How to get more for less from your job boards

Never has a recruiter (or anyone, for that matter!) said they don’t want to get more for less but it’s more important than ever now to ensure a healthy ROI. Business costs are up, job board prices are up and candidate availability continues to be relatively low.

So how can you achieve more from the job boards, ensuring you’re maximising your budget and possibly even spending less? We’ll dig into the secrets, learnt from that champion duo – experience and data.

Why job board prices have increased

The issue of job board price increases has been a huge source of contention across the world of recruitment since the first big increases were announced in 2022. There was backlash on social media, agencies declaring they were going to leave certain job boards, and a general feeling of disbelief and resentment from recruiters. It’s easy to see why. Some of those increases were vast. So why are they doing it?

Lee Biggins, CEO of CV-Library, talks about job board price increases on the Talent Matters Podcast

In a Talent Matters podcast episode with Lee Biggins (CEO and Founder of CV-Library), the reasons centred around the various enormous rises in costs to the job boards over the past couple of years. Lee explained that a huge amount of investment is needed to bring candidates to the jobs on the platform. With increasingly sophisticated tech, experts need to be brought in to ensure maximum candidate attraction, plus there’s investment into mobile tech and social media, and the cost of security and running data ecosystems has exploded. In fact, inflation has caused all costs to rise.

In addition, in a candidate-short market the cost of candidate attraction has considerably increased over the last 18 months. Many thought we’d come out of the pandemic and see an influx of jobseekers in the market but the opposite has happened thanks to people retiring, Brexit resulting in an exodus of labour from the UK, and candidates demanding more from their jobs. This has meant that there is far more competition to attract candidates. This doesn’t mean the price rises aren’t a tough pill to swallow but hopefully this gives them some context.

Why there continue to be fewer candidates in the market

WaveTrackR data has shown that, while applications are up on 2022 (a year in which they plummeted), they continue be low compared to the jobs in the market. Much of that has to do with the fact that there are simply fewer people in the workforce in the UK since the start of the pandemic. A perfect storm of both Brexit and COVID causing a huge number of EU workers to leave the UK, an ageing population talking retirement, and a record-high number of people leaving the workforce due to long-term illness. There are now an incredible 500,000 fewer people in the workforce than there were in 2019 – and that is forecast to be permanent.

How to get more

We know what the challenges in the market are, now how can we get more from the job boards and maximise our ROI? We’ve broken it down into several areas in which you can make beneficial changes in order to boost applications and save money. We’ll be looking at what to advertise, when and where, as well as partnership development and inventory buying tips.

  1. Craft a killer job advert

    Your job advert is key. A poorly written, poorly structured, unoptimised job advert will not perform well on any platform. Here’s your condensed guide to creating a killer job advert:

    Title – Keep it short and use standardised wording, avoiding alternative, quirky titles. Candidates search for titles they know and that are commonly used in the industry. Someone searching for a Retail Assistant role may never get to see your Merchandising Ninja job ad. Top tip: start typing the job title you are considering into the search bar on a job board – if it appears as you begin to type, this means that the recommendation already has candidates searching for it. Bingo.

    Location – Adding this kind of structured data makes it easier for Google for Jobs and job board search engines to pick it up from keyword searches and will help candidates to immediately see whether a job is suitable for them. If you are advertising a remote/work from home/work from anywhere/hybrid position, just add that to the top of your job advert. Alongside salary, location flexibility is now one of the biggest motivators for candidates and can net you an extra 10% of applications.

    Salary – Whether or not to include salary on a job ad can be a contentious issue and the right salary can depend on a multitude of factors but the reality is that pay transparency is what candidates now expect. Salary is a significant motivator in the job search so it stands to reason that you will achieve a higher rate of quality applications if it is included in the ad. In a recent survey conducted by LinkedIn, 91% of respondents said that including salary ranges in a job post would affect their decision to apply and, in a separate LinkedIn survey, 82% of respondents said that seeing a salary range in a job description would give them a more positive impression of a company. Research by has shown a 27% uplift in applications when salary details are published on job ads.

    Ad copy – What you write is obviously crucial. As well as ensuring it reads well, is compelling and contains all the essential details in an easy-to-read format, there are a few tips that will help to boost quality applications. Weave keywords through your copy but don’t over-stuff the text with them or the ad will become clunky and the algorithms will penalise you. Check all the words you use carefully, avoiding gendered words.

    Flexible working in any form, whether time-based or location-based, will generate more applications. In LinkedIn’s May 2023 United Kingdom Talent Trends Report, flexibility is second only to compensation when it comes to candidate priorities.

    Another key consideration is word length – Don’t bore candidates with an overly long job ad containing every role responsibility. It’s vital to remember that a job ad is not a job description. This is important and where a job ad most often falls down. An ad should be designed to grab attention and compel the reader to action. Data from the Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 shows that an average of 250-300 words is the sweet spot, bringing in the greatest number of applications. 

  2. Choose the right time to post your jobs

    Content is key but getting the most out of your job board advertising means ensuring you’re posting your ads at the right time – when candidates are most actively searching for jobs. Data from the Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 shows that the majority of applications are received at the beginning of the week, with most coming in on a Tuesday, just ahead of Monday and Wednesday jointly. If you want to get your ads in front of candidates when they’re looking, posting at the beginning of the week is vital. This becomes even more important when you factor in the data (from the same report) that shows over 50% of applications are received within 24 hours of a job being posted.

  3. Select the right platforms to post your job adverts

    Where you post your jobs also matters. Technology such as WaveTrackR can recommend which job boards are likely to facilitate the highest number of applications based on the job specifications. WaveTrackR regularly provides data on the job boards that receive the highest number of applications per job. The Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 showed that Totaljobs received the highest average number of applications per job of the generalist job boards and Secretarial, PAs & Admin-focused job board Secs in the City received the highest average number of applications per job board of the niche boards. In fact, Secs in the City received the highest of all job boards, receiving an average of 31 applications per job. Top tip: niche job boards often provide a higher average number of applications per job than more generalised job boards, especially in industries with hard to fill roles, so post to a targeted mix of job boards.

  4. Develop partnerships with the job boards

    It’s important to remember that the job boards are run by people that want to help you. It’s in their interest to. And the best way for them to do that is for you to develop partnerships with them. Develop a relationship with your CSM and work together in order to get the most out of your advertising. Take advantage of any training the job boards offer and ensure you regularly refresh your knowledge of how the board works. The time you invest into that will pay dividends.

  5. Carefully consider how much job board inventory to buy

    This can be summed up in two words: don’t overbuy. Experienced recruiters may find this easier as, over time, they’ll have learnt how much is needed to last over the contract period. For many though, it can be difficult to judge how much to buy to ensure you don’t run out but, crucially, don’t waste any credits. Every credit not used is money wasted. It can be helpful to use a media strategist as they can advise on inventory volume, as well as  often securing a discount on your contract. Referring back to the partnerships section, it’s also well worth having a conversation with your CSM about inventory. They’re there to help you so use that help.

    Other ways to achieve more applications for less

  6. Advertise jobs on your website

    Recent Wave research into recruitment websites revealed that an incredible 47% of recruitment websites don’t advertise jobs at all, despite the fact that it won’t cost a penny extra and provides further job exposure. It makes sense to utilise your recruitment website by posting every job to your own jobs page as well as to the job boards. This will immediately bring candidates into your ecosystem and allow them to see other jobs you’re advertising. It’s a free way to advertise your jobs, reach more candidates, and increase traffic to your website.

  7. Optimise your website for Google for Jobs

    As part of the recruitment website research RecWebs undertook, it was also found that 50% of the websites that did advertise jobs didn’t optimise those jobs for Google for Jobs. This is despite the fact that optimising Google for Jobs on your website can drive talented candidates to your jobs and be a valuable source of organic candidate applications.

  8. Search your CRM first

    Don’t be in a rush to post out your jobs to job boards as soon as you get a brief. Always check your CRM first. Perform a CV search to see if you have any candidates in your database that fit the brief and give them a call if you do. Nine times out of ten there will be CVs in there that match the requirements so contact them directly. Not only does this save time, it saves money on job board credits that may lead to the same candidates applying. There’s a reason you have those CVs in your database – use them when you can!

    All jobs listed on your website should have structured data added to them in order for Google to know that they are job postings and can therefore be found by Google for Jobs. In order for Google to find your jobs and rank them in relevant searches, there are several details that must be included in your job listings. These include salary, location, job title, job description, company name, and job expiry date. You can check whether the jobs posted on your website are correctly displayed on Google for Jobs by logging into your Google Search Console account to check for any ‘critical’ issues. It’s also important to use and update sitemaps and make your web pages indexable.

  9. Source candidates on social media

    A huge number of both active and passive candidates are on social media sites so consider posting on relevant socials, particularly LinkedIn. This can be both through paid ads and via individual consultant accounts if they’re happy to do that – mentioning available jobs in their posts can open them up to a far wider and more varied network.

At a time when it feels like we’re getting less for more in pretty much every area of our lives, maximising the ROI from the job boards is not just a bonus, it makes total business sense. In summary – remember the basics of creating a good ad; post your jobs on a Monday or Tuesday; develop partnerships with the job boards; buy the right amount of inventory; and remember life beyond the job boards.

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