Job Boards have become a popular tool of choice for both recruiters and job seekers in the past two decades. Their presence, scope, and platform have skyrocketed in the past decade alone, with there being more than 50,000 different job boards online today globally. Job board technologies have also become more sophisticated to match this increasing competition in the landscape. Most modern day job boards incorporate complex algorithms and web scraping tools to build you a customized feed of job postings personalized to your specific expertise, experience, and needs. 

If you’re still not quite sure what a job board is, it’s essentially an online platform that gathers and publishes different job listings from various employers. These listings are either scraped from external company websites or are posted directly by recruiters. Job boards serve as a connection point between densely populated recruiters and candidates to help facilitate a more seamless matching process. 

History

If you are wondering about their history, job boards were not always this intuitive. The first job board prototypes appeared in the 1990s, pioneered by Usernet, an online discussion board. It resembled a Bulletin Board System (BBS) and is considered a precursor to internet forums. Companies would post their job listings on the site to take advantage of its mailing listhost services to broaden the reach of their listings. Around the same time, platforms specifically designed for sharing jobs popped up to capitalize on this untapped market. Platforms such as Dice, Online Career Center (OCC), Monster, Net Start (later CareerBuilder), and CareerMosaic all launched between 1990 and 1994, thus marking the beginning of the online job hunt era. These first job boards primarily focused on marketing jobs to working class professionals, unlike many of today’s boards which are open to students as well. The first job listing platform exclusively for students was initiated by Career Mosaic in 1994 for the universities in USA and Canada.

OCC was another major venture that boosted online job boards. Started by Bill Warren, the two-way nonprofit was designed to enable recruiters to post their jobs and candidates to upload their resumes. It was backed by many major corporations and sold to Monster in 1995, the same time that Craigslist appeared. Then, for the latter half of the decade, as online advertising platforms began gaining momentum, other companies started to follow suit by feeding newspaper job ads and listings to these websites. Up until this point, online job ads only posted intensive opportunities for the IT industry. This changed when Monster.com, now a recruitment giant, acquired OCC which opened doorways for low and mid-level job postings as well. 

In 1997, the first application of job automation and scraping became available for refining postings. This segways us into a period of rapid growth for job board sites between 1998 and 2000, with Monster running the first Super Bowl ad in 1999. As a result, the popularity of job boards grew further.

The swift decline in the economics of the corporate industry ushered in new perspectives on job boards that focused more on the needs of the employer rather than the needs of the agency. As the years 2000-2008 saw a recovery in the unemployment, job sites began to more prevalently rely on large scale job automation and scraping, while also introducing more entry-level position openings. With the introduction of more streamlined technologies, such as extensive job wrapping, crawling, and scraping, the job board industry was able to enhance and mature its services to offer greater connection between candidates and employers. In 2003, LinkedIn was launched with an international outreach and geo-specific features. But the industry didn’t stop there; it has since continued to evolve and develop approaches that enhance both employer and job seeker experiences. 

Impact

While job boards have significantly enhanced the ease of applying to jobs, it is important not to over exaggerate its efficacy. The widespread use of job boards these days means that there is now more competition than ever on these sites, and companies simply don’t have the time to go through the hundreds of applications they receive in a day. Here are some facts and statistics to accurately highlight the use and success rate of job boards:

Currently, there are over 50,000 job board sites globally, excluding employer career pages. The top major job boards each contain over 100 million resumes uploaded.

However, there are only ~11 million open jobs right now in the US.

That means that most of the resumes uploaded to job boards will not even get looked at, much less land the jobs that they applied to. 

On average, 60% of positions are filled through networking rather than online, and 75% of resumes are rejected before they reach the hiring manager.

According to Richard N. Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?, job boards are ranked as the second least effective method of landing a job, whereas the top most common way companies fill their vacancies is through people who already have connections to company employees.

What does all this mean? It means that knowing the right people is more important for getting your foot through the door for consideration. This can be achieved through networking and making cold calls. Here is where sites like LinkedIn become a powerful tool for connection. It enables you to specifically filter for people with similar backgrounds and positions that pique your interest in order to reach out and learn more about their experiences. 

By slowly building up your connections, you can eventually work your way up to directors of the firms you’re interested in applying to, and set up a direct interview/phone call, rather than waiting to hear back from online applications.

by Fiona Lu