In defence of marketing owning job boards.

January 12, 2022

In many companies, job boards sit with the IT department. The rationale goes “It’s a tool to help recruiters, therefore we need to make sure it is working, and as a result it sits in IT, very much like a CRM, telephone and other software.”

I fundamentally believe that this is the wrong place for job boards to sit. They should fairly and squarely be at the centre of the marketing team. They should be part of the marketing budget, and ownership for their success should also fall on the marketing team.

Job boards, on average, make up 60-80% of most marketing budgets. It is essentially advertising. And if you want to reduce that spend whilst having no impact on the number of quality candidates coming through (or ideally increasing the number of quality candidates applying), then it must be under the guidance of a marketing specialist who is able to apportion the marketing budget in a way that ensures maximum ROI, and not under the control of a department whose default is “If it is working, then all is well.” And even if you have someone in an IT or other operations department able to do that, the fact that the marketing team are not involved makes zero commercial sense.  

Return on investments from job boards should not be an annual conversation that comes up at job board renewal time. It should be an evolving conversation. Similarly, if you are spending a lot of money on job boards, you should have a good relationship with your job board account manager. They will be able to offer free advice, support if particular jobs are underperforming and similar services. They of course will always be trying to upsell, but that’s their job. A marketer will have these conversations, in the context of what else is going on. A technical person avoids them, again focusing on “Are we using all credits and is it working?”

The sales team must also be included in these conversations, and whilst it is a general stereotype, in the main it is true – most marketers are more comfortable discussing job boards and challenging consultants on their use of them (as well as training/supporting them) than the IT department are.

Job boards continue to offer a huge opportunity to recruitment businesses; they may not be fashionable with other tech coming out, but year in, year out, they are the number one source of candidates for most recruitment organisations. Yet this needs to be considered as part of a wider conversation on martech, the overall tech stack and your approach to marketing.

One final point. Putting the responsibility for job boards in any other department aside from marketing is fundamentally disrespectful to your marketing team. You don’t put responsibility for training in the accounts department, credit control in the HR department or accountability for the email system into marketing. If you can’t trust your marketing team with the responsibility, then you have the wrong approach to marketing or the wrong team. Good recruitment marketers will be commercially savvy people, not focussed solely on creativity and making things look pretty, but on maximising your ROI. Given your biggest marketing spend is likely to be job boards, afford them the professional courtesy of helping you make better returns by ensuring the responsibility sits with them. Then sit back and watch your ROI increase and your spend come down.