors are charging and ensure that your own rates are set appropriately. Don’t price yourself out of the market.
Offer incentives One of the best ways to encourage repeat advertising is to offer discounts on packages. These discounts often take the form of flat fees for unlimited advertising within a given time period. Bundles, usually of a certain number of advertisements for a fixed price, can also be effective. These measures tend to be most attractive to agencies and large employers who typically generate high volumes of vacancies. For smaller employers, you could consider offering a free advertisement for every two or three placed, or offer free extra services such as CV searching.
A pay-for-performance approach is an interesting but little-used pricing model that can pay dividends. A commonly-heard complaint from recruitment professionals is that pay-per-post pricing is not cost effective. Many would prefer to pay for an advertisement only when it succeeds in locating a suitable candidate. This approach overturns traditional pricing structures, but if your site prioritizes high-caliber candidates and quality service, then there’s no reason why it can’t be equally effective in revenue terms.
Be relevant However competitive your prices are, employers and agencies are unlikely to return to your site unless you can offer them relevant returns for their investments. The best way to achieve this is to endeavor to ensure that job seekers respond to relevant ads that suit their capabilities and requirements. A steady stream of suitable candidates is the best possible recommendation for your services.
In order to achieve this holy grail, the primary focus of your site should be firmly on directing job seekers towards the positions of most direct relevance to them. This can be accomplished by careful and accurate matching between candidates and positions, based on gathering as much information as possible about the candidate. As a rule, candidates will not object to providing extensive and detailed data about themselves as long as they are confident that it will significantly improve their chances of locating the right opportunities, resulting in a positive circle in which everyone benefits.
Your services should be constructed with this requirement at the forefront. One of the most common complaints about online recruitment services is the arbitrary matching of candidates to jobs. Don’t fall into this trap.
Offer bonus services The role of a job board can be extended beyond simply listing job ads and matching candidates to vacancies. One of the most useful bonus services you can offer is CV hosting, which offers candidates the opportunity to upload their CVs for searching by prospective employers. To make such a service effective, online CVs should be constructed in such a way as to emphasize the key skills and experience of candidates, while making it easy for employers to search and locate the information they require. Once employers and agencies learn that you enable them to locate strong candidates for their vacancies regularly without having to advertise, they will return to use your services again and again.
Another bonus service worth considering is providing agencies with lists of relevant candidates, unsolicited. This will obviously need the consent of your job seeker clients, but as usual this is likely to be forthcoming if it genuinely enhances their job prospects.
Improve your listings It might seem obvious to say so, but the most important consideration for job seekers using a job board is that it provides extensive listings of the kinds of jobs in which they’re interested. Although increasing the overall number of listings might seem like the best way to address the issue, it can sometimes be counterproductive. It is often more effective to reduce volume but increase specialization in one way or another in a direct attempt to improve relevance. Such specialization can take a number of forms: catering to a specific industry or profession, for example, or focusing on a particular geographic region. This approach can help to give job seekers confidence that your site is catering directly to their requirements.
The quality of the listings is also very much dependent on the ads supplied by your client employers and agencies, who should be given every encouragement and help to supply comprehensive details for every position they advertise. These should include, as a minimum, a full and detailed job description and details of all required skills, experience and qualifications. If there are desirable additional skills, these should be listed along with any limitations to applicants. Finally, wherever possible, the ad should quote an approximate salary and describe any additional benefits.
Although it’s often difficult to achieve, ad should be screened for this information whenever practical, and suggestions for possible improvements made to agencies or employers. They may not appreciate this, but in the long run it is in their interests to attract the best possible candidates, a goal they will be most likely to achieve by targeting their ads as accurately as possible.
Equally importantly, advertisers should be discouraged from indulging in any creative widening of an advertisement’s net by misleading categorization. Programmers, for example, really aren’t interested in sales positions. You do your job seekers no service at all by allowing unsuitable positions to turn up in match lists.
Make it easy to find Although long lists of jobs might look impressive, job seekers do not want to waste time wading through page up on page of irrelevant ads searching for the one or two that are meaningful to them. The more refined you can make your search process, and the more relevant the results it returns, the happier your candidates will be. This means clarifying precisely what they are looking for before you show them anything.
A typical basic job board might just ask for an industry or occupation and a location before generating a list of matches. A more sophisticated system will look for far greater precision: at the very least, the abilities to choose multiple roles and industries, enter custom keywords, and select between job types such as permanent, contract and part-time are essential. Better still, a truly advanced system will remember the criteria supplied by an individual job seeker and generate matches on demand or deliver them via email.
Streamline the application process Once the job seeker has found a position in which they are interested, it is important to ensure that the ad can be followed up easily with a detailed application. This should preferably include a CV. The ideal setup is a one-click system which allows a logged-in user to apply for a job and submit his or her CV by typing a simple covering note and clicking a button. The best sites offer such a streamlined approach, and your candidates will expect and appreciate it.
Less obviously, it is well worth considering offering the applicant the opportunity to submit questions or look for clarification about the role. Despite the best efforts of job boards, roles are often advertised with insufficient or inaccurate details. Such errors originate from the agency or employer, but minimizing them remains the job board administrator’s responsibility. This usually involves strong and clear communication with your advertising clients. The impact of errors and omissions in ads can be minimized by opening paths of communication between the employer or agency and the candidate. This can be managed by email or conducted via the job site itself, but however it is achieved, it can be a significant step in giving your site a competitive edge.
Avoid aggregated lists It’s very tempting as a job board administrator to boost the number of listings on your site – or at least to create an appearance of doing so – by aggregating lists from other boards. There are a number of problems with this approach, all of which are likely to result in frustration for your job seekers.
For instance, aggregated lists are liable to result in duplicate postings. This can be a problem in itself, if candidates are having to wade through multiple duplicates of the same position when trying to find something relevant to them. Worse still, the supplied information often varies slightly from post to post, leaving the candidate confused about what exactly is being offered. And if your content can be read elsewhere, it has a tendency to make your site look unprofessional. The best approach for any site is to post unique content that is as relevant as possible to your job seekers.
Be Specific One problem common to many job boards is that they attempt to be all things to all people. And while this can certainly boost the overall volume of listings, there can be a high cost in terms of precision. Specialization is frequently a more effective approach. The most successful boards are very often those that focus on a specific geographical area. This is because, in general, employees prefer to interview local applicants, while most candidates prefer to apply for local jobs. A geographically focused approach also allows you to use your local knowledge to improve your services.
An alternative and often equally effective approach to specialization is to focus on a particular trade or industry. This approach often results in the development of a strong user community who can also offer extensive accumulated knowledge based around the industry in question. This can lead in turn to the provision of added-value services. Market specialization in general tends to work best for highly-paid professions, although it can have benefits when any industry is chosen in which mobility is fairly high. Otherwise a geographical focus can be more beneficial.
Search engine optimization As with any web site, search engine ranking is critical to traffic levels. The way to boost search rankings is to understand the systems that underpin the search sites – especially Google – and ensure that your site is optimized to obtain the best possible ranking for the most relevant search terms. This is not a one-off task. Competition is intense at the head of the search rankings, and competing sites will constantly be looking for ways to improve their position. In order to maintain your site’s profile you must do the same, or else expect to experience a gradual slide down the listings.
Many companies specialize in site optimization, and it can be expensive, although it is sometimes possible to reduce the cost by doing it yourself. For more information, Lorelle has a comprehensive guide which is aimed primarily at blogging, but is highly relevant to all sites.
Advertise Everyone has heard the old adage: build it and they will come. Sadly, with almost two billion web sites to choose from, that is no longer true. You need to let people know about your site, and for a service like recruitment you need to keep letting them know, as the potential audience is by definition transitory and constantly renewing itself. As soon as somebody finds a job, they generally stop looking at recruitment sites; tomorrow it is somebody else’s turn.
You should consider both online and traditional advertising. Online, Google AdSense is always good. Among more traditional media, buses and taxis, leaflet drops and radio are always effective. However you do it, make sure to let people know about your site.