Despite rumors of their demise for the past decade, niche recruitment sites are far from dead. But do they threaten giants such as Indeed, Glassdoor, or Monster? Or can everyone live together harmoniously?
Size of the Niche Market
Steven Rothberg, president and founder of College Recruiter, thinks 75% of the estimated 100,000 job sites globally are niche sites. To be sure, most are small, often a “side project” of a website providing broader content for its niche — although some dedicated job boards, like EnergyJobline (for gas, oil and renewable energy positions), MediaBistro (for journalism jobs), CoolWorks (for outdoor gigs), and College Recruiter (for new graduates), have hundreds of thousands of monthly visits. A few, such as Dice.com, FlexJobs, EFinancialCareers, and USAJobs, even have millions.
Still, when looking at traffic numbers, the major sites have little to fear. “We don’t see external niche sites as a threat,” says Matthew Moore of U.K.-based recruitment generalist site CV-Library, which has launched a few niche sites of its own (including JobsRetail.co.uk and EngineeringJobs.co.uk). “We can usually partner with them, which we couldn’t do with other generalist job boards.”
Niches and Generals Serve Different Needs
The reality is that niche and general sites serve very different functions and, in many ways, complement each other.
“Niche sites have always talked about having a focused and very specific candidate audience. Generalist sites talk about traffic and big numbers,” remarks Jeff Dickey-Chasins, a job-board consultant. “Niche sites will never have the traffic of the generalist sites and the generalist sites will never have the focus of the niche sites.”
Stephen Oldroyd, general manager of niche site Work in Startups, explains how a business like his offers job-seekers content that a broader site can’t: “Candidates coming through [generalist sites] don’t understand the startup appeal with a salary that’s often lower.” Job-seekers coming to Work in Startups, on the other hand, are “100% clear that these are startup roles, so it saves HR teams the hassle of having to explain to people why packages are different.”
Then, too, job-seekers in the digital age are not particularly brand loyal. “The typical job-seeker uses a number of job-search sites, both niche ones like College Recruiter and general sites like Google or Indeed, often without thinking of the differences between them,” Rotherberg says. “All job-seekers really care about is that they’re searching for jobs, find some they like, and can easily apply. Job boards that think that their brand is worth spending a fortune on are mistaken; searching for a job is not the same as buying toothpaste.”
General recruitment sites nevertheless watch carefully what the niche sites are doing. “The general, larger sites look to the niche sites for ideas for how to improve,” Rothberg adds. “It’s a lot easier for a niche site to experiment than it is for a site like Indeed or LinkedIn. If a small, niche site implements an effective new feature, then it greatly reduces the risk of the general, large site to mimic that feature or even acquire the niche site and then roll out that feature across the buyer’s existing site.”
Some of the more recent acquisitions Rothberg is referring to include:
- Nursing job site Nursefly, acquired by IAC (reportedly for $15 million) in 2019
- U.K.-based WorkInStartups, acquired by Adzuna in 2018
- IT job board Net-Temps, which was acquired by the parent company of general site TopUSAJobs Continue reading here…