Expert Interview with Peter Weddle on Smarter Job Boards

smarter job board

The way we search for jobs and recruit for open positions has changed dramatically from the days of scanning the help wanted ads in the daily newspaper. Now both job seekers and employers alike are using everything from social media to mobile apps to video to find the best career matches.

And the smartest things online job boards to keep up with the seemingly ever-evolving nature of recruiting is to offer more versatile content that appeals to more than just active job seekers, says Peter Weddle, CEO of WEDDLE’s Research & Publishing and the executive director of the International Association of Employment Web Sites.

Job boards

“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at any point in time, just 16 percent of the workforce is actively in transition,” he says. “The smartest thing I’ve seen in the last one to two years is the transformation of Gen 1 employment sites that were basically designed for active job seekers into Gen 2 career portals that offer features, content and functionality that are helpful to passive prospects as well as active job seekers or 100 percent of the workforce.”

Peter recently checked in with us to offer advice on creating more successful job boards online. Here’s what he had to say:

Can you tell us about When and why did you create the site?

I created the site in the late 1990s. I was writing a biweekly column for The Wall Street Journal that covered online recruiting and HR management, and there didn’t seem to be any resource where my readers could find additional information about the emerging best practices in this field. It’s sort of a companion to our print publication – WEDDLE’s Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet – which the American Staffing Association was kind enough to call the “Zagat of the online recruitment field.”

Who should be using it?

The site is laid out Pinterest-style and is organized into four channels: Job Seekers, Career Activists (those who are employed and looking to advance in their field), Employers & Recruiters, and Employment Site Professionals.

What’s your background and interest in employment, job-hunting and recruiting?

Well, I’ve been kicking around the HR/recruitment field for more years than I would care to count. I was a partner in The Hay Group in the ’80s, bought and sold a company called Job Bank USA in the ’90s and have focused on WEDDLE’s Research & Publishing since then. The common thread in all of that is a fascination with the world of work and the awkward dance that employers and working people do to get to know one another.

You recently attended the IAEWS Congress in Nashville – what was one of the most interesting or exciting takeways for you?

Wow, that’s a great question. We had an array of terrific speakers and a lot of time for discussion and networking among our members. On the one hand, our industry keynoter, Chris Forman, the CEO of Start Date Labs, predicted that job advertising would follow consumer advertising into real-time bidding, which would, of course, completely revolutionize the way employers go to market for talent. On the other hand, I was impressed with how many employment sites had reinvented themselves by aggressively moving into social media and mobile technology and, in the process, put an end to the “job boards are dead” shibboleth.

What ideas and/or methods do you think are outdated or obsolete in this arena?

  • Employment sites that think they can survive simply as classified advertising platforms.
  • Employers who think that online networking for talent is a contact sport – the more connections, friends and followers you have, the more successful you will be.
  • Applicant tracking systems that create a candidate experience only the Terminator would love.

What are some best practices for creating a job site that will attract both top-notch recruits and high-quality jobs?

Avoid the generic candidate experience – create channels for different career paths so that people can find a “home” on your site.

Add career self-management content to that for job search so that the site is appealing to 100 percent of the workforce.

Create a social experience on your own site – not on a social media site – so that visitors can interact with one another at your URL.

How can job boards more effectively market themselves in today’s frequently information-overloaded and short-attention-spanned market?

Promote the site’s learning and networking opportunities as much as or even more than the posted jobs.

What sites are setting the standard for how employment searches will be conducted in the future?

In the latest edition of WEDDLE’s Guide, we’ve selected The Top 100 – the sites that we think are setting the pace in the global online employment services industry. They range from mega enterprises to niche sites, from job boards to aggregators to career portals and social media sites. It’s a vibrant industry, and we find that each time we do the list, there are always some deserving additions and some that fail to keep up.

Each year your site highlights some of the best of the online employment services industry through the WEDDLE’s Users Choice Award. What qualities/factors/features do the top sites consistently display?

It’s important to note that WEDDLE’s does not pick the winners. In fact, the User’s Choice Awards are the only accolade that lets actual site users – job seekers and employers – decide which sites are best. As we’ve looked over their shoulders, however, we’ve noticed that these individuals react most positively to:

  • Very strong brands that stand for something to which visitors can relate (usually their career field, but occasionally other factors).
  • A reputation for dedicated customer service.
  • A balance between posted employment opportunities and the level of traffic.

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