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Advice for Employers and Recruiters

8 reasons why CPA is a less risky way for advertise job openings than CPC or traditional, duration-based pricing

Anita Jobb AvatarAnita Jobb
January 30, 2024

The first job posting ad likely ran on March 4, 1705 in The Boston News-Letter. The employer’s ad simply asked for a “single able man to drive a team in Boston”. No, they weren’t seeking a new coach for the New England Patriots. They were seeking a man — not a woman — to drive a horse-drawn cart. In today’s world, not only could that man be a woman, but that role would likely require a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

From 1705 until the founding of TopUSAJobs in 2003, recruitment advertising was purchased on a duration-basis, meaning that the employer would purchase a job posting ad for a fixed amount for a fixed number of days. Pricing varied site-to-site and sometimes even geographically and by occupational field, but $200 to $300 for a 30-day job posting ad was normal. Why that price? Because one of the first online job boards — it claimed to be first — was Career Mosaic, which was owned by the Bernard Hodes advertising agency, and $300 was the typical commission that Hodes received when employers would purchase a help wanted ad to run in the classifieds section of a newspaper. The folks at Hodes foresaw that their new job board would cannibalize some of their classified ad placement business. Somewhat arbitrary, yes, but also logical.

In the dynamic world of online job advertising, employers continue to seek efficient, cost-effective methods to attract top talent. With options ranging from traditional duration-based postings to the more contemporary cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-application (CPA) models, it’s crucial to understand which method minimizes risk while maximizing return. Here are eight reasons why the CPA model is emerging as the lest risky option for employers:

Direct Alignment with Hiring Goals: The CPA model is inherently aligned with the primary goal of any recruitment campaign – getting qualified candidates to apply. Unlike other models, CPA ensures that employers pay only when a job seeker takes the definitive action of applying.

Elimination of Irrelevant Traffic Costs: With CPC, employers risk paying for clicks that don’t convert into applications. These could be from curious job seekers, competitors, or even bots. CPA advertising sidesteps this issue, ensuring every dollar spent contributes directly to a potential hire.

Budget Predictability and Control: CPA offers a more predictable budgeting framework. Employers know the exact cost associated with each application, making it easier to forecast recruitment expenses and manage budgets effectively.

Quality Over Quantity: CPA encourages a focus on the quality of applicants. Since the cost is tied to applications, there’s an inherent motivation for job boards and advertising platforms to target the most relevant job seekers.

Reduced Administrative Burden: With duration-based postings, there’s a significant administrative task in monitoring and evaluating the performance of job ads over time. CPA simplifies this process. You pay for results, not time, freeing up valuable resources for other recruitment activities.

Flexibility and Real-Time Optimization: In a CPA model, employers can quickly adjust their strategies based on the performance of their ads. If a job ad isn’t delivering the desired number of applications, changes can be made on the fly to improve outcomes.

Enhanced Employer Branding: By attracting more qualified and interested candidates, CPA advertising can indirectly bolster an employer’s brand. Candidates who apply are more likely to have a genuine interest in the organization, leading to a better candidate experience.

Data-Driven Insights: CPA models often provide richer data insights. Employers can analyze which job ads are performing best and why, leading to more informed decisions in future campaigns.

So, the next time you’re posting an opening to a job board, you should pay per application, right? Well, you might want to but, chances are, you won’t be able to. Why? Because few job boards are able and willing to sell job postings on a cost-per-application (CPA) basis. Many but most don’t yet sell on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis, and selling on a CPA basis is even more challenging in terms of the required product, process, pricing, and people. Some job boards did but weren’t able to do so successfully, such as Indeed. Some job boards use what is referred to as a hybrid pricing model. College Recruiter, for example, sells postings on a traditional, duration-, CPC-, or CPA-basis. So, if you’re looking to reduce your risk when you post your job openings, look for job search sites like College Recruiter that are ready, willing, and able to successfully deliver postings on a CPA-basis.

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