Don’t confuse biggest for best

Attracting and searching for recruitment candidates needs to be ‘quality’, not quantity’.
Just like sales, in today’s market you need a combination of “push and pull” contact strategies for finding the right candidates for your business. Advertising alone is not likely to yield the candidates you seek.


When you decide to recruit externally, the following methods are available to select from:

  • Advertising (on-line job boards [MyCareer, SEEK, CareerOne, etc] newspapers; magazines; radio and television).
  • Recruitment agencies.
  • Executive search firms.
  • Viral marketing email campaigns.
  • University job boards.
  • In-store advertising (shop window).
  • Family and friends.
  • Your own website.
  • Information seminars.
  • Search (direct contact).
  • Networks.
  • On-line network groups (MySpace; Link Me; LinkedIn).



With the advent of online job boards, many people can DIY their own recruitment more easily, and at much cheaper rates than ever before. Pretty much everyone realises nowadays that online job boards are part of our front line recruitment strategy and not just a nice-to-have.


In fact they are very rapidly replacing the traditional newspaper advertising medium, if not already. But you have to know how to use them wisely and well. Putting up recruitment ads willy nilly isn’t going to work. You really need to think about who you are writing the ad for and where they are likely to look. Content, placement and maintaining visibility are some of the key things to consider when using online job boards.


Yet many people assess the credibility, usability and value of online job boards by the volume of candidates they receive without really assessing what those numbers mean.


Getting a whole lot of international applicants who are not qualified to work here and no local candidates is tough. As an ex recruiter (pre the online job board days) it was quality that counted, not volume. My clients wanted the right sales person for the job, not a whole lot of bums on seats.


I don’t know about you but I don’t have the time to wade through email after email of irrelevant resumes. If I am advertising I want to attract good quality people that can do the job even if it means I only get two or three to choose from. If I cannot find the right person I need to have other strategies in place.


My advice is don’t get caught up the hype in the about volume/traffic measurements or the brand of the job board alone without investigating the quality of candidates you get from it. Because quantity doesn’t always equal quality and the biggest doesn’t always mean the best.


I am speaking from experience, not just as an ex recruiter, but through my current experiences and observations of the recruitment market and, in particular, online jobs boards and their effectiveness.


Over the last year, as part of our work, we have been assisting a number of our clients with the recruitment of sales and service people and managers. Now we are not working as a traditional recruiter, more like a quasi HR team working alongside, advising our clients on what to do in this space. We have helped a number of clients in various ways from building and/or supplying them with end-to-end structured competency based recruitment kits, to assisting with candidate screening and interview support.


As part of our support we also advise them on how to write a candidate-attractive ad and where to advertise on the main online job boards, which categories to place the ads under, etc.


Some of our clients have placed their own ads on the big online job boards in the past and achieved very poor results. This was mainly due in part to the type of ad they wrote. Once ad quality was rectified we helped them place the new ads on the two main online job boards (you know which ones I mean).


Here is what we have found so far:


1. With one large online job board we can only get one selection area to place our ads in, and within a few minutes of getting posted each job ad was not on the front page any more. The ads had slipped down due to the huge volume of ads they competed with for space and visibility.


Within a day each ad was so far down the list that most people couldn’t be bothered looking past the first few pages. (Just think Google searches and you know what I mean). It’s almost as if we need SEO for job ads here.


Then there are the responses; sadly the quality of applicants from this online job board has slipped markedly over the last year – too many people just sending out applications and not even bothering to read the ad. Don’t get me wrong, there are occasionally a few good ones, but only a few.

2. Now the other online job board is producing quite a different result. Admittedly we are paying a slightly higher fee per ad, but only slightly, and what we are getting is; three job listing locations for the ad, the ad is refreshed every week over four weeks (which means that the ad goes back up to the top of the page and appears as a new ad again every week for the life of the ad), and the overall quality of the candidates has been vastly superior, resulting in hires coming from this job board 90% of the time to date.


I know the candidates are local and/or qualified or work here. In short, the second online job board outperformed the first in every way with the exception of traffic volume.


Now I know you can pay top dollar for big online display ads and get prime position, but most SMEs do not have the volume of advertising to get the better ad rates that you get if you are a recruitment agency or big corporate. So as SMEs we have to use a range of tactics, and that means using online job boards smarter too.


My advice, if you are speaking with the sales people from any online job board company, ask them about how their job board really performs. Ask them about:

  • Their demographics – are their percentage of unique browers international or local traffic hits? (you can easily inflate the “value” of an online job board site by including international hits).
  • How do they attract local candidates to their site?
  • What percentage of unique browsers are from your own country?
  • What do their real numbers mean?


If all you get is “volume traffic talk” with no real substance, then make sure you have other options available to you. See above.





Sue Barrett is Managing Director of BARRETT Pty Ltd. Sue is an experienced consultant and trained coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating High Performing Sales Teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. For more information please go to

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