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Job Board Definitions VI

(May 05, 2004) - Acquiring visitors and getting them to stay for a while is the first leg of developing a relationship. It's the introduction and self-selection process. Although the top players of the industry continue to focus on so called unique visitors, smaller job boards and company employment websites must build an audience. After persuading a potential employee to visit the website, the job board operation must figure out how to retain and expand that fledgling relationship.

Visitor retention programs (audience development) are sometimes called Candidate Relationship Management systems (CRM). The idea has two basic levels: the conversion of initial visitors into repeat visitors (or members) and the continual movement to understand those visitors. The tools are straightforward: rich content and services for visitors and ongoing communication streams that maintain visibility on a candidate's availability and interest.

As it is everywhere, it is cheaper to maintain a relationship than it is to develop a new one.

Kevin Wheeler, one of our industry favorites, has done a good bit of work on CRM in the corporate employment board context. You can download the paper he's written for Deploy on the subject. Kevin's view is that CRM is a lot like well executed direct marketing programs built around increasingly detailed profiles of visitors.

The benefit of an ever deepening data relationship with a candidate is pretty obvious. Knowing pertinent details, including availability, allows the investment in CRM to cut the time involved in hiring cycles. It's pretty surprising that none of the major job boards are paying attention to this approach which is, instead, being fleshed out by the Applicant Tracking Companies. The process of developing relationships with candidates in the commercial job board sphere *could* improve candidate quality by increasing the understanding of availability.

The big job boards use content and services to engage visitors to become audience members. The most notable content vault belongs to the Wall Street Journal's CareerJournal. In the niche they serve, people with careers that pay in excess of $100K, they have the deepest backlog of advice and insight organized to keep visitors busy for days on end.

While Monster has been the most prolific developer of candidate services, it's hard to imagine a fuller spectrum of tools than those offered for Yahoo visitors. We've spoken with the leaders of both companies asking whether or not they were even in the same business.

The acquisition and retention questions have different meaning for the team at HotJobs. Their operation is increasingly becoming a method for mining the 80 Million existing members rather than the development of more traffic. Targeted email to Yahoo members is the fastest growing product in the HotJobs line.

Meanwhile, the CareerBuilder tools section is, by far, the most aggressively revenue oriented of the three.

The core issue in traffic retention is branding. For both commercial operations and corporate employment sites, the essence of the relationship with retained traffic is the brand experience. As the economy strengthens, maintaining a candidate pool through the use of a range of branding techniques is going to become a competitive discriminator.

John Sumser

The Job Board Definitions Series:

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