The 2008 Top 100 US Job Board Niches report lists the 100 most searched for job categories. For each of these employment categories it lists the top ranked job boards according to Google but excludes the following:
- general-purpose job boards like monster.com
- subdomain spam from general-purpose job board sites like science.jobs.com (currently dominating the search results)
- sites exclusively powered by job search engines
- most sites whose primary business is not that of a job board
- sites that are part of a large network of domains
- search engine spam like ‘travel’ jobs site jobsinparadise.com
- job guides and career book sites (many look deceptively like job boards)
- almost defunct boards and sites with only a handful of jobs
- parked domains
- job sites that don’t publish dates on the job postings
This document covers the following topics:
- the maniac entrepreneur
- ranking methods
- listing the wrong job boards
- hard-to-find useful niche job boards
- search engine spam
- how many job boards are there really?
- association job boards
- monster.com and careerbuilder.com’s niche boards
Why exclude so many sites? If you want to look at the same jobs or the same jobseekers that everyone else is looking at, just go to monster.com or careerbuilder.com. But if you are looking for something special, a unique job opportunity or candidate, then look for a niche job board run by an entrepreneur who knows your industry, who advertises in niche publications and attends the right tradeshows.
It takes a maniac. The maniac entrepreneur is someone who lives and breathes marketing in the community you want to connect with — someone who spends all his time beating the bushes for you. I have heard it said that an entrepreneur is someone who can endure pain for a long period of time. The websites I have excluded, don’t have someone like that. What they have is good search engine optimization — it’s not the same. Here’s what I’m talking about:
About the ranking methods. I relied on Google’s search volume
data for the top 100 categories. I have used many other keyword tools
but Google’s data always appears more reliable and credible. Because
Google limits the number of search terms that it will sort by search
volume, the top 100 list is ranked alphabetically. Some duplicates have
been removed, for example, variations on "home jobs" such as "work at
home jobs", "at-home jobs", etc. Also, geographical searches such as
"jobs in Texas" have been removed.
Sometimes it becomes obvious that Google’s search volume data is also
influenced by SEO rank checking software. however, it is more reliable
at the top of the spectrum and becomes less reliable when looking at
long tail-terms. Still, I am suspicious that home and art jobs may not belong so high on the list…
You seem to have the wrong job boards listed, why? Google
search engine rankings change almost everyday. In a very competitive category with well established websites, the top three websites
generally don’t change often.
But in niches with a number of relatively weak competitors, they
will change frequently. For this reason, I made it easy for you to do
your own Google search for each category. As it turns out, Google seems to have made a major improvement to its algorithms just after this list was completed and I have made some edits as a result. The most glaring example — at the start of my research dice.com did not rank for the keyword ‘computer jobs’. Now it does.
Why is it hard to find useful niche job boards? If finding the right job board is frustrating for you, it’s because you are lost in an endless maze! Search hard and long on Google using keywords like ‘job boards’, ‘job board reviews’, ‘job board comparisons’, ‘job board rankings’, etc and you will quickly find top-ranked sources that:
- operated for six months but were abandoned 18 months ago
- offer no references or dates and are being used for search engine optimization purposes only
- list the ‘top 50 job boards’ which includes websites with less than 10 jobs.
and etc. etc. Even Google’s own directory is corrupt. Google still uses the notorious Open Directory Project which relies on ‘volunteers’. If LatPro.com were listed on this page, it would appear in the top five based on its Google PR rank. The page is full of diversity job boards but curiously our flagship websites DiversityJobs.com and LatPro.com are excluded. It’s especially unusual considering that the editor (dgarciamnz) of the page is Hispanic. So which of our competitors does he work for?
A good starting point for evaluating job boards, is to look at traffic using a service like compete.com.
But, even traffic can be misleading. First, Compete.com is not accurate — it’s just an estimation and better for making comparisons than understanding true levels. Second, it tells you nothing about quality. Years ago, we did a partnership that doubled our traffic overnight. Before too long, we realized the quality of this traffic was not at all consistent with our organic traffic and we terminated the partnership. All job board traffic is not made equal.
The search engines are chock full of spam. There are old job boards defunct for years that still have top rankings, made for adsense websites and even a parked domain or two cluttering up the search results.
And, even the defunct websites still say "we are the leading job board for blah blah blah". Don’t blame the search engines, though — those categories that are full of spam are categories where no entrepreneur has come forth to build a great job board. Or in some cases, it may be that the entrepreneur has come, but has not had enough time yet to rise up.
Sometimes those empty categories are adjacent to categories owned by successful job boards that might be sucking the air out of the room for would-be entrepreneurs.
Mostly, it’s still early in the evolution of the Internet and the job board industry. Think of the online recruiting industry as a newborn baby or a toddler… mark my words, you won’t recognize the landscape in five years.
But, I have heard there are more than 40,000 job boards and yet your list is so short, what gives? My research is by no means exhaustive — it only covers 100 top mainstream
employment niches in the US and excludes generalist and geographically focused boards. So, this is not designed by any means to be an
exhaustive list. However, my personal experience in the job board
industry leads me to believe that the number of effective job boards that have attained critical mass is still very small.
I recognize that critical mass is not a fixed number– in
some employment niches critical mass might mean just 1,000 unique
visitors a month. So where does that 40,000 number come from? I would like to know what the definition of a ‘job board’ being used is… if you want to include every blog and association with a jobs page, sure we can get to 40,000.
I paid for several job postings on the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association’s webpage a few times which is probably a good example. It was inexpensive and I did receive a couple of resumes. But do you want to call that a job board?
I have also known a handful of the principals behind the job boards that are listed for many years. Lots of these boards are one, two or three-man bands and not growing. Smaller niches are even less capable of supporting a viable job board business so it is not reasonable to expect that as we look at smaller and smaller niches we should find more and more successful job boards.
When I try to reconcile ‘common wisdom’ with my own experience, here’s what I come up with:
1 — Perhaps I’m clueless because I don’t do enough recruiting personally.
2 — The recruiting industry personalities and training companies that speak and write about recruiting, don’t necessarily practice recruiting. They essentially get paid to talk about things that they think about rather than do. They need to be memorable or they are out of business — in other words, they need material.
3 — Fortune 500 companies and many advertising agencies may be more interested in exhaustive lists of job boards for a variety of reasons. Their dollars are not counted the way mine are in part because they lack the ability to track results reliably. Some too are interested in CYA policies and/or branding which have little to do with traffic and recruiting effectiveness.
I don’t pay much attention anymore to the experts whether they be University professors, journalists or venture capitalists because their ideas have mostly not stood the test of time and my own experience. Just look at Jobster.com with $56 million invested and now it’s not much more than a doorway for TopUSAJobs.com. Think about all the press lavished on it.
Looking at the major categories in this report that lack job boards is
Using my own personal definition of what a viable job board is and a bit
of generosity, I’d estimate there may be just several hundred useful
job boards in the US. Lots more are on the way and we will get to tens
of thousands eventually.
What about all the professional association job boards? We have worked with professional associations for many years — and I can tell you there is a good reason why their job boards are generally not showing up in the Google results – no maniac entrepreneur! In fact, I can remember begging an association for six months just to get the jobs link moved from the bottom of the home page to the main menu of the association’s website. Forget about proactive marketing or even minimal marketing to the association members. And the end result is that most association job boards will produce a trickle of jobseekers. Yes, there are a few exceptions some of which are listed.
Is this really surprising? if you have ever had the pleasure of working deep inside a nonprofit organization the way I have, did you notice the slowness, the personal politics, the bureaucracy and the incompetency? I’m sure there are exceptions — but my own personal experience with nonprofit, educational and volunteer organizations is thoroughly consistent in this regard.
What about the vertical job search engines, social networking sites and free classifieds? In spite of my deep
belief in niche job boards run by rabid maniac entrepreneurs, I am also
a fan of these alternatives. I have been tracking vertical job search engines and interviewing their leaders. I have also written at length about free classifieds like Craigslist and will write a follow-up soon about social networking.
So what are monster.com and careerbuilder.com doing about the competition from niche job boards?
- In January of 2008, Monster.com purchased Affinity Labs for $61 million revealing an interest in social networking and online communities. The Affinity Labs portfolio included Policelink.com, NursingLink.com and ArtBistro, each with community, social networking and related content. Affinity Labs was built by Christopher Michel who also sold Military.com To Monster in 2004. Not sure where veteranemployment.com fits in.
- CareerBuilder.com is busy building its own niche job boards some anonymously – in my research, I discovered sologig.com, workinretail.com, and groceryhire.com. Others include primecb.com and empleoscb.com. You may discover more, if you look at the footers of those websites.
So, what do you think?