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Job BoardsRecruitmentSourcing

Is the Job Boards Bashing Really Justified?

By May 8, 2014One Comment

There’s been quite a few blog posts generated in the wake of the #IT18NZ conference last week, including one from me, but there is one thing in particular that I’m keen to zero in on this week:  Job-Boards Bashing.  Given that the majority of speakers represented the hiring efforts of cool and trendy tech start-ups I guess it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.  The reason is simple:

a.  These businesses like to affect a posture of cool innovation, early adoption of clever new technologies, especially those with some kind of geeky or irreverent slant to them.

b.  Receiving applications via an online job board is old-fashioned, anyone can do it, it’s totally mainstream (a dirty word for some), and as such doesn’t make you look very clever or cool.

Based on commentary from recruiters from the likes of Vend, Xero and Air New Zealand they have managed to achieve remarkable hiring statistics with virtually zero reliance on job board postings.  The building of an employment brand, a slick employee referral programme, and adoption of a viral marketing mindset through various social channels has seemingly worked well for them.  In fact, the clamour around decrying the death of job boards (a movement I was a willing agitator for three years ago) seems to have actually taken some heat off us battered and bruised traditional recruitment agencies (at least for now, anyway!)

All of this is why I found a SEEK press release on Shortlist this week particularly interesting.  It’s paid content so I can’t link to it, but the bit that caught my eye was:

“Even in the “evolving” competitor landscape, SEEK is still leading the pack, with independent research finding it accounted for an average 24.7% of all placements made in the Australian market in the year to December 2013, compared with 20.7% in the prior year.

Combined placements made by its key competitors, including LinkedIn and Indeed, in the year to December totalled 2%, down from 3.6% in the prior year.”

Quite a statement, although it would be interesting to know who conducted this “independent research”…perhaps someone from SEEK could provide some more detail in the comments below?  We at Rice Consulting like to believe we’re a fairly progressive bunch.  Whilst we’ve kind of calmed down from our own job-board-bashing days *sighs nostalgically* we do regard them as a slightly more bit-part feature in our wider sourcing efforts of referrals, networking, social recruiting and headhunting.  So I put that theory to the test and looked at all of the placements we have made this calendar year:

47% via Job Boards

That surprised me, even though it also included on-demand recruiters via our lesser-known (currently!) v.RPO model.  So could we make a bold statement and cancel our job board accounts entirely?  No.  So for now we will continue flying a little flag for job boards, who are still clearly part of the wider candidate sourcing puzzle, even if it is just a little flag, like the ones you wave dementedly whenever royalty is wafting past crowds of onlookers.

Besides, this week demonstrated that SEEK has the potential for more than just a job board anyway.  A quite hilarious job ad was placed by Kim Dot Com’s Internet Party, spuriously looking for a Prime Minister:



If you were quick on the uptake you could have viewed the “job ad” for yourself here, but the killjoys at SEEK appear to have taken it down.  Fortunately for you Whiteboard readers I anticipated this so copied the contents of the ad:

As Prime Minister, you’ll be required to:
Recognise New Zealand is a nation with an economy, not merely an economy.
Pay attention to the needs of New Zealanders, not just the contents of their emails.
Empower all citizens, not just spy agencies.
See that being a world leader in high-tech innovation will be better, in the long run, than being a world leader in farm animal population.
See the intangible value of our environment instead of the price tag.
Stop selling all our stuff in general.
This is a demanding, but highly rewarding role for the right applicant.


The Internet Party is searching for candidates to represent us in the general election this year.

Go to to start shaping New Zealand’s future. You’ll be the one living in it.

One things’s for sure:  If the reliance on job boards does diminish, if more effective channels do emerge, and the clever-alternative-sourcing stick wielders do start to dominate, they always have the ability to quickly convert into a political soapbox instead.  It’s all the same kind of propaganda after all.

Maybe Manchester United should consider popping an ad on there for a new manager.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

One Comment

  • Hannah Gartrell says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Hannah from Shortlist here! Enjoyed the post, but thought I might be able to shed a little bit of light on the SEEK research. The source documents used for that article quoted a monthly study that was commissioned by SEEK, but actually run by independent research firm GFK.

    Like you, I thought it was an interesting stat in light of all the talk we hear about the declining usefuless of job boards.