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The search for a job has moved to the internet. A Pew Research Center poll from 2015 found that 79 percent of job seekers had searched online, and that percent has likely only increased since then. When people search for jobs online, they frequently look on job boards.
Online job boards list open positions that employers have. Unlike job search engines, job boards don’t usually compile listings by searching other websites. Instead, listings are entered directly by a manager or employer. This helps ensure that listings are accurate, relevant, and concise (i.e. no duplicates).
According to IBISWorld, the online recruitment sites in the United States bring in $4 billion annually and are growing at an average rate of 14.6 percent. For online job boards that find successful niches, there is plenty of potential available.
Who is this business right for?
Anyone who is interested in running a web-based business might like owning an online job board that’s related to a subject they’re interested in. Little technical knowledge is required, but it helps to be interested in a board’s field because part of the work involves building a community around the industry (see How to Keep Customers Coming Back).
What happens during a typical day at an online job board business?
A typical day running an online job board business includes confirming new listings, collecting new listing payments and responding to inquiries. Business owners may also need to review marketing campaigns. Confirming a listing takes 2 to 3 minutes. Finding businesses to post ads and running marketing campaigns can be time-consuming when a job board is new, though.
What is the target market?
An online job board needs between 5,000 and 10,000 monthly visitors who are searching for jobs to begin charging employers for listings. With this amount of traffic, employers will begin asking about placing listings because their listings will provide applicants. With fewer job seekers visiting each month, listings may not get any applications.
How does an online job board business make money?
The majority of an online job board’s revenue comes from selling job listings. Employers pay to post their open positions, purchasing listings either individually or in bulk packages.
SmartJobBoard reports that many job boards supplement this primary revenue with several additional sources of revenue: traditional ads (10 to 20 percent of revenue), resume access for employers (5 to 8 percent once established) and commissions from job search sites (less than 5 percent).
What is the growth potential for an online job board business?
An online job board business might remain a small site or it can grow to be a large site that has millions of visitors each month. Monster.com and CareerBuilder are two lager job boards. A couple of smaller boards are JournalismJobs.com and Problogger’s Jobs.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful online job board business?
While running an online job board business doesn’t require much advanced knowledge in a particular area, but business owners should familiarize themselves with all aspects of online job boards. Job Board Secrets and Job Board Doctor both have ebooks that discuss relevant topics.
What are the costs involved in opening an online job board business?
The startup expenses for an online job board business are minimal. They primarily consist of domain registration, web hosting, website design and software expenses. While businesses can build their own software, there’s little reason to because many good options are already available.
Most business owners end up selecting an existing software-as-a-solution (SaaS) option that bundles software expenses with the other website startup costs. These solutions have multiple benefits:
- Business owners don’t need coding knowledge to use the available templates
- Business owners save time because they don’t need to code and debug
- Initial expenses are kept minimal because SaaS providers charge monthly fees instead of large one-time payments
The Job Board Software Buyers Guide details the many different SaaS options that are available.
What are the steps to start an online job board business?
Once you're ready to start your online job board business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your online job board business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your online job board business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers. Save 15% when you create a business website with Weebly.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an online job board business?
Employers usually won’t submit or pay for listings until an online job board is established, so business owners must find and create listings themselves when starting out. Business owners can find position openings on relevant employers’ websites and link to those sites directly at first. If more listings are needed, they can be sourced from a job search engine like Indeed.
Once an online job board is established, these free and self-sourced listings can be replaced with employer-submitted, paid ones.
How to promote & market an online job board business
Business owners can employ several strategies to attract job-seeking visitors. Search engine optimization, pay-per-click ad campaigns, and social media feeds can all be useful.
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How to keep customers coming back
Focusing on a specific niche will help keep job seekers visiting an online job board. The board will be distinct from small boards in other niches, and it’ll be able to provide a level of relevancy and precision that generic boards can’t attain.
Some of the most successful small job boards have chosen very specific, and even obscure, niches. For example, ProBlogger lists jobs specifically for online bloggers.
How and when to build a team
Online job board business owners can start out running their job boards themselves. As the workload becomes too time-consuming, an employee can be hired to help check and manage listings.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an online job board business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
Online job board businesses should consider requiring clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and so on.
How much can you charge customers?
Online job board businesses frequently charge between $50 and $500 for a 30-day listing. Where within this range a job board falls depends on the size of the job board, the industry it’s in, and other factors.
What are the ongoing expenses for an online job board business?
Since most business owners sign up for an SaaS solution, the main ongoing expense is normally the SaaS provider’s monthly subscription fee. SmartJobBoard’s rates of $79, $179 and $299 per month are similar to what other SaaS providers charge.
How much profit can an online job board business make?
Even a small online job board business can make a nice profit. ProBlogger charges $70 per listings and had 16 listings in March 2017. That equated to a revenue of $1,120 for the month.
For a job board that’s a side business, ProBlogger’s brings in a decent supplemental revenue. Larger boards that have a few dozen or hundred monthly listings can make much more.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Established online job board businesses can slowly grow their revenue by expanding into related fields. A job board that listed openings for coffee baristas might add a coffee roaster section, for instance.