Boutique Job Boards

By Deane Barker on September 7, 2006

Lately, I’ve seen a couple “boutique job boards.” Fog Creek just put one up, and so did 37 Signals some time ago.

Prices are fairly high: 37 Signals is $250 for a month, and Fog Creek is $350 for three weeks. But therein lies the attraction I think: you get better applicants because the neighborhood is exclusive. Good applicants watch the board because they know that good companies post there because it’s not cheap.

In fact, Spolsky had a policy that posters must identify the company they represent, and it was tested today when a recruiter posted a job for a nameless organization. Joel asked the readers if the policy should stand, and they resoundingly voted yes:

Wow, I have never seen such developers all over the world so unanimous on any issue. If anything, I underestimated how much people hate job boards clogged with anonymous posts put up by commission- and resume-fishing recruiters.

The jobs board policy will remain: We will continue to require a company name and take down posts that don’t disclose the actual company.

Another thing that clogs up boards and instantly makes me question their credibility: “Get Rich Quick”-ish schemes that promise “BIG PROFITS” to “independent contractors.” I found one of those on the 37 Signals board a few months ago.

In a way, these two companies are playing off their geek cred, which is huge for both of them. They’re both read and respected by geeks. Any job on the board is more credible by association.

This goes back to a theory I’ve always had that says people take information more seriously when they pay for it. At $350 for three weeks, a company is going to be fairly serious and put some care into their post to make sure they get good candidates. In this world of free access to consume and publish content like crazy, is money the great differentiator?

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