10 common mistakes that job boards (new and old) make – Job Board Doctor
In this episode of JobBoardGeek, Jeff Dickey-Chasins talks to…himself! Yes, co-host Steven Rothberg is off working (!). Jeff digs into 10 common mistakes that job boards and recruiting sites make. He finds these mistakes tend to occur no matter which niche or geographic location the site operates in – and he offers suggestions on avoiding these mistakes in the first place. Jeff covers pricing, metrics, renewals, and much more.
Hello everyone and welcome to JobBoardGeek it’s the podcast about the business of connecting candidates with employers I’m Jeff Dickey-Chasins, I’m the JobBoardDoctor and I am your host and today. I do not have my usual co-host with me Steven Rothberg, he’s off doing actual work for his business College Recruiter. I toyed with the idea of our playing out our witty repartee that we do at the beginning where we chat about something and I thought boy that’d be fun to play Stephen and then I could play myself and back and forth. But then I decided that I’m too old to try to do something like that. So you’ll just have to imagine that it happened so the purpose of today’s podcast is to talk about the most common mistakes that job boards make I’ve been working with job boards as a consultant for over thirteen years I’ve been in the industry since 97 I’ve worked with literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of job boards on almost every continent and one of the things that I noticed after the first 3 or 4 years is that I I saw a certain amount of continuity in the types of mistakes that established job boards tended to make. Now no one out there makes all of these mistakes or at least they don’t make them all at the same time. Maybe it takes them several years to get to that point. But these are very common mistakes and I thought well let’s talk about this and talk about why I consider them to be mistakes and hopefully. If there’s anything in here that sounds familiar you can avoid it and you can avoid being one of those job boards that calls me up saying Jeff help now this also applies to startup job boards. But um, it’s probably yeah more in the line of just. Don’t ever do these things or try to avoid these particular situations so without further ado let me go ahead and get started so the first mistake that I find to be very typical although it’s changing a little bit over the last several years is that a job board thinks. My business is selling job postings. No, that’s not the case your business is that you sell employers the chance to connect with candidates. You’re basically that connection tissue between candidates. And employers who need those candidates to fill their positions if you think that your business is just simply selling job postings in my opinion I think you have a tendency to blind yourself to other services and products you know.
For example, you could sell access into the audience via Branded webinars you could sell targeted emails into your candidate office. You can do employer branding operations. You can do something like the muse where they have a lot of interviews with employees at different workplaces that. A candidate can go listen to and say hey I might want to work there or I might not you can also look at it from the other side of the fence and say what can I do with the candidates to be able to find and connect to the right employer because the better job you do that at the better that you do that job. The more likely it is that you’re going to have more candidates and more satisfied candidates giving you referrals and passing on your site and more happy employers. So please avoid thinking that what’s your job. What your business is is a job board is simply just selling job postings because that’s really not the case you need to step back a little bit so the second type of common mistake that I see job boards make and all of my clients out there are going to laugh when they hear me say this is that. You don’t increase your prices on a regular basis or you do increase your prices but it’s driven by some obscure random desire to do it every six years or 3 years or you know eighteen months or whatever it might be. Now. There’s a very good reason why you need to increase your prices on a regular basis and I usually suggest every twelve months First of all, if you increase your prices every twelve months you don’t have to increase them very much. It’s a lot easier to make a 1 % increase in price across the board. Once a year than it is to wait four or five years and suddenly have to make a seven or eight percent increase in prices everyone out there. All those employers. They’re also in business they understand that costs go up and particularly now with inflation. That’s even more the case than it was you know for the last several years. But. No, one’s going to to balk at a 1% or half percent or 2% increase in pricing. They very may they very well may balk at a 10 % increase in pricing so do it on a regular basis. Do it in small increments. You’re going to be a lot happier and then second of all. And this is where my clients will laugh. You’re probably not charging enough I know that sounds crazy but put yourself in perspective look at who you’re competing with these employers are desperate for candidates. They’re always desperate for candidates even before our current labor environment.
They were desperate for candidates long before covid they want good candidates and regardless of what they will say if you can provide that on a regular basis and on a reliable basis then they’re willing to pay probably a lot more than you’re charging them There’s a reason why. A Linkedin Seat can run in the tens of thousands of dollars, so think about that don’t sell yourself short and if you do end up working with me I can almost guarantee you that’ll be the first thing I tell you to do is increase your price and do it on a regular basis. Next. Job boards have a tendency to get focused almost entirely on employers and they fail to put the candidate first and this is a focus issue. This is very similar to the very first thing I said where you sort of focused on well all I do is sell job postings. No, that’s not what you are. That’s not what you do. In the case of the candidate focus you have to remind yourself that the only reason that any employer is willing to talk to you give you money or continue to give you money is the fact that you have candidates and you have those candidates. Coming to your site and engaging with the employers that are on the site. This is very very important if you don’t have the candidates. You don’t have any business and I think that the job boards that I’ve seen that have had the most long-term success that have had the best margins and have had the best. Renewal rates on their employers are the ones that focused first and foremost on candidates. So I would really encourage you to take that particular statement put the candidate first write it on a piece of paper and stick it on your monitor next to all the other things that you have but make the letters bigger. So it stands out. Okay, next you as a job board operator or owner lack a defined process for renewing and retaining your employers now notice that I said a defined process of course. Anyone that survives in the job board and recruiting site business is going to have ah something that they’re doing to get employers to renew. That’s fine. But I think that what you really need to do is be very focused on what the process is so that. You can replicate it regardless of who is doing the sales and who is doing the renewals and you can replicate it year end and year out it adds a level of predictability to your revenue stream and and as much predictability as you can put in that.
Process It’s going to make your life a lot easier in general I found that when you do an analysis of renewing and retaining your employers and you and you sort of spell that out for the salespeople and you are the customer service people. Whoever’s responsible for it. And you ask them to follow that process then your renewal rates are going to go up because a key part of that process is staying in touch with the employer asking them questions and having performance metrics that you are checking to make sure that you’re meeting for the employer. Which brings me to the next mistake that many job boards make you don’t monitor key engagement and performance metrics. What? what am I talking about here. Well you know at a very basic level I’m talking about time on site. You know a good a good amount of time on site for a job board a niche job board is going to be 3 to 5 minutes per session. Ah you need to monitor the bounce rate anytime you get a bounce rate that’s going over 40 that’s too high that tells you something about the traffic that that’s coming to the side. It tells you about. Tells you something about the behavior of what the candidate’s doing when they get to the site you want to look at the views per job. The applications per job and the applications that are actually completed as much as you can. These are all very important. For example. A general rule of thumb that I have for my clients as a niche site is that you need to have 7 to 15 applications per job on average if you’re going to be competitive with the larger sites and your niche competitors as well. It’s just a basic level of response now the better you can make the quality of the response the better the happier the employers will be but these are the kinds of metrics that you should write down and review on a regular basis and. You should continue to be open-minded about changing the metrics that you watch as well. Um, you know some are going to be evergreen. You know, like applications per job or views per job. But you know over time you may find that there’s certain things that are useful like what’s the typical path. Of the majority of job seekers through the site. Do they come in on a specific job from a specific referral or do they tend to come in on the homepage or if they’re coming in through an app or a mobile device is that different than a desktop response and.
As they go through their five or six minutes on the site where are they going and how often are they going to resource pages for example or other types of content pages. All of this information is important. Yes, sometimes it can be kind of a pain to keep on top of this but it’s a pain. That prevents much more unpleasant pain later on now the next problem that I see that’s pretty typical and this is sort of a ah counter check to the metrics that you watch of what candidates are doing on the site. Is that you need to actually that you need to survey your employers or and candidates on a regular basis. Why because if you don’t ask them questions. You’re going to get a bad You’re going to get an unpleasant surprise at some point. You know one of the things that you would typically want to ask employers is, are you happy with the results that you get how would you improve the site but you also want to ask them. Where’s the best place for you to find candidates. It does it. You know I’m totally happy if you tell me that it’s indeed. I just want to know because if 98% of my employers say they’re happier with indeed than they are with my site that’s a problem I need to know that the same thing on the candidate side in addition to being able to get demographic information that maybe you wouldn’t be able to obtain otherwise. It’s important for you to have a clear picture of where the candidates put your site in terms of their job searching hierarchy I did a survey I guess it’s been a while now about Eight or nine years ago of thousands of over 1000 job seekers across 3 countries. And one of the things that became really obvious is that depending on what country it was the relative levels of focus in terms of you know the media they looked at for jobs really varied quite a bit and. You don’t want to be surprised. You may have anecdotal information about where job seekers are going but it’s not going to line up exactly with what a survey will tell you about what your specific job seekers are doing and where else they’re going and why they’re using it and what do they like about mobile. Your approach to mobile access versus your approach to desktop access and what features do they get on other sites that they wish you had on your site so forth and so on so that’s an important thing to do the next very common mistake is that.
If you’ve been out there for a while you’ve made it through the first tough years you’ve had a modicum of success. Maybe you quit investing in your job. Board’s technical structure. Well, that’s not a good idea. Software gets outdated. Needs change both on the employer side and the candidate side and even though it’s a real pain. It’s worth taking a look at least every 12 to 18 months at your platform at your technical offering and make sure it’s still what you want to be offering. And if it’s not put money into and into improving it. Ah believe me if you don’t change your structure someone else will and they may very well take your audience away from you the next mistake that I see that is. Pretty common just because humans get bored is that you don’t continuously find new candidates and new employer prospects. So you have as a job board. You essentially have 2 audiences you have candidates and you have employers. And an average year for an average job board. You may lose as much as 25% from both sides of those audiences just through attrition given what happened in covid ah, a lot of us had the unfortunate experience of losing a lot more than that on the candidate and employer side. In a very short period of time but let’s say that in a more a less unusual market. You’re going to be losing maybe 25% you need to replace that just to stay even and you need to over? Um, you need to add more than that. To grow. It’s simple math. It’s not necessarily something that is always top of mind. What I’ve found is that in in a lot of sites. What’s top of mind is selling right? That’s bringing in the revenue. So. Maybe you do a pretty good job of keeping the pipeline for your employer prospects up. But maybe you kind of fall down on the seo side from the candidates. Maybe you’re not running any campaigns to bring in more candidates. Maybe you’re relying on the you know the. Feeds from aggregators to keep pumping up your traffic. There’s a lot of ways that you can appear to be growing your candidate audience. But in fact, or not so be honest with yourself and make yourself goals on both sides.
And stick to the goals. Next, a typical mistake is that you focus on how many products that you’ve sold and instead what you should be focusing on is what is the average annual employer revenue that you’ve generated. Now why am I drawing this distinction because ultimately the job boards that I’ve worked with that have had the most success stay focused on increasing their share of each and every employer’s recruiting spend. With that particular job board. In other words, you go deeper. Let’s say the employer typically is spending $10000 a year on recruiting and you’re only getting $400 of that spend even though. They’re 100% inside your niche or your or your geographic focus. Well, that’s not a good that’s not good performance that’s not a good sign so you might not notice that if you just simply focus on the number of products that are being sold because some clients can come in and buy a whole lot of. Postings or they can buy a whole lot of feature job upgrades and sort of cover up the fact that the other 70% of the employers are buying less than they were the year before on average so focus on the annual employer revenue. And I think you’re going to be a lot happier in the long run and you and you’re getting a much truer picture of what your sales effort is producing and finally and this is really just um, one of those things that I’m ah I think. Underlies every type of business that I’ve been in I’ve you know I’ve been in the software industry I’ve been in publishing. Um I’ve been in a number. Yeah I’ve been in online learning and obviously I’ve been in job boards for a long time this this this last problem. Is has been true across all those all those markets you make the mistake of reacting instead of acting so when you do something. It’s not because you’re doing it on purpose and in a planned way and driving your action from data. You’re doing it because something happened to you. Let’s say you know a good example that would be covid. Well that’s sort of an act of god in some ways. But for example, any of these things that I mentioned above like you haven’t been.
Raising your prices and suddenly you realize, oh my god, all my prices are roughly 40% of my competitors and I’m losing market share because no one thinks that we’re any good so you decide to yank up your prices. That’s reaction. Acting is making a conscious decision to raise your prices for both strategic reasons and business reasons I think that continuous and iterative improvement is harder than simply waiting for things to happen to you. But. Problem with reacting is that one you may end up doing it too late for it to have the impact that you hoped it would have and 2 you may be reacting to the wrong thing you may be focusing on something that’s very splashy and scary. Let’s say for example. Google deciding to enter the ats market and that freaks you out and you’re thinking oh man, maybe we should add an Ats well in reality if you’ve been doing your analysis of your employer base and you’ve been looking at the kinds of connection products that you want to sell to them. And terms of leveraging your candidate audience. You may say ats doesn’t really make any sense. It’s way out of our focus. We instead should be focusing on introducing assessment tools and getting 70% at least 70 % of our candidate base. Assessed and charging a premium for access to that audience I always think that acting based on data is better than reacting based on whatever happened to you that morning when you woke up sometimes I feel like Elon Musk is sort of the classic example of someone that’s a reactive personality. I think that one of the reasons he’s been successful is that when he finally does act he sets a big goal and then he gets out of it and he actually brings in people that can achieve those goals. Think if he was the person that was in charge of actually making Tesla work or Spacex work. He might not be as successful as he is now just one man’s opinion. So anyway, those are some of the things that I think are common mistakes that job boards tend to make. They are so like I said it’s certainly not the case that job that ah any given job board will make all of these mistakes. But I’m pretty sure that almost any given job board has made at least one of these mistakes. So think about it take a look at what you’re doing and think about if.
If there are ways that you can actually avoid doing some of these things or cut ah and on the other hand if there are ways that you can put things in in place like an annual increase in price that will prevent you from having problems further on. So that’s it for this issue of JobBoardGeek the podcast about connecting candidates and employers. Be sure to subscribe via Apple Spotify or whatever floats your boat excuse me. My name is Jeff Dickey-Chasins, I’m the JobBoard Doctor and that’s it for today. We’ll see you again next time.