March 18, 2005   view past issues

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Feature: The State-of-the-Art in Job Boards, Part II

This is the second in a two-part series that explores the results of recent research we at WEDDLE’s conducted with 350 leading job boards and career portals on the Internet. These sites were selected for inclusion in our 2005/6 Guide to Employment Web Sites. We analyzed their services, features and fees to develop a picture of the state-of-the-art among today’s employment Web-sites. To read the first installment in the series, please click here.

There is a large herd of dinosaurs among the employment sites on the Internet today. You can spot these atavistic destinations by the services they offer (and don’t) to job seekers. The dinosaurs act as the electronic equivalent of a newspaper’s classified ads. Basically, they post jobs (Help Wanted ads) and store resumes (Position Wanted ads) for all the world to see. Even when they surround those two activities with some content about resume writing and interviewing (as some do), they still appeal only to those who are actively looking for a job. Why does that make them dinosaurs? Because you and I are fighting a War for the Best Talent, and the best talent is almost always passive. Said another way, the people we most want to recruit aren’t looking for a job. The only way they’re going to visit an employment site, therefore, is if it protects their privacy and offers them more than job search-related information.

Why does the Best Talent worry about privacy? Because they are usually already employed. They believe (often correctly) that responding to a job posting or putting their resume into a site’s database is fraught with risk, unless their confidentiality is protected. And there’s the rub. According to our study:

  • Only two-thirds of the employment sites sponsored by associations offer a confidentially feature for those storing a resume in their database.
  • Commercial niche sites aren’t much better with only 69% of those sites providing such a capability.
  • Contrast that with general purpose employment sites; a whopping 91% of them make personal privacy an integral element of their resume database service. But general purpose sites are a minority on the Web. The vast majority of employment destinations are niche sites or sites affiliated with associations, and a sizable number of them don’t provide the privacy that passive job seekers-the majority of the Best Talent-want.

    Similarly, the Best Talent never looks for a job; they look for a career advancement opportunity. They seek out (a) positions that will enable them to probe and extend the limits of their expertise in their field and (b) employers that will bring them together with other “A” level performers and provide an environment for accomplishing important and meaningful work. How do they identify such opportunities? There are, of course, several ways:

  • They network with their peers. The Best Talent is a collegial bunch, and they strongly value interaction with and the counsel of their peers. Yet, in our survey, only 23% of today’s employment sites offer a listserv or discussion forum where the Best Talent can congregate and exchange information.
  • They try to get to know themselves better. They want to understand what motivates them to do their best work so they can position themselves for continued success in the future. Yet, our study found that just 29% of employment sites make any form of assessment instrument available to their visitors.
  • What does all this mean? Are job boards fated to go the way of dinosaurs? I think so. But, in true Darwinian fashion, they will be replaced with a more adaptable and nimble successor. In fact, this is already happening. Fossilized job boards are giving way to vibrant “career portals”-sites that serve people who aren’t looking for a job as well as those who are. These hubs will be part university, part guild and part watercooler, with a dash of craigslist thrown in for spice. Here’s what I mean:

    Part university: a career portal will offer a wide range of online developmental opportunities for those in a particular field. These programs, may or may not be delivered by the portal itself, but they will provide certifications and even degrees that are recognized and valued by employers.

    Part guild: a career portal will provide credentialing for those in a particular field. While that function has traditionally been the province of associations, it can be just as credibly served by other organizations in the future, especially if the alternatives are viewed by those in the field as more up-to-date and useful in their careers.

    Part watercooler: a career portal will enable those in a particular field to interact and communicate with one another on a regular basis. This feature will not supplant real world meetings and social events, but it will provide a regular and important supplement to those less frequent occasions.

    A dash of craigslist: a career portal will integrate the three capabilities above to give those in a particular field the craigslist-like experience of community. Employers have opted out of their traditional role as the career “home” for workers, and the online career portal will take their place. The connection that workers once felt with their fellow employees, they will now feel with those who are their friends and colleagues online.

    As is the case with the Internet itself, the state-of-the-art in job boards changes from moment-to-moment. What’s important for recruiters, therefore, is to recognize the direction in which the best of these sites are moving and to gauge the progress of any single job board against that standard before investing in its services.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. WEDDLE’s Newsletter grows only by word-of-mouth. So, please … tell a friend or colleague (or two) about the newsletter. We’d be very grateful, and they will be too.

    This Issue’s Sponsor:

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of

    The Employment Guide(R) offers the nation’s most comprehensive recruiting solution for hourly to mid-management jobs. offers online hiring solutions and candidate search options across all industries on a nationwide basis. The Employment Guide publication offers traditional print and more than 150 job fair resources for employers across 56 major hiring markets. Let us be your Guide to hourly and mid-management recruitment.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    The Conference Board surveyed a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households and found that U.S. workers are increasingly unhappy on-the-job. The decline in job satisfaction is occurring among workers of all ages and across all income brackets. In fact, just half of all workers are satisfied with their current jobs, down from almost 60% ten years ago. And, even among the 50% who say they are content, only 14% say they are “very satisfied.” What’s turning them off? Their employer’s bonus plans, promotion policies, health plans, pensions and leadership. According to the survey, 40% of workers feel disconnected from their employers, and 66% do not identify with or feel motivated by their employer’s business goals and objectives. Can anything be done to staunch the angst? Of course. As always, however, the first step involves education. Use the Conference Board data and other research findings you can locate online with a browser to create a short document that (a) describes the growing prevalence of worker dissatisfaction as well as its business consequences and (b) layouts out a proactive program of ongoing workforce surveys and remedial actions to uncover and fix any sources of dissatisfaction within your organization. In other words, don’t ask permission to fix the problem, but instead, tell the CEO how you are going to make sure the problem never arises. Then, go out and do it.

    eePulse, Inc. and the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan concluded a study of corporate leadership that asked “What are you doing to improve your company’s performance beyond cost-cutting?”. Sadly, the responses underscore the limited vision and short term horizons of many contemporary CEOs. Only one-in-four (27%) were doing anything (other than hacking away at costs); just 13% were providing employees with training, and only 11% were motivating and recognizing employees. Now, I know that the conventional wisdom calls for companies to cut out all “nonessential” costs and certainly training and other performance enhancing initiatives are included in that category, but there is another way to invest in workers. How? By spending some of the CEO’s time and attention on the workforce. That very valuable resource is tough to get hold of, I know, but it never hurts to ask. To improve your prospects of success, be ready to discuss what you think the CEO should focus on. For example, they could invest their time in personal actions (such as more frequent and better communications or more intensive development of subordinate leaders and supervisors) or in encouraging the development of “affordable” new programs (such as an after-hours training program in which the instructor cadre is made up of experts among current employees). What’s done is important-it should improve organizational performance-but the CEO’s personal involvement, itself, is also important and will pay dividends, as well.

    Employment Screening Resources (ESR) announced the release of a free online interview guide generator. The feature is designed to help employers build printed interview forms for any position by using either a selection of generic interview questions provided by ESR or questions employers create on their own. According to the site, the resulting “structured interview” will help ensure that only permissible questions are asked in interviews and that they are asked in a consistent way. In addition, the interview generator includes five “integrity” questions developed by ESR that it says will help weed out applicants who have inappropriate criminal records and/or fake resumes. found that jobs in just three fields-technology (IT), healthcare and accounting/finance-now account for 40% of all postings online. Why should you care? Because if you’re recruiting in any or all of these fields, you’ve clearly got a lot of competition. That means your job postings have to be a whole lot better than a whole lot of others in order to stand out. What should you do? Remember the WEDaVinci Code to an effective job posting:

  • Write a great title. Most of the search engines for job board databases return only a posting’s title; the job seeker must then click on that title in order to open and read the ad. A great title will make sure they do so.
  • Get the first four lines right. The best talent has the attention span of a gnat, so make sure you write an opening paragraph for your posting that leads with its strengths.
  • Format for the Web. People don’t read online; they scan. That means you should avoid thick, pithy paragraphs and write your posting in headlines and bullets.
  • Use the WIIFT Factor. The best talent doesn’t think about a position’s “requirements” and “responsibilities;” they care about What’s In It For Them. Make that the focus of your ad, and job seekers will focus on it.
  • Don’t use classified ad copy. A great job posting is not a classified ad reheated on the Web. It’s an “electronic sales brochure” that has enough selling power to convince even the most passive prospect to consider your opportunity.
  • JobSpin has launched as a general purpose job board. The site is headquartered in Totawa, NJ and operates sales offices nationwide., an Internet radio station that focuses on HR and career issues, recently interviewed me on a wide range of employment topics. The producers-Peter Clayton and Dawn Fotopulos-asked such good questions, I blathered on for over 40 minutes. They’ve organized our conversation into two segments that you can hear by clicking here.

    WEDDLE’s is conducting a study of Talent Management System (TMS) decision-making in U.S. companies. The goal of the project is to determine what factors organizations consider and how they do so when making a TMS buying decision. Data for the study will be acquired, in part, through a confidential, online survey. If you are or were involved in an employer’s TMS acquisition process and would like to participate in this survey, please e-mail your name, title, organization and contact e-mail address to me at All replies will be held in strictest confidence.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. Your hospital lost a registered nurse in the pediatric department six months ago, and temporary replacements are costing you a fortune. Which of the following sites would help find a permanent cure for your situation?

  • 2. Your company is about to release a new software product, and you need to hire a software quality assurance manager to oversee production. Which of the following sites would give you a bug-free search?

  • Dice
  • 3. Your company is about to relocate to the Atlanta area, and you need to hire a facility manager. Which of the following sites would take the heat out of your search?

  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005 Guides and Directories


    A WEDDLE’s 2005 User’s Choice Award Winner

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: National – USA

    Fee to post a job: $0.25-$0.40/click

    Posting period: 60 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: No

    Number of resumes: N/A

    Source of resumes: N/A

    Top occupations among resumes: N/A

    Other services for employers: Banner ads, Status reports on banners & postings

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All but, the site for a financial management information company.

    2. All but, the site of a pest extermination company.

    3., a site for FM radio listings.

    This Issue’s Sponsor:

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of

    The Employment Guide(R) offers the nation’s most comprehensive recruiting solution for hourly to mid-management jobs. offers online hiring solutions and candidate search options across all industries on a nationwide basis. The Employment Guide publication offers traditional print and more than 150 job fair resources for employers across 56 major hiring markets. Let us be your Guide to hourly and mid-management recruitment.