I’m not a huge fan of job boards. Their efficacy as a source of talent has deteriorated over the years and most of them have been unable to innovate quickly enough to maintain their value. Niche job boards have emerged as stronger players because they focus on particular areas of interest and can drive a more narrowly focused audience of job seekers. And big aggregators (like Indeed and SimplyHired) have done a good job as a meta-layer on top of everyone else. But the big, broad job boards in the middle of the two have really suffered.
There are lots of problems with job boards (too many to go into), but without a doubt the job board industry attracts a lot of attention from startups — the job market on a whole does — it’s huge (billions spent on recruitment each year) and it’s almost impossible to find anyone that’s happy with the results. I hope we see more and more innovation in the job market (and specifically targeting job boards): we need it.
I’m not quite ready to tackle that monumental task, but for NextMontreal I did want to experiment a little bit. For starters, we do have a job board. It’s not as sophisticated as I’d like, but it’s a start. And unfortunately I couldn’t find a WordPress plugin that did what I wanted, so I simplified and stuck to the basics.
Secondly, I decided to charge for job postings. Some will argue that all job postings should be free — maybe — but I don’t completely agree. Advertising in other contexts isn’t generally free, so why should job ads cost zero? The fact that most of them suck, job boards can’t typically provide detailed analytics on traffic, and very few companies are measuring the efficacy of job postings aside … when you advertise (anywhere) you usually pay. But this is where I wanted to hack around a bit and experiment.
On NextMontreal’s job board there are two options — post for $49 (for 60 days) or post for FREE. So you can post for free! What’s the difference between a paid and free listing? Simple: A paid listing is a typical job posting that we see all over the Web. The form to fill out is quite standard with the fields you’d expect – Job Title, Job Description, etc. You can even upload a Word document or other file for us to post the job.
The form for submitting a free job posting is much more extensive. It’s asking employers to fill out a lot more and be much more creative. For example, it asks: “What’s a ‘day in the life’ of the new employee going to be like?” And: “How will the new employee’s performance be measured? What are the specific goals for the job?” And: “What are the top reasons someone should work at your company?”
If you’re willing to take the time, be creative and fill out a more extensive, meaningful form — you can post for free. That’s the hack (for now!)
What I’d like to see are higher quality job ads. We want employers to think about what’s important to the candidates? And if they do that, they can post for free.
A few people have already told me that they’re working on writing better job postings so they can post for free, and that the job board was encouraging them to make the effort. That’s a great start!
In some ways this is a reverse freemium model. More people will pay (most likely!) and they’re in some way subsidizing the few that make the effort. But the few that make the effort are in turn (most likely!) going to get more attention, because their job postings will stand out as unique and meaningful. And so the employers will stand out. Their brand will increase in the eyes’ of job seekers. That’s a good thing. Now if that means more and more employers start posting free job postings because they want the same benefits, so be it … and I’ve in turn killed the business model of paid job ads (at least for NextMontreal). If we could actually get to that stage, I then see a whole variety of other hacks that can be executed on to really start creating much more value around job ads than employers are currently getting. Here’s how I hope it goes down:
- Most people pay $49 for a 60-day job posting. A few post for free.
- Those that post for free get better results (it will be hard to measure right now though, a lot of this will be done through customer interviews by me).
- The employers that pay stop paying because they write better job postings and want to get the same attention as others.
- NextMontreal loses money (Sometimes you have to cannibalize an existing source of revenue if you know it’s not the future!)
- But the value of the job board increases and we move the needle (at least in a small way!) on the quality and importance of job postings.
- We do “other stuff” to improve the value of NextMontreal’s job board, and commercialize those truly valuable additions.
A small, but hopefully interesting job board hack.