Simon Wright, director of CareersinAudit discusses the evolving role of job boards.

Board Game

As many in the recruiting world know, embracing and adapting to change – be that economic, market, company and or technological change – is how many operations have not only survived, but have continued to thrive in this competitive industry. Certainly, this is the case for those running job boards. Yet from time to time, those on the periphery seem to cast judgement as to whether job boards are dying breed or whether they can survive in the digital age.

As someone who has been working, running and expanding a stable of niche global job boards in the audit, risk, compliance and cyber security sectors, I, of course, have my own views! Having worked within the job board industry for over 16 years and having run the CareersinAudit group of job boards for 12 years, during this time, I have of course encountered challenges, which is par for the course.

Mostly it’s been about opportunities rather than the challenges and I’ve seen the company grow and expand significantly from the UK, then Europe, to then offering jobs in 99 per cent of the countries across globe. I feel for the time being I stand on reasonably solid ground to shout back to some of those doom-sayers. 

Back in the early-90’s the job board was born and it opened up a completely new channel to support the way we could recruit talent and for candidates to find new jobs. Since then there have been many more births of job boards. There have been marriages, divorces and a fair few deaths too. But then that’s the nature of business whichever industry you work in, so hardly an indicator of a dying breed.

Of course, some will be quick to point out the evolving threat of the tech giants such as LinkedIn, Indeed and Google for Jobs. Whilst undoubtedly, we have seen some shake up in the marketplace, that doesn’t mean to say all the smaller players and/or job boards in the recruiting world need to put down their swords and concede defeat to the recruitment Goliaths. 

Making job boards a primary focus 

During the past 25 years, there has been a steady flow of new job boards which have entered, expanded and diversified the marketplace. Some of those have been forced to shut up shop in a relatively short space of time. Whilst I am not here to analyse each and every one of their business models, I do believe that some of those who have set up or bought job boards as an add-on to other aspects of the business were on a road to nowhere or at least not very far. It’s not simply a case of creating a website and planting the jobs on. 

The success of a job board comes down to a range of factors but at the heart, investment – financial mostly, but crucially, time and the inclination to nurture and build your proposition are vital. Certainly, when the owners of CareersinAudit.com set up in 2005, more than £750,000 was invested in the first few years in the right technology and getting the services provided in front of the right people whilst providing additional reasons for them to visit and use the site. The raison d’etre for creating the business was to offer a very clear and distinct focus and a better range of jobs in the auditing world. It was not an add-on or an after-thought but 100 per cent focused on providing jobs for candidates and candidates for employers. 

The war on talent is a much talked about subject in the industry and investment in the right technology is essential to achieve an edge in this war. Search filters to hone in on region, job role, skills, experience etc (for both the candidate and the recruiter) needs to be the first priority as this will ensure a successful result for both groups of users. 

Go niche – go super niche 

Even with the rise of competition such as LinkedIn and Google for Jobs, there is definitely a future and a rosy one for some job boards. However, rather than offering a scattering of jobs across a wide range of different industries, the ones that are thriving and will continue to do so are those that choose to focus on one or a few inter-related industry sectors and feature a better choice of jobs and tailored content for the users. 

Don’t try to be a Jack of all Trades but certainly a Master of One or a Few. CareersinAudit.com was set up in response to the market driver to delivering more auditors in the wake of increased regulation because of the Enron scandal. We’ve responded to other market changes and business needs since then – particularly around risk management, compliance and mitigating against attacks in the cyber age. The hike in different requirements saw us act quickly and respond by establishing separate job boards in these areas. 

Is the price right?

Pricing of online recruitment advertising is essential to get right. Providing a focused and specialist professional service is likely to come with a premium price tag but it’s about getting the right balance. If the services provided are effective and are a viable alternative to other options, the pricing is right. The other end of the spectrum is having jobs posted among millions of others for a very low price, without any specialist focus or relevant content provided in support – well, you know what they say about monkeys and peanuts!  

 

Being more than a faceless brand

In the face of the digital age there is a need for candidates – and businesses too – to feel engaged and connected with the recruiter brand. Being an effective and functional job board goes only so far. And if all this sounds like a marketing jingo, then I can tell you these are bona fide views of real candidates and real business owners, that our teams on our job boards have spoken to and listened to over the past 15 years. Candidates certainly want a more personalised and targeted approach to the job search and support at different stages of their career to help them get their next promotion or land that new position. 

Right from the start we knew we didn’t want to be just ‘another aggregator of jobs’ or online pin-board for job openings, so we created a knowledge base on our sites, full of useful career information and invested in finding the top career experts in the industry to come on board to write guest slots and provide insight from the heart of the industry. In turn, the sites and brands are regularly recognised as a thought leaders on a range of issues across the industry, including ethics, gender and diversity, and even seemingly more light-hearted issues such as romance in the workplace and the best places to move abroad. 

Circling back – a combination of all these different issues will have an impact on the survival of individual job boards. However, I don’t believe for one moment ‘the breed’ is dying. There may be fewer generalist job boards and even niche ones without focus who lose their way, but there will be definitely be ones that will continue to evolve and flourish many years down the line.  

The group of job boards now includes: www.CareersinAudit.com, www.CareersinRisk.com,  www.CareersinCyber.com and www.CareersinCompliance.co.uk.

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