I just answered this one on LinkedIn’s Answers section.

Why are so many “job boards” charging job seekers to look for jobs or post their resumes?

Nick’s Reply
The job boards serve a very important service to smart employers and smart headhunters: For a fee (paid by job hunters and paid again by employers who post jobs), these boards effectively corral people who are looking for a job, any job.

These boards clear the playing field for us so we can focus on potential candidates who (1) aren’t desperate, (2) reflect their reputations among other professionals who are glad to recommend them, (3) would rather talk only to legitimate employers, rather than field calls from multi-level marketers and scam “headhunters.”

The more the boards charge, and the more “exclusive” they make themselves out to be, the more the hordes flock to them… and the better they separate opportunists from people who know what they want. I love it. More power to the job boards. (Forget about the fact that last year, companies filled only these percentages of their openings thru these boards — Monster, 3.14%; CareerBuilder, 3.95%; HotJobs, 1.35%. Source: CareerXroads.com. Lotsa luck.)

Keep it up. You, too, can compete with all job hunters… while managers are interviewing the few people they hire through personal contacts. (40%-70% of jobs are found and filled through personal contacts, depending on which surveys you look at.)

Disclosure: I’m a headhunter. Further disclosure: Headhunters fill only about 3% of jobs. But we spend all our time hanging out with people who do the work our clients need done.


  1. Nick,

    Do I detect sarcasm in your response?:)

    If you are an IT professional Dice seems to connect you with IT staffing firms — drowning in them. My favorite are the high pressure firms that call you up to demand that you send them a copy of your resume, take a cut in pay, and want the last 4 digits of your SSN, Birthday, and other personal info. Nothing like being treated like a piece of meat.

    Even though you have to deal with this, Dice is moderately good. It at least can point you to companies that are hiring IT people in your area. Giving you targets to network into.

    Career networking is important, but something like Dice can help you restart a network if you’ve let yours go cold. You just have to wed out the chaff.

    I was a member of theladders and paid $30 per month to get Marc’s emails. Oh, and I was dumb enough to do this for 1 year. theladders never ever worked and I never ever got a response to any job I applied to.

    Monster is free but isn’t much better.

  2. Nick:

    I was about to fall out of my chair until you referenced the CareerXroads survey. I read a news article about 2 weeks ago that Dice had 60% less job posts on their site as compared to year 2008.

    It’s very simple, about 70% of jobs are found through relationships (referrals and internal promotions). The job boards don’t need to wake up, it’s really the Employer that needs to wake up and quit being complacent and lazy by depending on job boards waiting for a quick easy fix to fill positions – until then, job seekers will flock where they see jobs posted and the user experiences for all of us will continue to suck.

    Many job seekers will continue thinking they will get their next job thru a job board while collecting unemployment checks and depleting tax revenue while many Employers detrimentally rely on their corporate recruiters that are happy with the status quo (e.g. job boards) and collecting their conveyor belt check every 2 weeks.

    Skeptics (Job Seekers & Employers too): How did you find your last few jobs?

    Getting a job is about tapping personal relationships through your career network. It’s very simple.


  3. Felipe, you’re right. The onus is on the employers. Job boards are propped up by massive infusions of cash from HR departments that continue to pretend they hire from the boards. Until they get their tushes out of their chairs and their eyes off their computer displays and start actually recruiting — rather than hiring “who comes along” — suckers will continue to apply for jobs on job boards.

    Makes you wonder, where’s the board of directors?

    Makes you wonder, why is HR even involved in recruiting and hiring?

    Makes you wonder, why don’t hiring managers spend more time recruiting and hiring, since they’re the people who know the business?

  4. OK. So the moral of the story is – the more you pay as the recruiter and the more the candidate has to pay – the higher the quality of candidates.

    To put in on its head – that means if it is free for the candidates and free for the recruiters – the quality of candidates is poor?

    Also if you make it hard to use, like hard to enter your CV (no parsing – manual entry), people that are in the job, hence busy – will not use it. So only passive candidates?

    What If you make it that it work only when you serve it daily? That you have to log into it and write something creative every day – to be found? That means investing a lot of time – and guarantees the people that really do not have anything else to do. People that are really long term unemployed. Perhaps even unemployable?

    Jet all the above describes more than 90% of LinkedIN users. And it seems to be the best overall recruitment tool today?

    Recruitment is funny really…

  5. Some day I wold like to see the board of directors require marketing to evaluate how HR affects how the company is viewed to the outside world. Perhaps dotted-line reporting to the marketing department should be required for HR.

  6. @Dan: I was hired by one of my clients many years ago to do just such a “survey.” Later, I wrote this article about it: Death by Lethal Reputation: The Demise of an Employer. http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/halethalrep.htm

    It’s pretty scary.

  7. The reason job boards are starting to charge job seekers is simple, employers are no longer willing to pay up to 10k a year to access a resume database. Furthermore, job seekers have a pretty big incentive to pay for a service that ultimately produces employment opportunities. After all, being unemployed, underemployed or unhappily employed costs a lot more than the fees charged by these job boards.

    I for one would be willing to pay to post my resume online but only if I received the following benefits from the site:
    1. Exposure to all employers – not just those who are willing to pay a hefty price to view resumes.
    2. Limited competition – I don’t think competing with millions of job seekers on the free job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder is very effective.
    3. Shelter from SPAM – the amount of crap that you have to deal with when using a traditional job board is over the top.

    Basically, I would be willing to pay say $10 a month to post my resume on a site that is free to legitimate employers to search. I don’t want to deal with temporary agencies and staffing firms either. I know they provide a good service, but the constant contacts from agency recruiters is driving me crazy.

  8. @Joe W: If employers won’t pay for a resume data base because it’s not worth it, why would job hunters pay for a jobs data base?

    Good luck with your 3 criteria. ;-) I like your list. If you find a board that meets all 3, please let me know.