Job Boards, Aggregators, Recruitment, and Applicant Tracking: The Basics and Blurred Lines
Who are you? What do you want? What are you looking for?
No, I’m not trying to send you into an existential tailspin, I just want to understand the business problems that your technology needs to solve.
In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of overlap and blurring of lines between what had previously been distinct needs, functions, and uses. Terms like “recruitment”, “applicant tracking” and “job board” are now—sometimes confusingly—used interchangeably. There’s good reason for this, however, what with all the blurring and overlapping going on. But their nuanced differences can still be very important, and can affect the core of what your organization’s business and technology needs are or may become.
So let’s first separate these out, and see where that blurring and overlapping is happening!
Recruitment technology is traditionally outbound-focused. It is centred around communication and marketing. You’re putting jobs out into the world and in front of candidates, and communicating with them directly.
Applicant Tracking is mostly inbound-focused. ATS programs deal with the intake of candidates applying to jobs, and the tracking, organizing, and evaluating of those candidates.
Job Boards can serve as the space for one or both of the above activities to take place. Jobs are advertised (jobs go out) and candidates apply (applications come in). Job boards primarily make money from employers and recruiters paying to advertise jobs and access candidate databases, among other revenue streams.
Aggregators look a lot like job boards, but usually differentiate themselves by “scraping” jobs from multiple company career pages, job boards, and other sources. Aggregators are more likely to sell ads through a pay-per-click model, but may also sell by job post and/or candidate database access.
Okay. We’ve got our basics down, but what types of people and organizations use these tools?
Organizations – who pays to use Recruitment technology and Application Tracking?
- Job Board Businesses
- Recruitment Companies
- Professional Associations
- Universities and Colleges
- Online Publishers
People – who are the users of recruitment and applicant tracking technology?
- Job seekers
- Hiring Managers from small and medium sized employers
- Recruiters and HR professionals for medium and large employers
- Recruiters working for recruitment companies
Each type of organization tends to have different needs and expectations for their technology, and how they interact with their clients and users.
Scenario 1: Job board businesses, online publishers, and aggregators need to market themselves online to both the people looking for work and the people advertising jobs. Many of their customers are those small and medium-sized organizations that have hiring needs, but aren’t large enough to necessitate investing in their own applicant tracking systems. Many may still be collecting resumes through email and printing them off to evaluate them, but welcome the use of ATS-like tools on the job board they advertise on.
Scenario 2: Recruitment companies offer a higher level of service to employers, and take over communication between candidates and employers. Recruiters handle all the dirty work of advertising jobs, researching and contacting passive candidates, reviewing applications, and screening potential hires. As a result, their job boards are (usually) exclusively candidate-facing. Recruiters develop large databases of candidates, and need to be able to search, evaluate, and contact them efficiently.
Scenario 3: Professional associations, unions, and universities and colleges may need to keep posted jobs hidden from public view, restricting access to a limited membership. These organizations can be focused on providing value for their members, who likely pay membership fees or tuition, and are expected to deliver high value back to them in return. Tools that help their members manage their careers can prove to be very important.
There are more scenarios and types of organizations and businesses with similar and/or overlapping needs. New business models and different approaches to older models are springing up daily. The face of online recruiting, hiring, and job search are still evolving, and the way we use recruiting technology to solve problems in these areas are evolving along with them.