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More money: thinking about your job board’s revenue streams

One of the most popular posts I’ve written is about generating revenue. So my readers are interested in making money – go figure! A smart blogger would have immediately written more posts about revenue (and I did write a few) – but I felt that the subject had been pretty well covered.

I’ve changed my mind. Although I stand by the original post, I’ve decided that it’s worth revisiting the subject – if only to open up your mind a bit.

When thinking about how your job board can make more money, it’s useful to think about the different ways your site is used:

  • Jobs: your candidates come to the site to find work. So they’re looking for job listings, plain and simple.
  • Reference: candidates come to the site because of your great and compelling career-related content.
  • Community: candidates come to the site to commiserate with others of their professional/location/situation
  • Candidates: employers come to the site to find candidates (or ‘future employees’).
  • Visibility: employers use your site to raise their visibility in the candidate world (also known as ‘branding’)
  • Traffic: non-employer advertisers use your site to sell their stuff (or they use a 3rd party like Google Adsense)

So you can see that your job board has 3 audiences: candidates, employers, and advertisers. Not all job boards allow non-employer advertising, of course, but for the sake of this discussion, let’s say that yours does.

You understand why each audience uses your site. Now you can think about how to make money from each audience. One of the reasons I like thinking about revenue this way is that it gets you out of the ‘job postings and resume’ box. Sure, you can make money with those – but there are many other ways as well. Let’s take a look:

Candidates: Of course, you can charge candidates to view jobs (like TheLadders), but that’s not usually a good idea, since there is so much job content that is freely available. But here are some other ideas:

  • Provide value-added services, such as resume analysis, skills assessment,etc.
  • Provide special reports, for example a customized job market analysis (sort of like a Consumer Reports auto price report for a specific job title)
  • Provide services like insurancebuying clubs, etc. that are tied to a location or niche

Employers: Again, think like an employer who simply wants to connect with the best qualified candidates. What do they need?:

  • Visibility tools like a company profile page, ‘branded’ job postings, site ads, sponsorships, etc.
  • Connection tools like targeted emails to specific groups of candidates, webinars and white papers that target specific candidates, etc.
  • Qualification tools like skills assessment, screening questions, contests, etc.
  • Traditional tools like job postings and access to a resume database

Advertisers: These folks are selling stuff. So what do they want?:

  • Ad space: in the most targeted locations: on the web site, in the newsletter(s), in targeted emails, in Job Alerts, etc.
  • Analytics: don’t assume that advertisers have analytics; instead, provide it yourself (helps at renewal time, too)

I know that if you deconstruct your site using the ‘audience concept’, you’ll discover some ideas for improving your existing revenue streams – and perhaps even discover a few new ones!

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1 comment… add one

  • Dennis Gorelik

    August 21, 2013, 9:03 pm

    The main purpose of a job board is to match job seekers with job openings.
    From my observations, main revenue generation service of a typical job board is a lead generation (of candidates).
    That main revenue generation service could take the following forms:
    1) Job postings (to get leads in form of job seekers’ applications).
    2) Resume search (resumes are leads for potential match with job openings).
    3) Charging other job boards for advertising their jobs to job seekers (advertising can be either in form of sponsored jobs in search results, or in form of sponsored jobs in job search alerts).

    From my experience, services that are not directly tied to lead generation of candidates – generate relatively small revenue.
    The largest among remaining is advertising, which is somewhat similar to #3 above, but is done through AdSense instead of direct deals with other job boards.

    Jeff,
    From your industry observations, how big sources of revenue are “resume analysis, skills assessment,etc.”?
    I can see how LinkedIn turned “skills assessment” (by people in 1st degree network) into resume enhancement tool that improves quality of LinkedIn resume database which they sell.
    But I don’t see though how “skills assessment” can directly bring any meaningful revenue to a job board.

    Screening questions and contests: are recruiters ready to pay job boards for that?
    My impression is that even if there is a demand for such tools, it’s covered by applicant tracking systems.

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