At their core, job boards are an online advertising platform. Businesses post vacancies, let the board promote them, then wait for applicants to show up—hoping they are of the utmost quality and align with required qualifications. Traditionally, job boards have been a major source of hires, but research suggests other strategies (e.g., referrals, careers websites and social media) have or are on their way to overtaking this post-and-pray approach.

Are we witnessing the demise of traditional, generalist job boards? The answer is far from a simple Yes/No.

For answers, we turn to this week's Talent Acquisition Fast Facts:

Perusing the online landscape, there have been hints that perhaps this form of job board is waning. For example, in 2012, Monster put itself up for sale; between March 2012-2013, Monster’s share value was cut in half. Conversely, LinkedIn’s Market Capitalization (public opinion of a company’s net worth) value is $22.66 billion, and Forbes estimates recruitment and job listing services constitute roughly 50% of the social network’s total value.

Similarly, Zappos, one of the world’s largest online shoe stores, is replacing job boards with online Talent Communities—a more personal, high-touch approach to recruiting than merely posting their openings to a job board or Careers page. This new approach is designed to eliminate wasted time, and “for [Zappos] to get to know [candidates] and [candidates] to get to know [Zappos].” Zappos’ strategy is not unlike recruiting via social media, which allows recruiters and companies to connect with job seekers on a more personal, transparent and brand-centric level.

In essence, this Talent Community will function as a private social network.

The problem with answering the question, “Are job boards on the decline?” is that statistics don’t always tell the full story. For example, nearly 1/6 (18.1%) of all external hires are born through traditional job boards (CareerXRoads Source of Hire 2013)—meaning they are still utilized on a grand level.

The number of channels for companies and recruiters to communicate open positions is, almost literally, endless. In fact, the online recruiting industry is worth more than $80 billion. Online recruitment strategies will continue to be used heavily, especially in an age of such advanced metrics, algorithms and rapidly-advancing technology. So, no, online job boards—however you define them—are not going anywhere.

They are evolving.

Rather than seek an answer to whether job boards are on the decline, organizations should really be asking: “Of the thousands available, what channels are very best candidates/talent using?”

One example, of all job search traffic in the U.S., more than 30% comes from job aggregator Indeed.

Indeed is what many consider a “job aggregator,” in that they are a job search board that aggregates job postings directly from other websites. Like typical search engines (e.g., Google), they compile jobs matching the skill(s) and location entered by the user—results are then pulled from thousands of directions into a single list. While traditional job boards such as Monster charge customers to post their job ads and have job seekers apply through Monster, aggregators link directly to the original job ad and website (more candidate-centric) and thus don’t charge companies in this fashion; Indeed is paid through advertisements (e.g., banner ads, etc.), so this service is generally free for employers.

As mentioned above, according to CareerXRoads, traditional job boards accounted for 18.1% of external hires in 2013.

  • In CareerXRoads’ 2012 Survey, job boards accounted for 20.1% of external hires.

  • In CareerXRoads’ 2011 Survey, job boards accounted for 24.9% of external hires.

The difference between 2011 and 2013 is a -6.8% trend—perhaps indicating that job seekers and companies alike are starting to lean more heavily on personal approaches, such as direct sourcing, strategic support such as Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) partnerships, referrals, internal mobility and social media.

Traditional job boards feature an average response rate of 1-3%.

According to Career Thought Leaders, traditional Job boards feature a meager response rate of 1-3% on average.

According to a report from Aberdeen Group, Challenges in Sourcing Six-Figure Talent, traditional job boards simply deliver too many candidates (often thousands)—with less than 10% of applicants matching qualifications from the job description.

  • Further, 59% of surveyed employers said they don’t have the “manpower or time” to sort through all of the submissions they receive through traditional job boards.

Aberdeen’s research concludes: the most critical piece to talent acquisition is the relationship between candidate and company (or recruiter). Further authenticating this, according to CareerBuilder, 91% of candidates believe employer brand plays a key role in their decision whether or not to apply for a job.

With social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, job aggregators like Indeed, SimplyHired and CareerBuilder, and employers evolving their career webpages and job descriptions to be more approachable, accessible and personal, it appears the online recruitment landscape has begun to understand just how much candidates value timely communication, personal touch, tailored approaches and trustworthy customer service (all of which contribute to employer brand).

Do you believe we’re seeing a trend toward more candidate-centric approaches and that job boards/online recruiting platforms are evolving; in what ways? We’d love to hear your thoughts!