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Social Media Is Big, But Job Boards Are Still Tops

Social media was supposed to make job boards obsolete, right? Well, that hasn't happened and it's not likely to happen. Social media is great for sharing and keeping in touch, but few people use social media primarily for career-oriented self-marketing. People certainly build connections online related to working life, but the "social" in social media is what most people are after.

If a company is looking to hire, it may post a job opening on social media, but what are the chances that, of the millions using a social media site at any time, the best candidate for that job happens to see the job listing? Job boards are clearly better at matching available jobs with those who are looking for them (actively or passively).

Custom job boards may be part of the monetization and audience building strategy for your online news publication or trade publication website, and if so, there are ways you can use social media to your benefit. But if you run your job boards with skill, providing frequently-updated listings, plus the tools job hunters and employers need, you don't have to worry about social media making your job boards unnecessary.

What Social Media Can't Do

The popular logic says that employers find potential job candidates through connections, and connections are the bread and butter of social media. So social media should let you reach huge numbers of potential candidates, right? Not necessarily. Just because people are there doesn't mean it's easy to build relationships with them. In fact, the presence of people on social media sites doesn't even mean you'll necessarily find them in the first place.

The beauty and strength of job boards is that everyone knows up front why they're there. Employers are there to list opportunities, and job seekers are there to find them. While there is nothing wrong with posting some job listings on social media, it's not necessarily a targeted environment. You might reach plenty of people, but they might be people who aren't qualified and will clog employers' inboxes with irrelevant resumes.

Another big draw of social media is that the sites are, for the most part, free. But when use of a site is free, it's hard to stake out a competitive advantage among the hundreds of thousands of employers who may be posting jobs there. The very exclusivity that's part of targeted job boards does give employers a competitive advantage. Their listing may reach fewer people, but the signal to noise ratio of responses will be higher.

How Social Networking Fits into an Overall Recruiting Strategy

Social networking sites can be used as a supplement (but not a substitute) for job boards, because they can attract job candidates. When social networking sites are used to inform about an employer's company and brand, and to guide people to job boards, they can avoid some of the signal-to-noise problems involved with job listings that reach huge numbers of unqualified people. Here are a few tips for using social media to supplement job boards.

  • Don't simply post an endless stream of job listings. People will tune them out, un-follow, or turn off updates. Your social media strategy as a digital news source or trade publication website should involve providing useful information like industry news, with the occasional great job opportunity mixed in. This gives passive job seekers a reason to follow you.
  • Make your social media strategy a two-way conversation. Don't use your timeline as an advertising platform, but rather use it as a way to engage with interested parties. If they have questions, answer them, even if they're not directly related to a job opportunity. People remember brands that interact with them personally.
  • Create specific goals for your social media campaign, and how listings from your job boards can mesh with them. Choose the most relevant social networking sites for your particular audience, and make sure you have the time and resources to devote to managing your social media presence effectively.
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Social media has changed how people interact online, and that affects how people look for jobs. But social media shows no sign of pushing out job boards. In fact, over three-quarters of Millennials use job boards to hunt for jobs, and Millennials are less impressed with social media sites than are Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers.

You don't have to treat social media as a competitor for the custom job boards you use on your sites. In fact, social networking sites can be great tools that compliment activity on job boards and present a unique outreach opportunity. Simply bombarding social media sites with job listings isn't the answer, however. While it's perfectly appropriate to list the occasional plum opportunity, your social media strategy should be about building your brand, and drawing people to your website and its job boards.

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