Job Boards for Publishers: Advantages and Challenges

In many ways, job boards owe their existence to publishers. The classifieds section in the newspaper used to be the first place you looked when starting a job hunt. Online job boards have come a long way since they first emerged in the 1990s and have played a significant role in transforming job search and recruiting, and in expanding the recruiting industry.

In this edition of the Careerleaf blog and two posts following it, we’ll continue our tradition of unpacking key elements of running and marketing a job board business, this time for online publishers specifically. Our hope is that by explicitly sharing and discussing the various advantages, challenges, and revenue models for publisher job boards, you’ll be prompted to see what you are doing in a comparative light.

Publisher Job Board Businesses:

Before diving in, it is worth it to define the broad spectrum of online publishers. Publishers come in all shapes and forms. Many established newspapers and magazines have traditionally sold recruitment advertisements in their print editions, and have in time developed parallel web presences that include job boards. In some cases, the digital has overtaken or replaced print publications entirely.

However, many online publishers today have emerged because of the Internet – successful blogs that expand into large news and media websites. Online communities centred around content – recipe sites, video gaming forums, etc., may also add a job board to deliver relevant career opportunities to their users.

Challenges for Publisher Job Boards:

One of the major challenges publishers of all kinds face is balancing the many components of their business. Publishers need to produce content that informs, entertains, and engages their readers. At the same time, they need to harness the attention of those readers for their advertisers’ gain. Whether your job board is a simple add-on, or a fully embedded sales channel, it can sometimes feel like yet another thing for busy publishers to deal with. The challenges for publishers with job boards can include:

  • Technology – Powering a busy job board can take different strengths than publishing design. Integrating a potentially complex database system into your content management system can sometimes be tricky.
  • Selling – Promoting and selling job board services to employers often depends on a publisher’s sales processes. Some publishers may sell print recruitment advertising as well as online job posts, and others may use multiple systems or tools for selling and publishing online ads. Coordinating and balancing these different channels takes effort.
  • Cross-Marketing – In some ways, a large job board is a publication unto itself. To get the most out of it, publishers may need to change the and adjust their marketing to promote jobs to candidates and job advertising services to employers and recruiters, as well as find opportunities in existing content spaces (like email, columns, and unused ad space) to build and maintain awareness.

Advantages for Publisher Job Boards:

Job boards on publisher websites often have the greatest potential for success. An established brand, a defined market, and existing business relationships can give publisher job boards a serious edge.

  • A Defined Market – Publishers tend to know their audiences pretty well. They have to, in order to keep them interested and to stay in business. This knowledge is extremely useful when marketing to both candidates and employers. You know what kind of industries and jobs are relevant to your readership, and employers will what kind of talent they will reach through advertising with you.
  • Readerships – Most job boards have to work hard to build up regular traffic and make sales. Publishers do too, but when they already have reader traffic, it’s not a big stretch to get them to check out your job board section.
  • Business Relationships – Advertisers already know and value your readership, and it’s not uncommon for companies to recruit their own customers. Not all your job board revenue may come from existing advertisers, but having those contacts first and/or regular customers gives publisher job boards a huge leg up.
  • Community-Building – By adding a job board to your web properties, you’re expanding your publication to create more of an online community, where readers and members have multiple incentives to return. Regular readers will make a habit of checking for jobs, and active job seekers will discover and return to consume your content.
  • Existing Sales & Creative Teams – Publishers tend to employ a lot of talent themselves, and existing sales and creative teams can lend their skills and experience to improving and running a job board.

Publishers have a lot going for them when it comes to running a job board, and there are plenty of options for how to run them and make money. Next week we’ll be examining different revenue models that publishers use for their job boards, along with their pros and cons. Stay tuned!

2 thoughts on “Job Boards for Publishers: Advantages and Challenges

  1. One just wonders if Simplyhired publisher program would be relaunched. Indeed, Ziprecruiter and jobs2career are all doing great

    1. Hi Tony,

      SimplyHired is now owned by Indeed’s parent company, and their publisher program was discontinued. While Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Jobs2Careers provide job backfills and in some cases have similar publisher programs, the profit margin for a publisher whose job board is only a source of traffic for one of those aggregators is fairly slim. Part of that is because it gives the publisher very little room to control the job board – it’s branding, pricing, marketing, and experimenting with products and services that solve problems for their target market. I think Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Jobs2Careers can be valuable partners for job boards and publishers, but the profitability of a SimplyHired-style publisher program seems limited for both parties.

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