Job boards can be a very effective part of the recruitment marketing mix when used to their full potential.  They can also be a bit of a black hole sometimes so we’ve decided to share a few tips on how to maximise your return on investment from job boards:

1) Choosing the right job board:

There are thousands of job boards in the UK and you’ve most likely heard conflicting claims from several of them that they are the ‘Number 1’ UK site either in general or in their industry – this is why it’s important to do a bit of research yourself before using a job board. All job boards will be able to provide you with statistics in terms of market reach, registered users, views and clicks but it can help to ask for more specific information in terms of the job you are hiring for. If you are looking for an account manager with SAAS sales experience then ask for the number of registered account managers with SAAS on their CV that they have in their database.  Another useful tip (especially on technology/IT job boards) is to find out the top 10-15 searched terms on the site – this can provide really useful information in terms of which site is better for a .net developer compared to an IT Project Manager for example. Don’t be afraid to ask your peers directly what has worked for them, you can easily crowd-source opinion from your fellow in-house recruiters on the likes of LinkedIn.

2) Make your job easy to find:

Different job boards use different technology platforms – they all have different ways of ranking jobs. Just like Google, if your job displays on the first page of search results you’re more likely to have candidates viewing and applying to your job.  Posting the same job on 3 different sites is likely to have 3 very different outcomes.  Your account manager should be able to help you understand how their board ranks jobs and . Some use key word density in the top 3rd of the job text, others look at key word density in the whole text for example.  Understanding how a candidate uses a site is also important.  Generally speaking there are 3 criteria someone looks for when searching for a job on a job board: Job title, Location and Salary. If you have not selected a salary band (even if it’s not publicly visible) when posting a job, then on some sites your job will practically be invisible.  Also bear in mind candidates sign up for job alerts based on certain criteria, salary in conjunction with job type and location being the obvious factors.

3) Job copy:

Please don’t use your internal role profile to post a job on a board – it’s probably 5 pages long and really boring! Remember the job spec is an advert, it needs to grab attention, you can always send an extended spec later.  Bearing in mind point 2, it’s important to copywrite your job spec so it’s optimised on job boards.  This could mean subtle changes between media to ensure it’s properly optimised on each site (you know this because will now have spoken to your account manager and found out how they rank jobs).  The length of the spec often affects the optimisation, as a rule of thumb around 250-300 words should be plenty. Job title can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your job.  If your company uses non-standard job titles then consider using a split title for external advertising purposes.  If you call your sales executives, sales representatives, posting the job as sales executive / sales representative is likely to get your job found more often. Also consider that you also want to prevent non relevant applications with your job copy, so be very clear about key requirements early on.

4) Consider using several job boards:

Your average job seeker is likely to use multiple channels to look for a job.  Very few job boards if any have an exclusive audience. As suggested in Point 1, do your research, assess the different strengths of the boards and consider using a combination of channels such as a couple of niche industry boards, a general board and a professional network like LinkedIn. Some boards will cross post the job onto niche and local sites as well and ensure they appear on vertical job search engines such as Indeed or JobRapido.  Often you’ll see companies advertising they will post your job onto 30+ sites, in reality you only need to use a small number of relevant boards to have exposure across many platforms.  It may cost a bit more upfront, but it also improves the probability of hiring direct at the first attempt at advertising as you are not putting all your eggs in one basket.

5) Smart posting – understand your inventory:

The cheapest option is rarely the best so be smart with your job postings. I would always recommend a company branded account managed posting over buying credits online. It’s often worth considering the extra cash for a featured or enhanced listing as they can generate anywhere between 4-10x the applications of a normal posting.  If you’re recruiting in volume, consider combining a job listing with a mail shot that will reach a wider audience. Job boards predominantly attract active candidates, one of the things you should specifically look for is what type of inventory does a job board have that will attract passive candidates. Products like ‘Behavioural Targeting’ and Editorial Jobs (displaying your jobs next to relevant stories on news portals your target audience consumes) can help improve the visibility of your jobs among passive candidates. Certain networks can actually match and display your jobs against online industry journals and academic papers industry professionals use to progress their careers. Professional networks like Linkedin display jobs to users regardless of whether they are actively looking for jobs based on their profile data.

6) Make use of available functionality:

One of the biggest challenges of using job boards can be dealing with the volume of responses. If you don’t have an ATS system make full use of the functionality the job boards have to offer such as filter questions, response templates etc.

7) Active account management:

Once you’ve committed resource to a particular job board or boards, don’t just place the advert and then wait until it expires before checking the results. There is a lot you can do while a job is live to improve its performance. If after a week or 2 you are not getting the applications you expected, or you are largely receiving completely irrelevant applications then think about tweaking the advert. Can you find it easily from a candidate’s perspective? Is the job copy accurately reflecting the job?  If applicants are mainly too junior or senior then displaying the salary can help prevent unsuitable applications.  What do the job board stats tell you?  If the advert is not getting many views at all then it’s likely it simply was not getting found in search results.  Did the ad get lots and lots of views but very few applications?   Then consider why is it people are happy to spend time viewing the job but won’t apply?

Frequently one the biggest reasons’ job board advertising is not successful is a kink somewhere else in your recruitment process. If you are redirecting applicants to an ATS system, what is the candidate experience like?  If It’s a particularly cumbersome process you will probably lose a lot of candidates (especially the passive ones who aren’t desperate to move). Have you ever tried applying for your own jobs, it can be quite an eye opener!  I would highly recommend if you are using job boards, have a look at the number of candidates that are clicking the apply button on a job board, landing on your ATS but then not completing your application.  Don’t be surprised if the drop off rate is significantly above 50%.

8) Manage expectations:

You’re not going to make a hire for every advert you place on a job board, so even though you have committed some budget be realistic with your expectations. Some positions take more time to fill, even if you have the best head hunters on the case as well. Sometimes there is an expectation when using job boards that if the right candidate doesn’t apply within 28 days then they simply don’t work.  It may be the right candidates just didn’t come across your job in this period (for several of the aforementioned reasons). Ask your account manager if they will extend your ad for free (or upgrade it) if you have not filled the position. This is a service some boards offer as standard and an obvious money saver.  As they say if you don’t ask you don’t get!

9) Know when to break with process:

If you know a particular position has proven historically challenging to fill, perhaps it’s a very senior role, or a role requiring relocation, then consider being more flexible with your recruitment process.  When you know candidates with a specific skill and experience set are difficult to attract it pays to make it as easy as possible for them to apply.  It may not be plausible to do this for all jobs, but for those real difficult to fill roles, rather than purely directing them to your ATS, accept email applications.  When relocation is involved, allowing some sort of pre-application engagement (such as providing a phone number on the spec) can make a huge difference.  After all relocation can be a significant life changing decision and candidates may want to discuss a few things before committing to an application.

10) Negotiate:

Don’t be shy about negotiating the price down with your account manager. Job boards have targets too and you’re likely to get the best prices if your purchase your listings at the end of the month.  Also take advantage of ‘spot buying’ opportunities to stock up on the better products.  You may not need a targeted mail shot or enhanced listing now, but if you know you are likely to have several open vacancies in the upcoming weeks, then taking advantage of available significant discounts can prove highly cost effective in the long term.

Author: Jean-Paul Smalls is a UK Partner at Qandidate.com. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter @Jeanpaulsmalls.

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