Are Job Boards Doomed? What the Future Holds

Jonathan Zila

Executive Vice President, Client Strategy, Recruitics

Jonathan Zila is the Executive Vice President of Client Strategy at Recruitics newest region based in Atlanta, GA. A client services leader who’s spent the last eight years in recruitment advertising, Jonathan’s passion for client success and creating value-adding relationships is the key to Recruitics’ long-term customer engagement.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the demise of job boards have been greatly exaggerated. Despite efforts to curb job board spending and promote the internal database, it’s an undeniable fact that recruiters continue to rely on job boards. We sat down with Jonathan Zila, President of Recruitics, to break down the rationale for usage and explore innovative developments we can expect from this sector.


Q. For years, people have been saying that job boards are dead, or at least dying. Will there be job boards in 10 years? Will content rich sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn take over for traditional job boards? What about Google?

A. At the heart of your question is, “what does the future look like for job boards,” and while I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t see a mass extinction on the horizon. People have been saying job boards are dying for years, and yet current research suggests that job boards are actually growing faster than the staffing industry as a whole. And for good reason: they’re still connecting talent to companies who need it in an effective way.

That said, job boards are going through an evolution right now, and I think Glassdoor and LinkedIn partially represent what we can expect that final evolution to look like. Job boards are moving, and will continue to move, towards providing their users and customers with more than simply a digital classifieds page. And those who are most innovative in that respect will be the best positioned to be successful in the years ahead. In addition, we are seeing some niche job boards that have led in their categories with a content-first approach that has helped them curate a network of quality job seekers with consistent value.

As for Google, they’re uniquely positioned to disrupt the space. They certainly have greater resources than your typical job board, and you begin to get the sense that it’s a question of “when” not “if,” for them. It’s something that everyone in the recruitment space is keeping a close eye on, so we’ll just have to wait and see.


Q. Let’s be honest; we all know that the first thing a recruiter does when they get a job order is go right to the boards. Why is this, why hasn’t it changed? Why do companies allow their recruiters to go back to the well again and again when those candidates are probably in the database?

A. First, it comes down to the old adage, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it!” Recruiters have been “going back to the well” before job boards, aggregators, and online recruitment existed, when they would post open positions in newspaper classifieds, rather than hitting the rolodex. It’s also very simple to “prove” you’ve done your job with evidence that the job has been posted on a job board. This is largely different than the current performance-based recruitment ecosystem that draws from talent across sponsored jobs, broad networks, and other less tangible tools.

Outside of that I think it’s largely because of the “war for talent” we currently find ourselves in. Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in years and that, coupled with the skills gap that’s been well documented, means finding the right talent is becoming increasingly difficult. I’m sure you’ve seen any number of surveys conducted where HR departments have expressed that frustration with recruiting today.

Advertising jobs on job boards, aggregators, and the like allows HR and talent acquisition professionals to cast a wider net. They may be looking for skills they don’t currently have represented in their talent pools, or they may be looking for someone who’s better than what they have in their talent pools. In either event, the world of job seekers will always be bigger than the network that lives in your ATS.

That said, this makes advertising jobs online an inevitability, meaning companies are more apt to post even more jobs online rather than lower their number of advertisements. The game then becomes who can get the most out of these boards for the least—or, rather, who can produce the most efficient ROI.


Q. Companies used to think that job advertisement was a way to build brand and create relationships with consumers and customers. Are people still doing this?

A. Absolutely. Employer branding is becoming more important, not less, as businesses begin to grapple with a new generation of workers who really care about what they’re doing and where they work, and less about compensation.

Since there are more jobs out there than talent to fill them, the onus begins to fall on the employers to attract, nurture and eventually hire the best talent they can. That’s really what’s at the heart of “recruitment marketing.”

Furthermore, when you begin leveraging recruitment marketing technologies that can significantly increase traffic and applicant volume to your open positions, a lack of employer branding can be a significant missed opportunity to tell your story and consistently engage job seekers with your brand.


Q. What are the pay for performance advertising models that you are seeing? Indeed started with this over 10 years ago, but others are slow to adopt this strategy. Do you think that they will all get there? What will it look like?

A. Performance-based job advertisements are important because they provide hiring authorities with a better understanding of their ROI, in comparison to “post and pray” methods—such as duration-based job postings—where there is no direct tie between costs and performance.

The two models we see most often are pay-per-click (PPC) and pay-per-applicant (PPA). As more and more employers switch to performance-based media, job boards, aggregators, and other employment sites will be forced to consider these models or risk being left behind.

The reason employers are continuing to move towards pay-for-performance systems is because they’re more easily measured and tracked, and that allows recruitment marketers to optimize their spend through technologies and other best practices.

This is in line with the trend that the recruitment space closely follows the traditional advertising space. We’ll likely start to see employment sites begin to look more like publishers who sell ad space to brands and other businesses.


Q. When it comes to performance-based media, what role do data and analytics play in a staffing firm’s ability to influence their job advertisement ROI? What are some common obstacles they might face in realizing a greater ROI?

A. Data and analytics are critically important for any staffing firm interested in increasing their job advertisement ROI—and in turn, their gross margin.

Data and analytics help staffing agencies go beyond understanding what their average cost-per-click is, and helps them understand metrics such as conversion rates, applicant volume, and cost-per-applicant at the job level. This means, with the right technology, a staffing firm can understand exactly how much each individual job is costing them and what they’re receiving in return.

This turns recruitment into a numbers game and allows staffing firms to manipulate their job advertisements to meet their end goals. With End-to-End Analytics—or analytics that allow you to connect top-of-funnel job advertisement analytics with those produced through your ATS—staffing firms can even figure out metrics such as cost-per-placement and cost-per-hire.

When it comes to obstacles, I believe there is one obstacle that stands out above all others. Gathering usable analytics that provide actionable insights from job aggregators, job boards, and other employment sites (that may or may not have that data available) takes an enormous amount of time to put together, understand and take action against. As you add in additional sources of candidate traffic, as most staffing agencies do, understanding your job analytics as a whole requires that you download analytics from each dashboard you use, combine them into some sort of spreadsheet or pivot table, and then try to make sense of it all.

The fact is, while these analytics are often available; they are often very difficult to get your hands on and make sense of.


Q. What advice would you give to a staffing firm that was looking to improve recruiter efficiency? Is there a better way to manage this?

A. If staffing firms want their recruiters to become more efficient, then they will need to optimize their inbound talent strategies. When recruiters have a full pipeline of qualified talent at their disposal, it becomes easier for them to make matches and land placements.

Unfortunately, driving more talent to the positions you’re trying to fill can become very costly without the proper strategy in place to maximize applicant volume while lowering the associated costs.

The best way to manage this is to optimize your recruitment marketing strategy to provide your recruiters the talent they need at a lower cost, and once your recruiters have that then you can begin to focus on optimizing their individual processes to make their submissions more effective.


Q. There’s been a lot of M&A in this industry. Microsoft bought LinkedIn, Randstad bought Monster, CareerBuilder is for sale. What’s next? And what impact will this have on staffing industry players?

A. Consolidation happens in all industries, so the M&A we’ve seen over the last year isn’t shocking. It is important, however, because it means that major players in technology and recruitment are starting to see the value that recruitment marketing brings to businesses and staffing agencies.

What’s next? We’ll see shifts in the industry that are focused primarily on consumers first—the talent.

We see this with job aggregators and job boards adjusting their algorithms to provide job seekers with the best results possible. We see it with sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn who are looking to provide job opportunities through a different, candidate-focused angle. And I think innovations like these will abound as we move forward.