Go Positive to Best the Competition

Peter Weddle

Contemporary culture is awash in negativity. Discussions and debates have turned into shouting matches. Opinions and commentary have been transformed into snark. Today’s definition of a positive interaction is a smiley emoticon … and job boards can best the competition by doing better than that.

Job boards are online publishers. Always have been, always will be. That’s different than saying they’re in the classified advertising business. Or, the AdWords business. Sure, those ads are important. They pay the bills. They are not, however, the only content a job board publishes. Or at least, they shouldn’t be.

Most job boards have always recognized that they need to be more than a virtual version of the old-fashioned Help Wanted section in newspapers. Historically, they’ve published additional content, but it was viewed as an ancillary product. Of secondary or less importance. Basically, it was – and remains – content about how to write a resume, endure an interview and make a good impression with recruiters. Useful, sure, but hardly differentiating. And definitely not the kind of content that gets people talking or attracts them to a site, even if it’s promoted on social media.

So, what other kind of content should a job board publish?

The kind that will sell employers. Yes, yes, I know – employers are advertisers, so the content they want to see are the ads for which they’ve paid. That’s true … but it’s only half the answer.

What advertisers are really paying for is to have those ads reach talent, and the talent population, as we all know, is not homogeneous. Some persons of talent are actively looking for a job, so ads are exactly the content they want to see; the majority, however, are not active and call them what you will – passive, curious, purple squirrels or something else – their content interests are very different.

They could care less about job search tactics and strategies. And, in most cases, they will not be attracted to a site by its job postings. They don’t think of themselves as job seekers, nor do they act like one. They’re not likely, for example, to visit Google to search for a job or to post their resume for friends to see on Facebook.

So, how do you reach them?

Publish the kind of content that’s rarely found in today’s culture AND which encourages the reader to feel good about themselves. In fact, I would argue that the best way for job boards to reset their image as innovative online destinations would be to rebrand their sites as the place for positive content.

What does that content look like? It can, for example, be crowdsourced information and insights that are out of the norm because they are different from what’s found on most other sites AND positive in both tone and subject.

Take Dice’s recent Ideal Employer Study. It didn’t ask:
• Why does your current employer turn you off – share the dirt
• How stupid is your boss – rate them on a scale of 1 to 10
• What do you hate most about your job – release your inner troll
Quite the contrary – it asked respondents to identify the ideal employers in key segments of the economy and to specify the attributes that made them special.

Alternatively, someone on your own team might blog about such topics as:
• 5 great career opportunities in today’s job market – here’s how to find them
• Getting ready to be a boss – the 3 secrets to success
• Everyone has a calling – here’s how to find yours.

Regardless of how it’s created, the goal of such a content strategy is to publish only what’s uplifting and helpful and always what’s respectful of the reader and everyone else.

That’s challenge enough, to be sure, but it’s only half the battle. For positivity to be embedded as a legitimate attribute in your site’s brand, it has to be promoted continuously to your site’s users. Your job ads are publicized with email and text messaging and on social media, and its positive surveys and posts must be given the same visibility. Said another way, you have to go positive and be positively passionate about telling others you have.

Food for thought,

TAprose and Job Board Journalist are brought to you by TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.

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