SmartRecruiters Blog

The History of Job Ads

This is an excerpt from a SmartRecruiters White Paper, “The Evolution of Job Posting.” Read the entire White Paper here.

The word ‘advertisement’ comes from ‘advertir,’ which is Old French for ‘to notice.’ This is truly at the core of every job ad – an attempt to make the right candidate notice a particular job opening. The first job ads were simple sheets of paper tacked to community bulletin boards or stuck in an employer’s window. This was somewhat inefficient, as it limited candidate response to those people who walked by the window or board.

When newspapers became dominant communication tools during the 19th century, they began publishing job ads, along with other types of classifieds. This was a distinct improvement over previous methods – the employer could reach many more potential candidates over a wider geographic area. But newspaper ads were expensive and strictly one-way in their communication format.

In the mid 1990s, a new way to reach candidates appeared: the job board. The job ad moved online, and several things changed. The audience size mushroomed (since the Internet made geographic location irrelevant), the cost of a job ad dropped, and the response time from publication to can- didate applications shrank. Job boards became a popular way to reach candi- dates almost overnight. For job seekers, the new online tools meant that for the first time, they could see thousands of jobs from locations around the world.

The first job boards were relatively primitive – stark listings of jobs that lacked an integrated way of applying for the job online. These sites were also viewed by operators as purely traffic-driven, so they were frequently strewn with ads that had nothing to do with careers. Most lacked any privacy controls for either employers or job seekers.

Contrast that with the modern job board: candidates can respond to ads via multiple methods (through the job board, via the employer’s ATS, or via email); employers have specific pages that highlight their company culture and offerings, frequently including photos, videos, and graphics. Finally, the modern job board recognizes that its primary role is to bring candidates and employers together, quickly and effectively – thus most avoid any advertising that is off-topic.

Most importantly, job ads have moved into the scientific era, using big data, constant analysis, more distribution channels, and sophisticated tracking to produce better, more predictable results for employers. Job ads are the fine print of employer branding; the details convert an interested candidate… Continue Reading “The Evolution of Job Posting!”  to learn the history, science, and technology behind job advertisements.


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