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Branding: the biggest (little-known) benefit of job boards for any employer

brandingJob boards have become prisoners of their moniker. After all, a ‘job board’ is just an online bulletin board for ‘posting’ your electronic ‘job ad’, right?

Wrong. Job boards (and yes, I think I’m going to write a post pretty soon about alternative names!) began growing past that simple definition by 1999, if not before. Sure, they were places where employers could search candidate resumes (and if it was a niche board, then very specific types of candidates were gathered up). An employer could post a job, too. But some of the smarter job boards AND employers quickly realized that there was an even bigger benefit to a regular presence on specific sites: branding.

Before I go any further, let me suggest a working definition for branding in recruitment: the reputation/image/’slot’ the employer holds in its prospective employees’ minds. In other words, some employers have a brand that is ‘cool’ and ‘progressive’. Other have one that is ‘top-down’ and ‘hierarchical’. We’re talking ‘big brands’ here like Google, Apple, and so on.

But honestly, the vast majority of employers have no brand at all. Candidates don’t hold a positive or negative opinion of them – in fact, if they have one at all, it’s the result of fragmented and often inaccurate data from ads, colleagues, friends, and the media.

So what can an employer do? 

One key action is to use job boards to actively build and manage their employer brand. After all, what are job boards good at? Concentrating and exposing a candidate audience to the employer! In essence, job boards act as marketing channels for employer branding.

How can employers use job boards for branding? Here are several ways:

  • Use a consistent look and feel for all job postings
  • Send targeted emails and text messages to candidates promoting the core reputation, benefits, and uniqueness of the employer
  • Own some of the job board’s  ‘real estate’ – a consistent home page presence, or ongoing messaging inside the job alerts, or….
  • Use repetition and multiple delivery methods (email, web, text, career fairs, etc.) to build the employer brand in the job board’s audience. Make those candidates yours.

Well, if employer branding is something job boards can do well, why isn’t every job board out there marketing ‘employer branding solutions‘ to their clients? And – more importantly – why isn’t this benefit more widely known among employers?

A few reasons, I think:

  • Many job boards simply don’t see themselves as anything but a ‘job post’ site. (And as you might guess, I think that’s a very dangerous point of view for them!)
  • Boards that do have employer branding packages don’t understand the true value of these offerings for their employers – so they sell them as an afterthought
  • The industry as a whole has done a poor job of selling employer branding as a key benefit for all employers

Nothing is static, however. Just because employers don’t see job boards as a powerful tool for recruitment branding now doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future. You have the power to change them. Offer useful and effective employer branding packages. Market them. And most importantly, understand that a job board is not just a place to post jobs.

That’s so 1999.

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Great post! The term “job board” dates back to the days when we had dial up BBS systems, which were actually an electronic replacement of the internal job boards that many companies had in the break room to pin up open job positions.

    Job Board is certainly a generic term that needs a vernacular revision, as today’s larger and successful “job boards” are dynamic and social and provide communities, news, content, conversations and many other offerings to their visitors besides just job postings.

    Quite a number of the larger career destination sites offer Employer Branding solutions, but sometimes it’s difficult to convince employers to step out of the “Search & Post” box and think about purchasing mobile apps, targeted branding email blasts, interstitial advertising, and other recruitment branding products. They buy based on activity.

    Over the last few years, with reduced budgets and a lackluster hiring market, employers have moved away from spending recruitment dollars to brand their company. Rather, they are looking for a direct ROI on the candidate flow into an ATS to justify the expense. Job boards, career networks like, and aggregators like Juju, Indeed, etc. are still measured on views, clicks, applies, and the hires that are generated of a result of those activities.

  2. Thanks as always for the insights Jeff. ‘Job Board’ is a limiting term but everyone knows what a job board is even if their definition is a little narrow it’s still a good starting point. We’ve thrown around some other terms and would love to expand this label though without having to re-educate the world. We always come back to the core ‘thing’ that a job posting is and that is ‘media’ or ‘online media’ or ‘online job media’ or…ah, you get the point.

    Job Media Site
    Job Media Board
    Job Site (but risks sounding like a construction job site)
    Job Media Website
    Job Marketing Board
    Job Distribution Site


  3. Hi Jeff,

    very interesting thoughts as always. This is an area that Madgex are starting to see gain some real momentum, especially over the last 12 months. I’ve been traveling around Europe a fair bit lately and this topic comes up time and time again.

    It’s clear that employers are taking far more control over how they are advertising & marketing their roles and looking for channels and services beyond simply posting a job. I’ve seen countless examples of in-house recruiters creating fantastic content to support their recruitment advertising strategy and carefully considering how they use this content to attract the right candidates.

    I think job boards in general are starting to recognize that the demands of employers are changing and their technology needs to adapt accordingly. I’m sure that during the next 12 months we will start to see some changes and increased levels of services to help employers leverage their brand more effectively.

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