Job Board Business Models: How can you build and monetise a Job Board?
Job Board Business Models: How can you build and monetise a Job Board?
Is there really any money in the job board market?
If it’s not your core industry, you can certainly be forgiven for asking that question. After all, technology is developing at an astounding rate. And you might assume that a concept that has its roots in print publications doesn’t have a bright future.
But like so many other markets, the job board market is moving with the times. And though that inevitably means a shift towards digital, the ‘old’ print model is still a thing! If you’re a newspaper or magazine owner, for example, you’ll know there’s still a business model under which you charge employers money for publishing their job opportunities on your platform. Even if that platform has largely now shifted to the internet.
Technology, publishing and recruitment are all in a state of transformation. The old is mixing with the new, with artificial intelligence already showing its potential influence. This means job board monetisation now comes in more forms than ever. There is plenty of opportunity. You just need to pick the right business model for your entry into the job board market.
With our job board software and white label solutions, our role at Jobiqo is to help clients including publishers, newspapers and digital marketplaces handle the technology side of growing or sustaining their job board strategies. We do the same for those entering the recruitment advertising market for the first time. This has given us plenty of insight into the latest trends.
That’s why we’ve developed a free Job Board Playbook. A simple overview for those interested in the job board market or adjusting their job board strategy, it offers six different ways you can approach job board monetisation.
This article, meanwhile, will introduce you to the job board market and help you answer some basic questions you might have as you consider how your job board business model might look. Or how it could change…
Read more about six job board business models in our Job Board Model Playbook
What is a job board?
A job board is a two-way platform where job-seekers can look for work opportunities, and employers or recruiters can find talent. It could quite literally be a noticeboard, like those seen at some supermarkets: that’s the reason ‘board’ remains part of the term.
Job boards in mass media have much more power and reach, of course. Before the internet, this meant newspapers and magazines. Not just general publications: those with specific trade audiences were particularly effective for employers and recruiters in specific niches. And these periodicals made good money from the selling space on their job boards.
The internet has added a new dynamic, fresh job board business models and a good deal of opportunity. In this article, we’ll be referring mainly to job boards in a digital, online context. That’s because we offer a software product and that’s our expertise. But that doesn’t alter the fact that many of our clients come from the world of print – or still have a major presence there.
What’s the difference between a traditional job board and a job aggregator?
A traditional job board business model is the one used for decades by publications. They charge recruiting companies a fixed sum to publish a job opportunity for a specific edition. This business model has simply been moved to the internet, with the edition usually replaced by a specific time period for which the job will be displayed.
If you’re thinking an aggregator job board business model might be something like Indeed, you’d be right. This is the most established and best-known job aggregator. This business model is a couple of decades old by now: this type of job board gathers job listings from other job boards, company career pages and other sources. Instead of charging employers a fixed amount for their job to be advertised, aggregator job boards typically monetise by charging them every time a candidate clicks on the job. That’s pay-per-click (PPC).
A few aggregators also charge only if the candidate also submits an application following their initial click. This is pay per application (PPA).
In 2023, Indeed took a lot of criticism for forcing employers to switch from a PPC to a PPA (or more specifically PPAS, pay-per-application-start) model. The lesson? If you’re switching your business model, always make sure to stay in your role as trusted advisor to your clients. Help your clients understand why your new business model creates more value for them, not just for your own business.
Why does the traditional job board business model still provide so much value?
The traditional job board business model may at first strike you as a hangover from the print era. Indeed, it’s still the dominant model in Europe and to some degree in the United Kingdom.
One factor is that many print publications are reluctant to let go of the model entirely. ‘Traditional’ media are often afraid of losing the revenues they have always made from being able to offer hardcopy ad space to recruiters. And PPC doesn’t work in print. So even if their job boards are now additionally published online, there’s often a traditional business model behind them.
It's also fair to say that many platforms employing a traditional job board business model, even if it’s purely online, simply don’t have the skills or inclination to explore business models like PPC. As long as a majority of the industry takes this approach, the traditional business model remains the most profitable. But when the balance shifts towards PPC/PPA models, as it already has in the United States, job boards will need to think about changing their monetisation strategy.
Traditional job boards can still be a good strategy for regional or niche job board markets. If there isn’t a lot of competition from other job boards or recruiting platforms, it can still be a good business model. While the price that can be charged depends largely on the level of competition, a publication with a strong brand (especially if it has a print edition) does offer a degree of exclusivity. This can be appealing to employers looking to brand themselves as particularly attractive.
It’s also worth noting that many employers and recruiting departments still aren’t very savvy in terms of performance marketing, and easily overwhelmed by the dynamic of the changing digital advertising market. In the online recruitment jungle, traditional job boards are a tried and trusted model for employer customers. They can be confident that they’ll achieve their main objective, which is finding the best-qualified candidates for a reasonable cost and time outlay.
How does talent supply affect model choice?
As anybody working in a creative, impactful or ‘fun’ field will be happy to tell you, the laws of supply and demand are alive and well in the job market.
Although it’s usually recruiting companies who pay for their job listings to be advertised, this can be turned around when there is an oversupply of candidates. This is the candidate-pay model, which has a small but significant presence in the recruitment advertising market.
Candidate-pay can also be seen for high-paying jobs. Ladders is a good example of this. Again, communicating exclusivity is a factor for the employers here. Filtering out any time-wasters is also an advantage of candidate-pay.
Other sites succeeding with the candidate-pay job board model include Experteer and Jobleads. Both focus on the highly-paid executive talent level.
For obvious reasons, the candidate-pay job board business model is unlikely in any of the many industries where hirers are competing hard for a limited pool of top talent – just ask any tech company!
What about the human touch?
Human connections have always been the biggest driving force in job markets around the world. In times of high automation, artificial intelligence and even job scams, there is a danger that this can be overlooked – to the detriment of both employers and candidates.
But there are job board business models where a personal, human element is a key part of the definition: the sourcing site model and the professional network model.
A sourcing site’s key service is to gather as much information as possible about a pool of job-seekers, usually in a specific niche, so that the site can offer employers appropriate candidates directly. This is known as a sourcing or matching service. Job board monetisation for this variant usually takes the form of a subscription by recruiting companies.
A sourcing site can look much like a traditional job board, but the emphasis is on getting candidates to create profiles and add detailed resume information to the sourcing site’s database. Despite the technology element, it’s a model that gets best results with at least a degree of active human connection and input.
What kind of job board business model does LinkedIn use?
LinkedIn is an example of the professional network model mentioned above. A platform which mirrors offline networking associations by allowing users to connect and interact with each other. The networking site then takes advantage of this large user base for recruitment purposes. The strategy here includes offering candidate searches and Sponsored Jobs. The latter is a programmatic advertising feature.
Although LinkedIn is big, broad and general, the professional network model is actually more typical for particular trades or niche professions – particularly ones that have a tradition of offline industry networking.
By offering recruiting companies access to a niche candidate pool that is engaged by the networking aspect, there’s definite value. In the right circumstances, this value can be monetised.
Can’t I mix and match these job board business models in a hybrid model?
Of course you can! And that brings us to the last of our business models: the hybrid strategy. This is simply a combination of any of the job board business models we’ve mentioned – the possibilities are endless.
A good example here is College Recruiter, which helps mostly large corporations get their job listings seen by graduating students. Employers can opt for a traditional, flat-fee approach, or they can be billed per candidate clicking through to their job listings page (PPC).
Developing such a business model is possible when you’re willing to be flexible and think creatively about monetisation. Hybrid business models allow you to adjust your job board monetisation strategy to fit your individual reality, including your core business, your niche industry (if any), the expected volume of job opportunities and your overall goals.
What do all these models have in common?
Firstly, any of these job board business models can involve keeping a CV database. This aspect has actually been around since pre-digital times, when publications would keep resumes on file and offer paid access to them. The modern traditional model typically offers access to its database, though this may depend on the payment plan selected.
Data protection legislation has meant some extra considerations are necessary when it comes to keeping CV data on file. In Europe, the GDPR is always a compliance factor to keep in mind. It’s also worth noting that the European Commission is working on a regulatory framework for artificial intelligence, which looks likely to include rules around AI's deployment in CV-sorting procedures.
But the right software solution (such as that from Jobiqo) is built to make sure you are legally compliant in this regard. Which is good news: after all, it would be a waste to have to throw all that candidate data away when it’s something you can monetise!
Jobiqo’s job board software solution also includes data insights functionality, meaning our clients can offer recruiting companies a useful, tailored overview of candidate data patterns in addition to examining individual CVs.
The second thing these models all have in common is that you’ll need some kind of specialist technical platform in order to actually bring them to life. If you’re running a traditional model in its most limited form, and you have a big enough client base, you might get away with simply listing jobs on your website. But anything beyond that will be difficult without functionality specifically built for the job board market, such as data management and insights, search engine optimisation tools, tracking clicks/payments and integrating a professional job board listing into your branding and design.
As you can see, the possibilities for job board business models are almost limitless.
That can seem intimidating at first, both for complete beginners and those looking to adapt their existing strategies. But it’s important to keep sight of the greater purpose. When you have that in mind, the right business model may quickly become obvious.
And what is that greater purpose? All you’re doing is helping employers find talent at a reasonable cost, as well as in a time-efficient manner.
You want to be a trusted advisor throughout that process: remember that your clients aren’t always savvy in digital marketing and may need help understanding the dynamics of digital recruitment advertising. Seeing this customer perspective will always help you in selecting your strategy, particularly as you explore trends and opportunities such as programmatic job advertising and AI.
Always think in terms of the concrete outcomes for your client: how will any given model translate to quality applications and sustainable hiring for those recruiting?
Providing your clients with the service outlined above – and giving them your full attention – is much easier with a specialist software platform. Jobiqo’s flexible, state-of-the-art technology is a key enabler in running a successful job board. Which means not only satisfied customers, but also profit!
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Jobiqo enables media brands and publishers worldwide to build next-generation job boards and career marketplaces to engage talent. By combining the benefits of a scalable SaaS platform and the power of our AI-enabled Smart Matching technology, Jobiqo customers can quickly react to changing market demands and stay competitive in an ever-challenging market.
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