Faced with a staffing vacancy, many companies will see little option but to use an Internet job board. But how effective are these enormous complexes of corporate posturing and candidate data? How do they draw in such big audiences? And are there any ways for a recruiter, in a specialist market, to cut down the cost?
Well, consider first of all that most of the money wasted on job advertisements is wasted because the ad didn’t reach the right people. If a recruiter can hugely increase the chances of hitting the right audience, from the off, they can cut out a lot of those wasted postings.
So, how does a recruiter reach the highest number of suitable candidates, at the first attempt? Here’s a very simple, but cunningly clever method you can use to find a job board with the kind of reach you need. The trick is: look at the situation not from your own viewpoint, but from that of the candidate…
WHICH JOB BOARD WILL BEST REACH YOUR TARGET APPLICANTS?
When looking for work online, most candidates are likely to begin searching in the same way that most other people search for specific things online: with a search engine. As the world’s most-frequented search engine by a landslide margin, Google is probably going to be their preferred option.
This provides a simple route to working out which job board(s) your potential candidates are likely to be browsing. If the candidate has used Google to search for vacancies, and ended up on a job site, it’s highly probable that they’ll have gone to one near the top of Google’s search results.
So, a great way to select the right job site for your particular field of recruitment, is to search Google for the actual job vacancy you want to fill. For example, if you were going to advertise for a full-time carer in the Birmingham area, you’d go to Google, and search for something along the lines of “full time carer job in Birmingham“.
The results you’ll see should be very similar to those your potential candidates will have seen. So logically, the job sites showing at the top of Google’s organic search results, are the ones which should, theoretically, give you the best reach with potential candidates. What are the organic search results? Simply, any results that are not paid adverts. Whilst paid ads should not be dismissed, they can be very transient. But the top organic results typically stay in roughly the same place over the long term. Therefore, organic Google results are an excellent guide to where candidates are going to search for vacancies like yours.
THE HIDDEN TRUTH ABOUT JOB VACANCIES ON GENERAL SEARCH ENGINES
So let’s say you’ve now popped onto Google and searched for the job you want to advertise…
What you may have noticed, is that every one of the top organic results is an index/search page on a job board. You’re not seeing any individual vacancy ads, as posted, for example, on an employer’s own website. And whichever type of vacancy you search for, you’re likely to find this is the case. No specific, individual jobs – everything leads to an index/search page on a job board. Why is this? Why is Google – a facility normally renowned for cutting straight to the content – instead transferring users to what’s essentially just another search engine, on another site?…
It’s primarily because job boards block Google from indexing their individual job listings. There’s coding within a vast number of individual job pages, that tells Google’s information-gathering web-crawler that it’s not allowed to access their contents. Google’s crawler can only index the index pages of most big job sites, and therefore, it doesn’t even consider the individual job postings to exist.
Above we see the code heading an individual job post on the enormous job site Indeed.co.uk. The line including the word NOINDEX blocks Google and other search engines from indexing the content.
Whilst the job sites’ index pages are constantly re-populated, they’re never deleted. That gives them something which search engines like Google absolutely love: longevity. Google sees pages that have been around for a long time as trustworthy, and with all else like for like, it tends to prioritise them. Since an individual job listing will, by nature, typically be quite new, then even if Google’s crawler bot is allowed to access it, the post won’t have the same trust or status as an old, regularly updated, and regularly visited page.
It’s also the case that major job sites have built up authority in their field over time. A huge volume of people on the Internet use them and refer to them, and that tells Google they’re important. Hence, the index pages on well-known job boards will almost inevitably bury any new, individual job postings out of sight.
But that still doesn’t fully explain why job sites need to block Google from their individual job posts. There are a couple of important reasons…
- One is that the job sites want to be considered search engines in themselves. If people can find the individual job postings via Google, they will find the individual postings via Google. And then they’ll go back to Google to find more. The job sites don’t want that. They want to be Google – within the realm of job search. That’s how they maintain their audience. So they consciously stop Google from doing its job, forcing jobseekers to go to their dedicated jobsearch page instead.
- Another reason is that lots of post deletions may damage a site’s trust factor with Google. If large quantities of jobs are being posted and then deleted, it can interfere with the site’s status with Google, and make it less visible in the results. And if the job posts are not being deleted once the vacancies are filled, there’s an obvious danger that a huge raft of dead ends will remain searchable to the public – destroying public trust in the job site. Blocking access to the individual posts solves everything for the job sites. But it’s not quite as favourable a situation for the recruiters…
If the job details a recruiter posts on a job site are not being made available to Google, then access to that information is being restricted. The reach of the ad is deliberately being limited, regardless of how much money the recruiter paid to place it. Ouch!
So are there any realistic alternatives on the Internet for recruiters with vacancies?
ADVERTISING JOBS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
The viability of advertising jobs on social media depends to an extent on the nature of the role, as well as the platform being used, and other issues such as the size of the recruiter’s own audience. Social media is, for most users, a very difficult medium to use for recruitment without getting into the realm of spamming. Social networking platforms are engineered to make each post very transient in terms of visibility. It’s a different world from Google search. Posts are only highly visible for a short space of time before they get swamped out of view by a tidal wave of newer submissions.
If recruiters try to compete for the top spaces on the various social media timelines, then unless they’re paying, things can quickly become repetitive. One perceived means of staying visible in a chronologically-ordered environment is to keep posting essentially the same thing over and over. But there are some serious drawbacks associated with that. It disengages followers, and the social platforms don’t like things that disengage followers. Accounts that post repetitively on social media naturally tend to become less visible. In extreme cases, they can also be subject to suspensions.
But even those who employ more engaging methods on social media may come up against adversities. For example, the size of the audience on social media is very erratic. The reach of a post depends who’s around at the time the message is posted. A lot of users won’t log in every day. Some won’t log in for weeks, months, or even years.
Worst of all, the audience on social media is often not that well-targeted. This is another reason why visible places on web search engines are so desirable. In theory, everyone who sees a Google result is perfectly-targeted.
Some recruiters take a proactive approach on social media, singling out individual people they feel will be likely candidates and connecting with them directly. Headhunting, essentially. LinkedIn is well known as a ‘headhunting’ platform. But proactive recruitment campaigns can be extremely time consuming.
BUILD YOUR OWN JOB SITE
Another option for recruiters who regularly or continually have vacancies, is to build something similar to a job site on their own web domain. Now that you know a little about how major job sites work, you can probably see that there’s scope to incorporate similar paradigms into your company website. You would of course need to have a strong idea as to how you’d compete with the major job sites on the search engines. It’s not a lost cause, though. Whilst dislodging the major sites from those top search slots would be very difficult, there are lots of ‘back door’ routes to being found on Google – especially if the kind of roles you offer are out of the ordinary. It’s certainly worth a thought if you’re constantly shelling out on job ads.
Ultimately, the major job sites have invested an enormous amount of money in dominating the most visible areas of web search, and although they can’t guarantee results, if you pick the right one, it will almost certainly get your message in front of a viable audience. If a job site connects you with the perfect candidate, you’re unlikely to have any regrets. But before you spend money, give them the Google test!