What is a Job Board?

During the Jobg8 North American Job Board Summit a great debate took place over “what is a job board”: has the term “become damaged and if so what should a job board be called”. The Job Board Doctor, aka Jeff Dickey- Chasins led the debate and penned an excellent follow up blog – Are career hubs what job boards become when they grow up?

I’d like to offer my take on the topic and ask the following questions:

  • What is a job board?
  • What could we be?
  • What does our customer want?

One obvious question that might be asked though is: does it matter what we are called? My answer to that is simple, it seems that the term job board has developed negative connotations, particularly with our client base BUT much less so, I suspect, amongst our job seeker audience.

So what was Jeff’s take? Well firstly, that in our history may lie a route ahead: “it is the resurrection and expansion of an idea that has been around for years – the career hub. In the early days of job boards, circa 1998, some of the larger boards produced a significant amount of careers and industry content and in my own site, Totaljobs.com, we had over 10 editorial staff plus an editor.

But in 2001 with the Dotcom bubble bursting we, like many others, focused purely on our job content i.e. sales and “free trials” and, to an extent, job boards became what they are today: “classified jobs on-line”.

So a job board can become more than just a listing of jobs, CVs and somewhere a job seeker registers for an email alert, as Jeff says: “The career hub is designed to be a resource that candidates use – even when they aren’t looking for work. Why? Candidates that visit the site and use the resources day in and day out are easier to monetize (think advertising, for example) and easier to retain than candidates who visit a site every couple of years (when they’re looking)”.

My view is that this is a definite way ahead, BUT what we must not do, which print media did circa 1995, is to add a few pages of careers news and think that that is enough. Being a careers hub is a 24/7 service and should include the following:

  • Job listings + Upload a CV + Register for Email alerts BUT make these social i.e. when you register for a  Job by Email (JBE), you pick a company to follow and then see to whom in that company you are connected too
  • Industry news – a combination of original and aggregated
  • Ability to interact with other candidates – forums, chat rooms, etc.
  • Social Opinion – blogs and community platforms – which also let candidates comment and interact
  • Candidate Services – CV building, build a profile, training, candidate marketing, etc.
  • Articles – industry-specific developments, professional development, how to, etc.
  • Events – webinars, career fairs, offline events, etc.

Adopting this approach is content heavy and does require investment in resources, but in my next articles I will look at how you can build a “content-led approach” to your job board, smartly and on a budget. In my view, you will need a minimum of one person to take responsibility for content/community management.

In Jeff’s article, he highlights some sites that have combined the above approaches well and I’ve added two UK sites that I think deserve a special mention. The first three are US/Global; the last two are UK/European focused:

  • Mediabistro – started in the US mid 90’s and combined all the activities outlined above
  • Safarious – for wilderness professionals
  • Culintro – for restaurant professionals
  • OpenReq – for staffing professionals
  • Onlymarketingjobs – UK marketing site and great use of “free social channels”.
  • Changeboard – UK HR and started life as a job board and now an HR publishing and community portal.

Finally, what do candidates want? In short, the jury is out. Research show that they want to find a job (hence the growth of aggregators), they like to be found for a job i.e. upload a CV and register for JBE’s BUT increasingly there is a trend/demand for relevant careers content, news and networking opportunities (LinkedIn for a vertical market).

My take – ask your audience what they want, review what they read and test.

In my next article will look at content and how to build a content-rich platform.

Keith Robinson is a regular contributor to the Jobg8 blog, Co produces the Jobg8 Summits and works with a range of job boards advising on Strategy, NPD, Marketing and NBD across Europe.

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