Thorough Research Will Help Companies Find the Best Job Boards

Leading niche boards can help clients find top talented candidates.

With more than 40,000 Web sites posting jobs, selecting the one or two that can best serve your organization may seem overwhelming. But the leading alliance of independent niche job boards in North America says you can pinpoint the right site by considering which ones have the best track record in your industry. Nicheboards.com says strong job boards have helped their clients fill a large number of positions with higher quality candidates than competitors. The Nicheboards group says most top boards also have the best potential applicants in their databases and advertise the most job openings in their sectors.

"The best job boards stand out in their specific specialties," says Don Firth, the creator of Nicheboards.com and of member boards JobsInLogistics.com and AllRetailJobs.com, which are both Internet leaders in their industries. "They can quickly show potential clients how they distinguish themselves from their rivals in locating the best candidates and connecting them to job ads. Key indicators include the categories available for candidates to search jobs by; types of listed jobs and the names of companies posting jobs on these boards; the number of resumes in the database; the expertise of their account managers; and particularly their response to the question 'how do you attract targeted candidates to your specialty job board."

Nicheboards.com markets the services of 11 member job boards, each targeting a specific industry or group of professionals. Because of its members’ rapidly growing audience and expertise, the confederation is considered a leading authority on workforce trends and practices.

Mr. Firth says organizations should begin their selection process by carefully researching the job board market in their industry. Go to Google.com and type in the keywords that job seekers would likely include in their job search. You can find which boards appear naturally at the top of the list and which boards pay to drive targeted traffic to their boards. As examples, AllRetailJobs.com ranks first for the phrase "retail jobs" out of 56 million listings, JobsInLogistics.com is first for transportation jobs out of 64 million listings.

Some companies blindly assume that the best-known, generalist boards offer the best value because of their massive audiences and potential for creating huge pools of job candidates. And for large companies hiring hundreds of candidates across a wide variety of professions, a generalist board will likely be one of their sources. But recruiting experts know that size doesn’t guarantee quality. Specialty job boards serving an industry, region or profession can produce more gems, and often at a lower prices. However, most so-called specialty job boards lack the necessary traffic of quality candidates. The secret is separating the wheat from the chaff.

Early in the selection process, companies may also check what names appear frequently in trade publications, industry-specific Internet and research organizations, says Eric Shannon, the founder of LatPro.com, which serves companies seeking bilingual, Spanish-speaking professionals. While that’s not a reason alone to choose a Web site, it is a positive sign. "Top Web sites are part of any sector’s ongoing dialogue about recruiting," says Mr. Shannon.

Some firms also check a Web site’s Alexa rating. Alexa, a unit of book-selling giant Amazon.com, ranks Web sites based on a sampling of how many visitors they receive. Although this is a very rough indicator, some general observations can be made. A ranking in the top 20,000 is excellent, while anything in the top 75,000 is very good. Rankings between 100,000 and 200,000 may be strong for some boards with highly targeted audiences. Among the Nicheboards.com group, jobsinthemoney.com, which serves the finance and accounting sectors, ranks at 4,400; JobsInLogistics is at 12,000; and AllRetailJobs is at 16,000.

Next step: Create a short list of sites and research each of them carefully. Jim Ingham of ComputerWork.com, a Nicheboards.com member, says some HR managers and recruiters try out the job board. Is the board easy to use? A well-managed board is intuitive, allowing both job seekers and companies to perform essential tasks in a minimum of clicks. The harder the process, the less likely someone will proceed. What types of jobs are posted? How many of them are there? Are they dated? If the listings don’t resemble the sorts of positions you’re trying to fill, or if there are few recent ones, it’s not a good sign. Who are a job board’s clients? Many job boards prominently list their most important customers and can provide contacts. Just be sure that a customer list is up-to-date."

"Resumes should also be fresh and of high quality," says Bill Gaul, President/CEO of the DestinyGroup.com, a Nicheboards.com member that targets the market for transitioning military personnel. "A number of job boards will let you preview their resume database to glean this information. However, you should ask if the board requires 100 percent opt-in resumes or are they scraping or buying resumes from another source to artificially inflate their database. Nothing is worse than spending time reviewing resumes of candidates long gone."

Narrow down your choices one more time and get personal. A conversation or two with the board can say a lot about the quality of the service, particularly the board’s willingness to address your needs. Dialogue will help you determine if you’ll be able to develop a solid, long-term working relationship. As an employer, you want consistent, personal attention. Some boards in the Nicheboards group know their clients so well, they may suggest changes to job postings and consult on other hiring issues. "One of the benefits of using an established niche board is the ability to get knowledgeable customer service from a representative who knows both your industry/niche and the online job business," says Scott Kotroba, president of Nicheboards member greatinsurancejobs.com. "They can assist in putting together a highly targeted campaign that meets their client’s needs."

Says Mr. Firth: "The best job boards provide the most targeted and talented audience and also understand their customers’ needs. They are dedicated to helping their clients find the best possible employees and achieve exceptional results. Thorough research will show which boards are a cut above the rest."


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