Job Boards, Content and a case of “Back to the Future”

This is the second part in my series “The Future of Job Boards”.

In my first post I alluded to the fact that, in my opinion, job boards are at a turning point and need to decide what they are and what they need to do/be to evolve and grow.

Being both old and something of a recruitment industry historian, I see some parallels to what happened in the publishing industry during the 80s and 90s.

Recruitment advertising, marketing and branding has been around in some shape or form since the 70s and when an audience was created, you found that recruitment advertisements started to appear, trying to attract the audience the publisher had built.

Simplistically, this audience was built based on the “content model” i.e. write/say something of interest to your target audience and they will read what you have to say. As these audiences grew, we saw the growth of recruitment advertising. This started with newspapers (national and regional) but in the UK we built a strong trade or “business 2 business” press i.e. content for a specific niche.

By the mid 90s trade press accounted for over £550m of the UK £1.6bn recruitment advertising market. However, recruitment advertising always appeared in the back of a magazine i.e. away from the content in the front. Often we described this front section/ reader as being what could be called the “passive” candidate, whilst those reading the jobs at the back became known as the active candidates.

Regardless, the audience, as research showed, saw recruitment advertising as being a key reason for looking at a magazine or newspaper. Some paid publications had 20% plus increases in paid circulations on the day the recruitment section was published.

This explains why aggregators have done so well: an audience will go to where they feel they have the best chance of finding a job and their perception, rightly or wrongly, is defined by the number of jobs they can see/find.

The “traditional” non publishing-owned job board focused on one aspect of this model: jobs. They had little or no interest in providing content beyond jobs and even the print publishing-owned businesses did no more than buy an off-the-shelf job board and sold job postings/banner & buttons plus CV access (they did not sell an audience but a channel, the job board, they “sell” job seekers as opposed to readers/audience).

BUT I see some real changes taking place. Today, more and more, we understand the value of content in the job board world. So what are the key benefits?

  • Content creates engagement with your audience. It makes you board more of a “go to place” as opposed to a pure job board.
  • Contents create dialogue and communication between your audiences. It is “social” and builds communities.
  • Content is excellent for improving your SEO.

Content used correctly is excellent B2B and B2C marketing.

So, how can you build a content platform intelligently and without breaking the bank?

  1. Think like a publisher NOT a job board owner.
  2. Understand your audience readership habits.
  3. Build editorial/content programmes i.e. identify key industry events, conferences, etc. and create polls/surveys pre-event to generate content and interest.
  4. Identify key trade magazines (do they have RSS?), key industry bloggers, etc. Use social media to help with this – Twitter and LinkedIn are useful tools.
  5. What knowledge does your own client-base have and would they be prepared to produce content for you?
  6. What “communities” already exist and can you join/follow them?

Finally, what tools can you use to build your audience?

  • A blog is essential but you may wish to build as fully integrated publishing platform, see Changeboard for this approach or OnlyMarketingJobs for a great use of WordPress blogs. They are one for Recruiters and another focused on Careers Advice i.e. job seekers.
  • Build a LinkedIn Group.
  • Ning has great community functionality, see Recruitngblogs.com or OnlyMarketingJobs.
  • Use You Tube and create video content.
  • Distribute your content via all social channels and bookmarking tools.
  • Finally use good old-fashioned email newsletters as another distribution tools to drive traffic back to your site.

So just one question remains… does it fit your business model and, if yes, can you be bothered to do this? Sound cynical as this will take real effort but you might be surprised by the results.

My next blog in this series looks at B2B marketing and how to improve your job board’s relationship with your advertisers

Keith Robinson is a regular contributor to the Jobg8 blog, Co produces the Jobg8 Summits and works with a range of job boards advising on Strategy, NPD, Marketing and NBD across Europe.

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