Job boards have not made a monster Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2007

The rapid proliferation of general and niche job boards has created a bit of consternation among staffing firm owners and managers. Their concerns, although justifiable to some extent, have proven to be somewhat premature. There is no doubt that job boards represent competition for staffing agencies, and they provide a valuable service to job seekers and hiring companies alike. Both offer valuable services to their clients, and each has unique competitive edges that facilitate the hiring process for business owners.

Smart Business spoke with Don Crawford, president and CEO of Delta Dallas, about the advantages that staffing firms offer companies in their quests to hire key employees and what steps owners can take to attract and retain the “best and brightest” by partnering with them.

What advantages do staffing agencies have over job boards?

Principally, staffing services provide screening processes that are not available through job boards. A position posted on a job board can generate hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of responses. Business owners, particularly of small companies, generally do not have the time to sift through resumes or the expertise to unearth the best-qualified candidates to meet their specific needs. Staffing firms do. In essence, staffing firm recruiters are matchmakers. They have personnel who are adept at weeding out unqualified applicants and matching candidates to cultures, and they can do both expeditiously.

How can staffing agencies reduce the numbers of interested applicants for positions?

One method is to ask candidates specified prequalification questions. This eliminates some of the people who are simply applying for jobs randomly and don't have the requisite skill sets required by the employer. This could include three to five qualifying questions about applicants’ skills that help the employer whittle down the candidate list and prioritize their call backs.

Are there times when business owners are justified in posting positions on job boards?

Of course. It makes sense at times to post a position with a job board for budgetary reasons. For instance, a single posting on a job board might cost anywhere from nothing to $350, depending on the board selected. That same search through a staffing firm might cost thousands of dollars, and may not be prudent when considering the position being filled. Decisions regarding which approach to use must be made by companies on a case-by-case basis and should be congruent with the responsibilities of the position.

Are job boards more suitable for filling specific categories of positions?

Not at all. They are well suited for jobs at a variety of levels, ranging from salespeople, engineers and accountants to A-level executives. But, there is a certain percentage of people that job boards do not attract at any level. That is roughly the top 5 to 10 percent of people in their profession. If business owners want to hire that segment of a profession, they are going to have to network or retain executive recruiters to attract them. That is another choice business owners have to make when hiring: Do they want to hire the top-notch people in a given profession or recruit the 60 to 80 percent of their counterparts who are hard workers but not in the elite 5 to10 percent? This preference will drive their decision when choosing a search method.

What criteria should business owners apply when choosing among a job board, a search firm or a self-hiring process to fill a position?

The three most significant criteria are time, the importance of the position, and the economics of the search. For instance, if a company is hiring an executive assistant for a CEO, a search is likely to be time consuming and somewhat more narrow than filling positions of a more general nature. In many cases, due to the time investment and expertise needed to fill a position, a search firm is the most economical choice. Each open position should be analyzed using all three criteria when choosing a search method. An initial time investment examining the parameters of the search, can improve the overall investment required to fill a position.

DON CRAWFORD is president and CEO of Delta Dallas. Reach him at (972) 788-2300 or