Choosing the Right Job Site To Advertise a Job: A Simple Guide for Employers

<div class="grey-callout"><h2>In This Guide You’ll Learn</h2><p><ul><li>How to use job sites to achieve good Applicant Flow.</li></li>How to avoid a few common pitfalls when using job sites.</li><li>My four steps to maximising the effectiveness of job sites in meeting your recruitment objectives.</li></ul></p></div>

In the past you had to pay a lot to get your job widely publicised. Now you can do this much more cheaply yourself through job sites. Over 90% of jobseekers first go to job sites to look for openings. They’re a key channel for achieving good Applicant Flow relatively quickly and should be the foundation of your recruitment strategy. (If you don’t want to post on job sites yourself, you could hire a flat-fee recruiter to handle everything. In this case, skip this guide and see Choosing a Flat-Fee Recruiter.)

Some Mistakes to Avoid When Using Job Sites

To help you get the best out of job sites, this guide includes a detailed set of steps to make the process as smooth and painless as possible. Before we get to these, there are a few pitfalls in the use of these sites that often trip up hiring managers. To avoid them, understand the following principles before you do anything:

Don’t be rigid about which site you advertise on. There are many sites out there (thousands, in fact!) and jobseekers might only visit a few, so you’ll need to advertise on lots of sites for your advert to get decent coverage. Sites’ features change frequently and jobseekers hop around. Most sites get their traffic through Google whose algorithm is always evolving, pushing different sites up and down the search rankings. Sites sometimes purchase applicants from affiliates and so increase or reduce Applicant Flow depending on their budgets. In short, there’s no guarantee that because you got a good result with a site in the past you’ll get the same result again – there’s simply too much fluidity in the market. Similarly, even if you’ve heard of a site – perhaps through a recent advertising campaign – this doesn’t mean that it best serves your needs now and in the future.

Don’t confuse a low price with a good deal. A bargain is only worth it if it gets you the result you want. A certain big job site only charges when an advert is viewed, which on the face of it sounds like good value for money. But many of the “views” are of no use at all because they’re generated by bots or by overseas applicants who are unlikely to be able to relocate to take up a job. I’ll talk more about the problems with these “performance-based” adverts in a moment.

Don’t assume that specialist or publication-tied sites are better. Despite what hiring managers might assume, professionals don’t necessarily look for jobs on sector-specific job sites. It’s often cheapest and easiest to find applicants through general sites. The same goes for the job sites that some industry publications have added to their editorial sites. Creating good editorial content isn’t the same as attracting jobseekers and again you might be better off going to general job sites.

Avoid job aggregators. These are sites that advertise jobs that have been placed on job sites. They often look very similar to job sites, but when you click on an advert, you’re taken back to the original job site (if you’re unsure, this is a way of checking if a site is a real job site or a job aggregator). Advertisements on jobs sites often appear automatically on aggregators anyway, and it’s preferable to post your advert directly on job sites.

The Four Steps to Using Jobs Sites Effectively

Hiring managers run into trouble when they’re ruled by company dogma – we’ve-always-done-it-that-way thinking – and then fall prey to those common errors. To recruit effectively you need to embrace “applicant logic”: seeing things through the eyes of jobseekers and understanding what they want. Here are the four steps you need to follow to make sure you’re doing that:

Step 1: Find the job sites where your jobseekers go

  • Over 90% of jobseekers look for openings using search engines so start by searching for your job using the keywords and phrases that you think they’ll use (and avoid company buzzwords and jargon!). Over time jobseekers have begun to employ more specific “long-tail” phrases such as “Business to business media sales jobs” where in the past they tended to use simpler “head” phrases such as “sales jobs”. And despite remote working, most searches still include locations, for example “Business to business media sales jobs in Birmingham”.
  • Once you’ve done your search, notice that the results tend to fall into a few categories: national general job sites, national specialist job sites and local general job sites. (Remember that the job sites appearing in the results aren’t in any way endorsed by the search engine; they’re simply results that an algorithm has generated from your search terms.)

Step 2: Assess the usability of potential job sites

99% of search engine users only look at the first page of results. Review page one of your results. Click on each result and ensure the site you’re taken to is advertising jobs similar to yours.

Hone in on likely potential sites. Jobseekers will look for job sites that are easy to use so you need to test potential sites to see if this is the case. Looking at each one, go through the following checklist:

  • Was it easy to find relevant jobs?
  • Are there “friction points” on the site such as complex application and registration procedures that might cause jobseekers to get frustrated and leave?
  • Does the site contain material that might distract jobseekers from finding and applying for jobs such as “other people applied to” boxes or adverts for training courses or CV reviews?
  • Most jobseekers look for jobs on their phones and tablets, so visit the site on your mobile device. Are there problems such as intrusive banners or overlays that make it hard to navigate? Is there an easy way for visitors to upload their CVs such as through Dropbox?

Step 3: Review the types of advert being offered

Now consider what kinds of adverts are on offer. Sites tend to offer three main kinds of advert, each with their own advantages and disadvantages:

Duration-based adverts

  • These last for a fixed period, often 28 days. They’re the basic type of advert and are often very good value. A duration-based advert placed on several sites will frequently get you a good amount of applicants.
  • Duration-based adverts are usually “refreshed” every week to make them look new. This should happen as part of your package.
  • One downside of duration-based adverts is that the volume of responses tends to drop off after around four days as newer advertisements rank higher in search engines.
  • Also, you’re not usually able to make changes to adverts once they’re up. This is to stop firms who regularly hire from using the same advert to find recruits for several roles. If that might apply to you, then slot-based adverts could be a good alternative.  

Slot-based adverts

  • These are great if you need to hire all the time. You buy a number of slots covering a certain time period that you can use to advertise as many jobs as you like.
  • As they give you more flexibility, slot-based adverts tend to be more expensive than duration-based adverts.
  • The downside of slot-based adverts is that employers sometimes end up with not enough slots to cover all the jobs they’re recruiting for, or the opposite problem of too few jobs to fill the slots they’ve paid for.

Performance-based adverts

These advertisements are charged according to a performance outcome, the main ones being:

  • Cost per view: paying when your advert is viewed in search results. In most cases, however, a view won’t necessarily lead to an application.
  • Cost per click: paying when your advert is clicked. Again, not all clicks will lead to an application.
  • Cost per quality application: paying when you receive a “quality” application, often defined as those that the employer doesn’t dismiss as unsuitable within a specified time. Few sites offer this as it’s hard to measure quality and if you don’t review and dismiss irrelevant applications promptly you may run up huge bills.
  • Cost per hire: this is rarely offered because after they’ve supplied an applicant, job sites have no influence over the rest of the recruitment process.

Performance-based adverts also have the following general problems:

  • Jobseekers use mobile devices, which creates more clicks and views but fewer actual applications!
  • More than 40% of job sites’ visitors may be bots rather than real people.
  • Overseas jobseekers can easily click and view advertisements and apply for jobs even if they’re unlikely to be able to take them up.
  • The cost of performance-based adverts can quickly stack up. Suppliers often offer daily or weekly budget caps but even with these, things can get expensive over time and it can be hard to work out what a particular budget will get you.

The bottom line is that performance-based adverts sound good in theory but in practice can be hard to understand and might not do any better than duration- or slot-based advertisements.

Step 4: Purchase adverts and remember to negotiate

You can purchase basic advertising packages from job sites online, though you may need to speak to someone if you have large and regular hiring needs. However you do it, you’ll probably get a call from a salesperson who’ll talk you through what you’re going to get and come up with a price. They may well cite various metrics to demonstrate the value of their offer, but some of these mean very little. Some common ones are:

  • Number of hits: every image counts as a hit, so if a single visitor views a page with ten images on it, that’s ten hits. This is a silly measure, so don’t be taken in by sales patter that makes big claims on this basis.
  • Number of unique visitors: not all visitors are jobseekers and it’s hard to measure exactly how many visitors are really seeking employment.
  • Number of applications: total applications per month made through a general job site might sound like a big number but tell you little about how many were in your sector and location.
  • Number of jobs: again, this might be a big number, but how many of these were in your sector?
  • Number of CVs: job sites sometimes allow you to sign up for access to a CV database. A database may contain a lot of CVs, but how many of these are “active” jobseekers rather than old ones who are no longer searching?

The salesperson might also offer you added extras, such as:

  • Job alerts: a round up of job openings sent to jobseekers. These can really help drive up applicant numbers. Job alerts shouldn’t actually be an extra as they’re normally part of basic advertising packages.
  • Enhanced or premium adverts: advertisements that are given more prominence on the site. They’re not necessarily that effective at attracting more applicants and it’s best to try to get this included in your basic deal.
  • Screening questions: a way removing applicants who don’t give the desired answer to some simple questions. This often comes as standard.

Once you’ve talked to the salesperson, select the package that best fits your needs and avoid committing to a long-term contract, at least initially. First see whether you’re able to fill your vacancy through the site. Only then consider a more permanent arrangement.

Finally, remember to negotiate! Salespeople want to hit their targets so you might be able to get a discount, especially in December and at the end of the month. One tip for doing this; most job sites are based on the same underlying software, so you might ask the salesperson why their site is any better than their competitors. If they can’t tell you, you might be able to push for a better price.

<div class="grey-callout">
<h2>Key Takeaways</h2>
<p><ul><li>Job sites are a cost-effective and efficient means of recruitment.</li>
<li>Avoid common mistakes in the use of job sites by being flexible about where you advertise, not confusing a low price with good value, not assuming that specialist job sites are the best and avoiding job aggregators.</li>
<li>By following my four steps, you’ll avoid being ruled by company dogma, put yourself in the shoes of jobseekers and get a better recruitment outcome.</li>
<li>First, find the sites where your jobseekers are looking for jobs.</li>
<li>Second, assess the usability of these sites.</li>
<li>Third, review the types of adverts available.</li>
<li>Fourth, purchase adverts that suit your requirements and remember to negotiate the best deal possible.</li></ul></p>

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Geoff Newman has dedicated his entire career to recruitment. He has consulted for many well-known international brands, and worked with over 20,000 growing businesses. He has helped fill over 100,000 jobs.

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We literally wrote the book on...

The secrets of great recruitment

The Secrets of Great Recruitment is a top-seller. It is easy to read and wastes no time in giving powerful actionable strategies you can use straight away.

Book cover for The Secrets of Great Recruitment