Dave talks to… Lee Biggins


Dave talks to Lee Biggins about how job board costs have increased with market costs, how changes to advertising tactics have impacted job board fees, how programmatic is here to stay but duration isn’t dead yet, why a segmented inventory of jobs is needed, why adopting a multi-faceted approach to candidate attraction has become essential, and why the role of a recruitment agency is often underestimated.

The One Where They Talk About…

In episode 213 of the Talent Matters podcast series, Wave CEO Dave Jenkins chats to Lee Biggins, CEO and Founder of CV-Library. Hailed as King of the Job boards by Dave, Lee has successfully built CV-Library into one of the UK’s leading online job sites. Launched in 2000, it now holds a database of over 18 million CVs. A US version, Resume-Library, was launched in 2014 and, as America’s fastest growing job board, is quickly becoming a market leader in the States. Having been a key player in the recruitment industry for over two decades, Lee is able to offer expert analysis on the market, comment on the role that job boards play in job advertising and candidate attraction, and what the evolution of job boards means for recruitment agency strategies.

It is an honest dive into the world of job boards and their place in recruitment in 2023 and well worth a listen if you haven’t already. In the meantime, we’ve collated the key takeaways for you.

Job board costs have increased with market costs

The conversation around job board price increases continues to be heated, largely because many don’t fully understand the various enormous rises in costs to the job boards over the past couple of years. It’s not as simple as placing a job on the platform – if that’s all they offered, job boards would fairly quickly go out of business. General costs are incurred in many different areas. CV-Library currently employs circa 300 staff, all of which need to be looked after and invested in. With increasingly sophisticated tech, experts need to be brought in to ensure maximum candidate attraction. There’s investment into mobile tech and social media. The cost of security and running data ecosystems has exploded.

In addition, in a candidate-short market the cost of candidate attraction has considerably increased over the last 12-18 months. Many (including Lee) thought we’d come out of the pandemic and see an influx of jobseekers in the market but the opposite has happened thanks to people retiring, Brexit resulting in an exodus of labour from the UK, and candidates demanding more from their jobs. This has meant that there is far more competition to attract candidates. Costs in some areas of CV-Library have increased four-fold and, whilst some of that can be swallowed, a portion regrettably has to be passed on.

How changes to advertising tactics have impacted job board fees

The rapidly increasing use of programmatic has made a considerable difference to pricing. CV-Library used to be able to buy traffic from a large number of partners on a flat feee basis, which kept costs low and stable. There are now dozens of agencies, digital recruitment businesses, job boards and apps working programmatically. CV-Library tries to attract candidates through a number of different ways, for example TV and outdoor ads. However, they are expensive and CV-Library’s tactic of buying advertising in commuter areas is becoming harder as, with the change in working models and strikes affecting travel, there are less commuters. It’s harder to reach candidates so they need to be constantly coming up with innovative methods of candidate attraction.

Programmatic is here to stay but duration isn’t dead yet!

Is the soaring use of programmatic the next step in the evolution of job boards? Performance job advertising certainly has its place amongst other job posting options and CV-Library acquired programmatic platform Brilliant Jobs in September 2022 because of this. The adoption of programmatic by recruitment businesses has been fairly slow because it’s more complex than other options and takes time to get set up. Lee believes that, currently, duration-based models still offer better value for money. Some like to keep their adverts live for as long as possible to help fill internal talent pools and with the possibility that they will lead to other opportunities – something that would be cost prohibitive with programmatic. However, now that a huge number of job boards are turning to programmatic algorithms, the agencies that don’t adopt a programmatic approach as part of their strategy will see their ad performance begin to decline. You can often forecast an evolution by what new businesses launch with and so it is telling that not many new job boards are duration-based anymore.

A segmented inventory of jobs is needed

It’s the job of job boards to deliver good candidates. This can be harder with programmatic, especially as the candidate experience can be worse. For example, a candidate is sent a job in an email but doesn’t look at it for a few days. With a duration-based model, the job will still be there when the candidate clicks, whereas a programmatic job will likely have changed in that time and be dead by the time it’s clicked on. What recruiters need to do, especially if they have a large volume of jobs, is to identify which jobs are being filled easily and which are harder to fill. Programmatic is probably a better approach for hard-to-fill jobs, whereas you may want to stick to duration-based for jobs that are easier to fill.

Adopting a multi-faceted approach to candidate attraction has become essential

A mixed approach, involving a range of different candidate attraction strategies, is vital in a market where candidates are hard to find. Job boards get bashed a lot, especially when it comes to price rises, but Lee maintains that job boards are number 1 for delivering applications (something that WaveTrackR data confirms). In order to maximise your candidate attraction via  job boards, speak in depth to your account manager about how you can improve performance. Investigate all of the available options and be open to understanding the value of different products such as featured jobs and programmatic. CV databases could be more cost effective if you have the time and people power to sift through them as you’ll be able to contact the candidates directly. One of the major issues affecting pricing is that corporates don’t have the resources or desire to search CVs, so they end up inflating the costs of job advertising.

The role of a recruitment agency is often underestimated

Like job boards, recruitment agencies can often get a bad rap. CV-Library will get small businesses advertising directly with them and they don’t understand why candidates drop out of the process, despite the fact they’ve done nothing but post a job ad to the board. They need to prepare candidates for interview, keep in touch with them, establish a relationship – all things recruitment agencies do quietly in background.

And for the all-important dinner party question…

“I’ll fully admit not I’m not a fantastic chef,” says Lee. “Cooking is not where my skillset lies. I’d probably go out and give my guests a good night – Japanese or another Asian cuisine would be my preference. However, I’ve recently relocated to South Africa where braai – the South African version of barbecuing over an open fire – is a cultural institution so I need to polish up my braai skills. I think I’d do a nice sirloin on the braai with lots of red wine.”

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