Job Boards vs. Social Networking Sites

I follow a number of recruiting blogs as well as many sourcers and recruiters on Twitter and I see a growing trend of job board bashing – typically comparing them (very) unfavorably to social networking sites and applications.

I love and leverage social networking as much as the the next recruiting professional, but I refuse to just blindly follow the crowd or jump on the bandwagon when it comes to anything. With all of the buzz about social media and so many people running away from and disparaging the job boards, I am going to step out of the crowd and try to figure out where this perspective that job boards = old/bad, social networking = new/good comes from, because to me, some of the reasoning doesn’t add up.


First, let me say that when I think of the job boards, I think of their resume databases – not job posting. Job posting is job posting – whether it’s on a paid job board, a free board, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Indeed.  While it can definitely work, it’s a passive and reactive technique that has a low ROI in most cases with many respondents who do not meet the basic qualificiations of the position posted.


One thing I want to make clear is that I actually have access to and use major paid job board resume databases, and I also use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. It is very important to realize that some people who speak negatively about the major job boards actually don’t use them. I am not really sure how someone can review or form an opinion of a product they don’t use. I’ll leave that for you to figure out.


This well-presented post was brought to my attention via Twitter recently: Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Recruit Thru Social Networks, and I agree with most of the points made and reasons presented. However, because there is an undertone of job boards = old/bad and social networks = new/good, it offers a good platform to me to offer some counterpoints. 


Social networks make it easy to build relationships with people who may not feel comfortable actively looking for a job online.


#1 The reality is that not all social networks make it EASY to build relationships with people. As I am fond of saying, if you can’t find or identify the people in the first place, you can’t establish a relationship with them. For example, if you’re on Facebook looking for potential employees – Facebook’s search interface is limited and you can only see information about people inside your network. Even third party Facebook search applications that do allow you to see information about people beyond your network and don’t really offer very effective or powerful people-finding ability.

The search interfaces/engines of all major online job board resume databases enable users to create highly specific searches and thus easily return relevant results. If you can find them, you can contact them and begin to build relationships with them.

#2 Even after you’ve found someone on a social network, there is nothing inherently easier about building relationships with people you find via social networks than sending an email or picking up the phone to reach people you’ve found on a job board (or the Internet, or wherever). Think about it.

Besides, once you find someone on a job board, you could just as easily cross reference their name and search for them on social networks and reach out to them there as well. For Facebook specifically, this is especially helpful because you actually have a name to search with, and in many cases a company.

Careerbuilder is already making the move to capitalize on cross referencing people who post their resume on their site with social networks with their new Applicant Explorer. I’ve used it – it’s cool, and it works.

#3 Some people who don’t feel comfortable actively looking for jobs online do actually post their resumes confidentially on the major job boards, with no identifying information – but they can be found and contacted. In fact, some of the best candidates are completely confidential. If your information is on LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace or Facebook – it’s not confidential.

You should know that some people who post their resumes online aren’t actually actively looking. You may also find it interesting to know that my own research has shown that approximately 75% – 80% of the resumes on the major online job boards have posted dates over 30 days old. It could be argued the job board resume databases are actually more “passive channel” than “active channel.”

If you do have access to any major job board resume database and you’re only searching for people who just posted their resume (and thus “active” candidates, at least in theory), you’re missing the vast majority of candidates, and you are making a common mistake that many sourcers and recruiters fall prey to.


You can easily find relevant candidates for any position by searching for candidates with the skills your company is looking for.


#1 See counterpoint #1 above. No social network has a very advanced search interface or capability, and some are quite poor, so for the most part you actually can’t easily find relevant candidates. LinkedIn’s search interface and capability is solid and is perhaps the best of the social media bunch, but it still does not compare well to the search interfaces and capability of any of the major job board resume databases in terms of configurability, control and precision.

#2 You actually CAN search job board resume databases and easily find relevant candidates with the skills your company is looking for. More easily than you can with any social network/application.


When you recruit in social networks your company will reap the added benefit of spreading brand awareness and increasing the desire of others to work at your company.


When you find candidates via the job boards, I think you have just as much opportunity to brand yourself and your company when you contact the people you find and spread brand awareness through them.

However, there is no denying that having a corporate presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social networking sites, or having a corporate blog can increase your brand awareness and the desire of others to work at your company in ways that the major job boards simply cannot, as they do not offer similar methods of exposure or branding.


One of the most popular ways to find a potential candidate is through connections. When you begin recruiting in social networks you expand your personal network so that you can reach a much larger number of potential candidates.


Job board resume databases can be used in a manner very similar to social network sites and applications. If you’re using a resume database and you’re not actively and consistently building relationships with, networking with, branding yourself/your company, and referral recruiting with the people you’re contacting then you are most certainly not leveraging job board resume databases to their fullest potential.

Since before the Internet and even the computer, any good recruiter knows success is about establishing and building relationships and expanding your personal and professional network – every person you come into contact with knows other people.  You don’t need a social networking site to leverage this simple fact – just pick up the phone.

Some people may be surprised to learn that the concept of social networks is over 100 years old. MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn are examples of social network services, but social networking does not require the Internet.


Job boards are on the way out and more and more employers are turning to social networks for recruitment.


There is no denying that more and more employers are turning to social networks for recruitment and that traffic to the major job boards has been declining, but I am not exactly sure if job boards are on their way out. While they are not likely to completely disappear, they do need to (and likely will, in order to survive) evolve their identity and functionality in order to play catch-up with the positive buzz and valuable features of social networking sites and applications.


And now I would like to raise a few points of my own regarding the job boards in comparison to social media:


It is certainly a fact that everyone is not on a job board. There are people you can find and recruit via social media that you simply cannot find on a job board.

However, the converse is also true – everyone is not on a social network, and there ARE actually great people you can find on the job boards that you simply cannot find on any social network. If you don’t agree with this point and don’t use job board resume databases, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but it won’t be supported by fact.


Job boards cost money. Social networks are free (for the most part – you can pay for LinkedIn). While everyone loves free – free means everyone (530,000 recruiters!) has access and therefore there is no competitive advantage of exclusivity. Sometimes you do get what you pay for.

If you’re in executive search and working with clients who are very savvy with social media and who leverage Linkedin heavily and effectively, don’t be surprised to hear your clients eventually say something like this: “Don’t bother searching LinkedIn – we already have that covered, and we won’t pay a fee for candidates on LinkedIn.”  You heard it predicted here first.


I completely agree that social networks are an amazing channel for finding potential employees and that they are increasingly becoming an even expected way of finding them. Companies should definitely be leveraging social networking via blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I agree that if they don’t, they risk “being left in the dust,” as having an effective social media strategy can likely be a significant competitive advantage.

However, I strongly feel that having an either/or mentality when it comes to social media and the job boards is illogical – it just doesn’t make sense.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I sincerely hope people think before they simply jump on the bandwagon.

  • Wow..great post! Love the honesty. I agree with many of your points and counterpoints. There is no silver bullet.

    Social Media, in all of it’s glory, is still in “early adoption” stage for the 40+ crowd (IMO). Often.. it is that group that recruiters are hunting. In health care.. the average age of the coveted Registered Nurse is 48. How many of them do we really believe are active, avid social medialites? … and…

    As for the job boards.. one thing is unfortunately true; anyone who can afford the price can access the database. I’m not a nurse.. but, because I was a Travel Nurse Recruiter, I get robo-called for travel nursing positions. The point is that job seekers are tired of the blast approach used by those who access the job boards. And, I don’t know why so many who “view” my resume on a job board seem to think I’d be interested in laundering money for another country.

    So…it is this entrepreneur’s belief that the time has come to empower the job seeker with a real strategy. Something more than the ability to be automatically notified when a job “matching” their profile hits a system. So, that’s what I’m working on…a strategy to help the medical job seeker (in particular) control their privacy and connect with medical recruiters on their own terms.

    I’m not pitching here.. I’m agreeing with you and stating that I think the time has come to focus on the job seeker. And, I understand my critics will say; “I’ve never had a job seeker write me a check.”

    ( I could argue that point all day long )

    Thanks for the great post!

  • Thanks for mentioning my post.
    Social networks are becoming more and more mainstream day by day and I can tell you a few big companies that I am working with are having great success recruiting through them in a much more cost-effective manner than working with HR agencies.

  • Glenn,

    Very well articulated. We’ve (Deloitte) had great success with both methods for sourcing and recruiting, however our experience is that the “general” candidate population simply doesn’t equate Linkedin with Job Search, at least yet. Also, LI does tend to lean toward several industries i.e. Information/Technology, Financial Services and Professional Services and functions such as Sales and Marketing.

    So for now the best option would appear to be a blended approach, although based on what we’ve heard from Linkedin, stay tuned!


  • Very interesting post. Glen is a deep thinker and always questions common beliefs; he gets to discover multiple sides of things and it helps us all. I have added some more thoughts on the topic of this post here:


  • Great post, I agree, you have to use all tools to find the right candidate, whether it be using the job boards (where I still find great hires), social media or pure networking.

  • Thomas4444
  • Dawn Boyer

    I favor the Social Networking sites and look there before I start searching Monster and the other job boards. A recent article in the Virginian Pilot (Norfolk, VA) noted that the use of Job Boards for recruiting and/or job search activity has dropped about 30% since the same time last year, and social networking has increased dramatically. I believe them based on my own experience.

  • Boolean Black Belt

    Thank you for reading and leaving a comment!

    I did not get a chance to see that article – I do know that when it comes to website traffic analysis, the major boards have lower traffic than social networking sites, and may in fact have declined as well. However, when I reference job boards, I am focusing solely on the resume databases of the job boards – which are low traffic-producing, as it only takes one visit to enter a resume, and you don’t need to come back as recruiters come to you. I can see why people are visiting the major job boards less – in many cases there is not a need to visit those sites to look for jobs when you can simply go to or and find jobs from all over the Internet.

    Also, a LinkedIn poll that came out this month with 4300+ respondents showed that 3X as many people used the job board sites to find their last job compared to social networking sites. Great and ironic data coming from a LinkedIn poll!

  • This is indeed an great article. I ran across this while googling my own site. I am the founder of a free board that is growing fast.
    We have integrated our services with twitter. We feel that the twitter search engine is ideally suited for a job search. More people are seeing this and grasping the technology.

    We feel the job board as we know it, is due for change. We have built a board that will compete with the large boards. but is much simpler to use and did I mention FREE! We are integrated with indeed, and offer premium services as well. We do not collect resumes or any private data other than email.

    Our followers can sign up for a profile, then when a job that matches their search criteria is posted, we will SMS their twitter account with a direct message.

    Just under a month from launch and over 1000 followers we are growing fast. Great read you have here, will gladly return to see what else you have to say.

    Michael Quale

  • Great post…

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  • Glen –

    Very interesting and thank you for conducting the poll. I think job seekers today have to use every tool available to them to find their next opportunity. I enjoy reading your posts and your tools for searching the net for talent.

    Best –

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  • Outstanding post and great thoughts. It’s truly about diversifying your approach. Job boards are a great source of resumes as are social networks. It’s really about the human touch that will ultimately decipher the candidate to decide weather or not they make it though the process. I recently posted about it at CruiterTalk. As always, great stuff.

  • Well crafted thoughts, Glen. All the comments on this topic support the value of job boards, so not everyone’s bashing. Indeed, the chance of job boards disappearing as a result of some Web x.0 medium are about as likely as the Internet eliminating TV, TV eliminating radio, radio eliminating newspapers (oops – Rocky Mountain News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, etc., excepted), etc. Loved the “Don’t bother searching LinkedIn – we already have that covered, and we won’t pay a fee for candidates on LinkedIn.” I agree with your prediction but I hope it’s a *long* time from now!

  • If you followed me on twitter (I’m @umlguy), you would lately see me complaining about the functionality of most of the job boards. They’re very poorly implemented, at least from a candidate’s perspective. One is so bad, I’ve stopped trying to apply there. The site is just broken.

    And in regards to your point about “stale” resumes: insists that my resume was last updated in 2001. I updated it in March of 2009, but they don’t seem to know that.

    I agree with a lot of your points here; but I would agree with them more if the job boards worked better.

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  • Krishna Kadiyala

    I cant agree more. Social media is another channel to source candidates. Not a replacement for job boards.

  • Efajardo

    I’m not really sure where I should be writing this but hopefully, here, would be just acceptable. You see, our company is also venturing to other social media sites for recruiting aside from LinkedIn. We are now trying to use Facebook, Twitter and BlogSpot. We’re still on the stage 1 phase wherein we would want to seek out targeted audiences and get people to follow our sites. We already figured out how to do that with Twitter and right now we would want to increase our Blog followers and FB followers. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  • Jeff

    Great article, the only people losing in all this confusion are the job seekers. They hear that social networking is the “holy grail” to finding a great job and spend countless hours “building relationships” through social sites only to havwe nothing to show for their time.
    If you want to find a job, the job boards are still the best way to go.
    I like to use when I search for a job. They aggregate jobsfrom all the major boards including indeed, monster, and CB – but also have some cool functionality that those boards don’t like thier passive job search feature for people that just want to “see what else is out there”.

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