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Not *another* bleeding job board! …or… How to differentiate yourself from your competitors

job board competitionEver wonder about job board competition? Depending on who you talk to, the phase of the moon, and the price of corn in Iowa, there are roughly 50,000 to 100,000 job boards out there. Yes, really. Why so many? There are a lot of reasons (low barriers to entry, continued demand, margins), but what this really means is that if you run a job board, you have job board competition. Above you, below you, next to you – you could argue that the online recruiting sector reflects capitalism at its most Darwinian.

Well, guess what? This is the world that most businesses have lived in for a long time. Shoe stores, pharmacies, dentists, software – you name the segment and you’ll find lots of competitors. In each segment/geographic area/sector, you’ll also find some businesses that are thriving. Everyone knows about them. Everyone at least thinks about buying from them. And their competitors are complaining about them.

These companies have learned to differentiate themselves.

This is a lesson that every job board yearning to succeed must absorb. Basically, you have to stand out from every other ABCJobs site. You have to gain visibility. You have to gain an audience. And you have to become a known quantity. (I mean that in the positive sense, of course!).

Let’s break it out. What must you do to differentiate your job site?:

  • Keep it understandable: Even if your site offers 30 different options for employers and a bevy of tools for candidates, you have to boil the basic value proposition to something simple and understandable. If you don’t, you’ll just confuse your audience.
  • Make it visual: Repeat after me: your site deserves a logo. It needs a logo. It needs a clean, professional logo. Not something your brother scrawled on his iPad. Your audience sees. They have visual memory. And you want them to remember your site! (And yes, the same goes for the rest of the site design. No short cuts.)
  • Be creative – and honest: I’m not talking ‘wacky marketing’ here – no baby bunnies or cartoon characters (unless those happen to be your niche). Instead, think about what your audience of employers and candidates would find interesting, amusing, or cool. Speak their language. Get inside their world. This will give your site a ‘personality’  that no amount of off-the-shelf, standard ad agency ‘creative’ can ever provide.
  • Be consistent: Are you getting bored with your logo? Your messaging? Your promos? Well, if they’re working – keep doing them. Don’t confuse your own opinion with your audience’s – they don’t look at your site day in and day out. Remember – your prospects need to see your messages 6-10 times before they actually ‘see’ them.
  • Spend money – wisely:  Remember the old adage about you have to spend money to make it? It’s true. You have to spend dollars on SEO, SEM, (sometimes) shows, salespeople, and all sorts of other things. But that doesn’t mean throwing money out there. Each time you put money on the table, have a good idea of what you should get back. If you don’t get it, stop spending there and move it elsewhere.

The real bottom line? You’re building a brand when you differentiate. You’re moving past the category of ‘another bleeding job board’ and into the rarefied air of ‘my hiring solution’. Brands typically make more money, grow faster, and command higher prices when they’re sold.

I’m betting that you want your site to be a brand. Go for it!

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