Job Board Journalist: Finding Traffic

Peter Weddle

There’s been plenty of commentary about the increased importance of job boards’ building out portfolios of talent acquisition products and services. This so-called “solution stacking” makes it easy for recruiters to assemble the precise set of tools and resources needed to meet their unique recruiting challenge. The solution only works, however, if the tools and resources are applied to the precise population of talent they seek. Addressing that requirement is a growing challenge which job boards can now meet with not one, but two alternative strategies.

But first, it’s appropriate to ask why employers even need “solution stacking”? The answer is best summarized with data reported recently by LinkedIn – in a survey of recruiters, it found that 56 percent of the respondents expected their recruiting workload to increase this year, while 66 percent expected their recruiting team to stay the same size or shrink. In the face of those two cross currents, recruiters have less and less time to buy Solution A from one vendor and Solution B from another. They want to do their shopping at a one-stop shop. Think of it as the “big boxification” of the TA solutions market.

But having a big box full of talent acquisition tools is worthless unless they can be used with a talent population that meets employers’ needs. So, it’s also appropriate to ask what kind of talent do they need? That answer is clear: employers don’t need more active job seekers. They get plenty of those at their own corporate career site. Not every employer, to be sure, but even small and mid-sized employers with an intern’s level of social media marketing skill are now attracting more applicants than they can handle.

What’s not in the mix? Well, obviously, it’s the passive prospect. The person who is not actively searching for a new job but who might be coaxed into accepting one if it’s the right opportunity. The real question for job boards, then, is how do you reach that cohort of the workforce?

Today, the most prevalent approach is arbitrage – buying traffic from someplace else. Usually, that’s meant aggregators or networks of other job boards. In the past, it’s also been a hit or miss proposition, but not anymore. The recent addition of programmatic tools makes it possible to buy potential candidates in a much more targeted way. In essence, a job board can now acquire exactly the right talent its advertisers need to optimize the application of the site’s recruitment tools.

“Talent Stacking”

Arbitrage can work, but it’s not the only way to find traffic. There’s also a second approach which, ironically, has been around for many years in the job board segment of the industry. I call it “talent stacking.” Health eCareers™ recently announced an alliance which illustrates the approach. The site has partnered with the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants, the country’s only certifying organization for physician assistants (PAs). As a result, it will now be able to post PA-specific jobs on the Commission’s PA-C Career Center, thus giving it access to a new and rich pool of talent.

This development is interesting on two fronts:
• First, it leverages an under-utilized talent resource. Professional societies and associations have some of the most qualified, passive talent in the workforce among their members, and yet they are an afterthought at best among recruiters. Why? Because most associations are terrible at marketing their asset. All too often, they assign their career centers to overworked staffers who have little or no expertise in promoting talent to employers and recruiters. This partnership, then, is a win-win for both Health eCareers™ and the Commission – it gives the site access to great talent, and it gives the Commission a way to better serve its members and make some additional non-dues revenue.
• Second, in most cases, a job board can access this passive, association-based talent either for free (the association sees it as a no-cost way for it to provide employment opportunities for its members) or through a revenue-share deal. Either way, there’s no out-of-pocket cost. In addition, it’s a wide-open market. Sure, there are already a number of such partnerships in place, but there are literally tens of thousands of professional societies and associations in the U.S. (think the Society of Professional Engineers, the Society of African-American Professional Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Society of Professional Engineers in Indiana and so on), so there’s no lack of opportunity to find and secure their talent pools.

Of course, talent stacking isn’t the best strategy for every site. Some job boards, especially those with a broad or general purpose focus, may find that it involves too much negotiation and CRM to be cost-effective.

In addition, forging the partnership is only half of the strategy. The other half involves its implementation. To be truly effective, the association relationship must become a central and widely promoted feature of a job board’s brand. Instead of camouflaging the channel a job board uses to find traffic – the practice at many of the sites that use arbitrage – it should trumpet its partnership to its current and prospective customers. Talent stacking doesn’t look like the fix to a problem, but instead like the proactive addition of a site enhancement.

Food for thought,

The Job Board Journalist by Peter Weddle is brought to you by TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.

Mark Your Calendars! TAtech’s 2017 events include:
• April 22-23, 2017 Chicago: The TAtech Spring Congress & Deal Center, with The Business Accelerator for insights on your customers’ spending trends, practices and needs.
• May 17-19, 2017 Barcelona: RecTech, The TAtech Industry Congress in the EU in partnership with the AIM Group.
• May 31-June 1, 2017 Minneapolis: The TAtech Leadership Summit on Programmatic Ad Buying, featuring two tracks: Programmatic Ad Buying Applications & Programmatic Ad Buying Technology.
• September 27-29, 2017 Denver: The TAtech Fall Congress & Deal Center, with The World Job Board Forum and the 2017 ReSI Awards Gala.

  • Theron Claude

    And for local or geographically focused job boards maybe partner with local Chambers of Commerce or other local business organizations…

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