The conventional wisdom is that job boards serve not one, but two sets of customers: employers and job seekers. That’s correct but incomplete. Job boards actually have four sets of customers. And, focusing on all of those sets and on each in the right way is a critical determinant of a job board’s success in the market.
Most sites acknowledge two of those four customer sets – active and passive job seekers – and, to varying degrees, tailor their go-to-market strategies to accommodate the differences between them. Sites are not as likely, however, to recognize the differences between the two customer sets that exist among employers and thus fail to appropriately differentiate how they approach them.
Job boards tend to think of employers as either enterprise or small to mid-sized business customers. It’s the recruiter in those organizations, however, who’s the actual customer, and their personal differences are as significant as those among job seekers. (I realize that staffing firms and RPOs are also job board customers, but for this post, I’m focusing on corporate employers and the recruiters who work for them.)
Surveys among HR and talent acquisition professionals reveal that the differences among company recruiters primarily involve their experience and outlook. That’s why I call them:
• The always changing customer
• The never changing customer.
The Always Changing Customer
As most job boards have experienced, corporate recruiters, especially those in large enterprises, are a transient species. Typically, they are relatively junior HR professionals taking their first or second job within the company. They don’t view recruiting as their profession, but rather as an assignment they must get through in order to be “promoted” to a more traditional HR job.
From a job board’s perspective, therefore, their customer within the HR Department is always changing. Sure, there are companies with Talent Acquisition Departments staffed by career recruiters, but at least for the present, they are the exception to the rule. In every other organization, job boards must reestablish relationships and reeducate new customers every two years – think of it as the Moore’s Law of Business Development.
Getting to know and educating customers who (a) have very little recruiting experience and (b) are not really engaged with their work is no mean feat. It takes patience, interpersonal skills and the ability to covey basic principles and best practices quickly and without a lot of industry jargon. It also requires a fair amount of grit, as no sooner will a solid working relationship be built with a customer than they will move on and the work will start all over again.
The Never Changing Customer
A site’s other customer set, in contrast, will hardly ever change. They tend to work in small or mid-sized businesses and have probably been with the organization for a decade or more. Equally as important, their recruiting work is often just a part – and maybe even a small part – of their job, which typically entails an array of other HR tasks.
Any job board that’s been in business for awhile has probably already built a relationship with this customer, although in many cases, it’s been largely transactional as the upside potential is often modest. Even sustaining that level of business, however, requires an educational effort, although it is significantly different from that required for the always changing crowd.
Getting to know and educating customers who (a) have been in their roles for some time and have developed “certain ways of doing things” and (b) are pressed for time and juggling a lot of tasks is also no mean feat. It requires persistence, those interpersonal skills again and the ability to engage the customer with new ideas, strategies and products. It too requires a fair amount of grit because this customer is often resistant to change even when that change would produce measurably better results.
A job board’s goal in building a relationship with an always changing customer is to teach them how to spend; its goal with the never changing customer is to teach them how to spend more. Recognizing and working at those different objectives is the secret sauce of job board business development.
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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