Give Your Job Boards Their Due

Most companies still aren’t accurately monitoring where they get their best job candidates.

Do you really know which job board is drumming up most of your job applicants? It’s one of the key measures of an employment Web site’s effectiveness.

Many companies are relying on monthly tallies to measure which job boards are best. The data helps them allocate their precious Internet recruiting dollars at a time when there are many options.

But the leading alliance of niche job boards warns that some data is misleading or inaccurate. Nicheboards.com recommends that companies need to establish a more accurate system for collecting and analyzing information. By digging deeper, these organizations may find that some job boards are doing a better job than they thought or that they are not even set up for tracking within the system.

They recommend the use of tracking codes to identify which Internet Web site a candidate has used. Developers at these firms can produce the coding easily. So can providers of applicant tracking systems, whose software helps companies streamline their hiring process. “By capturing the true referral source, companies will have more accurate metrics to go by,” says Ted Elliott, the founder of JobScience.com, which serves the scientific research, biotechnology, healthcare and pharmaceuticals industries. “This will allow you to determine where you are getting the best return on investment for your recruitment advertising dollar.”

The Nicheboards confederation includes 11 member job boards. Each board serves a specific industry. This targeted approach has been highly successful. Combined, the group receives more than 3 million visitors each month and are used by a large number of Fortune 500 clients.

But these job boards and others have found that they don’t always receive credit for candidate applications from their websites. Don Firth, the founder of Nicheboards.com and two member boards, JobsInLogistics.com and AllRetailJobs.com, says part of the problem may be difficult to fix. Some candidates who discover an opening on a job board will go directly to the company’s website for more details and then apply for the position through the corporate site. A study by the consulting group CareerXRoads found that 90% of job seekers visit a company’s Web site before applying for a position they first witnessed on a job board. The survey also found that two in three candidates apply for other positions on the company’s Web site, ignoring the job board that was the initial contact. “Our mission is to assist our clients in finding the best candidates,” says Mr. Firth. “It’s frustrating when our tracking indicates we've delivered thousands of candidates to a corporate application system and the company tells us their system says we only sent 50 clicks.” JobsInLogistics serves the logistics, supply chain, transportation and distribution industries. AllRetailJobs serves the entire retail industry.

In one instance, AllRetailJobs forwarded 2500 applicants to a customer’s corporate careers Web site. The client indicated that neither Monster.com nor AllRetailJobs.com had sent any candidates, but a third board had provided thousands of candidates. In reality the application link from both of these boards led to the third board. All applicants were forced to apply from that board, so none of the company's sourcing statistics were correct. "Even Monster gets dinged from poor tracking," Mr. Firth concluded.

Inadequate drop down menus where candidates tell companies how they located a job opening may also skew data. Many companies use drop-down menus to make it easier to collect information and parse it. But in some cases these menus simply group Internet sites into broad categories. For example, a niche job board might fit into a category called “specialty Web sites.” Other job board groupings may include sites run by newspapers, trade associations or staffing agencies. One firm included JobsInLogistics.com in a drop down box, listed as Jobs and Logic. “It took the HR recruiter almost 4 months to get their Webmaster to correct this,” says Mr. Firth.

On other occasions, companies may provide only a partial list of Web sites, focusing on a few larger job boards but not mentioning niche boards. Hurried job seekers may simply choose a job board they didn’t use for the sake of convenience or find salvation in the category “other.” Such general information is of little help to companies and may particularly underestimate the value of niche job boards. Many candidates, to imply loyalty, may select that they found the job through the "corporate website", not wanting to appear as if they are applying for several jobs at different companies.

“Niche boards have repeatedly proven their value in attracting quality candidates,” says Mr. Firth. “If adequate measures are not in place, a company should ask the short-list of candidates to name the job boards that they frequent. This will provide valuable input into which niche boards to use for future hiring..”


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