Help! The Budget’s Gone, But I Still Need to Recruit

How times have changed! A year ago our heads were spinning. We had so many open requisitions, managers to support, and candidates to contact that we would try anything to secure a hire. Budgets were not an issue. We gladly paid 30% search fees so long as we got a high-quality candidate hired. Today, many of our requisitions are on hold, budgets have been slashed, and our friends and co-workers have been laid off. But we still have a job to do. While hiring has diminished dramatically, it is not gone completely. So what do you do when the money is tight and you can’t fall back on your favorite search recruiter to help you out? How do you determine what is the least amount you can spend and still be effective? How do you maximize every dollar spent on recruiting? The answer is simple: think and act like the jobseeker! Posting Strategy No two jobseekers are alike. However, when it comes to searching for jobs on the Internet, there are several behavior patterns to which you should market. The goal is to cast the widest net while keeping your costs to a minimum. But even on a tight budget you can market to each of these groups. For an average of $500-$700 per month per position profile, you will be able to reach a wide audience. In a newspaper, that amount of money will at most purchase 2 weeks of a very small in-column ad. To start, here’s a description of the various types of job seekers:

  • “Department Store Shopper” — These jobseekers only visit the large general job boards unless someone specifically directs them to another site. Many of these people know other boards exist but they almost exclusively gravitate towards the general boards. A very large portion of the job seeking population falls into this category, so it is important to post your positions to at least one of these boards. (Budget Allocation: Maximum $300 per month)
  • “Networker” — “Networker” jobseekers seek out the help of others to find job leads. On the Internet they go to user groups, organization listservers, alumni associations and professional associations. Typically, posting jobs to these sites is less expensive than the larger job boards. Often posting is free. (Budget Allocation: Maximum $200 per month)
  • “Boutique Shopper” — Boutique Shoppers like to find the niche sites. They will visit these sites before going to the general boards. They believe that the place to find the best jobs is on a site that is dedicated to what they do best. (Budget Allocation: Maximum $200 per month)
  • “Brand Name Shopper” — These job seekers research specific companies for which they may want to work. They go directly to the company’s website to find a job. Make sure that your website is updated and all jobs are current. (Budget Allocation: $0. This is a free posting)
  • “Neighborhood Shopper” — Neighborhood Shoppers are either relocating to a specific city or live in that city and do not want to relocate out of the area. They keep their job search localized by visiting the job boards dedicated to their specific metro area. (Budget allocation: Maximum $200 per month)
  • “Casual Shopper” — The Casual Shopper is not actively looking for a job but would consider a job change if they saw something that sparked their interest. They typically are not searching job boards but they will look at jobs posted on sites that are not primarily job boards. If they are on a news site, a trade journal site or other information related site they will peruse the jobs just “to see what’s out there.” These sites are great places to reach the more passive job seekers. (Budget allocation: Maximum $200 per month)
  • “Heritage Shopper” — These people have a strong affiliation to an ethnic or other affinity group. Their priority is to visit the diversity site to which they have the strongest affiliation. They want to work for companies that actively support the hiring of employees within their population. These sites include diversity sites such as minority sites, military sites, gay/lesbian sites, women’s sites, etc. (Budget allocation: Maximum $200 per month)

Your goal is to reach is many of these job seekers as possible within the monthly $500-$700 per position profile. The budget allocation listed for each type of job seeker is what we know to be the maximum charged by these types of job boards and typically they cost less than the maximum price we’ve listed above. To determine where to spend your budget consider the following guidelines:

Article Continues Below
  1. Brand Name Shoppers are always on your list. They are the people that go directly to your company website to find a job. Make sure that jobs on your company website are always refreshed, well-written, and engaging. This is your least expensive source of candidates.
  2. Always post to sites that reach the Department Store Shopper, the Networker, and the Boutique Shopper. This will give you a broad reach while staying within a limited budget.
  3. Know your company’s commitment to hiring a diverse population and requirements for always advertising to this population, even during tight budget times. Your allocation may always need to include sites that reach the Heritage Shopper.
  4. Evaluate the quality of your local job boards. Some metro areas have sites that are extremely successful. Do your homework. If these sites are popular for hiring individuals with the skills needed for your positions then consider making the Neighborhood Shopper sites a priority.
  5. The Casual Shoppers are a great population to reach if you have the budget for it. Depending on your decisions about the priorities for Neighborhood Shoppers or Heritage Shoppers, you may have some budget left over to reach this group. I would consider posting to these sites as the second priority group after the Department Store, Networker, and Boutique Shoppers.
  6. If you have more time, consider posting to as many free sites as you can. While the response rate and quality of response is typically not as strong as some of the fee-based sites, you will get a few great candidates — for free.

Many positions take longer than one month to fill. In the second month, consider rotating sites to broaden your reach. Try different “Department Store Shopper” sites and rotating a “Casual Shopper” site into your line-up. Resume Databases In addition to your posting strategy, it is important to actively source candidates from the Internet. If you have access to the resume databases, you should be using them. With all the recent layoffs, the numbers of resumes being submitted to databases is increasing significantly on a daily basis. Additionally, the quality is also increasing. Job seekers are becoming less wary of posting their resumes and many sites now have a confidentially feature. This feature also attracts a broader range of job seekers and tends to increase quality. If you do not have access to any resume databases, consider allocating funds to gain access to at least one database. Many job boards will allow you to purchase access to the database without actually posting to their site. Other Active Mining If you’ve been trained to actively mine the Internet for the passive candidates, now is the time to polish those skills. The only cost is time. If you have the benefit of utilizing Internet research, take advantage of the opportunity. In summary, it is possible to launch a successful Internet recruiting campaign on a tight budget. Spend the time up front to evaluate each position profile and the options available for reaching the broadest group of potential candidates. Rotate sites on a monthly basis to gain the broadest reach. Search the resume databases and dedicate more time to actively mining the remainder of the Internet. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

Karen Osofsky ( is a co-founder of, an e-recruiting consulting firm that provides outsourced recruiting solutions to rapidly growing companies and new ventures. The firm provides a broad range of recruiting consulting, sourcing, screening, and strategy development services to help companies manage the front-end recruiting process. Tiburon Group is a Certified AIRS Solutions Partner.