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Are you a recruitment marketing platform…or a recruitment software solution?

confusionAs an alternative to the dreaded ‘what is a job board‘ discussion, I think it’s worthwhile to ask this question instead: Is your business a recruitment marketing platform, or a recruitment software solution?


Let me explain. Historically, the vast majority of job boards existed because employers did a poor job of letting candidates know about their job openings. (And, to be quite honest, not a lot has changed on the employer side – but I will leave that for another day). Job boards sprang from the loins of newspaper classified ads and the internet – they promoted job ads to candidates, and employers paid them for it. In essence, job boards were (and still are) specialized recruitment marketing platforms. Their essential function was to advertise those jobs, to lure in customers (i.e., job seekers), and push those customers to a specific consumer (i.e., the employer). Nice, simple model – in fact, so nice and simple that at least 80% of the job boards, aggregators, and other job-board-like entities continue to follow this model.

In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (Although the number of times I have seen startups launch by saying ‘job boards/hiring/everything is broken – and we’ll fix it’ is, well, mind boggling). Yes, job boards have made improvements in on-site search and so on – but the job ad promotion model is still at the core of the service. Think about it – despite Indeed’s claim to be ‘an end to end hiring solution’, most of the solution lies in the front end – promoting job ads to job seekers.

There’s absolutely no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed if your job board/etc. falls into the recruitment marketing platform category. In fact, there’s a $20 billion market out there that says it’s a-ok!

But what if your answer is different? What if you are a recruitment software solution? Well, first of all, let me define it (after all, I’m writing this, so I get to set the terms!). A recruitment software solution is, first and foremost, reliant on its software in solving the employer’s ‘hiring ineptness’ problem. Whereas the recruitment marketing platform focuses on marketing and the job promotion model, a recruitment software solution may tackle the ‘connecting candidates to employers’ problem in a variety of methods, all of them reliant on various implementations of software.

But, but…isn’t a job board just a piece of software? Yes, but – it’s a piece of software that (in general) always does the same thing: it promotes job ads to candidates.

A recruitment software solution could be a sourcing tool, like Hiretual, or a matching tool, like Scouted, or a true ‘end to end’ recruiting platform that goes from job ad promotion all the way to onboarding. What’s the connective tissue in all of these ‘not-job-boards’? It’s specialized software that goes beyond the traditional job ad promotion model – sometimes reaching deeper into the employer’s whole employment cycle, or sometimes just flipping the model by connecting candidates to employers that they didn’t know about.

You may say, ‘Big deal. This is all semantics.’ And to a point, I agree with you. But words do matter. They affect how you think about and run your business. So if you say to yourself, ‘We run a recruitment marketing platform’, then guess what…you will focus your efforts on marketing. But if you say, ‘We’re a recruitment software solution’, then you will probably give yourself a wider scope – marketing, sure, but also assessment, matching, screening, onboarding, and so on.

I’d encourage you to think a bit about which model your business follows – and if it makes sense. Who knows – maybe you thought you were one thing, and in fact, you  were the other!

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