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Practical Tools – the job boards are so expensive, but can my new recruitment business be successful without them?

by LAURA MOULD / Wednesday, 9th November 2016

Job Baords

Whilst it’s easy to lose track of the number of articles espousing the theory that the traditional job boards are now dying, killed off by the likes of LinkedIn, the reality remains that many recruiters view them as a valuable part of their arsenal in their quest to source the best talent for their clients.

In fact, according to Social Talent’s 2016 survey, 26% of recruiters say job boards are their primary source for finding candidates who are ultimately hired (read more here) and, whilst that is a significant drop from previous years, it’s still a significant percentage.

So, they’re good for something, right?

Absolutely!  There are a number of advantages to using job boards for sourcing:

  • Marketing – let’s face it, the job boards throw money at advertising their services and part of that involves optimising each advert for SEO.  Type ‘sales administrator jobs’ into Google and I guarantee the first page of results will be heavily dominated by Reed, Total Jobs, Indeed and so on.  So, if you want to get your brand and role noticed, they can be a good place to advertise. You’ll also no doubt have noticed all those adverts (James Reed, the knight in shining armour springs to mind) on the TV, billboards, buses and so on.  All of this drives job seekers to their sites, increasing the volume of applications and CVs within their database.  Ultimately, the more traffic their site sees, the more likely your advert will be seen by a suitable candidate or the more likely the CV of your ideal candidate is already contained within their CV database.
  • Active jobseekers – there is an argument (which is a whole new article for a different day) that recruiters should proactively target passive candidates (i.e. those who aren’t actively seeking a new role), foregoing active jobseekers to a certain extent.  But, with Indeed’s 2016 survey revealing 9 out of 10 recruiters would prefer to recruit an active candidate, surely not using the job boards to target active jobseekers would be giving your competitors an advantage.
  • Working in a niche market – whilst we know social media provides a rich source of candidates for many roles, sometimes the role is in a niche area, where the candidates just don’t ‘hang out’ on social media.  For example, a recruiter I know works solely with helicopter technicians – a very niche role, where the best of the talent is nowhere to be found on LinkedIn.  This is where niche job boards, alongside an existing network of contacts, can prove invaluable, giving recruiters access to a community of talented individuals in one place.  Similarly with entry level roles; according to Software Advice's study, the highest quality candidates in entry level positions come first from Indeed, rather than social media sites.

Great, so I’ll just use job boards for my recruitment then?

Well, not necessarily.  Whilst we believe job boards are a valuable tool, they aren’t the be all and end all for recruiters.

Other options:

  • Social media – social media has been heralded as the death of job boards for some time now, with 73% of recruiters having hired using social media, with 73% of those hires coming from LinkedIn (according to a study by Jobvite).  And, if the recruiter hasn’t used social media to source the successful candidate, they will almost certainly review the candidate’s social media profiles to aid them in their decision making. Social media is a great tool for targeting those passive candidates we discussed earlier too as it doesn’t rely on a candidate actively looking for work and visiting the job boards.
  • Networking events / trade events – another great place to find candidates is via networking or trade events.  Knowing where your ideal candidate ‘hangs out’ and then being there can be a successful way of building relationships with the talented individuals.  It’s basically like social media but in ‘real life’ rather than virtual life.
  • Referrals – your client’s current employees (although tread carefully here) and your network of candidates are your best brand ambassadors, and it is likely they will know other candidates with a range of skills and experience.  You should make asking for referrals an integral part of your recruitment process, and then, don’t just put their details in your database – work to cultivate the relationship.

The costs

We know, access to job boards can be expensive, particularly for small and fledgling recruitment companies.  With headline rates for adverts starting at £199 per month, and small businesses not benefitting from the economies of scale, the cost can be prohibitive for start-up recruitment agencies.

In comparison, recruiters can utilise social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on a free basis (although there are paid for options which will increase your reach).  And whilst many companies operate a referral scheme, many simply utilise referrals effectively as part of their day-to-day strategy, costing them nothing.

Ultimately though, the job boards are a useful tool and so some investment into them for most recruitment businesses is inevitable, particularly in certain sectors such as Commercial.  Minimising this cost is key to provide a positive return on investment.

The verdict

Whilst the job boards have waned in popularity with many recruiters, they remain a useful tool in the box for most recruitment agencies (used effectively, of course, which is a whole other story).  And whilst a new recruitment business might face challenges with costs in the start-up period, job boards can be a worthwhile investment.  It’s all about prioritising – what tools are the most important when you are starting your own recruitment agency?  Ultimately, what will give you a direct return and help you make money?

About us

At SSG we provide sound advice based on extensive experience of providing financial backing, recruitment support, legal and compliance, back office services, branding, marketing communications and business mentoring.  Since forming in 2003 we’ve supported the launch of over 300 recruitment agencies across 29 sectors and we work with the most popular job boards to provide access to the ventures we support.    

Interested in setting up? Talk to us…

From pre-launch to launch and beyond, we’ll help you every step of the way to getting your business running smoothly, allowing you to focus on what you do best - recruitment. 

Expert SSG support is just one call away on 01442 937 774 or, to take our free quiz to find out if you’re ready to start your own recruitment business, click here.