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Do Job Boards Work for B2B Sales Recruiting?

Bill Gates famously said, “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job, because he will find an easy way to do it.” Well, recruiting B2B sales professionals is definitely a difficult undertaking. Fabulously, online job sites (ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder, Indeed, etc) have promised us the ultimate lazy solution. Post a job, sit back and collect resumes. What could be more lazy (and brilliant) than that? Although Sales Talent’s staff is far from lazy, we have no aversion to using shortcuts to recruit talent. To that end, Sales Talent has tried every conceivable online job board in our search for elite sales professionals. A decade ago, job boards worked and they were our not-so-secret weapon. Today, our results have left us underwhelmed by how well job boards perform. 

Can Job Boards Work for B2B Sales Recruiting? Our Results 2007-2015.

In 2007, 71.6% of Sales Talent’s placements were sourced from a job board (postings or resume databases). Last year (2015), only 22.1% of our hires came from job boards. (2017 Update – 9.3% of hires were sourced from a job board.) Before declaring job boards dead, it’s important to note that our client mix has changed since 2007. Fortunately, we have one client that has hired for the exact same profile and in similar metros in high volume over this timeframe.

As most of the variables (management team, compensation adjusted for inflation, the caliber of reps sought, number of annual hires, etc) have been fairly constant, we have an apples to apples comparison. Here’s the data. In 2007, we sourced 65% of their sales hires from a job board. Jump ahead to 2015 and 28% of our hires with them came from a job board. (2017 Update – 11% of our hires came from the boards.) These are poor numbers given that we are using multiple job boards to achieve these results. We also give sourcing credit to these job boards if that was the original source used to find the candidate during a prior search (most recruiters credit their database).

This begs the question as to why our results are down over 3x for our clients overall and over 2.25x with the example client (2017 Update – down by 7.6x and 5.8x since 2007).

Why Are Job Boards Sales Recruiting Results Down?

Let’s skip theories and search for a data-derived answer. In 2006, CareerBuilder was the largest U.S. online job site with 23 million unique monthly visitors (source – CareerBuilder). Flash forward to 2015 and CareerBuilder has roughly the same number of unique monthly visitors, 24 million (source – CareerBuilder). Interestingly, they have fallen from the #1 job site to #5 in total traffic. 2 of today’s top 5 didn’t even exist in 2006. Over this same timeframe, the number of U.S. workers has been essentially flat (2006 = 119.69M, 2015 = 121.49M) but total job site traffic has gone way, way up. There’s simply more job sites and more job postings being viewed by the same number of job seekers. A parallel would be when TV moved from 13 channels to hundreds. 

CareerBuilder’s own research shows us what’s happening. The average job seeker today uses 18 different sources when looking for a job. Stop and think about that. 18?! Add in one more piece of data, the drop in the average online user’s attention span (down by 33%) and the picture becomes clear.

A job posting in 2015 is receiving a fraction of the job seeker engagement than it did in 2006.

The problem then is the same one that all of us are facing on a daily basis. There’s too much online noise.


We are still using job boards at Sales Talent. The war for talent requires us to use every resource that makes economic sense. With many of our clients and searches, though, the boards simply don’t work. Our solution to this problem has taken us back to our roots – proactive sales headhunting. Again, the data paints the picture. 19% of our hires in 2006 were directly sourced via headhunting. And 2015? 67.2% and climbing. (2017 Update – 86.2%)

To be clear, companies can successfully fill their open sales roles by using online job sites. Where the problem creeps in is the quality of the hires. If you are only using these sites to source sales talent you might be selecting the best from an inferior talent source. Trust us about this, proactively headhunting talent is an expensive and time-consuming affair. If Sales Talent’s picky clients were satisfied with the sales reps produced by the job boards, we’d be happy to use them exclusively.

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Chris Carlson

My name is Chris Carlson and I’m the founder and President of Sales Talent. This blog grew out of my desire to document and share what I’ve learned in my two plus decades of sales recruiting and leading Sales Talent. Our posts are aimed at sales professionals and leaders that speaks to talent selection, team building, or career advancement. If you have a topic that you’d like my take on, please reach out to me.

You can find Chris Carlson on LinkedIn or contact him directly at: