Job Boards vs. Digital Marketing: What’s Better for Sourcing Candidates?


There’s a debate raging in the staffing world. With 64% of staffing firms indicating their top challenge is the talent shortage, there are differing views as to how to best source candidates. Some view job boards as an inefficient relic of old school recruiting, while some swear by them. Others have thrown their entire strategy behind digital marketing, while detractors view it as murky waters with questionable ROI. Sourcing candidates is no easy feat, but that’s exactly why your firm is in business. Let’s take a look at each side of the debate to determine which strategy for securing talent might be best for your staffing firm.

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Are Job Boards Still Worth the Effort?

Today’s job boards are easier to use than ever before, and many recruiters enjoy the straightforwardness of using them. They get in a groove where they receive a job order, post to all their favorite boards, and field subsequent applicants. But recruiters rarely have the problem of too many qualified candidates, and sticking solely to job boards begs the question of if the time and effort are better spent elsewhere.

60% of all candidates are passive. These professionals are often the cream of the crop, happily employed and not actively looking for something new. That means they are not scouring job boards and are missing out on anything you’re posting. Further, only 14% of contractors and consultants learned about their staffing agency from a job board, and when it comes to hot sectors like IT or healthcare, that number plummets further.

Of course, job boards still exist for a reason. If 40% of the talent pool is comprised of active job seekers, you can bet they are using anything at their disposal to find their next role. Just like recruiters, many enjoy the straightforwardness of job boards and find it easy to search by location, position, and many other keywords. It’s clear that a staffing firm wishing to improve their candidate sourcing can’t completely ignore job boards, but is there another way to capture the attention and interest of today’s talent?

The Case for Digital Marketing

Digital marketing encompasses several different methods for reaching candidates, but for many staffing firms, social media is what comes to mind first. Considering that 79% of job seekers use social media in their search, it’s no surprise that firms are leveraging platforms like LinkedIn more than ever. In fact, posting a job on social media increases applications by up to 50%, proving that maintaining an active social presence is a requirement today.

However, the best strategies go above and beyond the basics, and there are many other ways digital marketing can help source more and better candidates. Content marketing that regularly generates material for your website and blog can capitalize on search traffic and build trust with candidates who view you as a thought leader. Likewise, proper email marketing that breaks through the clutter provides, on average, a $38 return for each dollar invested. Additional effective digital marketing channels are available in the complimentary Guide to Recruitment Marketing.

Harnessing the power of these channels is helpful in a number of ways. Recent studies show that referrals from placed talent are the #1 source of candidates for staffing firms. Digital marketing can provide a boost to referrals by increasing awareness, but job boards are practically obsolete in this area. Plus, only 17% of Millennial job seekers utilize job boards. They’re looking elsewhere on the internet for career opportunities, and digital marketing aligns nicely with the places they are turning their attention to.

Using a Combination of Tactics

The debate of job boards vs. digital marketing paints an all or nothing picture that makes staffing firms feel forced to choose one or the other. In reality, the most effective sourcing strategy is a combination of both efforts. If a Venn diagram were created out of the job boards vs. digital marketing conversation, successful staffing firms are the ones that live in the overlapping middle.

The big takeaway here is to use every tool in your belt as part of your overall strategy. Maintaining a presence on job boards can back up your digital marketing efforts, providing easy links to include within social posts, content, and emails. Each strategy helps the other, creating a synergy unavailable to a firm that puts all their eggs in one basket. Job searching is different today than it was even five years ago. Looking at job boards in a new light in tandem with digital marketing efforts is the secret of staffing firms that source the candidates others struggle to find.

Job Boards vs. Digital Marketing: What’s Better for Sourcing Candidates?

Finally, there are a number of other methods for improving recruitment that are often ignored in the midst of this debate. These include improving the candidate experience, harnessing the power of technology, appropriately measuring results, and much more. As you find your sweet spot between job boards and digital marketing and candidate sourcing improves, including these additional efforts into your strategy can launch your staffing firm into the stratosphere.

For a deeper look at job boards, digital marketing, and other sourcing strategies, download your Guide to Recruitment Marketing today.

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