Niche Is Not Enough … for a Job Board

Peter Weddle

The good news is that niche employment sites are hot. At a recent TAtech Live webinar, the director of HR Technology Investments at a global investment bank pegged talent technology investments at $11B of the $50-100B in the overall HR technology space, with – and here’s the good part – niche sites seeing the most activity.

There is a challenge, however, at least if you want to leverage that interest. To be a niche employment site with credible growth potential, you have to do more than simply specialize. Of course, focusing on a specific occupation, industry, geographic area or candidate attribute (e.g., gender, ethnicity, veteran) provides the foundation for such a site – those are niches, after all – but it does not erect the strong superstructure of practices that can support a viable business in general or one worthy of investment.

What’s in a strong superstructure?

Customer Partnerships

A successful niche site will be committed to building deep and enduring relationships with its customers. Yes, that means paying regular sales calls (or these days, setting up virtual meetings) with them, but equally as important, it also requires using those interactions to get to know the culture, values and vision of each organization. Those insights, in turn, enable a niche site to identify and propose the right advertising and other recruitment services at the right time for them. It transforms a generic sales transaction into a talent acquisition partnership that is focused on advancing the customer’s success.

Candidate Creds

There are at least two truisms about candidates these days, especially those who are top performers. If they’re a passive prospect, they get plenty of in-bound offers, and if they’re an active job seeker, they have plenty of places they can go to find employment opportunities. To be successful, therefore, a niche site must have a clear and omnipresent brand in the marketplace that differentiates it as a place that can be depended on to deliver relevant ads and helpful advice. It isn’t an aggregator masquerading as a niche site, but one that believes in and supports those who make a home in the specialization.

A Distinctive Celebration

Both Customers and Candidates want an employment site that celebrates their distinction. Whether it’s the geographic area they call home or their career field, their defining individual attribute or the industry in which they work, they want to feel as if the site recognizes and helps to promote their … well, their specialness. Any site can say that it supports this or that niche, but only those that demonstrate it with site features and actions taken in, for and with the niche are seen as truly a part of that community rather than a business that simply makes money from it.

Investors are betting that niche employment sites will be among the big winners during and after the pandemic. The sites most likely to enjoy that success will be those that focus on building customer partnerships and candidate creds and on differentiating themselves with a distinctive celebration both on-site and in the community they support.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.

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