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How to make money – job board revenue models

job board revenue modelsI’ve been cataloging job board revenue models for the past two years (for obvious reasons), and frankly, I’ve been surprised at how many sites rely on candidates for their primary revenue stream. Making money, of course, is always a primary focus for job board operators; after all, job boards are businesses, and if businesses don’t turn a profit, they disappear.

So inevitably, anyone entering the industry will ask: “Which job board revenue model should I use?” The answer is, well, both simple and complicated. But the bottom line is to solve your customer’s problems – right?:

Simple: Job boards have two core audiences: employers and job seekers. So most job sites will focus on one of those two groups – and most will choose the employer. Why? The employer has the ability to pay and the need to fill. Yes, as noted above, some sites focus on job seekers – but for every 1 site that is a ‘candidate-pay’ site, there are 10 that are ’employer-pay’.

Complicated: Ok, enough of the easy stuff. The devil is in the details! Let us chronicle the many ways that job boards charge employers and job seekers for their services.


  • Job postings: far and away the most common revenue source
  • Resume access: the most typical ‘#2’, although the advent of LinkedIn and other social media have made this less popular
  • Highlighted job listings: Enhanced with fonts, images, search results location, and so on
  • Site advertising: Banners, buttons, tile ads, and everything in between – the traditional web-based visual ad
  • Company profiles: Enhanced, with logos, video, you name it – a spotlight on the employer
  • Targeted candidate emails: A custom email that is sent to a subsection of the registered job seeker lists
  • Newsletter advertising: Text or image (if, of course, the job board has a newsletter!)
  • Social media extensions: This can be as grand as the new Dice Talent Network or as simple as ‘Tweeting’ the employer’s jobs
  • Cross posting: Often included in the base price, but sometimes an add-on; job board posts the employer’s jobs to additional locations
  • Packages: Combining any of the above elements

Job seekers:

  • Membership fee: some sort of monthly or annual fee to access job listings and (possibly) related services
  • Visibility: promotes the job seeker’s resume in some way to increase the likelihood an employer will respond
  • Reports, etc.: Usually e-books on job hunting, interviews, resumes, salary surveys, etc.
  • 3rd party services: the classic example is the resume writing service; the job board will take a revenue split of what the 3rd party makes

Then there are what I would term as ‘miscellaneous’ job board revenue streams: AdSense, affiliates, and other types of revenue usually associated with how much activity the site generates.

What did I miss? What other job board revenue models do you know? Tell me!

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This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Hi Jeff,

    The ability to monetize Job Seeker audience is going to be very important for job boards, yet there has not been much success with this endeavor (except maybe The ladders). Do you have any more specific examples of ways job boards are trying to monetize the job seeker? Any success stories with actual revenue numbers out there. And finally, what do you think the job seeker needs today in their search and what would they be willing to pay for?

  2. Hi, Jeff. I just can’t see how sites that charge the job seeker can generate revenue. Even with the Ladders, where the target market is executive level job seekers, I just can’t see it. Moreover, why would job seekers pay, if they have 10 times the number of choices of sites that are free (because they charge the employer)? But of course, the elephant in the room for my argument (that it doesn’t make is sense) is the fact that there are plenty of job boards out there that do charge, as you point out, and somehow continue to exist. Anyway, good post, really enjoyed it.

  3. After years of serving job listings to job seekers, all they (the job seekers) are interested in are finding jobs. If you charge them money to search jobs, they could easily search for job openings elsewhere. Charging employers for a job listing, seems to me to be the customary route for earning an income from your job board. So unless employers want to invest in starting a job board or a job search website, it may seem to be a better option if they post jobs on a job board and wait for job seekers to respond.

  4. Hi Jeff,
    Thanks a bundle for taking the time and effort to write this article – really appreciate it.
    Am just in the process of setting up my jobboard and am keen to discover the best ways to monetize… you’ve given me several great ideas… particularly the one on spotlighting job-seekers.
    Thanks again,

  5. This is GREAT information. Thank you. Do you have any numbers dollars and number of job seekers paying at these job boards that do charge job hunters? I am starting a Niche job board and we are planning on charging the Job Hunter and Employer. I am trying to make revenue and conversions to payment estimates for my business plan. Thank you for any insight. I have a membership of over 25000 members and need to estimate how many will post resumes to my job board and how many will be willing to pay a fee?

  6. Very good information guys. The difficulty with the Job boards is that we have to target two different markets (the employers and the job seekers).

    I would advice creating a microsite, one for each target market. This will help you do your SEO better, but also to sell and advertise to the right target market.

  7. HI,
    I am also in the same market and I was wondering how do such sites as or many other, how do they cross post the jobs on so many high profile networks like SimplyHired, Yahoo, Indeed and so on, when their clients post there jobs for free? What kind of script is needed for such a venture?

  8. Nice post. Am also curious to know how these jobs get cross-posted to glassdoor, simplyhired, etc? I see the same job listings on many different sites. Is there some kind of a robot/indexer that automatically makes these available? I’m interested in the microsite area to specific domains to keep it clean; this is getting way out of hand now.



  9. what a great post! This is exactly what am looking for. In my own opinion, i feel making money from your job board depends on your traffic. In nigeria job seekers hardly pay to view job listings as there are hundreds of sites that will display that same job listing for free like my site in the long run site that offer free listings to job seekers get more traffic and don’t about most employers websites housing their own job vacancies if you are going the route of charging employers. I use adsense, chikita and soon infolinks. Charging for training resources is another idea. I will try out your other suggestions. Thanks

  10. Thank you for the article – the revenue streams are covered really well! Just like many people in comments pointed out it is a bit unorthodox to charge job-seekers, and in all honesty I wouldn’t do that either. Maybe for some premium services but definitely not for the general access to the jobs that are posted.

    Another thing that is really interesting in this business is the traffic dynamics based on the general state of the economy. In down times job boards might experience a huge amount of traffic coming in from job seekers, and a low job post supply – that is the time to monetize on adds! On the other hand when the economy is up an companies are actively hiring – that is when most of revenue will come in from charging for job listings. Win – Win

  11. This is a little different, but our membership organization only charges when you make a placement as a result of a posting on our site. It is what we call a “contingent job board.”

  12. You have to have an ongoing site promotion plan, utilizing SEO, SEM, email, etc. One challenge for your site is that you’re using Jobamatic, so you’ll have more trouble ranking highly with the search engines. But the key is promoting the site all the time – not just in bursts.

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