Job Boards May be Working Against You

rethinking job board posting strategy
Recent data suggests roughly 50% of applications come from job boards, but only 1% of hires are made through job boards. In this episode, we dive into how effective job boards are, the hidden costs you need to be aware of, and what place they should have in your recruiting strategy. 

If you liked this show or want to share feedback please leave a review so we can keep improving and share the word with other leaders in the tech talent space. If you have suggestions for topics we should cover, feel free to reach out to either Jake Gorgol or Gareth Webb on LinkedIn or send us an email at
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Full Transcript: 

[00:00:00] Jake: All right. Are we good

[00:00:04] Gareth: to go? Good to go morning.

[00:00:06] Jake: Okay. So today, um, wanted to dive into job boards specifically. Um, I know that we've touched on this a lot internally.

[00:00:14] Um, Just the idea of, you know, there's obviously a lot of cost that goes into planning jobs in, in job boards in, in general. But I think there's a lot of, um, you know, you talk about this a lot hidden costs, um, kind of downstream, um, within job boards. So I wanna kind of dive in what that looks like, get your point of view and we'll kick this off with, um, some stats actually that, um, one of our own talent partners brought up in, I think one of our first like blog posts, she, um, helped write for the company.

[00:00:42] Um, But it just like, it's [00:00:45] pretty jarring, right? So 50% of applications come through job boards, only 1% of candidates are hired through them. So I think kind of speaks to both ends. Right? I know this was initially written for, you know, helping candidates find jobs and just understanding the difficulty and kind of getting through and cutting through the noise on the candidate end.

[00:00:59] But also I think the inefficiency right on the employer end, um, in terms of making sure there's a, a, a good process and system in place to handle that effectively, um, Because I know that, you know, I'm sure you can talk through some things that you've mentioned before, too, in terms of just the amount of inbound you can get from that.

[00:01:19] And maybe not always having the right quality of candidate coming through. So I'll open it up to you and kind of just get your action on that, um, [00:01:30] to start out.

[00:01:32] Gareth: Yeah. Um, I mean, so without, just to be very clear, like. We ourselves effectively have used job boards in this, in the form of LinkedIn, which is what it is, um, to make hires in our business.

[00:01:50] Um, so it can work. Um, but there's this huge distractions that come with it and huge problems ands on time and energy, um, that come with it. So it's, it's less than ideal. Um, but we have used them. So I'm not gonna sit here and say, You know, they don't work at all, like, but there is an absolute outcome and there's a [00:02:15] relative outcome to all channels, but especially with job boards.

[00:02:20] Um, so yeah, that doesn't surprise me. Uh, I think the other stat that Emily had mentioned was that only 20% of positions hit the job boards. I don't, I mean, obviously, like we'll never really know how accurate that number is, but it, it definitely. Um, you know, positions get filled internally first as should be the case often.

[00:02:41] And then they go out to, um, agency search firm or other channels, uh, referrals. Um, and then, and then, yeah, obviously lots do hit, uh, the job boards. And a lot of that was a problem with a lot with job boards is obviously for candidates is there's a lot of baiting going on just [00:03:00] to. Data into their ATS.

[00:03:02] So, um, very similar to when you find an apartment or a house and you contact the realtor and then that particular rental's just been miraculously let out two days before like that, that stuff happens, unfortunately. Um, but then the fact that like, um, only 1% of people get hired through, uh, 50% of applications go through job boards or 1% get hired.

[00:03:27] That, that, to me sounds a right. Um, you know, we talk to people all day long and they just, most of the people we deal with and talk to, and approach and target and nurture, um, won't touch a job board. They don't need, you know, enough goes to them

[00:03:43] , and they [00:03:45] don't trust them. And it's obviously been kind of rebranded in the last five, 10 years as the, the hiring or the, the recruitment black hole. Um, and so. The, the problem overall with the job board is just for, as a candidate, you're effectively playing a lottery and that's, there's no other way of saying it.

[00:04:06] Like there will be people that gamify it better than others, where they put all the keyword, you know, in the top left or, uh, in, in early parts of paragraphs to try and get through, um, screening technologies, which is a bit of a joke. Um, and then you have. Um, people chancing just a lot of [00:04:30] people, chancing it.

[00:04:30] And then they're, they are cluttering the inbound inbox, um, and ruining up people's chances who you say, what you say I

[00:04:41] Jake: was, or doesn't that speak to? I mean, just the fact that we, as a candidate would have to feel the need to try and game the system to get through. I think just speaks to the, that piece of it being broken.

[00:04:53] Right. If, if I know that I need to go and have a good chance of applying for a job that I may or may not be qualified for. Right. Like my first thought is like, okay, let me pull up a bunch of job descriptions. Let me see how I can kind of tailor my experience and resume towards those rightly or wrongly.

[00:05:10] Maybe, maybe there's a good fit there, but maybe there's some stuff I'm trying to, you know, [00:05:15] change to get a better, um, chance of speaking with someone it's just delaying a yeah. A process where, you know, we get in a room together and. Or kind of having to revalidate that, um, or find that fit again, um, versus, you know, making sure that there's, you know, value alignment and everything else that goes into the interview process.

[00:05:37] Gareth: Yeah. And, um, that very reason, for example, we've talked about this before, but, um, the, uh, the notion of the inbound, um, certain positions. I, I definitely believe that. Um, it's almost not worth posting certain positions out there because you'll have so much inbound. [00:06:00] It, it, it creates friction for your staff.

[00:06:03] It creates problems for, uh, your employer brand. Um, and there there's gotta be elements of gating, um, you know, so this whole, we we've, we've talked about this before. I think I've blogged about it is like the internet is supposedly democratized opportunity. Actually it, that's not true. Like it's definitely democratized information access and the ability to learn mm-hmm

[00:06:28] Um, but in terms of opportunity, having everybody have access to every job opportunity is false because only one person can land the job. Maybe a second, third person can get hired for a different job, but we had one position which was. It wasn't [00:06:45] quite director, but it was like a principal, senior HR business partner requirement for a SaaS client public company.

[00:06:52] Put the position out on careers, put the position on, uh, their careers page. LinkedIn, I think Glassdoor, like between 600 and a thousand applicants within a few weeks. And, um, I think they'd interviewed a couple, but none of them were, were, were right. So, you know, I don't know the man hours going into like managing that, but we, we know kind of what our man hours are from managing any kind of like, um, ad campaigns and inbound, but, um, you know, what, we then presented, like we matched four people [00:07:30] to the position and one was hired.

[00:07:32] And so that's like done within. Four weeks, six weeks max with far fewer man hours and stuff. So the job board, the thing with the job board is it's like, it's too easy to not do it. And it's so low cost that it's so tempting. Um, and you think, oh, we could, we could make this really amazing hire. We just need to put a spec out there and use, you know, the internet will do its work, but then, uh, yeah, you don't have frustrations with your staff managing the inbound frustrations of candidates, not hearing back.

[00:08:02] Um, frustration with people trying to follow up, to see if you've got their application. And then, and then one or three or six months later, they get an auto reject from the ATS, just cleaning itself out. And it's just like, [00:08:15] it's just horrible. Um,

[00:08:17] Jake: I, I think it was like, must be a record or close to it. There is a, this is a little while back when the job I'd applied for.

[00:08:25] Um, well, before you and I even talked before I moved, you know, over to out. And I wanna say like four or five months into working at out scout, I got the , uh, rejection, um, auto from the job I'm like, that had been in like at least eight, nine months of, uh, waiting period.

[00:08:44] Gareth: I've had similar where yeah. I applied to some in Europe and, um, sent me very, very polite rejection email, like not far off a year after the fact.

[00:08:56] So it's hilarious. I think I might have. Send snarky [00:09:00] reply. Um, but, um, yeah, so I think, um, the can, we can talk about this later, like the on resource and the, on, you know, the temptation to build a data set is, is high, cuz the costs not too much and the tools are there, but is like all things we talk about at the moment, especially this year, it's like just cuz you can, should you do it?

[00:09:27] You know, is your company time worth more than that? And I'd argue it in times like this. It definitely is.

[00:09:36] Jake: So I want to, what, what are your, what are your thoughts on the.

[00:09:43] Idea of, you know, needing to [00:09:45] build pipeline and like filling top of funnel. Um, cause I feel like that's probably another, um, common reason. Like I think you mentioned that earlier too,

[00:09:55] Gareth: I think. Yeah. If you're do that,

[00:10:04] assuming that every piece of every person in that data set, if you wanna build. 1, 2, 3, 4, 500 people of who could be a fit for your organization, whether it's engineering or product or, or every function. I mean, everyone, you should want to talk to like otherwise, why are they in there? If they're not worth a conversation, the first place they're not worth an interview, then why are they in your outreach program?

[00:10:25] Um, why they in your funnel? Um, I think [00:10:30] companies, some companies getting ahead there, like building pipeline that actually is meaningful and mm-hmm, . Wanting to actually track people, not just absorb data because it feels good. It's like, oh yeah. I mean, yeah. We, we have two positions posted out on LinkedIn at the moment.

[00:10:44] And, um, it's a nightmare actually, because not only, you know, so, so I fall into the trap, we've fall into the trap of doing it because we're like, oh, well, let's see, like let's see there's lots of like things going on out in the market. Um, I think the, the reason why. It's so tempting to do that is just because, um, you know, it is a, a competition or a war on talent and people think it's like, one of the things you can do to get ahead is like build out a massive data [00:11:15] set.

[00:11:15] So the top of the temptation for the building out the funnel is just, you know, everybody, especially if you are like a company going through growth is you just want data and you want eyes on and you want people coming to you and you, um, but I think that, um, that is just the.

[00:11:32] People people revert to volume, uh, with talent pipelines, um, rather than potentially getting more mindful and intentional about doing more with a bit less and you know, what's the right number. And so if you understand, say, say like we present five, so, you know, we say we get to the point where we have five people match to a client for a position.

[00:11:58] The problem is like, [00:12:00] people don't understand how that five came about. So, um, I think that's where there is a disconnect between some companies and hiring partners, whether you're an internal talent partner for a business or an external one. Um, and so yeah, hiring managers are like, Hey, I'd love to see like 10, 20 people.

[00:12:20] And then we'll say, well, you know, you, you can't interview that many people. Um, You know, maybe five to 10 makes sense. And then you interview five, but even then interviewing five people is, is serious man hours. So I think it's just human nature to want to see what's there and then choose. Um, and obviously then you, you, you have selection happening for you.

[00:12:43] So I think a lot of businesses are like, yeah, we wanna just [00:12:45] build out our own data set and let's just turn on the floodgates, uh, of LinkedIn and indeed and glass door or wherever else. Um, but it doesn't solve the problem and it just creates so much, like so many hidden costs that, I mean, we could, we could talk about and calculate and we can explain to people, but people still don't necessarily realize until they've done it.

[00:13:10] Like, we, we have clients that like, yeah, we, we are not putting that type of roll out again to, for the internet to see, um, because. Unfortunately, everybody thinks they can. Everyone wants those big shiny objects, like the VP role mm-hmm . And then you'll have people who have never been a director or manager applying.

[00:13:27] And, you know, everyone's like, well, I might as well have [00:13:30] a crack at it. So I'll just press LinkedIn, easy apply as you say. Um, and, um, you know, maybe I'll get, uh, a swing at, you know, as a swing swinging and maybe I'll hit a home run, but like, no it's no, it never works like that.

[00:13:46] Jake: so we touched on the downstream issues.

[00:13:50] is there anything else there that you wanted to, to bring up at all?

[00:13:53] Gareth: Yeah, like I think the, um, problem with all of this is you. If you could track time spent of the whole organization between like resources or coordinators or hiring managers or talent acquisition teams. Um, just dealing with inbound is, uh, fine for more junior positions, [00:14:15] I think.

[00:14:15] And, um, less critical administrative type work, right. Where you, you can get somebody in who's reliable and trained up to do the job for specialist positions. It's. but there's, there's so many costs. So, you know, if you are a series, a exec founder or VP, and you are hiring people on your team and you, you could go and stick position out there and then just be utterly underwhelmed, most likely with the traffic and, um, who comes through or if you go and do it yourself, you could get several hundred or thousands of applicants for a position.

[00:14:49] Um, and if you have. The infrastructure and the means of the people and the, and the know how to deal with that, then that's fine. Getting quick rejections out, moving the right people through, [00:15:00] onto a call, putting 'em in front of the right people. So bigger clients can do that. Startups probably can't. Um, so startups wanna kind of have someone deal with all that stuff and then just send them who who's absolutely like worth talking to.

[00:15:14] then If you are then filtering out people and putting the good ones, even if they're not perfect for a role, putting them into your like ATS or engagement tool, then that's a worthwhile exercise potentially. I would argue that it, it doesn't really pay off a lot of time for a lot of our, like if I talked to a lot of VPs of talent and they like the idea of like mining data sets of really good talents and they can reengage later, but once a can has come through an application, If they don't end up at your organization, say within a month, they're probably now in [00:15:45] another seat somewhere else.

[00:15:46] Anyway. Yeah. So, so it's not really that much of, you know, I'm not saying you shouldn't do it, but it's probably not the exercise to do. Um, the other, the other portion of cost to think about is, You know, the other means of, of finding people. So obviously you have search firms that are incredibly expensive, but they can do a very good job for very, very important positions.

[00:16:10] and then in between you have like agencies and specialized job boards or matching environments, And, and there's, there's lots of those. There was a proliferation of job boards. I feel like there's another proliferation of job boards happening with like the communities that being built on LinkedIn and stuff like that.

[00:16:25] Yeah. Uh, which is which, which can be quite, which can be quite effective, bang [00:16:30] for buck. Um, all of these things don't. Really factor in the cost of time on the people doing the work. So I think you just gotta be really careful. And, you know, if I was, if, if we were going through a big hiring phase or you wanted to hire a content strategist or creative director, We know, like, is that gonna be worth your time putting it out there?

[00:16:56] Or should you just go and drill down into two or three external partners that could find you three or four? Really good people each mm-hmm and then you get it done. Um, and then, and I'd argue that that might cost a bit more initially, but the, the, the productivity gains would be huge because you. You're not sort of pulled into this [00:17:15] time drain activity of going through everything that happens when you let something out, um, to the market.

[00:17:21] you know, and I think cost per hire is something that everyone's gotta think about all our clients, you know, especially internal talent teams. They're, they're incentivized in bonus on cost per hire and budgets. Um, and I understand you can't put every position out to an agency. Like the roaring nineties, which is kinda what used to happen.

[00:17:40] but, um, I think there are slightly, there's a blended approach. So it's like putting the dollars behind what's the most important high value position is gonna, you know, impact your product or you'll go to market strategy or leadership hire. and so, yeah, I, I just think, uh, Proceed re caution with, [00:18:00] with how you, how you approach or hire and, and put the money where the returns will come.

[00:18:04] So if you're trying to scale a team and a product, then the money should be put behind or scale effectively scale the team, the product, the brand. And then if it's, if it's not something that's like a real game changing position, then yet you can, you can see what comes through an inbound. Yep.

[00:18:22] Jake: Like the idea of kind of approaching it based on.

[00:18:25] Skill or seniority and, you know, having a different approach. I'm sure that is, is being done, um, in, in good organizations too. yeah, there's such an interesting parallel. Like I can draw specifically with marketing, um, just on like the, you know, the need for, to wanna drive leads. Um, but not measuring that all the way down the funnel and seeing like, okay, [00:18:45] what actually resulted in an outcome.

[00:18:46] Um, I, you know, for marketing's revenue, um, for this would be, you know, your hire. If you're getting 50% of your applications, that looks really good right. Through the, the job boards from an inbound standpoint. But if you're only making 1% of your hires, where are the other 99% coming? And are your processes being adjusted to better catered to that?

[00:19:06] Is, is the piece I'm kind of curious about? Um, so yeah, yeah, just an interesting kind of parallel for, for me.

[00:19:13] Gareth: Yeah. If you use marketing as the analogy, if you want like mass. Volume leads for a low, lower price product. Then you are gonna just go with paid and stick it out across all kinds of mom and pop channels like [00:19:30] Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, uh, wherever, and see what comes through.

[00:19:34] But if you're selling an enterprise product to a high value customer, then you're taking a more targeted account based marketing and ABM approach where you are gonna have. Okay, let's go after these one or three or 500 companies and do very personalized. Segmented outbound mm-hmm . Um, and that's where, where we are.

[00:19:52] Like, that's kind of the people we are going after. We're trying to tempt the best, most high value people into our environment. versus, you know, say you are a staffing agency that needs to put box Packers into a Amazon warehouse, then that's different. You need volume, so you're gonna be everywhere. You shouldn't take one approach for [00:20:15] the other. And like, it just makes no sense with time and energy and it's the same for hiring. So, yeah, it is weird to me when we see companies stick out some really important positions, like VP roles, director roles, you can put it out there, but just don't expect it to get done.

[00:20:29] We are seeing more and more with companies saying, yeah, we don't really wanna put it out there because it's gonna strain. We know we're gonna get thousands of applicants and, uh, people following up and people chasing and it just leads to disappointment all around. Um, so I think, yeah, I mean, we've talked about this quite a lot, but the whole segmentation of talent pools and then approaches and gating.

[00:20:49] That's our mindset anyways, to sort of have filters and gates to, so that. You can't create too much disappointment. And the people that are viewing the job should be viewing the job. Mm-hmm , uh, people that are [00:21:00] being matched, have already been by their, by definition, like their, they have earned the right to be considered by being in the environment that we've created, which is like a, you know, the kind of gated in community environment.

[00:21:14] Just leads to better outcomes. Now, slightly less fair that like everyone can see it. And it just, it's kind of anti the internet of like democratizing opportunity. But it does mean that the right person will more than likely not get overlooked because they've just been in this list of a thousand people and say over, say a kind of junior talent acquisition person who's owning that inbound happened to miss it.

[00:21:38] Because they had so much fire hose at them. Mm-hmm so it was like, okay. Do you wanna sift through a thousand people or do you wanna actually pick from [00:21:45] 10 that are all very, very much spot on? That's a much better for certain positions?

[00:21:51] Jake: Cool. We are coming up on time? Any final thoughts before we wrap.

[00:21:55] Gareth: I mean, look, I think we're not here saying don't use them. I think use them, depending on the time and resource that you've got and, and, and if it's, you know, entry or sort of more a generalized position, three of our team currently came through LinkedIn job ads, right? So it works. I do wish that I hadn't had to like, spend all that time going through every single person that had applied.

[00:22:19] And we're like a small company, uh, you know, once you land funding or you are in the news somewhere, You know, then you're obviously gonna be able to pick [00:22:30] and choose more drastically. You'll have a massive inbound, um, and you, but, and you'll be able to afford other means. So that's when you build out your talent stack as being more considered, and having different approaches.

[00:22:40] yeah, I think, I think the way to approach hiring, like you said, is kind of like marketing. It's like, well, we don't have to do exactly. What's been done. Let's do what's right for now. Let's do what's right for the type of audience. Or type of account type of person that we're trying to engage with. and I think, you know, the, the, where it works is if you have good inbound, as long as you have, then a well trained team that look at the mobility of like who comes through.

[00:23:08] So if they come through for a role, but they're underqualified or overqualified, are you moving them across, are using the data to make [00:23:15] sure people are actually being funneled through to the right. That's where things massively fall down. You see so many people, so many companies just, um, not actioning their data particularly well, even if they've got a good ATS, they just, people will just say binary in thinking and you know, so that person applied to that job.

[00:23:31] They're not good. Right. Let's just, let's reject them as not, you know, everybody could be considered for something mm-hmm um, the big thing with job boards is, again, we haven't really talked about this, but how well are you defining what someone should be doing? A lot of people just go for title, but if you're actually like, like putting the time into defining what the position's about, then it's gonna be more, more effective and more impactful.

[00:23:56] But I still revert back to my belief that people don't really read [00:24:00] things properly. They're just, uh, I, I, you know, heard people say this, that they'll put in a position like criteria in LinkedIn, it'll bring up 300 results of say, you know, product manager, Austin, and then they'll just click through every single one mm-hmm hit and hope.

[00:24:14] Um, so that's why we don't really love it for the most important, like critical and senior positions. Don't do it unless, you know, you've got the time, the resource to manage what comes through, cuz you'll probably be quite shocked about the volumes that come in.

[00:24:30] Cool.

[00:24:31] Jake: Always pleasure picking the mind of Gareth. So thank

[00:24:38] Gareth: cheer, Jake.


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