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Niche Job Boards: How They Are Integral to a Successful Recruitment Strategy


3/14/2011 8:27:08 PM

Niche Job Boards: How They Are Integral to a Successful Recruitment Strategy
By Suvarna Sheth, BioSpace

There’s been a lot of contentious chatter lately on the state of job boards as social media moves in. Some say job boards are waning in popularity, while others say they’re not going anywhere. The fact is the number of job boards are still proliferating and they are widely used by advertisement agencies and HR departments for many professions from retail to research. We speak to some industry insiders for their views on the importance of job boards in implementing an integrative recruitment strategy.

Bruce Dorskind, president of the Dorskind Group, a strategic consulting firm specializing in marketing communications, global recruitment, and business has seen the advertising recruitment industry evolve over decades, from one that relied 90% on print media to one that is dominated by digital media today. Dorskind claims there are over 10,000 job boards in the United States and probably 100,000 around the world, and growing.

“The big general job boards, Monster, Hotjobs and Career Builder were very important early on,” says Dorskind,” because they educated the public about the concept of a job board.” They were basically a game changer says the industry veteran. “What the big job boards did was it sold the American public the idea that a job board is a viable way to find a job.”

But today, 20 years into the concept of a job board, the market has changed, according to Dorskind. “Like every nascent market, it starts out in a very general way, and migrates to the specific,” he says.

In the beginning, Dorskind explains everyone from the person working behind the retail counter at Wal-Mart to the person developing next generation pharmaceuticals for Genentech went to the same job board. “Now, the market has moved from general to segmented and you have the opportunity to only deliver your message to the specific group of people you are interested in through a targeted job board.

The niche job board has managed to be a very successful model for many reasons. One is that it has allowed employers to get resumes or responses from people that are relevant. “And it allows you to pay for the candidates you are getting, while with a general job board, you’re paying for the entire audience, 95% of who aren’t qualified,” says Dorskind.

Still, not all niche job boards are successful. The ones that are, according to Dorskind are the ones that get their visitors involved, constantly produce fresh material, have current and real jobs and promote potential advertisers.

Dorskind says ad agencies and individual employers have five benefits to using niche job boards: you have a targeted audience, you can build a brand among the people you’re trying to reach, they tend to be far more cost efficient, they tend to be where you’re competitors are advertising, and they tend to do a better job reaching the passive job seeker than the general job boards.

Whether a particular recruitment strategy involves using large or niche job boards, Dorskind recommends ad agencies to use the strategy that meets their client’s needs most efficiently.

“Certainly if they’re looking for hundreds of people working in thousands of different locations for a retail store, then a strategy of being on a large job boards makes sense,” he notes.

The problem for ad agencies, according to Dorskind is that there are too many job boards, and there is too much noise in the marketplace and within given industries. “In healthcare, there are over 500 job boards and it’s impossible to keep up with all the new job boards unless it’s a dominant player in its market,” he adds.

Dorskind says niche job boards are a way to go for recruitment advertising. “I think in a world where technology is changing as quickly as ours and the options are as great as ours, there is no one solution,” he remarks.

Like Dorskind, Sean Quigley, senior director of digital media at Bernard HODES Group says it’s the obligation of the ad agency to do what’s best for the client.

Quigley, who works on building strategies for clients and formulating digital media plans based on a given budget and set of targets, says there’s definitely a shift going on in the recruitment world because of digital media.

And that’s why he says it’s not only about job postings at Hodes. “E-mail campaigns, banners, videos, as well as traditional job boards and niche job boards are all usually considered as part of a recruitment strategy,” he says, “It’s different for every client and there are more options on the table now so we’re looking to take advantage of everything we can,” he says.

According to Quigley, it’s also important to have strategy on some of the more generic boards because that’s where a lot of the target is ending up anyway. “On the other hand, we do see awesome results on more targeted job boards, which preform extremely well and rise to the top, delivering great results for certain accounts,” he states.

For example, for a large pharmaceutical client who was more engaged in science oriented candidates, Quiqley and his team did extremely well on BioSpace.com, using large posting packages and creating a very strong branding presence throughout the site including e-mail sponsorships and a continual presence on the BioSpace pages. “BioSpace was an extremely beneficial option for us to have; it really helped us reach our client goals,” he says.

Adele Mirabelli, a field sales representative within the healthcare division of onTargetjobs works with ad agencies to create media plans and posting packages for their healthcare clients.

She says the benefits to using a niche job board is quality vs. quantity. “Clients may not get as many candidates but the few that they do will be better qualified candidates,” she states.

Also, she says clients can get lost within a general job board. “They have so many more jobs and unqualified candidates and at times healthcare employers can get lost in the mix of all the other industries out there.”

Since niche job boards are focused and targeted to one industry, it makes it a lot easier for job seekers to find the jobs that they are looking for.

Mirabelli can’t say without a doubt that niche boards are more successful than larger boards because it depends on the client and the job advertisement. “A lot of factors come into play when it comes to measuring success for our clients and the job boards they use,” she says. However, with the economy picking up and recruitment opportunities on the rise, there is a need for better qualified candidates.

And when it comes to finding quality, Mirabelli is hearing that her clients are not finding it on general job boards like Monster. She finds that specifically healthcare employers are using niche job boards more because they are finding that the quality of the candidates is better.

Mirabelli says a lot of ad agencies use niche job boards for some of their client’s hard to fill vacancies because they find they can reach a higher caliber of job seekers through them.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about ROI and the quality of the candidates that they bring on board,” she says. Like Dorskind and Quiqley, she notes that ad agencies need to recommend the best solutions out there to ensure that their clients are performing as well as possible.

This is true today, especially when everyone is tightening their belts and spending less. “When budgets are being cut, ad agencies really need to focus on what is the best solution for their clients and how they can help their clients achieve the best ROI,” Mirabelli comments.

As for whether niche job boards are going to survive the rampant changes going on in digital media, Quiqley has no doubt. “Any site that’s able to attract a high value audience that is engaged in looking for jobs—that’s always going to be something that’s going to be valuable,” he notes.

“I don’t see any evidence for job boards becoming extinct,” Quiqley states, “While social media is powerful and is going to get more and more important, it’s a different function in terms of actually being a destination where someone in a given career can look for job openings,” he says.

The digital media expert says the business model for job placement on social media sites hasn’t really developed yet, and while the potential may be there, nothing compares to achieving goals in a measurable way than job boards, SEO, smart placement of advertising and e-mails to targeted candidates.

“None of them are going to be replaced,” he says, “there are different stages and audiences you’re simultaneously reaching with these tools, so none of the individual tactics are going to be completely ruled out because of social media,” he comments.

Check out the latest Inside Recruiter eNewsletter - March 16, 2011.

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