As a full-time job board consultant, I look at a lot of job boards (and even those sites that don’t want to call themselves job boards) – at least hundreds each year. And when I do, I become a bit dumb.

Let me explain: for decades, a cardinal rule of product design has been to make it obvious to the average user exactly how the darn thing works. Does it have a button? Then what happens when you push the button? Maybe it has two buttons. Which one should you push first? And so on.

So when I look at a job board, I pretend that I know almost nothing about job boards other than what the average person might know if they spent 20-30 minutes a year looking at them. In other words, not much.

When I glance at a job board (and let’s not fool ourselves – the average new job board visitor is willing to spend maybe 15-30 seconds before wandering off), I try to discover a few key things:

  • Is this in fact a place I can find jobs?
  • How do I find the jobs? Can I search? Do I upload my resume? How does it work?
  • What kinds of jobs are these, anyway?

Pretty literal, eh? Well, the average job seeker (or casual person perhaps thinking about maybe sometime, at some point, looking for work) doesn’t have time for puns or groovy graphics. He or she just wants to know what is going on at a particular site.

NOTE: By the way, I do the same dumb things on my smartphone. Why? As much as 60% of job seekers are looking first on their mobile device for jobs.

Go ahead – try it yourself. Randomly pick four or five job boards that you’ve never heard of and see if you can figure out the answers to the above questions – in 15 to 30 seconds. You may be surprised at how many fail the test.

If the first basic function of a job board is to engage the user and pull them in, it is critical that the site pass this test with flying colors. Notice that I’ve said nothing about the ease (or lack thereof) of uploading a resume, setting up a job alert, etc. Why? Because if the visitor has already bailed, it doesn’t matter.

So my advice is: pretend you don’t know anything about your site. Then try to find out what you don’t know.

Your job seekers will thank you!

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