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General job boards: Not dead but dying

Mark Gray

Corporate HR recruiters in South Africa who are looking for high-quality candidates should move beyond general job boards, which have become costly, ineffective black holes for targeting anything other than non-specialist skills.

Most job boards’ competitive edge rests in their proprietary database that comprises millions of candidates. However, this inflated number accounts for the total number of registered users rather than active users in the last, let’s say, 30 - 90 days. In reality, the majority of registered candidates are no longer active job seekers and recruiters will only reach a fraction of the candidates it claims to have.
Active candidates registered on the databases of particularly general job boards cross a large number of job functions, working experience and geographical locations. This means that the number of job seekers who are actually fulfilling a company’s specific requirements is significantly smaller.
Another problem that corporates experience is that the large numbers of candidate applications they receive do not meet the minimum criteria clearly stated on the job advert. This increases the time corporate recruiters spend managing candidate responses to jobs. Advertising on general job boards increases the volume of applications received to the detriment of application quality.

What is the correct sourcing strategy?

General job boards are fine for candidates who change jobs on a regular basis and are easy to find, such as call centre staff, cashiers or office administrative staff. However, companies must have an applicant-tracking system to deal with the inevitable CV avalanche.
If you’re looking for that new specialist developer, credit risk analyst or payroll manager with tax skills, you’re not going to find them on a general board. The vast majority of talent with specialist skills at a professional level is already employed and not actively looking for jobs. In other words, they are passive candidates.

There are more cost-effective ways of sourcing high-quality candidates and searching much better-quality databases:

  • Linkedin’s recruiting tools provide access to its entire database of 150 million global professionals; and
  • Jobs aggregator,, offers free job postings and allows one to search the world’s fastest-growing CV database.

There is a growing number of niche job boards that pride themselves on small communities of active, specialist talent.

Success rides on the quality of CVs, not the volume

On job boards, all recruiters have access to the same CVs, which makes it very difficult to source the candidates they need. Companies need to start targeting a smaller number of people, rather than spending large portions of their budgets on playing roulette with a general job board.
To find these candidates where they live online means tapping into social media skills or technical solutions that can automate the recruitment marketing process:

  • One option is speaking to candidates through job boards linked to massive content engines. For example, displaying an ad for a CRM manager alongside the daily retail news.

You could also extend to:

- Pay-per-click campaigns on Google, and LinkedIn;

- Niche job boards and LinkedIn Premium;
- Community groups like; and
- Conducting search and profiling on Facebook and LinkedIn to create ads targeted at specific people.

  • Other companies use niche job boards to target specific communities, e.g.:

-, engaging expats looking to return home;  
-, linked to the alumni offices of South Africa’s top tertiary institutions; and
-, with which one retailer pharmacy chain ensures a steady supply of chemists for their growing retail stores.

  • Crowdsourcing candidate referrals is another hugely disruptive new force. Whereas the old method of headhunting had no incentive, employees are now financially encouraged to recommend quality candidates. Companies only pay a reward on hire, which makes it a risk-free strategy.

    In South Africa, home-grown solutions like HiringBounty occupy this space.

The ideal is to create targeted, engaged communities around the employer value proposition so that top talent considers your company first when they start looking. As local job boards don’t feature a social element, companies have to start the conversation and build relationships via their own corporate career sites, social networks and other tactical campaigns.
The job board’s glory days are over

This is because of disruptive technology. By 2018, it is predicted that job boards will exist in a very different form.
There is a lot of innovation currently taking place in this space and to compete with large aggregators and social networks, job boards will have to make their platforms more sophisticated, solving privacy issues and encouraging activity from passive job seekers.
Corporate recruiters in South Africa need to re-strategise when it comes to sourcing and look beyond general job boards. Committing large portions of their advertising budgets to individual boards and becoming completely dependent on this sourcing channel for the supply of talent to their business is tantamount to commercial suicide. Finding top talent is not difficult when you have the right partners, helping you engage with the right types of talent, and using the new sourcing channels that are available today.

Author: Mark’s vision to re-engineer recruitment using a combination of traditional marketing principles and digital technologies was realised when he founded graylink in 2002. With the belief that the Internet would challenge the recruiting status quo – companies over-relying on recruitment agencies, using untargeted recruitment communications and managing inefficient recruitment processes manually – Mark began developing an integrated recruitment solution which looked to exploit the full potential of the Internet to help companies recruit the best talent quicker, more efficiently and for less.