Interview with Ryan St. Germaine on Online Job Boards

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There’s no question that online job boards have the upper hand over now-prehistoric-seeming print classified ads, but that doesn’t mean site owners get to sit back and enjoy the view from the top of the employment advertising ladder.

Perpetually shifting technology presents site operators with huge challenges.

“User experience is so important, but the factors that dictate what good user experience is are constantly changing with new tech and social media innovations,” says Ryan St. Germaine, CEO of BCjobs.ca, Western Canada’s largest online job site. “We need to worry about being mobile friendly, keeping our design on trend, and constantly monitoring the online landscape for the next big development.”

Ryan recently checked in with us to offer his expert insight on which new technology online job board owners should be keeping on their radar, what his favorite marketing tools are and more. Here’s what he had to say:

Tell us about BCjobs.ca…when and why did you start your site? Who should be using it?

I started the site with my business partner and close friend, Johnny Oshika, back in 2001. When we started BCjobs.ca, posting jobs and looking for work online was still really new; in fact, our biggest competition was still the newspaper. But Johnny and I both believed that the future of hiring was online, so we took a risk, and it really paid off! BCjobs.ca is now the largest job board in Western Canada and gets more than 1.5 million page views per month.

What have been the biggest changes/innovations you’ve seen in the world of online job sites in the 10-plus years since you’ve had your site?

So many!

Besides design, the trend everyone talks about the most is mobile, but from what I’ve seen, the biggest change is the importance of social media.

I’ve been working in this industry for over 13 years now, so I think I have a solid understanding of what’s truly important when it comes to recruitment and the job search. Social media is becoming an integral part of the process. Candidates must be aware of how their social profiles influence their chances at landing their dream job. Not just in the negative way that media usually focuses on, though. Sure, an unseemly photo can hurt your job search, but adding as many skills as possible to your Facebook profile can up your chances of catching a recruiter’s eye!

When it comes to employers, they need to get social with their recruiting. We see the positive results all the time. Employers who use social media to drive traffic towards their job posts are much more successful.

SEE ALSO: Job Board Managers: Leverage Social for Your Advertisers

When it comes to making job hunting easier for job seekers, what recent and/or upcoming innovations are you most excited about?

I think a really positive shift is the growing emphasis placed on soft skills. Employers have realized that great candidates are more than just the sum of their resume! This is fantastic because it means our industry has to take this into account and give job seekers a better chance to highlight their skills. We’ve recently begun encouraging candidates to create full profiles on BCjobs, instead of just uploading a resume. We even provide candidate matching so that the more skills candidates provide, the more visible they will become to potential employers. In their profiles, candidates can highlight a broader range of skills for employers to assess. This makes it easier for job seekers to be found, not just by employers in general, but by the right employers.

What are your favorite tools for marketing your site?

SEO, without a doubt. We’ve worked very hard to ensure that whenever someone searches for work in British Columbia, BCjobs.ca ranks first. This has helped us achieve our goal of providing our employers with more local talent; in fact, due to our emphasis on SEO and extremely targeted advertising, 80 percent of our visitors are from BC. We also get great ROI on CPC ads and social media. We use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. I also try to stay very active in the local community. I go to events, I volunteer and I work with local businesses and boards.

How important do you think your blogs are to building traffic to your site? What advice do you have for other job board operators on creating useful content for their sites?

I think that our blogs are helpful for building traffic, but they do a lot more for us than build a bigger user base. Blogging also helps us maintain a relationship with our users and keeps a finger on the pulse of our community, so that we know what they want and how we can keep them coming back to BCjobs. My advice would be to post regularly, read other blogs related to your industry and go after quality guest bloggers as much as possible! Also, use apps like BuzzSumo to figure out what’s currently trending; this will help you improve traffic to your blog.

What do you do to attract reputable employers to advertise on your site? What services or features do you think employers are looking for on job sites?

BCjobs.ca allows employers to create branded profiles; we offer them a huge catalog of candidate profiles to search; we offer social recruiting, extremely competitive rates and full ATS integration. When it comes right down to it, I think employers want a site is easy to use and gets a lot of traffic from the right candidates. Employers use BCjobs.ca not just because it gets a huge amount of traffic, but also because they know it’s the best source for the local talent they need. We are also constantly working to make our site even simpler and more intuitive.

What tips do you have for employers on writing better job ads?

Do not write a list of demands. DON’T do it! Think of an ad for a sports car. Would Audi start out by listing all of the qualifications their potential customers would need to finance the car being marketed? No! You are, in essence, selling your jobs to potential candidates, so you need to write ads that reflect this. Start out with a short job description that highlights all of the best things the position has to offer; then talk about your company a bit, how awesome its culture is, why people love working there; and then you can get into details and qualifications. Oh, and back to SEO for a minute. When posting job ads online, consider the role the title you use plays in your ads searchability. Will potential hires be searching for terms like “Success and Happiness Expert,” or are they more likely going to be looking for titles like “Customer Support and Representative”? Use the most recognizable, down-to-earth job titles possible, then sell the position in the body of your ad.

What types of jobs seem to be in the highest demand today?

Hourly workers are in constant demand. In pretty much every field.

How important do you think having a niche is to the success of a job site?

It’s so important. If your site is too broad, it’s much harder for employers to find the right candidates. As I have already mentioned (sorry to dwell), our success is based on our ability to attract an extremely high percentage of local traffic. Targeting BC talent is our number one mission when it comes to all of our marketing efforts. Having a niche, and serving that niche well, is vital to our success as a job site.

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