Niche Job Boards: An Increasingly Valuable Resource for Companies

Increasing evidence shows that niche job boards are the most effective way for companies to find the strongest job candidates. That was among the major findings earlier this month at the Third Annual Conference of Nicheboards.com, the world’s leading confederation of employment Web sites.
In an improved job market, niche boards are posting more open positions and drawing a greater share of targeted, high-quality job seekers – those with appropriate skills and background. The result: companies are using these industry-focused Web sites to fill some of their most important positions. To wit, in a recent study, Jobscience.com found that one of its long-time clients was filling more key posts through its services than via generalist job boards. “I always heard niche boards did better but now I’ve seen the raw data that niche boards are delivering the best candidates,” says Ted Elliott, the chief executive and president of Jobscience.com.

Meanwhile, a rising number of job seekers use the niche sites to research industries and companies. Most of the niche job boards provide home-page profiles or banners, which empower companies to portray themselves as desirable places for talented candidates to seek careers. An effective profile illustrates the corporate culture and the benefits of applying for positions offered by the company. “That may spur prospective candidates to respond to postings they might otherwise overlook,” says AllRetailJobs.com and Nicheboards founder Don Firth. “It’s a chance for companies to stand out and demonstrate they’re the best places to work at.” AllRetailJobs.com reports that more than 30,000 seekers view home page company profiles on its Web site each month.

Each job board in the 11-member Nicheboards alliance focuses on a specific industry or type of candidate. Members are all well established, non-competing, leading boards in their respective fields. This allows for open dialog and information exchange between the members. The three-year-old group attracts more than three million visitors each month. The members: AllRetailJobs.com, CallCenterJobs.com, Computerwork.com, DestinyGrp.com, GreatInsuranceJobs.com, JobScience.com, Jobs4HR.com, Jobsinthemoney.com, JobsInLogistics.com, LatPro.com and TelecomCareers.net. The Nicheboards’ conference focused on trends in the $1.5 billion job board industry, which has been growing steadily over the past decade.

Growth this year has been especially good, amidst a small up-tick in the job market. Revenue gains for Nicheboards members have ranged from 25 percent to nearly 100 percent through the first three quarters of 2004 (see Nicheboards Report, Issue 1). Most recently, Latpro.com announced that postings to its Web site, which serves the Hispanic, bi-lingual job market, have risen 90 percent.

Among other topics on the agenda, the Nicheboards group reported:

  • They were optimistic about continued vigorous growth for the remainder of 2004 and into the following year. “There’s no question that companies are placing more and more value on reaching a targeted audience,” said Mr. Firth.

  • Some companies may be discouraging potential workers by requiring them to complete elaborate screening tests. These tests are used to eliminate applicants who lack appropriate job skills. Yet they have become so lengthy at times that job seekers don’t complete them. “Companies need to be careful not to make things too complicated,” said Bill Gaul, the founder of DestinyGrp.com, which connects companies with military personnel switching to civilian life.
  • The NicheBoards Group supported the initiative from Jonathan Duarte of GoJobs to develop a Source of Hire Protocol so that companies using ATS systems can identify which boards provide the winning candidates. The current information systems are too loose and often fail to give niche boards credit for hires. As an example, more than 1,800 candidates applied to jobs for one retailer from AllRetailJobs.com. The company’s ATS initially only recorded 94.
  • Companies providing candidate screening programs should ensure that all job seekers applying for the same position face identical test questions. Otherwise, they may not meet Federal guidelines outlined in March by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “You need to have a uniform system,” says Jobscience.com’s Mr. Elliott.
  • Aside from higher quality candidates and less unqualified applications, customer service is one of the key things companies report make niche job boards stand out ahead of generalist boards. “We know our clients, and we know our respective industries, so we can extend that extra measure of personal customer service that generalist boards can’t match,” explained Jim Moylan of CallCenterJobs.com.

Niches