Advice for Employers and Recruiters

Is online recruitment in Canada the best or worst of the USA and EU?

Shelby Konkel AvatarShelby Konkel
January 30, 2023

Create, manage, and work with Job Boards and Recruitment Marketplaces.

Each week, Steven Rothberg, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of College Recruiter, and Peter M. Zollman, Founder of the AIM Group, along with guests from the world’s leading job sites, analyze news about general, niche, and aggregator job board and recruitment marketplace sites.

This episode’s featured guest is Shelley Billinghurst, one of Canada’s leading recruitment experts. She’s the President of Higher Value Inc, and the co-host of one of the most entertaining podcasts in the recruitment marketing space, The Recruitment Flex.

Shelley joins our hosts to discuss the state of the Canadian talent acquistion market along with some of her top predictions regarding upcoming recruitment trends. Shelley breaks down the differences between the job board market in Canada, in the US, and in Europe. And finally our featured guest turns the Q&A back onto our hosts and asks them for their top advice for those looking to start their own job board company.

Listen to the full episode here:

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Steven (00:09):

Welcome to the Inside Job Boards and Recruitment Marketplaces podcast. I’m Stephen Rothberg, the founder of College Recruiter, job search site at College Recruiter. We believe that every student in recent grad deserves a great career.

Peter (00:23):

And I’m Peter Zalman, founding Principal of the AIM Group, the leading global business intelligence service for marketplaces and classified advertising companies. We consult with recruitment marketplaces, companies and publish AIM group, recruitment intelligence, and a free weekly digest. We also host the annual Global Rec Buzz Conference.

Steven (00:44):

This is the podcast for you to learn more about how to create, manage, and work with general niche and aggregator job boards and recruitment marketplaces. Hey, Peter. Good day. A

Peter (00:58):

Good day. A what? Are you, Canadian or something?

Steven (01:02):

Well, I am, I am dual. And I think that given who our guest is today, that makes like half of the people on the call Canadian. Does that worry

Peter (01:13):

You? It doesn’t worry me at all. I’m thinking Canada’s a good option. When I lived in Buffalo, I often used to say the best thing about Buffalo is Toronto. And the best thing about going to Toronto is you could get on the Q e w Queen Elizabeth Way and drive, oh, 160 kilometers per hour, which is roughly a hundred us, and get past, like, you’re standing still. And there were always one or two mounts with people pulled over, but they were only pulling over the people who were doing more than, you know, a hundred miles an hour us. So it didn’t really matter. I loved Toronto. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful city.

Steven (02:00):

I, and I always thought that the best things about Buffalo were the, were the Wings and Stefan Diggs. But that’s another, that’s a fri another podcast, I think, right?

Peter (02:08):

Well, I used to eat at the place that invented fried chicken wings and ooh, you know, every once in a while the anchor bar, Frank and Teresa, I can’t remember their last name. Anyway, we’ve got a guest from Canada, so we, we ought to get to her A and <laugh> God, I can’t believe this is

Steven (02:32):

Awful. These,

Peter (02:33):

I I can see her wincing because she should <laugh> over to you, Steven.

Steven (02:39):

Yeah. Nope, nope. She’s, she’s just gonna go get herself a double, double after the call. So all these

Peter (02:46):

S at Timmy’s, I presume, right?

Steven (02:48):

For well, for sure, for sure. Sorry. so today’s guest, <laugh>, today’s guest, is wondering why she took time out from her day to be with us. And, and I, I, I think it’s because we promised her the, the winning Lato 6 49 numbers, which is another Canadian reference. We’re joined here today by Shelly Billinghurst, the c e o of Higher Value, and she’s also the co-host of one of the best and most entertaining podcasts in our space, the recruitment Flex Shelly, welcome to the Inside Job Boards and Recruitment Marketplaces podcast.

Shelley (03:23):

Well, thank you, gentlemen. That was quite a bit of torture to endure all the <laugh>


Cheesy, cheesy, outdated Canadian stereotypes, but I thought it’s your show. I mean, you know,

Peter (03:37):

This is probably the 20th episode of the podcast that we have recorded. You are the first one to honestly describe it as torture <laugh>. So thank you <laugh>.

Shelley (03:50):

Just enduring

Peter (03:51):

All these. Thank you so much. Oh, you guys, and let’s see, cheesy and what else did she say? Outdated stereotypes. All true. Yes, all true. All true. All true. And you’re in Calgary, so we didn’t make a we haven’t made a single stampede reference yet, and Okay. You know, horses. Horses and rodeos and nay and all that. <Laugh>. Okay, well, so we’re actually gonna talk about recruitment, recruitment, marketplaces, job boards, higher value. I love higher value higher with an h i r e. Thank you. How clever is that? Except it makes me think somebody somewhere found had the fear of God put in them higher value. But you’ll note, by the way, Stephen did not describe yours as the second most entertaining podcast in the recruitment field, and I take issue with that, but I’ll do so later. Tell us about Recruitment Flex Podcast. Tell us about higher value and how you got into doing this whole podcast thing.

Shelley (04:52):

You bet. So after 21 years in both corporate recruitment and executive search, I thought there’s a hole in the marketplace here. So I started my own company Higher Value in 2014, with the intention of helping companies that hire between 510,000 people with everything to do with talent acquisition, including where’s the process broken, what technology you’re using, what’s in your tech stack, and how have you organized your talent acquisition team? So that’s been my life’s work. I love it. I absolutely love mo working with organizations and helping them figure it out so that they can recruit better. So that’s the story about higher value. And my friend, longtime friend, I was actually originally a customer back in the work Opolis days. My account manager was this guy named Sge Boudreaux. So just after the pandemic hit, we were kind of lamenting that there was really nobody in the Canadian market that was talking about the profession of talent acquisition.


And every time him and I have ever spoken or, you know, talked on the phone or just even exchanged emails, we always end up talking about talent acquisition. So he said it was his idea. He said, we should start a podcast. And I’m like, how hard could it be? <Laugh> famous last words. It is a lot of work but it is our joy. We are number one in Canada for HR podcasts. We started around April of 2020. I can’t even listen to those first few episodes. They’re just so, ugh. But you know what, we’ve stayed true to our format, which is one nugget of information that talent acquisition person can take back to their desk and, and, and apply it to their everyday job. So that’s where we’ve come and since then, it’s just been, it has opened up a world of meeting other people that in the pre April, 2020 world never would’ve happened. Like even yourselves, like the how well I’ve gotten to know other influencers and professionals in the industry. Wow. I I I know it’s because of being part of this commitment to the community to elevate talent acquisition.

Peter (07:32):

Well, if you’re talking about influencers and professionals, you clearly must be talking about Steven because, well, <laugh> I’m neither. Let’s <laugh>, let’s talk about what you see as the most important trends in recruitment advertising and for recruitment marketplaces slash job boards. And I make a distinction, Steven does not. What do you see as the most important trends coming in the next six months, a year, and even now?

Shelley (08:05):

So you know, I’ll, I’ll talk first about the Canadian marketplace and, you know, Canadian culture is the business culture. I mean, you know, whether we’re talking talent acquisition or the business culture it’s very much very risk adverse, if I may organizations will always wait to see what other people are doing. And what ends up happening is, what I’ve seen in my 20 plus years is you see one particular vendor become just dominant in the market. And so, you know, through the years, of course, you know, it was Workopolis and then LinkedIn for a little while, and then indeed came on the scene in 2012. Then, you know, so we’ve had a few regional job boards kind of pop up, but again, they, they tend to be more regional. So what I mean by that is ZipRecruiter, for example they tend to do really well in certain parts of Canada.


In other parts, it’s a colossal failure. Job seekers just, they’ve just, they’re just not using them. Not for lack of advertising, I’ll tell you that. They’ve really taken their foot off the gas as far as advertising in, certainly in the western part of Canada. But I think in the East, they, they are starting to have some success in some results. Then we’ve got job boards that seem to be really entrenched in a specific province. And the example I’d point to is jco. So jco pretty much dominates the Quebec market, which, and you know, what, let ’em have it, because I’ll tell you, doing business according to the laws of the province of Quebec is very different than anywhere else in Canada. So it makes sense that they would kind of have their own kind of niche job board. And then we have Atlantic Canada, another kind of phenomenon is their undying loyalty to career beacon.


It’s, it’s like a, it’s almost like the, the whole thought of maybe being disloyal somehow or unpatriotic if you don’t advertise your jobs on Career beacon, you know, it’s, it’s like, oh, how, how could you even dare to think not to do this? So, so I think it still holds true. At the moment. There’s no doubt that Indeed is, owns the Lion Share in Canada, the smaller little niche job boards they pop up and then they kind of fade away. They try and get a foothold and just maybe not understanding what it takes to get job seeker traffic.

Steven (10:58):

We’ll be back right after this break. Welcome back to the Inside Job boards and Recruitment Marketplaces podcast.


For the listeners that aren’t familiar with the, the Canadian market or, you know, sort of how the, the US and Canada interact, I, I was really glad that you talked about how Canadians tend to be a little bit more conservative not conservative in a political sense actually more progressive and, and and liberal than, than typical Americans are. But more conservative in just sort of sitting back and waiting for, to see how things are gonna shake out, like less entrepreneurial, less risk taking than the us. And one of the things that I’m struck by when listening to the recruitment flex, and, and I listen to every episode, oh, so you’re gonna have to write me a check at some point, <laugh>, but the <laugh>, the is is it, it’s a really wonderful sharing of knowledge and wisdom by you in search about not just the Canadian market, but just generally.


And it’s one of the things that you do really well is talk about how it’s different, right? This is what happens in Canada, this is what happens in the us you know, during the summer when, when you went to the uk and I think you went to Germany and stuff like that, like comparing and contrasting. So for the benefit of the listeners of, of this podcast, maybe you can spend a minute or two talking about what you see as, as the differences between the job board market in Canada, the US Europe. Are there products that are different? Do employers use them differently? Do candidates use them differently?

Shelley (12:49):

That’s interesting observation. And, and so I will just, you know for the sake of enforcing exactly what you’re saying I know that American employers are willing to try new things. Canadian employers are not, they want tried and true. They, you know, if someone else is doing it, then it’s okay, and then, you know, then the line landslide will always happen. I was actually really surprised. Yes, I was at rec Fast at Networth surrounded by thousands of recruiters, mostly from Europe and the uk. What I found though, Stephen, honestly, was that their struggles are the same. There are certain pockets and countries where technology is embraced and innovation is embraced, not willing to, Hey, let’s give something a try. Let’s pilot this. Let’s see how it works. So I really didn’t see what I, th what I kind of expected was that there would be, I thought Europe was like light years ahead of Canada, but they really aren’t.


What I did find is that Canada and US is certainly well ahead of Australia as far as the number of job boards job seekers demand for ease of use was much less in Australia, I believe. And, and you probably have spoken to our lovely counterparts at Tapo, but I was surprised by that. In terms of technology, in recruitment what is a big thing here in Canada and the US is, is the part of the recruitment process around background verifications. That’s really not a thing in, in Europe. And so it’s kind of an up and coming technology, whereas here it’s kind of table stakes. Those probably a couple of the things I noticed.

Peter (14:53):

We found that in some European countries, there’s still great resistance to the use of ATSs. There are countries where an ATSs barely considered except by some of the major multinational international employers. So it varies from time to time. Here’s a question about the hot topic in the States right now, and by the way, you mentioned America, but of course Canada is also America. Got it. We’re referring to the states. Yeah. North America, when you talk about America. Yeah. Anyway big issue in, big issue in the States right now is pay transparency. Any action on that at all in Canada, or,

Shelley (15:41):

Oh gosh, no. Yeah, so Peter, you know, there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by since July that I have not continuously had this conversation around pay transparency. It is, it started provincially because each province in Canada has the ability to have, obviously provincial labor laws. So it, it actually started with Canada’s smallest province, prince Edward Island. They passed law in July that requires employers to post in their job ads. They must post what the pay range is now followed close behind that is Canada’s most populated province, Ontario. They had publicly stated that by the end by, by the middle of the year, they weren’t specific on the month that they would also have similar legislation coming through. And so it, the train is coming, the train has left the station, it is absolutely rolling across Canada. It’s just going to take more time.


What I can tell you with complete certainty is there is not a single politician on any, whether you are in the raining party or the opposing party that is going to say, oh, no, I don’t agree with pay transparency. Or it could be political suicide. So this is coming. So pay transparency, it’s not a, it’s not so simple, you know, for small to medium enterprise, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s a yes or no. I’ve had some companies say, fine, I’m gonna take my toys and go home. I’m not gonna post my job ads <laugh>. Okay, let me know how that works out for you.

Peter (17:23):

Good, good luck with that.

Shelley (17:25):

Yeah. Yeah. Do you know, so there have been those who have just, you know, they’re resistant to change, you know, no matter what it is, they will resist change.

Peter (17:36):

What about pay for performance, job advertising? How is that, what is the state of that in Canada?

Shelley (17:45):

Well, as I said, you know, true to Canadian fashion we’re risk adverse. We don’t understand it. We just got our head around pay per click, and what does pay per click mean? And now we’re gonna move to a new model, as you know indeed has announced a paper applicant model. And so I, is that that is what you’re referring to, correct.

Peter (18:12):

That and pay per hire, pay per apply, pay per all, all of the above, as opposed to the old fashioned subscription model where you pay for a monthly ad placement or a package.

Shelley (18:28):

Yes. So, you know, what I see is a lot of these smaller, I call them pop-up shops in terms of job boards that they’re still stuck on that duration based flat fee poster job for 30 days. It’s gonna cost you x versus performance. And so I think organizations who are still maybe trying to get their head around the fact that they even have to pay to post a job ad, there’s still this perception that it should be all free. And so as they begin to realize if you really want to compete for job seekers, you really need to pay attention to this, and you need to be where the job seekers are. It will come much slower. I would say, you know, in terms of market acceptance we’re usually about 18 months behind the United States of America.

Peter (19:21):

<Laugh>? No, the United States of America there, <laugh>, <laugh>.

Peter (19:26):

And if you want, if you want free job ads, by the way, there’s still Craigslist except in Vancouver, Toronto, and perhaps they charge in Montreal as well, but I don’t think so. And even in Vancouver it’s $7 Canadian, which is what, about three 40 US or something like that. <Laugh> sorry, couldn’t resist. Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> when, when, when I lived in Buffalo. I remember when it was two to one, and I also remember when it was at par. So it, it varied widely While I was there,

Shelley (20:02):

I, I would like to ask you guys a question. Sure. And that is, you know, when it comes to the niche, job boards are the smaller job boards. What advice do you give to organization or to, to startups? You know, there’s, there’s a ton of provincial innovation grants that entrepreneurs can, can do, but what is the one thing that you would tell them as a piece of advice if you’re gonna do this? Where, where should they focus their efforts first?

Steven (20:34):

You know, if I was starting up a job board in 2022 or 2023 we’re recording in 2022, the episode will probably go live in 2023. I, first of all would have probably have my sanity checked. The, the market is in virtually every area of the world, highly, highly saturated. There are really no niches and certainly no general opportunities where there isn’t already an established competitor doing things pretty decently. Now, are they doing it great? Are, is it insurmountable? No, but in my mind, if you’re gonna be starting a business that’s gonna be going into direct competition with an existing business, you have to offer substantially better value than the existing player. And substantially better value is not a cheaper price. It has to work a lot better. At the end of the day, I have never heard an employer say that I’m not going to use x, y, z job board recruitment marketplace, because it’s too expensive.


The price they charge is too much. It’s always about what they get, how many people apply, how many people they interviewed, how many people they hire. No ad is ever too expensive if you’re hiring a bunch of people off of it. So the performance has to be really good. Years ago with job boards, there was a chicken, egg, chicken and egg problem. If you didn’t have enough postings, you didn’t have candidates. If you didn’t have candidates, you didn’t have postings. Now with programmatic, with, with feeds of jobs that you can get from organizations like Aspen Tech Labs. So even if you aren’t equipped to do programmatic cost per click, you can still get a fee of jobs. You can get a fee of jobs for free, maybe make a little bit of money on it, maybe pay a little bit of money on it, and you don’t then have to go to your customers, your potential customers, and ask them to run postings for you for free. That is the kiss of death. Don’t go to a customer that you wanna be able to sell to six months from now or two years from now, and say, I’m gonna give it to you for free, because they will never pay you. And so you’re just taking your best customers and making them into your worst. Peter, what are your thoughts?

Peter (22:54):

I have two quick thoughts on that. Unlike Steven <laugh> number one, your, your friend Matt your friend, Matt Croy, our writer Matt Crumbley, has actually identified a niche that he is thinking about open and building it into a job board. I can’t mention it because that would be totally unfair, but it’ll be fascinating to see if he can make that niche or in the US a niche work. And second of all, <laugh>, well, I travel internationally, speak internationally in Europe and in Canadian, I have to say niche in the, in the states you say niche, otherwise people don’t know what you’re talking about. The other, the other thing is that my one piece of advice would be if you’re starting a job board, buy it off the shelf. Don’t build it yourself. And that’s software’s a podcast. That’s a podcast that Steven and I have agreed to do soon. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Cause we, we have strong, we both have very strong feelings about that. We’ve run long, but it’s been really fun. Yeah. So we’re gonna wrap up here. Any last words, Shelly? And then we’ll ask you how do people

Steven (24:09):

Find you that’s threatening? Shelly, any last words? <Laugh>.

Shelley (24:13):

<Laugh>. I’m dying. Thank you so much. I, I honestly love being able to spend some time with you. Thank you so much for inviting me on the show. And yes, if you, if you wanna find me the recruitment flex, we’ve got a website, but we’re really active on LinkedIn. You can find me on LinkedIn, Shelly Billinghurst. I know there’s a few of them, but you narrow that down to Canada and I’m pretty easy to find. It’s Shelly with the EY

Steven (24:45):

The correct way.

Shelley (24:46):

Yes. Thank

Peter (24:47):

You very much Miss Shelly. Niches and niches are both fun to talk about. C Canada is fun to talk about. On that note, thank you again and I hope we get to connect again soon.

Shelley (25:00):

Thank you.

Steven (25:01):

Cheers, Shelly

Peter (25:05):

In Inside job boards and recruitment marketplaces is a co-production of Evergreen Podcasts College Recruiter and the AIM Group.

Steven (25:14):

Please subscribe for free on your favorite app. Review it five stars are always nice, and recommend it to a couple of people you know who wanna learn more about job boards and recruitment marketplaces.

Peter (25:26):

Special thanks to our producer and engineer, Ian Douglas. I’m your host, Peter Zalman of the AIM Group, the leading global consultancy in the field of marketplaces and classified advertising. Find out more about our reports on recruitment marketplaces, job boards and classifieds, including our new recruitment marketplaces annual at aim

Steven (25:51):

I’m your host Steven Rothberg of job search site College recruiter. Each year we help more than 12 million candidates find great new jobs. Our customers are primarily Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and other employers who hire at scale and advertise their jobs with us. You can reach me at

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