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People, Balance & Technology: The future of job boards

future of job boards(Note: Today’s guest post is by Felix Wetzel, Group Marketing Director for

Job boards are the number 1 channel for finding a job and for finding candidates. The recession has cemented this position even further. If you want to know more, have a look at Jobsite’s quarterly market tracker.

Whenever a brand establishes itself as the market leader, they become the primary target for scorn & envy and for a desire to replace them. The stronger they are, the more the Cassandra calls are based on emotion and dubious claims. Just look at Microsoft, Google…and yes, job boards.

It makes me smile when I hear that job boards are now the traditional means of recruiting – I remember the time 10 years ago, when we were laughed at. It makes me smile when I see the success and challenge of LinkedIn as the next generation job board (even though currently more useful for authentication) – it just shows that we are working in a very attractive, innovative market. It makes me smile when I hear that job boards will die – 10 years ago it was all about the disintermediation of the recruitment agency and instead of disappearing they grew stronger as they adapted their business models. And seriously, do people really believe job boards won’t evolve and instead just sit there and quietly fade away?

So much more than just a Job board…

Job boards might not be fashionable, but we certainly don’t stand still. Let me list just a few examples:

Search Engine Optimization – since before Google came to prominence, Jobsite (and others) always SEOed all vacancies and all corporate pages and still do now. Recruiters benefit from the link juice of our authority site.

Social Media integration – Job sites are obviously involved with social media, be it from Jobsite launching jobs-by-twitter, to Monster’s content feed and Dice’s integration..

Crowd sourcing – we introduced this before the term “crowd sourcing” existed – it ultimately uses data intelligently by recommending jobs based on the applications of people that applied for the same job. It’s always incredibly accurate and drives around 8% of applications.

Referral – peer-to-peer recommendations – another job board classic.  On we have a service called ‘email a friend’ – a candidate can send a job to a friend for consideration. In the first six months of this year nearly 300k of these peer to peer connections were made. These are significant numbers and without any prompting, without any time investment by any recruiter.

Mobile – 5% of’s total site visits come from mobile devices and this will continue to grow. Most interestingly though is the change in user behavior – peek times are changing and interactions are altering.

Behavioral targeting – That’s a really cool piece and currently my personal favorite: If a candidate comes to Jobsite and views a job posting but doesn’t apply and then moves to another site, an unobtrusive, lightly branded banner is displayed, listing the key details of the job they’ve just looked at as well as similar recommendations. That’s cool as it takes into account dynamic behavior and the workings of the unconscious mind.

…and so much more to come

But, this isn’t enough. We must evolve even further as the tectonic plates of change are moving in the underground – the last ten years were about the transfer of traditional methods onto a new technology, now the real structural changes are going to happen. There are several innovations and mash ups about to be launched and integrated which ultimately will reinforce job boards’ position as the primary way of engaging and connecting candidates to recruiters/hirer.

Instead of job boards I like to think about recruitment retailers – it clearly puts us into the recruitment arena whilst utilising a retail approach, especially to job seekers. Let me mention three underlying, logical and intrinsically linked principles that need to be addressed to thrive as a job board in the years to come:

People instead of ads

Currently job boards could be classified as advertising media, mostly servicing the hirer. That is short sighted, instead I suggest a focus on people – finding people to work with. This gives a common denominator for both the candidate and recruiter whilst at the same time opening up many more service modules and integrations, changing the focus of our communication and engagement messages and methods and ultimately putting the individual at the heart of it all. Instead of page views and applications, our primary performance metrics needs to be: how many people have found a job.


The hirer pays the bills and sites are often structured to fulfil their desires. But sustained growth can only be achieved through engaged candidates – they are the real drivers behind the revenues.  Job boards are the conduit, bringing simplicity to a complex world by connecting all the different recruitment channels but mainly by translating between candidate and recruiter and ensuring that a service works for both sites – otherwise it is doomed to failure. Let me give you a simple example: recruiters in the UK classify themselves by industry sector, the candidates however by location – it’s the job boards’ task to translate and link these different approaches in meaningful ways.


Job boards are technology businesses – which is kind of a given since we operate on the internet. It therefore surprises me how many boards do not invest into their technology and into their IT teams. I applaud Monster for their investment into 6Sense. At the same time, it is important for everybody to understand that we are dealing with people, so the data is unstructured in comparison to books et al. I could also call it “user generated content” – if the cooler terminology aids the understanding. We are dealing with people, so we want to make job seeking and finding as easy and as natural as possible – and squeezing them into classifications or making them fill out long questionnaires is the opposite.  Technology, and more importantly the use of technology, holds the answer and brings simplicity and elegance.

In a meeting yesterday, I heard the following: “If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less.” Job boards brought change to an entire industry, but job boards need to change and – most importantly – are changing. As a result job boards will be relevant for a long time to come.

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Felix

    Nice post and some good comparisons to the “cool” descriptions that are now in play. As you say, any decent business will evolve which includes job boards. I think your point about people is particularly interesting. Yes, the hirer pays for the advert BUT, if you as the service provider to both candidate and hirer do not make the matching process as easy as possible, then you are not doing your job. Interestingly you use retail as an example which I have also used for job boards and agencies. If, you can introduce a more “social” or “personal” service to the candidate then maybe the matching can be even better. An example of this, would be the Live Chat a “retailer” such as Dell offer during the buying process. I am sure that not everyone uses this but when a prospective customer is close to buying a product, that additional support can be the difference of a sale or not! I wonder if a job board could provide this type of support to candidates on behalf of clients? Maybe as a premium service? I think there are a lot of similarities between an e-tailer and a job board and this is where I think job boards can learn the kind of “social” features that are most relevant.

    The Number 1 issue hirers have regardless of channel is quality of applicants. The more you can do to improve this the more you will lead and others will follow! I’m not saying you become “social” for the sake of it but there are some great steps you can take that will help both of your customers.

    I wonder if the real measure is How many people found the RIGHT job?

    Just my thoughts…..


  2. Felix,

    Your article is dead on. As an owner of several Job Boards, we are constantly looking for ways to respond to the changing market and needs of both Job Seekers and employers.

    The future is bright for the Job Board industry who will morph their offerings to meet the demands of the market.

    Steven Carr

  3. I agree with your points Felix, particularly on personalisation, and the retail perspective. For me, disintermediation means removing obstacles from a process, and therefore getting from point A to B in a more effective and efficient manner.

    In my view there are still many obstacles to be removed in the path between the candidate and the employer. If recruitment agencies are still to be part of the process, then it would be better if they advertised on behalf of the employer, and in their name. Jobseekers really don’t need the brand of an agency pushed at them, to the dilution of the employer’s.

    Retail: Every time I enter a large department store, I am given the option of visiting every department, when I only ever want to food and menswear. Given the technology, why does every job board greet me every time with options to find vacancies in every job sector and every location. I only every want to see jobs in my location, and the same sectors I searched for last time.

    Career Mapping: Using the data from millions of registered candidates, it should be perfectly possible for a job board to predict where my career go next, as well as informing employers where their most suitable candidates are likely to come from.

    The future is bright, so long as obstacles keep being removed from the path between candidates and employers.

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