Job boards – both traditional and non-traditional – have historically had one primary purpose in life: to bring candidates and employers together. For the traditional boards, that meant advertising – lots of it. Think Monster’s Superbowl ads – or (more currently) Indeed’s omnipresent ads on radio. Those ads did several things: they made candidates aware of the site; they drove traffic to the site; and they helped differentiate the site from all the other job boards out there.
Advertising costs money – and it is most effective if it is frequent, action-oriented, and visible to the target audiences. So sure, you can run tons of ads for not much money on farm-oriented radio at 3 AM – thus getting your frequency – but your ads will probably not be particularly visible to your target audience (unless, of course, that audience is farm-oriented and up late at night!). The job boards that did the most advertising tended to be generalist sites, like Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, and so on. They were trying to reach anyone and everyone that might want a job. So their advertising looked a lot like typical consumer advertising – almost everyone needs toothpaste, and almost everyone needs a job.
Niche sites – both then and now – didn’t have the luxury of advertising to a mass market. One, they didn’t have the money, and two, they didn’t want to reach everyone – they just needed to reach their specific part of the market. So they had to get creative. Trying to reach traveling nurses? Focus on websites that act as social ‘hubs’ for them, where they swap stories and compare hospitals. Tap into professional associations. Run targeted ads on social networks like Facebook. Test local radio serving areas with big teaching hospitals. And so on. In other words, instead of a wide net, use a carefully baited hook.
But the sector has become more crowded – sourcing tools aggregated candidate data and helped recruiters actually find candidates that matched specific profiles; professional networks appeared – essentially niche versions of LinkedIn; and programmatic advertising promised to put ads wherever the candidates might be found. Does the old model of advertising to draw candidates still make sense?
Well…yes and no. After all, who’s blasting the candidates with massive amounts of advertising right now? The #1 job site in the world, Indeed. Who else? That scrappy up and comer, ZipRecruiter. Who else? A rejuvenated Monster. Why are they doing this? For the same reason this technique has been historically used: candidate discovery. After all, the average candidate is not a professional job searcher – they don’t necessarily have a clear idea of what resources are out there, or how to look for a job. All they know is: a) the job market is panting for candidates; and b) their current employer isn’t good enough. So they fall back on advice from friends, a Google search (and we all know what pops up when they look for jobs now in Google), and what they hear and see on the media they consume. In other words – ads.
And even niche sites and services can benefit from advertising to candidates – if they target the advertising. No mass mailings, no Superbowl ads, no ads during ‘The Big Bang Theory’. But…targeted mailings to association members, radio to the right demographic, retargeted ads to the same, Facebook ads, and so on. Advertising can be how a small site gets bigger, and a niche leader cements their position.
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