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All That Glitters Is Not Gold - The Dirty Little Secret Behind Many Niche Job Boards

January 15, 2010
by Gwen Darling
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As a blogger for Healthcare Informatics , it is my job to use my experience, expertise, and whatever else I can muster to provide thought-provoking content, without sliding into self-promotion of any kind. Although I’ve mentioned in passing a time or two that my “ day job” is the ownership and management of Healthcare IT Central’s Career Center and Job Board , I’ve been very careful not to exploit my position here by promoting our unparalleled services. So it is with great care that I write this post, attempting to stay as neutral and objective as possible while I let you in on a disturbing secret that may surprise you. And not in a very good way, I’m sorry to say.

Job boards. What immediately comes to mind? Most people will say Monster and CareerBuilder, which are, without a doubt, the goliaths of the job board industry. Many people in IT are also familiar with Dice, and The Ladders, which take a more targeted, sophisticated approach to the job board business. All of these resources have their share of pros and cons, but the complaint that many job seekers have with these “monster” job boards is just that – the sheer size of the platform can make a job seeker and/or an employer feel quite insignificant and frustrated, as they wade through the millions of job postings and/or resumes.

Enter the niche job board market. Savvy entrepreneurs, recognizing the need for a more targeted experience, have launched niche job boards to help attract, with pinpoint precision, candidates and employers who fit a very specific demographic. Ready to leave it all behind for a job in the beautiful Caribbean? There’s a niche job board for you. Do your friends tell you that you should have been a comedian? There’s a niche job board for you. And speaking of leaving it all behind, are you sick and tired of those dry cleaning bills? There’s a niche job board for you.

It all sounds great, yes? So what could be the possible downside to such a targeted resource? Well, here’s where the dirty little secret part comes in. Many niche job boards are actually a beard for recruiting companies to attract and then poach the best candidates for themselves. Technically, I guess, there’s nothing illegal about this practice – these companies have simply adopted a “Don’t tell if they don’t ask” approach. And to be honest, when I first was exposed to this type of recruiting setup (in the travel nursing industry) I thought it was quite clever – talk about getting a leg up on your competition! But the longer I’m directly involved with both candidates and employers, the more I realize just how misleading, unfair and unethical this practice is from both sides of the hiring equation.

On the employer’s side, they unknowingly place dollars directly in their competitor’s pocket, as they post their job on Healthcare IT Planet or some such “job board” and pay the job posting fee (which actually goes to XYZ Recruiters who own Healthcare IT Planet – that’s just wrong). Additionally, the unwitting employers are paying to attract candidates to upload their resumes into the database secretly controlled by guess who? XYZ Recruiters, who most assuredly poach the hell out of the database before allowing anyone else who may have paid for the privilege to view it (if they allow this at all). Not to mention the fact that any employer who registers at one of these sites is also giving their competitors a clear look at their preferred login and password information. Not cool.

From the candidate’s point of view, this cloaked, “behind the scenes lurks a recruiter” tactic is also extremely unfair because they cannot be sure if their information ever truly reached its intended recipient, although, by golly, they do get a call from XYZ Recruiters. And to add insult to injury, many pseudo job boards take advantage of aggregated job feeds from sources such as SimplyHired.com and Indeed.com, creating the appearance that they have many more proprietary positions than they actually do. Unfortunately, there is no way to verify the validity of the jobs pulled in from the aggregated feeds – so many job seekers waste their time by applying for jobs that no longer exist. But no worries. They’re sure to get a call from XYZ.

Is this practice unique to the travel nurse industry? Unfortunately not. This practice will rear its ugly head wherever there is keen competition for qualified candidates. So guess what? Healthcare IT is the perfect target for these kinds of unethical setups, and it’s already happening – trust me on that one.

So, am I advocating avoiding niche job boards altogether? Well, of course not! With a bit of sleuthing, you can easily determine which sites are legit, and which ones will help you provide the exposure and candidate experience necessary for a successful candidate sourcing outcome.

Here are some important questions to ask before choosing to invest your time and resources in a niche job board:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->1.Who really owns the Job Board?

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Comments

Joe,

You are most welcome. I've received numerous emails about this post from ethical recruiters who have been stung by these tactics in the past. One of our colleagues from a very respected Healthcare IT search firm gave us all something else to think about when she shared yet another "sketchy" practice that is employed using LinkedIn:

"By the way, this is also an issue on a smaller scale on Linkedin with the Groups.

Many of the groups created for Epic/Cerner/Siemens/PMPs etc etc... are created with the appearance of a user group to discuss the applications or job responsibilities and they are in-fact, created by HCIT Recruiters. Once a HCIT Consultant becomes a member of the group they will receive a "welcome" email from the leader of the group, some admit they are recruiters, others do not. That literally ...in some cases, puts the names of thousands of consultants on the recruiter's
table... that may be great for the recruiter, but not so great for the consultant that isn't on the market and doesn't want to be solicited by a recruiter.

I know its easy to find contact information with simple web searches, but it just seems rather surreptitious to me to portray the group as one thing, when its really just a format to get the contact info of a large number of consultants."

Bottom line for both job seekers and employers who are generally very good about researching the background and reputation of either the potential employee or employer? Start your due diligence earlier, from the moment that the job description is read or written.

NOTE: I don't want to give the impression that these tactics are the norm, rather than the exception. Quite the contrary. I'm continually impressed with the level of professionalism I see on a daily basis from my partnering recruiting companies.

G.

Gwen,
Thanks for breaking the code, and helping us break it for ourselves going forward.

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Gwen Darling

CEO, HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling

@HealthcareITJob

www.HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling serves as an online HIT matchmaker, bringing together qualified Healthcare IT...