Help! The Budget’s Gone, But I Still Need to Recruit

How times have changed! A year ago our heads were spinning. We had so many open requisitions, managers to support, and candidates to contact that we would try anything to secure a hire. Budgets were not an issue. We gladly paid 30% search fees so long as we got a high-quality candidate hired. Today, many of our requisitions are on hold, budgets have been slashed, and our friends and co-workers have been laid off. But we still have a job to do. While hiring has diminished dramatically, it is not gone completely. So what do you do when the money is tight and you can’t fall back on your favorite search recruiter to help you out? How do you determine what is the least amount you can spend and still be effective? How do you maximize every dollar spent on recruiting? The answer is simple: think and act like the jobseeker! Posting Strategy No two jobseekers are alike. However, when it comes to searching for jobs on the Internet, there are several behavior patterns to which you should market. The goal is to cast the widest net while keeping your costs to a minimum. But even on a tight budget you can market to each of these groups. For an average of $500-$700 per month per position profile, you will be able to reach a wide audience. In a newspaper, that amount of money will at most purchase 2 weeks of a very small in-column ad. To start, here’s a description of the various types of job seekers:

  • “Department Store Shopper” — These jobseekers only visit the large general job boards unless someone specifically directs them to another site. Many of these people know other boards exist but they almost exclusively gravitate towards the general boards. A very large portion of the job seeking population falls into this category, so it is important to post your positions to at least one of these boards. (Budget Allocation: Maximum $300 per month)
  • “Networker” — “Networker” jobseekers seek out the help of others to find job leads. On the Internet they go to user groups, organization listservers, alumni associations and professional associations. Typically, posting jobs to these sites is less expensive than the larger job boards. Often posting is free. (Budget Allocation: Maximum $200 per month)
  • “Boutique Shopper” — Boutique Shoppers like to find the niche sites. They will visit these sites before going to the general boards. They believe that the place to find the best jobs is on a site that is dedicated to what they do best. (Budget Allocation: Maximum $200 per month)
  • “Brand Name Shopper” — These job seekers research specific companies for which they may want to work. They go directly to the company’s website to find a job. Make sure that your website is updated and all jobs are current. (Budget Allocation: $0. This is a free posting)
  • “Neighborhood Shopper” — Neighborhood Shoppers are either relocating to a specific city or live in that city and do not want to relocate out of the area. They keep their job search localized by visiting the job boards dedicated to their specific metro area. (Budget allocation: Maximum $200 per month)
  • “Casual Shopper” — The Casual Shopper is not actively looking for a job but would consider a job change if they saw something that sparked their interest. They typically are not searching job boards but they will look at jobs posted on sites that are not primarily job boards. If they are on a news site, a trade journal site or other information related site they will peruse the jobs just “to see what’s out there.” These sites are great places to reach the more passive job seekers. (Budget allocation: Maximum $200 per month)
  • “Heritage Shopper” — These people have a strong affiliation to an ethnic or other affinity group. Their priority is to visit the diversity site to which they have the strongest affiliation. They want to work for companies that actively support the hiring of employees within their population. These sites include diversity sites such as minority sites, military sites, gay/lesbian sites, women’s sites, etc. (Budget allocation: Maximum $200 per month)

Your goal is to reach is many of these job seekers as possible within the monthly $500-$700 per position profile. The budget allocation listed for each type of job seeker is what we know to be the maximum charged by these types of job boards and typically they cost less than the maximum price we’ve listed above. To determine where to spend your budget consider the following guidelines:

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  1. Brand Name Shoppers are always on your list. They are the people that go directly to your company website to find a job. Make sure that jobs on your company website are always refreshed, well-written, and engaging. This is your least expensive source of candidates.
  2. Always post to sites that reach the Department Store Shopper, the Networker, and the Boutique Shopper. This will give you a broad reach while staying within a limited budget.
  3. Know your company’s commitment to hiring a diverse population and requirements for always advertising to this population, even during tight budget times. Your allocation may always need to include sites that reach the Heritage Shopper.
  4. Evaluate the quality of your local job boards. Some metro areas have sites that are extremely successful. Do your homework. If these sites are popular for hiring individuals with the skills needed for your positions then consider making the Neighborhood Shopper sites a priority.
  5. The Casual Shoppers are a great population to reach if you have the budget for it. Depending on your decisions about the priorities for Neighborhood Shoppers or Heritage Shoppers, you may have some budget left over to reach this group. I would consider posting to these sites as the second priority group after the Department Store, Networker, and Boutique Shoppers.
  6. If you have more time, consider posting to as many free sites as you can. While the response rate and quality of response is typically not as strong as some of the fee-based sites, you will get a few great candidates — for free.

Many positions take longer than one month to fill. In the second month, consider rotating sites to broaden your reach. Try different “Department Store Shopper” sites and rotating a “Casual Shopper” site into your line-up. Resume Databases In addition to your posting strategy, it is important to actively source candidates from the Internet. If you have access to the resume databases, you should be using them. With all the recent layoffs, the numbers of resumes being submitted to databases is increasing significantly on a daily basis. Additionally, the quality is also increasing. Job seekers are becoming less wary of posting their resumes and many sites now have a confidentially feature. This feature also attracts a broader range of job seekers and tends to increase quality. If you do not have access to any resume databases, consider allocating funds to gain access to at least one database. Many job boards will allow you to purchase access to the database without actually posting to their site. Other Active Mining If you’ve been trained to actively mine the Internet for the passive candidates, now is the time to polish those skills. The only cost is time. If you have the benefit of utilizing Internet research, take advantage of the opportunity. In summary, it is possible to launch a successful Internet recruiting campaign on a tight budget. Spend the time up front to evaluate each position profile and the options available for reaching the broadest group of potential candidates. Rotate sites on a monthly basis to gain the broadest reach. Search the resume databases and dedicate more time to actively mining the remainder of the Internet. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

Karen Osofsky ( is a co-founder of, an e-recruiting consulting firm that provides outsourced recruiting solutions to rapidly growing companies and new ventures. The firm provides a broad range of recruiting consulting, sourcing, screening, and strategy development services to help companies manage the front-end recruiting process. Tiburon Group is a Certified AIRS Solutions Partner.


1 Comment on “Help! The Budget’s Gone, But I Still Need to Recruit

  1. Times have changed indeed! But this is not the first time. In the mid 90?s recruiting was a tough field. Budgets were tight then, recruiting on the Internet was a fledgling industry and finding candidates was by far the most challenging part.

    So what to do when the money is tight? The same we did back then.


    There are still places where posting is free. Remember Usenet? Google now lets you post to There are groups like comp.job.offered where you are welcome to post your job opening.

    Of course there is the old standby – this is the American Job Board and as a registered employer you may post jobs for free. There are hundreds of ways to broadcast you employment opportunity for free.

    The job seeker descriptions mentioned are great categories, but consider some additional precautions and ways to reach these segments at no cost.

    “Department Store Shopper” ? Some of these shoppers are looking for ways to ask for a raise ? they are more likely to go to a manager and show them your job offer so they can justify a raise. Its important to screen these candidates well and go through several trial closes.

    “Networker” ? This shopper will go to trusted sources and is very likely to contact you if you have built a relationship with them. Reach this candidate by becoming part of their online network and contributing to the professional organizations, mailing lists, forums, etc. where they participate. These resources are free ? you can build a network easily through free postings, sending email to the network, building your own opt-in mailing list and contributing with industry information or other free resources to which you have access.

    “Boutique Shopper” ? These niche sites are great for developing your employment brand, and job seekers who lurk in them are more likely to be connected. In such a small circle visibility becomes an issue. Keeping confidentiality is crucial. Posting a job here is much more important than looking through resumes. Budget appropriately by spending more on the posting and less on the resume search side.

    “Brand Name Shopper” ? Employment branding is everything here. One way to build confidence with this type of job seeker is to offer any positive statistics you may have like turnover rate, internal referral rate, job satisfaction survey results, and offer testimonials. Streaming video interviews of people currently in that position do wonders towards building an ?employer of choice? brand. Most of these have internal costs associated with them so little additional spending is required. Articles about successful people in your company, achievements and accolade your company have received and press releases are valuable (and free) resources to share with this group.

    “Neighborhood Shopper” ? Reach this local market by writing press releases for local circulation websites like Yahoo!, CitySearch, and even your local city guide or chamber of commerce. Articles and press releases are free. Webmasters struggle to find good relevant (and free) content they can add to their site. This increases the site?s value as well as your position in the local market.

    “Casual Shopper” ? You companies published articles reprinted to news sites will attract the casual seeker?s attention. However, the casual shopper is best reached directly. There are the kinds of candidates you can find by doing advanced searches on the Internet. Contact them directly and add them to your mailing list, make them part of your network.

    “Heritage Shopper” ? Many of the diversity sites are free because they want to be a resource supporting the minority group?s activities in the job market. Here are a few excellent examples of sites you can register at but who don?t necessarily charge: for people transitioning from a military to a civilian career; for workers with disabilities; for veterans; for African Americans; from the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

    If you have not received or evaluated training on how to maximize your Internet searching abilities and online resources, this is a good time to request a class. There are excellent training companies offering different perspectives to the Internet Recruiting approach. Contact an instructor at each one of the companies and ask them to explain what they can contribute to your recruiting process. Public classes are a cost effective way to review their materials. Tuition is usually a small fee per attendee. Go yourself or send someone you trust to evaluate the material and bring back an assessment.

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