Job Boards Still Evolving After all These Years

Job boards have been declared dead or dying so often that keeping track of the pronouncements is about as easy as counting the number of job boards in the world.

Google comes up with 222,000 references for a search on the keywords: “job board”, dead OR dying.

Yet, for all that, the number of job boards is proliferating and there are still plenty of believers in the model ready to launch more. A good part of the recent debate over the .jobs domain expansion was about DirectEmployers Association’s plan to launch tens of thousands of more job boards.

What’s keeping job boards in the game is their ability to deliver candidates and their ability to incorporate recruiter trends without mindlessly following the pack.

Without a doubt, there are plenty of skeptics to both of those claims. In the first instance, Eric Shannon, a job board founder himself, offered evidence to show that the hiring of candidates from job boards has been growing over the years, as has the number of job boards themselves. His reference to CareerXroads 2010 Sources of Hire study points out that after employee referrals and a company’s own career site, job boards provide the most number of external hires.

The second reason job boards have survived is their evolutionary behavior. Each time a new killer app or trend has come along, the job boards have morphed, co-opting it or integrating it.

Since last year we have seen pretty clearly how the job boards are responding to the surge of interest in social media recruiting. In fact, just since the summer began and its sister site,, have aggressively imitated some of the best of the social media elements, creating a Dice Talent Network on its flagship IT site and Cleared Network on its security clearance jobs board.

Dice, incidentally, is one of the job boards using multiple social channels to promote itself. It has its own You Tube channel and its own DiceNews video service.

CareerBuilder a few months back added several new features, including a Talent Network service that helps recruiters build their pipeline by identifying where the best candidates can be found. Its hireINSIDER is aimed at job seekers and lets them see how they compare in experience, skills, and education to others pursuing the same job.

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Smaller job boards — in traffic and resources — have been no less aggressive in adding function and interest. Among other improvements, has overhauled its company profiles, converting what industry-wide has been a dreary corporate factsheet into a much more interesting presence that borrows liberally from Facebook., by no means small cumulatively with 15,000 or so sites, has introduced applications for smart phones and has jumped into video with a YouTube presence.

And, like the major national job boards, many, perhaps most, now distribute their job postings via Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn.

These changes — and plenty of others — are how the job boards have maintained their position as one of the most effective means of sourcing candidates. The September issue of The Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership details the integration of social media by the job board industry and offers snapshots of what some of them have done.

The article also looks ahead at the next-biggest job board move, one that has been underway for a few years, but which is about to accelerate even faster than it did following the introduction of the first iPhone.

As noted recruiting authority and executive director of the job board industry’s trade group, Peter Weddle  says, mobile ”is the next big thing.”

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


10 Comments on “Job Boards Still Evolving After all These Years

  1. Spot on John. For many businesses, particularly small ones, job boards are their defacto ATS system. As someone who has started and mangaged local job boards since 1999, I am still starting new ones. There are always niches to exploit.

  2. It seems to me that many of those who criticize job boards are those who are trying to profit by offering some alternative.

    Job board obituaries s/b taken with a grain of salt.

  3. thanks John. We are reminded constantly by our customers that we are their primary resource for finding new hires. And it’s not just about reinventing our selves. We keep our sites clean by maintaining an “acceptable use policy” balancing the needs and privacy of the job-seeker with the recruiting needs of our employers. No false ads, no scams, no pyramid marketing. All jobs are local. This has been our policy for more than 10 years. And it still works.

  4. Most of the job boards can’t make enough money to pay their bills, that’s why they go create more niche ones, trying to pick up every dollar they can. The big 3 job boards are losing hundreds of millions in sales each year, just bleeding – let’s remember they only account for about 6% of nationwide hires according to the CareerXRoad study. Those thousands of supposedly successful niche job boards only account for another 4-5% of all hires nationwide. Don’t let their list price of a $100-450 per post fool you, they discount big time and average between $30-50 per post IF they are lucky. Hotjobs basically sold for less than $100m (no bueno) when you take into account the 3-yr traffic deal they had to incorporate into their deal with Monster…hello. If Dice was doing so well with their Talent Network that is really like the residential white pages (it’s not real social career networking), then they would be growing revenue organically and not NEEDING to grow via acquisitions. Newspapers grew by acquisitions and we all know where I am going with that one.

    So, I appreciate the optimism in a down market, but who are we kidding?

  5. Felipe, I dont discount like that on my sites. My sales are growing and I increased prices this year. There are still plenty of us that make a good living off job postings. If you can deliver traffic to jobs, then the price is worth it.

  6. Felipe,

    The CareerXRoads study to which you referred did not indicate that job boards are responsible for six percent of hires. I actually don’t recall the exact number the study attributed to job boards but the six percent number is probably about right. The study clearly indicated that the number attributed to job boards or any other source was the percentage that employers reported as having come from those sources. That’s completely different from the percentage that does come from those sources. like most other premium, niche job boards has hundreds to thousands of employers using our site at any given time and virtually none of them properly tracks their source of hire. Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler from CareerXRoads would be the first two to agree with a statement like that. It is absolutely incredible to those of us with marketing backgrounds how much money these organizations spend with no clue as to what is being spent effectively and what is being flushed down the toilet.

    If an employer tracks at all, it is almost certainly only asking candidates through a “how did you hear about us” drop down box on the application page or, even worse, at the interview. A study by Don Firth’s JobsInLogistics showed that 86 percent of applicants clicking from his site directly to an employer site misidentified the source, often because the employer includes sources such as Internet or the employer’s own web site as sources. The first is a source but results in candidates from a specific source identifying themselves in a less appropriate general source. The second is simply wrong as the employer’s site is a destination and not a source. Again, talk with Gerry and Mark if you want a more detailed explanation on that.

    Asking candidates at an interview where they heard about you is absolutely and completely ridiculous. They don’t remember, plain and simple. They’ll give you an answer, but they’re making it up. They don’t care or know and it isn’t their job to care or know. Employers that rely on candidates to self-identify their source are just fooling themselves that the data is helpful. It isn’t. It is so flawed that it does more harm than good.

    The only accurate way of measuring source of hire is to provide a unique web page address (URL) for each and every source so that no matter where or how the candidate sees your opportunity, your applicant tracking system will automatically and accurately record their source of hire. So if you run ads on Monster,, and billboards, you’ll use three different URLs and your ATS will know which of three drove each and every candidate to your web site.

    This is real, real basic stuff for consumer marketers. The fact that employment marketers haven’t been willing to catch-up in this area is bewildering to me. It isn’t expensive or difficult to implement. All you need to do is ask your ATS company to turn that feature on. If they can’t, get a new ATS.

  7. Steve’s right about the lack of tracking – absolutely abysmal and a bit mystifying because, as he says, even smaller companies end up spending thousands on job ads. There’s a disconnect between the marketing ‘track the source!’ mentality and the HR ‘fill the slot’ mentality.

    As far as job boards’ oft-predicted death – when they fail to deliver candidates, they will fail. Boards go out of business all the time – but new ones pop up. Just like any other industry. I’ve noted a distinct uptick in the number of new niche sites coming online during the past 6 months. Some are doing well, some aren’t. But you gotta ask yourself – if job boards are dying, why the heck is ANYONE launching new ones? I guess maybe…..they aren’t dying.

  8. Job board give employers and job seekers a real way to connect. While social media is great (and a part of our job board for sure), it is the ability to find employers interested in your talents or job seekers that can fill your open positions that keep people coming back.

    We think the trend towards niche job boards only makes sense as niche boards offer a targeted approach to a targeted audience. You get better candidates, not a full inbox.

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