Chicken Little — The Job Boards Are Failing

Will Social Recruiting Kill Job Opportunities and Job Openings on Website Boards?

The Job Boards Are Failing.  Have you heard?  And more importantly, how could you have not heard?

There’s been a lot of banter, discussion, and revelation about job boards and their impending failure and doom as an effective source for employers to hire qualified candidates and post openings.  Experts have said that social media and the creation of social recruiting will serve as a replacement for job boards and will be their detriment.  Failing much like the newspaper’s classified and help wanted sections as a result of the job board industry.

I have been an advocate of social media as a sourcing and recruiting tool for over 10 years.  It has served as a compliment to newspapers and job boards over the course of my career.  Bottom line is that job boards serve a purpose.  They serve as a portal to engaging millions of potential job seekers who are actively looking for work.  In 2010, job boards served as the second most effective way in which to hire and recruit candidates.  Good old fashioned referrals were the best source and social media played a part.

How Job Boards Lack and Social Strategies Fill the Void

The problem with job boards is the quality of candidate not the quantity.  The sheer volume of website traffic and users is what drive companies to use job boards as their primary candidate source.  Never mind that it takes 826 visitors to a company career site to fill a single solitary position.  They serve a purpose and yet we call for their end.

The problem with the job board debate is not the failure of job boards themselves, but the lack of companies employing the right tactics and strategies to garner the attention of a quality candidate.   And the way in which to target the perfect client, candidate, or job seeker outside of social media is search engine optimization.  When advertising positions online, companies need to target the right candidates using a multitude of tools and keywords.  These keywords and tools help to determine the quality as well as the quantity of visitors that click on your advertisement, pay per click, corporate blogs, or social media posts, profiles, and updates.

Job Boards and Job Search Engines Learn to Evolve- Together

Much like a solid boolean search, search engine optimization can help you reach a better quality candidate.  And I disagree with Dan Schwabel, recruiters are not lazy.  The game has changed.  It’s those that do not understand the technology, levels of engagement, and candidate marketing that serve as the Chicken Little’s of the industry.  Whether it’s social recruiting, job boards, candidate referrals, LinkedIn or even Facebook based networking engagement applications Branch Out and BeKnown, the job boards aren’t falling or even failing, they’re evolving.


h/t Carrie Corbin

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. Steve Antony Williams says

    Strikes me a large part of the job boards’ failure is due to the people using them …. Here in the United Kingdom the vast majority of jobs are posted by recruitment “consultants” and they at as gatekeepers to the jobs. You can apply for 100 jobs which you are at least 90% “suitable” (according to the advert’s given information) and get 100 automated email replies …. Consequently candidates get p*&&^% off and simply apply to companies directly. Whilst there are good recruitment consultants out there, the vast majority are just vultures, circling around the candidates like they were just pieces of live “meat” looking for the elusive non existent candidate that they’re not going to get.

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says


      Thanks for the comment. The UK recruiting process is very much different from the US which in many ways makes conversations with the client even more important for the recruiter. The recruiter needs an accurate job description and list of responsibilities that truly are part of the new employee’s responsibilities. I find that most job descriptions are legal documents created to cover the company’s ass in litigation situations. The true work description should come from the hiring manager or another employee who has served in the position. Using this information, you can include keywords and SEO to appeal to the right audience online.


  2. Rae says

    Great article.
    This coalition:

    believes the Dot Jobs expansion is going to knock out the recruiting and staffing industry as a whole. Which is interesting, because the people who are involved in the expansion don’t see it at all. I’ve talked to professionals in the industry and they too refer to the sky falling, as Jessica did in this article.

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says


      Thanks for the comment. I’m familiar with dot jobs and joked that I wanted to get blogging4jobs (dot) jobs of my very own. I don’t know if it will be the end of the job boards but companies have the right to advertise their jobs with or without a job board. Personally, as a job board I would be more concerned about SEO and how used appropriately can elevate a company’s career page past a job board on the first page of Google.


  3. Jeff says

    I work with a lot of small businesses with less than 15 employees. As you can imagine, most of them are not very savvy with social media, or technology in general. When they need to fill a position the job boards are the only source they consider as they have worked for them in the past. Many of them love Craigslist and they will continue until they hire somebody that can manage a new process. It would be interesting to see some stats that breakdown what size companies use the job boards vs. social media.

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says


      Thanks for the comment. Jobvite just put out a social media jobs survey earlier this week. I’ll take a better look at it and see if the white paper includes some of the information you are looking for. I agree that it would be nice to analyze this data.


      • Jeff says

        Thanks Jessica! I just downloaded it. Great info but I didn’t see anything about company size. My guess is the companies are larger with staffing and resources to do social well. In my experience many small companies (outside of tech) shy away from social activities because it’s very time consuming and a bit confusing for them. Sometimes very confusing. I’ll dig through it more as soon as I get a chance. Thanks for the lead! ~jeff

  4. Rayanne Thorn says

    Great Post, Jessica… And I would agree with you.

    Job boards definitely serve their purpose and I can assure you – they are NOT dying. The growth of my company and others like Broadbean prove that. Recruiters and and Job Boarders are getting smarter and they are changing and evolving, as they should… as should all technologies on which we have come to rely.

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Thanks for the comment Rayanne. Job boards are still an important part of the recruiting and hiring process. How they evolve is up to the job boards themselves and the users who need to push them to different and uncomfortable places.


  5. Gene says

    The problem with social media is a lag in adoption by job seekers as an effective place to actively search for jobs. Job boards are great for fining solid candidates both passive and active. This is especially true if you employ both active and passive search tactics.

  6. Susan says

    There’s nothing wrong with job boards, but some people probably got lazy; not all jobseekers use them wisely or know how to promote themselves beyond filling up the fields in an online application form, while some employers don’t know how to sift through the list of applicants they receive.

  7. Kay Stout says

    In a perfect world, job applicants would ONLY apply for those that match their skill sets and experience and the job applications (off job boards) would ALWAYS be read by a real person. Neither is likely, but somewhere in the middle is where it will migrate. Those applicants who match green apples to green apples on a job application will be more likely to have their resume consdered than those who only match apple to apple. Some will try orange to apple – – they’re waisting their time as much as the person who just responds to either #1) satisfy unemployment or #2) because they want to work at that company so they’ll apply for everything advertised.

  8. Robert DeFazio says

    I hate to disagree with such an agreeable person, but I think that job boards comprise a complex set of problems that actually encourage unemployment. For one thing, the underlying technology relies on resume XML which is implemented in varying degrees ranging from not at all to nearly 100%. Practically no one, not even the recruiters or the so-called resume “experts” themselves, understand really how to construct a resume that can be fully parsed by server software that processes submitted resumes. Instead, they make suggestions that are based on what they believe is the attention span of the average human reader and what they think that their clients want to see immediately. The sad truth is that the resume itself is almost never read until the selection of the candidate is fairly far down the path to making a decision. As the old saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

    Then there is the remarkably bad precision with which jobs are actually described. Often there is no standardized vocabulary within the recruiting industry to classify jobs, at no vocabulary that job seekers have been taught. So, they cast about looking for something that describes who they think themselves to be, and more often than not, the jobs they select are not a good fit.

    Of course, there is also the plethora of submission engines, each of which works differently and has different processing results when scanning the same document, that ask the submitter to virtually re-enter his entire resume on lengthy data forms. After doing this for 20 or so submission engines, most people only look for jobs that offer a streamlined submission process. “Streamlined,” however, means that one simply sends a cover letter and a resume or CV, not realizing that whatever they send will be processed by less than stellar server software that garbles content or misinterprets phrases and words. Of course, no one will actually read the resume, so in essence, it is like sending a resume into a black hole.

    Perhaps I am a bit of a luddite. I come from an era when recruiters advertised positions in publications and requested resumes to be submitted by mail, and OMG…we actually read the resumes. From the tall piles of resumes, we selected the best ones, called the candidates in for interviews that focused on their qualifications, their personalities, their extracurricular activities, their work history, and their personal values. When we felt we had two or three good matches, we accompanied each candidate to the client’s office, introduced him to the client, and spent a few moments with both the client and candidate in a three-way meeting before leaving the two to discuss matters. It took a lot of time, but the matches were mostly long lasting ones, and the clients were quite willing to pay a healthy fee for our services. Our incomes were substantially greater than those made by today’s recruiters who rely on digital processes to do things that, quite frankly, they should be doing themselves.

    There is a benefit to using computers to process information, but something has been lost in the translation with regard to recruiting. People are not pegs to be dropped into apparently similarly shaped holes. There are a host of attributes of both the job and the candidate that cannot be measured by software. Candidates try to expose those attributes in the way they compose their resumes, but the software that the industry seems to be bent on using can’t decipher that intent, and to that degree, the industry itself perpetuates the problem of mismatching candidates and employers.

    Finally, picking up on my last sentence’s thought, recruiting is not necessarily about matching the candidate to the position. More often than not, it is about matching the candidate to the employer. Every employee has to adapt to the culture of his new employer. If he has basic skills that would qualify him for the job, more than likely he will spend a fair amount of time learning the “way” that his new employer wants those skills applied to his position. It is a mistake to think that matching the candidate’s skill set to the position will necessarily yield a long tenure with the client company. Business is still a very human endeavor; it is not the biological equivalent of replacing a worn out tire on a car with a new one.

    From my perspective, the industry may be evolving, but it needs to evolve in unison because its own inefficiencies are promoting more frustration, more disillusionment, and ultimately more unemployment. If we were talking about just plain old smart phones and if a maker of a phone decided to move the call button to a new location, the public would be up in arms. People do expect standards when the technology is made comprehensible and when they are allowed to provide input into the design process. The recruiting software business has felt that it is immune to public input, and to the degree that it continues in that mindset, its demise will be hastened.

    I would encourage all recruiting professionals to voice their pleasure or lack thereof to the vendors of the software they use. I would also encourage them to ask for feedback from their candidates. I think that this tiny bit of candor and openness would produce some favorable results.

  9. Tony Giles says


    Great article. I do work for a generalist global job board in the UK and UK market is extremely competitive however, I need to say that niche job boards are currently in demand but I partly agree with the idea of job boards are dying because majority of the big job boards are in the uk charge their clients extremely high fees and providing terrible customer service.

    I kind of understand the high cost of the job board due to their marketing spendings but, I think job board should provide decent price and good customer service.

    We have just completed and article about future of the job boards, anyone who is interested in, can read the article :




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