More Like Job Bored

Everyone seems to have a stance when it comes to the validity and usefulness of job boards. Once the reining champion of sourcing and recruiting, job boards are quickly losing steam. When Monster and CareerBuilder first stepped on the scene in 1994, they were the top dogs, and stock was through the roof. Last year, Monster went on the market when it had a market cap of $969 million and since then, shares have fallen by half.

Job boards were seen as this new, ultra convenient way to search for a job quickly. Before then it was the newspapers, door-to-door, and good old fashioned networking. Everyone flocked to these job boards and the industry boomed. But something went wrong; the technology didn’t really grow with the crowd. The big job boards have stayed seemingly stagnant or on the decline in comparison with the advances in social networking and recruiting. Furthermore, they never really surpassed the power of networking.

Recruiting site CareerXroads did a study that concluded that as little as about 18 percent of all hires are a result of job boards. Other studies in the same field would contend that 12 percent is high, and that the figure is in all actuality probably less than 10 percent. HR pro Paul Bernard says that he, “frequently cautions clients who are applying for a position online.” Bernard says that job boards “will give them no more than a 2 percent chance of getting an interview, let alone walking away with an offer.”

A main issue is the sheer number of applicants who come from these job ads. Job boards cast such a broad net that the screening process becomes a joke. With dozens or even hundreds of applicants, no wonder these large job boards are on the decline.

Internal movement, referrals, social recruiting, niche job boards ,and networking are all trumping these major job boards because of one simple thing — connection. Job boards, no doubt, have the market cornered when it comes to quantity, but candidates and hiring managers are finding out quickly that that isn’t what matters. In fact, that tends to inhibit the chances of a professional match. Quality is what matters. Cultural fit is what matters. Access to relevant connections is what matters.

Don’t get it wrong, job boards are not all together useless. Niche boards should not be thrown out with the bath water. Pulling away from the masses and finding niche boards that are relevant and targeted can make a world of difference for both recruiters and candidates. Where candidates are concerned, it’s obviously better to be one of a dozen than one of a hundred. And for recruiters, these niche boards provide fewer candidates, but of those fewer candidates there will be more relevant ones. Furthermore, using niche boards shows that the homework has been done, you’re an industry insider and you know what you’re looking for.

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Major job boards do a great job at providing a large pool of candidates. That’s great if you happen to be opening up a 500-employee plant, but that’s not what most of the candidates and recruiters are on them for. As the decade of big job boards has come and gone, we’re finding a renewed passion for connection. Soft skills and cultural fit aren’t assessed in a resume online (that happens to be amongst dozens of others), they are conveyed through interactions, dialogue, and personalized communications.



Raj Sheth is the co-founder of Recruiterbox, an online recruitment software and applicant tracking system designed especially for growing companies. Prior to Recruiterbox, he founded two other web startups -- a classifieds portal and an ecommerce site. He is a graduate of Babson College and spent the first three years of his career as a financial analyst with EMC Corporation in Boston. Visit his website at


23 Comments on “More Like Job Bored

  1. How horribly misleading. Study after study, including the Careerxroads study cited in the article, point to niche and general job boards as the first or second largest source of hire and that percentage is increasing not decreasing. For those who regard LinkedIn as more like a job board than a social media site like Twitter, the share is even higher and growing even faster.

  2. “Recruiting site CareerXroads did a study that concluded that as little as about 18 percent of all hires are a result of job boards.”

    If you look carefully at the study, you’ll see that job boards filled 18% of all EXTERNAL hires. Of ALL hires (sourced internally and externally), job boards filled about 10%.

  3. Job boards are truly dead. Especially the paid ones. Indeed has seen to that and LinkedIn is doing the rest. But the Problem that is still persisting is the lack of true semantic matching. Technology has moved on my friends, that’s why Google now has Graph Search and why back in 2010 built a semantic Job platform based on semantic matching.
    Dating sites transformed their industry with boolean matching – simple criteria matching but this could not work for the complexity of Job matching. Criteria such as scalable skills (hard and soft), experience, occupation, function, qualifications and languages can’t be matched simply….they have to have a semantic engine behind and we have building one for the last 3 years and 30,000 hours.
    There’s still a lot of Hype about These new Evolution sites but if you want instant matching that crosses geographical and linguistic boundaries then you Need the Technology of the next 5 years now. So take a look at the dating site for Job and Talent seekers.

  4. I love it when vendors post comments to these boards in which they advocate that potential clients go to specific dating sites for job seekers or any others without disclosing their relationship to that site. John, next time, your comment would be more credible if you disclosed your relationship with before you trumpeted it.

  5. @ Everybody; Since there is no guarantee that the few people on a small/niche site will be more likely to respond to your query than the larger numbers on a main one (including LI), all else being equal, I’d prefer to go where there are more “fish in the pond”.

    @ Steve R: It distresses me when those lonely few who are actually looking for a free and unbiased exchange of relevant recruiting-related information and an open intellectual exchange try and get in the way of folks like John trying to hawk his wares. If we limited self-promoting aggrandizement and thinly-disguised infomercials or (even-worse) limited statements to what actually could be proven and advice to what might actually work, there’d be hardly anything on ERE at all.


    Keith “Always Be Selling” Halperin

  6. Job boards remain under increasing pressure, more from the behavioural change adopted by today’s modern recruiter in wanting to pinpoint relevant talent, rather than handle even less so, manage the “No’s”) to unsuitable candidate applications.

    Job Boards will have a place, mostly for the niche communities & for the volume roles, but anything with an increasingly specific skill set, or seniority, or industry specific experience, requirement has already moved in the main to LinkedIn.

    Remember that job boards were the first to understand the value of CV data aggregation in that their revenue shares were increasingly dominated by sales of CV databases subscriptions….until LinkedIn emerged & provided more depth & integrity around each profile & its connectivity to peer group contacts that could be validated.

    The impact to job board revenues has already been well documented….yet the impact to the traditional staffing industry less so. I suspect that the increasing move to in-house direct recruitment by corporates will soon be reflected in a reduction in overall permanent staffing billings & an increase in the use of outsourced resourcing & research specific organisations.

    The real ‘looking back’ mistake will be the lack of product investment and /or recruitment foresight from the traditional job board industry to develop their dominant market position onto the next iteration.

    Lets hope that in years to come, we’re not looking back at the job board industry…like we do today with Kodak.

  7. Something that isn’t always mentioned with the downfall of Job boards is that especially the big ones (Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder…) have suffered under their own bloated UI/UX issues.

    Monster was the first one that I promised I would never use again several years ago when they ceased to be a simple tool to broadcast your opening to potential candidates. They created matching algorithms that didn’t work, built dozens of features that didn’t make sense and weren’t valuable, and they largely became a UX mess.

    It got to the point when I finally said “never again” after I posted a job and then searched for the job as a user and I couldn’t even find my own job listing using my own company name as a search criterion!

    This hijacking by the “matching” algorithm on top of a cumbersome posting process is one of the big reasons Monster and others lost so much value in an increasingly User focused world.

    Imagine how much less successful Google would be today if their home page went from the extremely utilitarian search bar we all know and love and became a UX disaster that would advertise Google glasses, self-driving cars, Demo videos, and all manner of side projects all jammed into one place.

    Would people still use Google for search if you had to actually search for the search bar?!?

    Job Boards just kept cramming stuff everywhere and forgot what they were… a job board.

    Here’s how a job board works at it’s core…Recruiter goes to page, posts ad and leaves. Candidate goes to page, runs a search, finds the ad and then applies.

    If that workflow is hampered with too many bells and whistles, people will move to simpler platforms and more time efficient methods.

    Especially in today’s world of “What!?!?! It takes more than 7 second’s to sign up???!?!?? No thank you!”

  8. Rob — As one of the owners of a niche job board, I couldn’t agree more. In January 2012 we set as a strategic goal to maximize the number of applications per average job posting. Anything on our site that reduced that number was destined for the scrap heap. Out went almost all banner ads. Out went co-registration where candidates check (or sometimes need to uncheck) boxes to get information from on-line, for-profit schools and others. Out went some features that generated some nice revenue. Up went applications per average job posting. Up went the satisfaction from the employers and job seekers. Up went the number of jobs posted and number of candidates using and re-using our site. Up went our profitability.

  9. @John… I checked out and I give it a 37% match for solving the world’s recruiting problems. Any platform that requires honest, anonymous self-assessment from companies and/or candidates to determine “Perfect” matches based on semantic searches is essentially a non-starter.

    I’ve interviewed ten’s of thousands of candidates over the years, and probably seen/reviewed over 100,000 resumes and amazingly, I have yet to speak to anyone who didn’t “learn quickly”. Not even one! I know they’re out there. But I’ve yet to find one.

    Rob “Can’t find a slowly learning unicorn no matter how hard I try” Mallery 😉

  10. Steven, That’s great to hear! It certainly stands to reason that the easier you make it for your customers and the more value you provide, the more they will pay and the more loyal they will be. Awesome!

    I still use job boards, but my dollars are spent on specialty boards and Craigslist. Craigslist in particular is cheap and they certainly haven’t forgotten about their Utilitarian roots! 🙂

  11. @ Rob: re John’s wares: “37% match for solving the world’s recruiting problems”? That’s better than most of what’s peddled to us here, and a LOT better than much of the advice given to us by those who claim they know what recruiters should do.


    Keith “No Claim Too Outrageous” Halperin

  12. haha, very true Keith. I was drawing the parallel of the “Match %” algorithms that are always used as the secret sauce in any software based recruiting solution. The level of “matchiness” between candidate resume and company job description.

    Once you get into the <50% matches, you start getting Network admins that match 40% for a software engineer position simply because they both used the same operating system or ERP system or same scripting language. Or an emergency room nurse being a 34% match for a Pediatric Emergency Room Physician simply because they both work in healthcare and they provide emergency care and certainly would have tons of other similarities. They are literally a 0% fit, but the matching algorithm still gives a certain amount of credit for the buzzword/domain matches.

    My quick, admittedly uninformed assessment of Janzz is that it probably does a better job than most of these type of ontological match platforms. In the end it's perhaps a good solution but it's trying to find an answer to the wrong question.

  13. @John “Job boards are truly dead. Especially the paid ones. Indeed has seen to that and LinkedIn is doing the rest. But the Problem that is still persisting is the lack of true semantic matching.”

    Our sites and job boards have patent pending semantic matching.

    For disclosure I am a sales rep, but that does not mean I am not being honest.

  14. @ Rob “Says Some Good Stuff” Mallory: I think there’s an inherent “fuzziness” to the vast majority of JDs (No, I’m not going to get into the “Kill, roast, and eat job descriptions!” discussion here) because there is a fuzziness in the vast majority of cases between what someone wants and how it can be expressed and looked for. This is clearly NOT a trivial problem- “big brains” have been working to solve it for decades. (I suspect it may be like speech recognition with an additional layer[s} of complexity.) Speaking of which (and “answer to the wrong problem”):

    @ Tim: I’d LOVE to try out your system when it’s “betable”. However finding people, aka “sourcing” is getting better and easier all the time. Let’s due what the “big brains” call a “thought experiment”: Your product (which you have the good manners to not mention by name and advertise- HINT, HINT, Folks) enables people to effortlessly obtain complete information (including direct contact information) on everyone in the entire world. Let’s also say because your product is so phenomenal and affordable that every recruiter in the entire world uses it. The vast majority of companies STILL won’t be able to hire the who they want to, because the problem isn’t in the FINDING of candidates, it’s the GETTING of them that’s the real problem. Furthermore, the same “Fab 5%” will continue to be bombarded by recruiters, and (outside of some much in-demand skillsets) still most jobseekers won’t be getting contacted very much, if at all… What I’ve just described is a situation taken to an unrealistic extreme, but in many cases, that’s exactly the situation now.


    Keith “Met a Few Big Brains” Halperin

  15. Keith is 100% right in the fact the FINDING candidates is no longer the difficulty.

    That’s one of the reasons job Boards still have a place in the market. They generally provide access to candidates who are have taken the first step and have indicated interest in your company. That improves the GETTING them by an order of magnitude.

  16. Wow! Thanks everyone for your comments. Even to those who disagreed with me in places. I learn so much from this community and actually read every comment! In any case, while it might be true that the title was a touch incendiary, I stand by the basic ethos, which is that job boards are not right for every opening. Niche boards, for example, work better with college students (as Steve likely knows). Aggregators (which is the subject of my next article) might be where the most fish are but it can also be where all the fish get discouraged. Some regions have local boards they swear by, while those seeking creative types source from Github and Dribbble. I could see how all of these methods might pale in comparison to LinkedIn to an in-house recruiter or Dice to an agency person.

    Bottom line? It’s all relative 🙂

  17. @ Rob: Thanks, I consider my advice useful if I’m >36% (see above) right…Say what you will about the boars (EXCEPT LI R)- they have more people on them who are willing to listen to what you have to say than other sources. Of course, we still have to deal with spoiled and clueless hiring managers who insist: “Any candidate who wants to work for us isn’t good enough for us to hire”. That’s where I see the true value of great 3PRs- they get candidates who’d never be willing to talk to you to talk to you, and accept offers from you that they’d never be willing to accept.

    @ Raj & Everybody: If you want a board to be popular with candidates, it wouldn’t hurt to get a reputation of getting lots of jobs for applicants who use it. While companies seem to be pretty successful in hiring people through boards of some kind (I’ll let you folks argue over HOW successful), it doesn’t seem like the odds are very good at random candidates getting a job through one of the large boards. Does anybody have any stats to prove or disprove this?


    Keith “Show Me a Recruiting Thought Leader Inviting People to Disprove Him or Her” Halperin

  18. As the owner of the Northeast’s largest HR Consulting / Outsourcing firm for small to midsize business I must take exception with the assertions in this post. Oh, and I also own the largest regional job board network in the Northeast. In one role I play in my professional life I advise candidates in outplacement classes I run how to effectively manager their job search. I tell them that today you find the job online, usually via job board or similar, then go to LinkedIn or the employer website, and overall look for a way in the door through a referral / contact.

    The key point here — the job board is the catalyst for what happens. While candidates clearly don’t click APPLY NOW the same way they did before the fact remains they learn about the opportunities in a huge percentage of cases via boards.

    Check that pulse again. The only thing dead here is the premise this post was built around.

  19. @Keith… in regards to your question/assertion… “it doesn’t seem like the odds are very good at random candidates getting a job through one of the large boards”

    I can’t speak to the big boards anymore since I don’t use them and Dice was the last one I dropped earlier this year. But some data points for LA/SF would look like this.

    StackOverflow ad response yields a small handful (<20) of any type of software engineer. We call any and all of the people with any amount of potential. So random people can certainly be hired.

    Craigslist ad for a receptionist however yields over 300 responses in a matter of days, so random ad response is much more difficult to turn into a hire. The last couple times, we've hired internal referrals. We still interview the ad response, but it's much more difficult to stand out.

    David gives good advice when it comes to the "find the job", then up your chances by "hitting the company from a few other angles".

    For example, the admin we hired in LA recently found our Craigslist ad, but then instead of replying to it, she dug into her network and got a direct referral from our legal counsel to our CFO. Needless to say, that type of "go-get'em" mentality translated well in the interview and she was a slam dunk hire for us.

    Anyone can do the little things to separate themselves, but most people don't.

  20. @ Rob: I’ll re-state:
    I don’t think it’s very likely that someone (even a very qualified someone) applying to any given job posted on a large job board is likely to get that job.

    “Anyone can do the little le things to separate themselves, but most people don’t.”
    If a large number of people took efforts to stand out from the crowd, then they would be a new crowd, i.e. the competitive advantage of any given technique to successfully achieve a goal diminishes the more people do it. Let’s say every job seeker did the very best possible to obtain a job: while different people might have a given position, there’d still be a huge number of people competing for suitable jobs, most of whom wouldn’t get them…

  21. @Keith: I’ll steal a line from the movie “The Incredibles”… “Once everyone is special, then no one will be”.

    You’re absolutely correct that if everyone did it, then it ceases to stand out.

    That being said, until we get everyone doing the little things to standout, we don’t have to worry about the new crowd. 🙂

  22. @ Rob: Well said. Perhaps we should discourage job seekers, tell them not really to do very much, and lower the over-all level of job-application competency/achievement. That way, ordinary effort becomes extraordinary.


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