The rise of niche job boards

Historically, workers turned to a fairly small number of job boards when they sought to explore career opportunities., CareerBuilder, and the other familiar names on the list still maintain leadership positions, but they now compete alongside countless niche players that are fast becoming mainstream. It’s an important trend to watch for HR professionals looking to stay at the top of their recruiting game.

An early start

While niche job boards have only become a major talking point recently, the core concept is hardly new. It first appeared on the radar during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s’ and early 2000s when the commercial web started taking off. One of the earliest entrants was Virginia-based Snagajob with its hourly job portal. Since launching 17 years ago, the site has attracted over 80 million members who send about 4 million applications per month.

In a way, Snagajob laid the groundwork for the niche job board ecosystem that exists today. Other specialized players to have achieved mainstream status include GitHub and Stack Overflow, which star on the list despite publishing job posts only as a secondary focus. The former is a service that developers use to store their code, while the latter mainly serves as a forum where they consult with peers on technical subjects.

This highlights the fundamental appeal of niche job boards. They attract a narrow user base that that swaps the broad reach offered by the likes of for a higher concentration of relevant talent. An HR professional may need to put in more effort to make their job posting stand out, but the return can be very worthwhile.

Because it’s possible to focus on the specific target audience of a listing, the number of unrelated resume submissions is often reduced significantly. That means less work for the HR department. This in turn can free up a lot of time over the course of the average year, especially in high-turnover industries such as retail.

Additionally, niche job boards often provide the ability attract quality talent more easily than their general-purpose competitors. A part of the reason is that savvy professionals are flocking those sites just like HR professionals in an effort to ease their job-hunting efforts. And there are logistical factors as well. Developers, for example, typically spend much more time on GitHub and Stack Overflow than

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The startup generation

The past few years have seen the emergence of numerous startups that are bringing these benefits to more fields. WayUp, which recently landed a $18.5 million investment, offers a job board specifically geared towards college students and recent graduates. Meanwhile, Spain’s Corner Job operates a platform focused on blue-collar positions that is set to become available in the US soon.

As they work to help businesses reach specific parts of the workforce more easily, these startups are reinventing the job board’s core function. Corner Job, for instance, includes a built-in chat tool that allows HR professionals to interview potential recruits. And some startups are taking it even further. One of the most unique examples is Switch, a mobile hiring portal that has been described as “Tinder for jobs” because of its swipe-based applicant filtering interface.

These new recruiting channels will likely complement rather than replace the general-purpose market leaders. Simply by virtue of the fact that there are so many of them, there’s a niche board for almost every field, which can help HR professionals give their job postings extra reach. This is particularly handy when scouting for professionals in specialized lines of work where talent may be difficult to come by.

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