So You Wanna Build a Job Board, Part 1: The Do-It-Yourself Project

This blog post is the first in a series that will examine the pros and cons of different methods of creating and running a job board as the focus or part of a business. There are many reasons for creating a job board–it can be the centre of your business, a way to pipeline talent for your recruitment firm or staffing agency, or a way to help monetize your already traffic-heavy news/media website. This first installment covers the ins-and-outs of building a job board website yourself from scratch.

 

I love Pinterest. I particularly enjoy browsing the crafts and “DIY” category, just to see what kind of things people come up with. That said, a lot of projects posted there are more complicated than their pretty pictures allow for. Google “Pinterest DIY disaster” and you’ll find a long line of failed real-life attempts at replicating the final products depicted. But you can also find some beautiful, legitimately successful examples creativity that comes from a little bit of Pinterest inspiration.

 

So, what’s it like when the Do-It-Yourself project is something as complex as a Job Board, and not party decorations?

 

To begin with, the work involved in a business that features a job board on its website can include design, coding, server/hosting maintenance, troubleshooting, customer service, sales, business development, and marketing (blogging, social media, advertising, etc.)

 

If this is your project, you know how to use HTML and CSS, and can find cool, pre-coded elements from jQuery and other online libraries. And when you’re stuck, there’s always Google! There are tons of free resources online to help you learn to code and work out problems.

 

PROS:

  • You have complete control over everything on your site, how it works, how it’s designed, and what features you want to add or improve upon
  • You don’t have to wait for access or for customer service to deal with any technical problems you encounter–you get to dive right in and fix it yourself
  • You have direct access to update, add, or delete content and static pages as needed
  • You can shop around for the best web hosting deals that serve your specific needs, traffic and storage levels

 

CONS:

  • Your attention is divided. Between creating, maintaining and updating the technical platform, you may find you spend less time on your actual business. Serving customers and users, marketing, and other business development can get neglected when you’re trying to find that one tiny mistake in your code that’s messing everything up, or trying to teach yourself that web design trend from last year you can no longer ignore.
  • You’re a jack of all trades, master of none. It’s great, until you encounter a problem beyond your skillset that requires either a significant amount of self-teaching, or takes up so much time you have to put everything on hold to fix it, costing you time and money. Sometimes it’s not the big problems that can sink you, but a tiny leak that gradually undermines you. You might be a competent coder, but you’re no designer–and either visual unfriendliness or lack of mobile-readiness is gradually reducing your base of customers and users.
  • Staying up to date. It’s a pain. In 2006, this new “Facebook” thing could be ignored, but now there are a over a billion users. Most people didn’t have smartphones in 2009, and were you really all that concerned about people applying for jobs on their phones? Nowadays, if you don’t let users at least search for jobs on mobile, you’re a dinosaur (and not one of the cool cloned ones on an island somewhere off the coast of Costa Rica–I’m talking the dead ones). So every few years, you’ll feel the pressure to update your design, include new features, and weigh the benefits of tweaking your existing set-up or doing a complete overhaul.

 

Despite the weight of those cons listed above, I don’t mean to imply it’s a terrible option all-around. It’s just not right for everyone.

 

If your skillset and interest is centred on the design and web development aspect, you might want to consider a few options. The most obvious is to delegate or outsource the marketing and business development work to someone who can focus on it. Or, maybe join forces with a recruitment website or other company that is developing or redesigning its job board technology (psst, if that’s your game, Careerleaf is hiring more developers).

 

On the other hand, if your preference is to focus on the marketing, customer service, and business development side of things, you’d better have a business partner with the same goals as you who can truly be depended on to specialize in it, or you’re looking at a different model entirely.

 

Stay tuned for the rest of our “So You Wanna Build a Job Board?” series, where we’ll cover other ways to create or update an online recruitment website.

 

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