I still remember the urgent email and meeting request subject line: Urgent! Job Ad Review. There were over 40 names copied on this message, many of which I had never seen before. It was your standard corporate emergency call with a dozen extra people on mute.
I found out in the emergency meeting that the chaos began with one click. All that boasting from vendors about “one-click automation” sounds great until you understand the ramifications, it turns out. In this case, one-click sent a job posting that was supposed to be on just ten job boards to over 60.
While a traditional marketer would be excited about free distribution, this particular recruitment marketing team was not impressed. Instead, they were pissed off.
They insisted there would be a measurable negative impact on their employer brand. As we quietly listened, the what-if list kept growing with more angry questions about an interesting predicament.
Digging Deep: 5 Job Board Trends Job Ad Buyers Should Know
For some awful reason, I was then handed a large spreadsheet. For each job board, I was to visit and assess ten metrics to offer a score. I would research traffic data, who owned the job board, how they made money, etc. Then, I would assign a “brand threat level” – low, medium, or high.
People wonder why I quit corporate America. No one should have to visit 60 job boards in one day. It’s enough to make your brain rot. Just talking about this project again makes me want to clear my cookies. You should have seen the terrible remarketing these sites used after my day of job board dumpster diving…
After about 40 or so, I observed some job board trends anyone who pays for recruitment job ads should know.
- Job boards are really ugly. A lot of them look like they were built in 1999. Lesson: When using an API to distribute content, send plain text or it will look like a computer chewed on your job posting.
- Job aggregators saw less traffic than niche boards. That surprised me. I also saw a downward trend in traffic (although recent news would suggest they aren’t hurting for that today.) Most saw 3-5% traffic drops month-over-month while niche boards were growing.
- Job boards focused on specific niches seem to be winning the traffic game, especially tech only job boards. I was shocked at the significant traffic data behind some of the no-name job boards.
- Free classifieds are totally still a thing. I know you’ve moved on to Facebook Marketplace, but there are also millions of people using classified ad job sites. Lesson: Don’t go back to the aggregators. Try out classifieds and niche job boards you’ve never heard of before.
- People are making incredible traffic numbers off publishing the same site to multiple niche named domains. I don’t know how but we’re talking millions of views a month. Lesson: Build distribution partnerships and hit various networks to maximize top of the funnel traffic for high volume, low retention jobs.
Ad Buyers, Get Smart.
After hours on those job boards, ultimately we assessed no tangible impact on their employer brand. I doubt anyone would have let me say anything else. Recruiting firms aren’t qualified, or paid enough, to tell the truth about employer brands anyhow.
If I were paid to speak up back then, I would have told them that this was a mistake. It was also an opportunity to see if more diverse or unique candidates might get through the top of the funnel.
More importantly, I would have explained it was never an emergency in the first place. Employer brand isn’t solely reliant on what people see out in the world. When it’s done right, it’s part of your fabric. No job ad can steal that away.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.