Job Board Journalist: Competing in a Crowded Market

Peter Weddle

Peter Weddle is taking a little time off this week, so we’re reprising one of his more popular columns from earlier this year.

Job boards already face an extremely crowded market, and new sites are coming online by the day. How does a site compete in such a jam-packed environment? Customers have to see a job board as having two defining characteristics. One is a precondition for achieving success; the other is a differentiator which determines its level of success.

Let’s begin with some context. By my count, there are at least 150,000 job boards now in operation worldwide. Wait a week, and that number will probably grow by another 50 or 100 sites. Wait another week, and it’ll happen again.

These new entrants are introduced with sweat equity and some capital from family and friends or launched with funding from angel investors and private equity firms. They’re even kludged together in someone’s spare bedroom with a job-board-in-a-box product.

There are no barriers to entry in the job board market, so it continues to be an expanding universe of new and old sites, all competing for the same set of customers. Which begs the question: how does a job board survive let alone prosper in such a jam-packed space?

The answer involves two steps. A successful job board will develop a credible brand and then convince employers that it accurately defines the site’s recruitment capability. Unlike in the (less crowded) past, however, that brand must now incorporate two elements. In effect, the site must create a bimodal value proposition and get customers to believe it’s real.

A Bimodal Value Proposition

A crowded market demands a more complex brand than simply being known as the source of a certain kind of talent. It’s no longer sufficient to brand a job board as a place where employers and recruiters can find candidates for sales or IT or finance and accounting positons or for openings in this city or that region or even this country. There are just too many other sites out there with similar “brands” to give such a value proposition any traction with customers.

What’s required in a crowded market is a bimodal brand – one with both an attribute that makes it credible as a source of talent and an attribute that differentiates it from other capable sites. The former is a prerequisite for a site’s success; the latter determines just how successful it will be.

Obviously, the first and most important attribute a job board brand is to be recognized as an effective source of talent in the demographic on which it’s focused. It has to deliver what customers see as an adequate flow of relevant candidates for those sales or IT or finance and accounting positions or for those openings in this city or that region or even this country. It has to meet customer expectations at least as well as and, in the best of all cases, better than its competitors.

While that attribute was sufficient for success in the uncrowded market of the past, it doesn’t make the grade in today’s elbow-to-elbow environment. It does not ensure a site will be successful enough to remain competitive and grow over time. Said another way, a site cannot survive and prosper simply by being good at what it does.

To achieve long term durability, a site must have a second brand attribute – one that acts as a success multiplier. In effect, the site must be a good source of talent and stand for something that customers value as especially useful or worthwhile. It must be seen as effective AND different from its peers in a meaningful way.

What constitutes such an attribute?
• It could be a metric – a job board might brand itself as the site with the fastest time-to-fill posted openings.
• It could be the recruiter’s experience – a job board could define itself as the site with the best customer service.
• It could be capability – a site might offer a pay for performance aggregator in its demographic specialty as well as traditional duration based advertising.
This ancillary aspect can be almost anything as long as it’s real and valued by a site’s customers.

In today’s crowded market, it’s not enough to generate applications from candidates. A job board has to be good at delivering talent and memorable for a reason that’s important to employers and recruiters. When a site assumes both of those attributes and effectively articulates them to customers, it’s in the right positon to succeed no matter how many competitors it faces.

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 & 2018 events include:
• September 27-29, 2017 Denver: The TAtech Fall Congress & Deal Center, with The World Job Board Forum and the 2017 ReSI Awards Gala.
• March 13-14, 2018 Dublin, Ireland TAtechEurope 2018, The TAtech Industry Congress in Europe – the premier event for recruitment technology thought & business leaders worldwide.
• April, 2018 in Las Vegas: The TAtech Spring Congress & Deal Center. See the 2017 conference details here.
• June 5-6, 2018: The TAtech Leadership Summit on Programmatic Ad Buying. See the 2017 conference details here.

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