Job Board Journalist: A Google Strategy for Job Boards

Peter Weddle

Here’s how it will probably work in the not too distant future. A high performer will get fed up with her boss and decide to check out her options in the job market by doing a search on Google. When she finds an opening that interests her, Google will present the five or six job boards listing the position and let her pick the one she wants to use. The site she selects will generate some income; the others … well, they’ll feel like a virtual version of Sears.

If that scenario is even remotely close to tomorrow’s reality, the key to a job board’s success will be its ability to influence the job seeker’s site selection on Google. One way to do that, of course, is to spend the big bucks on brand marketing. It’s certainly a credible strategy, but one that’s available only to large and well-funded companies. For everybody else, there’s got to be another way.

That alternative way is content, but with a twist. In the era of Google for Jobs, what used to be engaging content for job seekers will no longer do the trick.

In the past, of course, a job board’s primary content was its job postings interspersed with a little advice on how to write a decent resume and survive an interview. The advice was helpful, but it was the jobs that brought job seekers in the door, so all sites had to do to keep the traffic flowing was promote their openings.

Job seekers knew that those openings were posted on several sites, but they didn’t have a single spot that gave them the ability to act like a consumer – to be offered a choice among a discrete number of job options all laid out in front of them for easy comparison. With Google, they do. It’s now (or will shortly be) the Amazon of jobs, and that means simply promoting job content is no longer sufficient to give a site an edge.

What other kinds of content might drive traffic in the door? Here are a couple of ideas.

Content that offers unique information

Content that is uniquely insightful or interesting can differentiate a site and be a big draw. Glassdoor, for example, popularized employer reviews which also had the advantage of low cost content creation. The site relied on its visitors to produce the reviews and thus was able to avoid the cost of an inhouse editorial team.

Other sites have used quizzes and assessments the same way, generating information about visitors by the visitors themselves. They learn something about their personality, emotional quotient, leadership style or career status, and the site gets branded as a place that helps people succeed, all at little or no cost. As Facebook’s recent travails have shown, however, the way the resulting data are used should be carefully spelled out up front so people don’t feel as if their privacy or worse has been compromised.

Content that has a unique voice

Content, no matter how original, can and will be copied, if it proves to be effective at drawing a crowd. So, content that is written from a unique point of view or with a unique personality can be even more effective, especially if it’s also considered to be insightful or helpful. For example, back in the late 1990s, there were plenty of sites offering investment advice, all of it helpful and all of it sounding exactly the same. Then, AOL introduced the Motley Fool which provided the same kind of investment assistance but did so with a flair that made it distinctive and attractive.

Now admittedly, it’s not easy to publish such content. Producing it inhouse can be costly and require a talent that’s not always available. There is an alternative, however. Supplement that resume writing and interviewing content with information on how to manage a career in today’s you’re-on-your-own workplace. Interview the career counselors in your area and find one that has a unique voice or approach and then cut a barter deal. You’ll promote their career counseling practice in exchange for a regular post on your site about how your visitors can achieve career (as well as job search) success.

Finally, publishing unique content with a unique voice is only half the battle. If you want job seekers to click on your link for an opening they find on Google, they have to see your site as different before they make their choice. For that to happen, you have to create great non-job content AND promote that content as aggressively as you promote your openings. In other words, build a brand that job seekers will recognize as distinctive because it gives them a close encounter with content of two kinds.

Food for thought,

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

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