How to Improve Talent Attraction as an Economic Development Organization

One of the major jobs you have as an Economic Development Organization (EDO) is talent attraction. The ability of local companies to attract job seekers that will move or travel to your area to work is critical to your success. One way EDOs are attempting to solve this problem is by providing a job board on their website.

With this in mind, below we will outline a list of common pitfalls in choosing a job board as an Economic Development Organization, and a game plan for helping your market attract talent.

Common Pitfalls in Choosing a Job Board

Using Indeed and Monster instead of having a job board

It is critical to note that popular job sites such as Monster and Indeed do not offer the required capabilities you need for your EDO.  Not only do these sites offer no metrics, but they do not offer job curation to match the focus of the EDO, there is no private labeling, there are no training and support capabilities for the individual companies in the EDO’s sphere of influence, and there are no or limited applicant tracking capabilities which are essential to the smaller companies in the EDO’s region.

Building a job board from scratch, or using a plugin

If an EDO tries to build their own job board solution, they'll be recreating the wheel from scratch, and many critical job board features will be missing. The EDO will also need to be concerned about the user experience for the job seeker, which is especially critical if the EDO is trying to promote technology jobs. The applicants need to have proper job filtering and more advanced capabilities like liking or not liking postings so the job board can learn the applicant’s preferences and provide suggestions (a Pandora-music like capability).

And, most importantly, the site must have a clean user experience for both the companies served and the applicants.  A clunky site will turn off both constituents and make the experience a negative, rather than a positive one.

Any solution that does not do the above, is not simple to administer, does not have built-in training and support materials, or cannot allow the EDO to curate the precise jobs and companies that it is trying to promote within its region should be eliminated.

Not choosing a job board that shows them metrics and analytics to demonstrate their success

It is no longer acceptable for any EDO not to support the needs of companies and job seekers in their region.  It is a requirement.  When looking for solutions to this problem and evaluating job board alternatives, an EDO must list the key features required to make the initiative successful and the key metrics that it needs to track to show effectiveness. Any solution that can not automatically provide these key metrics should be eliminated.

For a list of example metrics that your Economic Development Organization should be tracking, check out our blog post: "Key Talent Metrics for Economic Development Organizations".

Economic Development Organization Gameplan to Help Attract Talent in Your Region

EDOs need to fully understand their needs before selecting a job board or when considering if their current job board is meeting their needs.  A job board that is specifically built for the needs of the EDO and can address the seven critical metrics mentioned in our last blog post can be the difference between a great job board and great service to the community, and a bad job board that provides poor service to the community.

Here is a game plan for helping your market attract talent:

  • Recognize that talent support is a must-have capability for your EDO
  • Make a list of requirements that you need your job board to have
  • Evaluate your current personnel and financial resources to understand the administrative capabilities that you can apply on a day to day, weekly, and monthly basis
  • Make a list of metric and analytic reporting requirements required for your job board
  • Use the decision criteria to select the proper job board
  • Talk to references (other EDOs) who have implemented the solution you've chosen
  • Understand the benefits of having an effective job board
  • Spend your funds carefully on things that apply to EDOs in general and your specific needs
  • Assign the right people to the administration and reporting of your job board and measure your success
  • Proudly publicize your results to funders and companies that you support

Proper talent management and acquisition can improve the image and value that you offer as an EDO.  It should not require additional personnel and should be cost-effective.  Knowing your goals and choosing a solution that will match those goals is essential to success.

An EDO can and must include talent management in its charter. This can be done easily and cost-effectively if proper thought is put into the process and the right partner is chosen to help with the implementation.

To learn more about how TrueJob can help you, contact us at or request a demo.

Key Talent Metrics for Economic Development Organizations


Economic Development Organizations (EDOs) serve a variety of needs in their communities. One of the most critical needs is helping employers find talent. Most EDOs can’t afford a full time talent administrator or recruiter. If they could, then the amount of available job opportunities and potential applicants would likely be either too great for one person to handle, or too small to justify a position. So, how can EDOs help their employer customers find talent?

The answer is to offer an intelligent job board that serves the needs of corporate customers as well as job seekers. Of course, this solution raises its own issues. First, EDOs typically do not have the resources to maintain a job board and to provide training and support to their clients. Second, EDOs need easy control of which companies and which jobs are posted on the job board. This is often referred to as “curation”. Lastly, it is critical to have the job board measure metrics that the EDO can use to show it has added value to its community.

EDOs serve three main constituents. The first are their funding organizations. An EDO, like any other organization, needs to show value to the organizations that provide funding. Second, EDOs must support the needs of the employers in their region. Finally, EDOs need to serve the needs of the job seekers in their region. These are the members of the community (as well as people outside the community looking at moving) considering employment with the companies that the EDO serves. Understanding, tracking and reporting (for example) how many employers utilize their talent services, how many jobs have been listed on their site, how many jobs have been filled through their site, and repeated use by the companies in their region is essential to this effort.

There are seven critical metrics that EDOs must track to show value to both corporate customers and funders of the EDO. Each of these metrics can be used to answer key questions for the EDO. The key metrics and questions are:

  1. Number of companies that have signed up for the job board (and when they signed up)
    • How many employers are currently posting on my job board?
    • What is their contact information?
  2. Number of jobs posted by those companies (and when those job postings were posted)
    • How many jobs have been posted on my job board? Are currently posted?
    • Which companies are posting the most jobs?
    • Where are the job postings located?
  3. Number of times a job has had someone click "Apply"
    • How many times have job seekers clicked ‘Apply’ on each job?
    • Which jobs have the most ‘Apply’ clicks? The least?
  4. Number of job applications filled out fully and submitted via the site
    • How many complete job applications have been submitted?
    • Which jobs and companies have received the most job applications?
  5. Number of times a job posting has been viewed
    • How many times has each job been viewed?
    • Which jobs have been viewed the most? The least?
  6. Number of jobs that have been marked "filled" by companies using the job portal?
    • How many jobs have employers marked as ‘Filled’?
    • Which companies have the most ‘Filled’ jobs?
  7. Number of job seekers submitting their contact information to the EDO
    • How many job seekers have submitted their contact information?
    • What is their contact information (e.g. for my newsletter)?

Without each of these metrics, the talent initiative lacks tangible results. It is critical to note that popular job sites such as Monster and Indeed do not offer these required capabilities to the EDO. It is also important that the job board platform you use makes it easy to view and export these metrics.

The TrueJob platform makes these metrics available as part of our analytics dashboard. You can either view data and graphs directly on your dashboard:


Or, you can export this data and view it in a program like Excel:


If you're interested in learning more, download our sample analytics dashboards and reports book here.

Ann Arbor SPARK: A case study on an Economic Development Organization's Job Board


“This is all about attracting companies and, more importantly jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Ann Arbor SPARK is Ann Arbor’s engine for economic development, and is dedicated to the economic prosperity of the greater Ann Arbor region. It uses its skills and knowledge to attract, develop, strengthen, and invest in driving industries to help the region thrive. Most of all, it is committed to job growth.

Phil Santer is the Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff for the CEO. He is part of the Business Development Team at Ann Arbor Spark and has been with the organization for just over five years. He has been doing economic development in Michigan for over a decade. Prior to joining SPARK, he worked for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Phil Santer, SVP SPARK
Phil Santer, SVP SPARK

SPARK supports a broad range of companies: from small entrepreneurial companies to more mature organizations. Across these companies, SPARK focuses on attracting knowledge workers. Asked about the role of SPARK, Phil said, “This is all about attracting companies and, more importantly jobs, jobs, jobs.”

SPARK’s website had a legacy job board that was built internally years ago after the departure of Pfizer from the Ann Arbor market. At that time, there was a glut of talent looking for positions. While the job board functioned well, it became clear that it was no longer up-to-date enough to meet the needs of the three major constituents that an economic development organization supports. Those constituents are the EDO itself, the client companies in the region, and area job seekers. SPARK knew that the usability and effectiveness of the job board reflected on their organization. When trying to help local companies recruit and retain knowledge workers, having an easy to use, up to date job board is critical.

The Challenge

“It was a big decision to go from a legacy system that we had owned to be able to partner with a third-party, a vendor to be able to outsource this work.”

Asked about SPARK’s needs for a new system, Phil said, “We wanted to find something that met the needs of all three constituents. First, we needed a job board that would appeal to knowledge workers—something modern and easy to use. We also needed to have analytics to show our funders and our corporate customers that we were adding value to the community.

“To attract the right workers, we needed the job board to allow us to curate which jobs appeared so we could focus on the right companies and the right jobs. We didn’t want a generic job board that allowed any company to post any job. We also needed a job board with options to prominently feature the SPARK brand, and on the backend, we needed the user experience for our staff to be simple, but powerful.

“Second, our local companies, from very early stage companies to much more mature companies, wanted to have a range of functionality that served their broad needs. For instance, while a more mature company may already have an Applicant Tracking System, the early stage ones did not. So, we needed something that kept these diverse needs in mind.

“And third, the job applicants wanted superior job filtering capabilities to help them hone in on precisely what they were looking for. We even wanted something that would understand their needs and recommend jobs to them. Think Pandora for job search.

“Overall, we knew finding all of this functionality was not going to be easy.”
A major part of SPARK’s decision to move to a new system was the lack of functionality and the usability of the legacy site. Phil said, “There were some companies that were opting out of using the job portal altogether because if felt clunky and certainly not up to the level that a technology company was used to. Instead, they were posting on True Job because it had the focus, and they were a clear constituency for that. I wanted to make sure that we were capturing the companies that had selected away.” He continued, “It was a big decision to go from a legacy system that we had owned to be able to partner with a third-party, a vendor to be able to outsource this work.”

Choosing a Solution

“It became clear to us that TrueJob ... provided precisely what an EDO needs."

During their search for a new system, SPARK became aware of TrueJob, which happened to be a local company in Ann Arbor. TrueJob offered precisely the functionality that SPARK was looking for to meet the needs of the three constituents. It focused its product on organizations like EDO’s, had a modern look and feel, and a higher quality user experience overall.

Phil said, “We developed a cross-functional team to evaluate alternatives and make a selection. The team included representatives from business development, marketing and even the CEO’s office. We wanted to make sure that we had proper buy-in across the organization. The person who would administer the site for us was intimately familiar with our culture and understood our overall strategy so we wanted that person to be able to easily administer the system without extensive software skills or training.”

While TrueJob was a local company, the selection was made on the capabilities of the company rather that its geography. “It became clear to us that TrueJob was the right product for our needs,” Phil said. “They provided precisely what an EDO needs, even to the point of offering documentation and training videos for us and our corporate customers to ensure success across the diverse needs of these customers. We even had focus groups, where local organizations came in and helped tell us what they thought they needed and that helped us with the selection.”

Implementation and Results

“TrueJob worked directly with our team, handled our transition, trained our people and quickly answered any questions we had. It was about as easy as it could be...”

The implementation of TrueJob went smoothly and was handled expeditiously. The transition from the legacy job site to the new one was seamless. “TrueJob worked directly with our team, handled our transition, trained our people and quickly answered any questions we had. It was about as easy as it could be,” Phil said.

SPARK also had an impressive promotional plan for the new job site. The new job board was announced at SPARK’s annual meeting, which had extensive press coverage. SPARK also made sure that all its corporate customers were aware of the site and had access to the proper training materials to help them use it most effectively.

The benefits and results have been impressive. Most notably, SPARK has already seen greater participation from employers on its job site, and they now have better analytics to show how they are helping the local community. With increased interest in the site, local companies have seen more applicants applying for jobs, and job seekers are utilizing the advanced filtering and search capabilities to help them find the right job quicker and easier.

The quantitative results are also impressive. Even early on, SPARK has seen a 42% increase in application clicks, a 68% increase in conversions (the percentage of visitors that choose to apply to a job they are viewing). SPARK is also now able to see the precise number of applications submitted through the site (this number was unknown in the legacy system).


“A good job board is a critical part of the talent management aspect of EDO’s.”

Asked about the importance of SPARK’s job board, Phil said, “Many EDO’s don’t even offer a job board, but they should. A principle goal of an EDO is to help their local companies find the right talent and help people who are looking for opportunities find those companies. “A good job board is a critical part of the talent management aspect of EDO’s,” Phil said.

“Economic Development is about helping to create jobs. When EDO’s look to either add a job site or replace their existing job site, they should not try to internally duplicate what is already available. EDO’s are there to provide economic development, not build their own technology.”

Any EDO that is considering a job board needs to consider 8 critical criteria that will determine the success of their job site. These are:

  1. A high-quality user experience for both their corporate and job seeker customers
  2. The ability to curate the selection of jobs that appear on the job site
  3. Analytics that definitively show what they have accomplished with the job site
  4. Better filtering and matching for applicants and companies to make the process of job search easier and more effective
  5. Automatic scraping of public job sites to increase the pool of available jobs and simplify the signup process for employers
  6. Documentation and training videos to help internal staff and customers take advantage of the site and maximize participation
  7. Capabilities for smaller companies that may need extra support like a built-in Applicant Tracking System
  8. Branding for the EDO

If EDO’s keep the needs of their three main constituents in mind, they will be successful.

Eight critical features of a job board for Economic Development Organizations


Every Economic Development Organizations (EDO) is unique, but they do have something in common — they need to connect employers with job seekers. And for this, they need a job board tailored to the needs of their stakeholders.

EDOs have three stakeholders:

  • The EDO itself,
  • The region's companies, and
  • The region's work force.

Each of these stakeholders have certain criteria that need to be considered when implementing a new job board.

From these criteria, knowledge of the job market, and experience working directly with EDOs, TrueJob has gathered a list of eight critical features a job board must have to fulfill these requirements.

The eight requirements for a job board

  1. Excellent user experience
  2. Curation of job postings
  3. Powerful analytics
  4. Accurate filtering and matching
  5. Content automation
  6. Built-in Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
  7. Supporting assets
  8. Easy Branding

1. Excellent user experience

Imagine an employer trying to post a job for a web developer on a job website that looks terrible - they're going to laugh! It’s also going to blow your credibility, both with the employer and the job seeker.

People want a high quality experience when they use your job portal. You need a job portal that meets today’s modern standards, and makes it as easy as possible for job seekers to search for jobs, and employers to sign up and post jobs.

2. Job board curation

Economic Development Organizations can use their mission to help them determine which companies can post jobs on their job boards, and which jobs may be appropriate for the job board.

To have a great job board, you as an EDO need a permission-based job approval system that allows administrators to approve:

  • The companies that can post to your job portal
  • The job postings that those companies post

Without this, your job board won’t feel customized to the unique needs of your community.

3. Powerful analytics

Both Economic Development Organizations and employers would like analytics to help better understand the value of their job board.

A job board needs to keep track of not only how many times a job posting has been viewed, and for how long, but also how many times an “apply” button was clicked, how many applications are submitted, and how the quantity of job postings has changed over time.

This is a critical “killer” feature:

  • EDOs can use these analytics and more to see how they are
    helping to improve community job growth and building the amount of jobs posted and applied to on their portal. They can then report these analytics to their funders to demonstrate the value they are providing.
  • For employers, these analytics can help them improve the quality of candidates that end up applying to a job posting, increasing the quality of hires.

4. Accurate filtering and matching

A job board that is hard to search for jobs on is frustrating for a job seeker, and leads to less job applications for the employer.

The ideal job portal should offer as much power as possible to allow both sides to filter and improve the match between the job seeker and the employer, in a simple and user friendly experience.

Ideally the job board can even suggest jobs to the job seeker based on their individual requirements. It should also help employers better understand what job seekers like and dislike about the job postings available, so job seekers are more likely to filter and match for their posting.

5. Content automation

One of the biggest challenges for any website is content. Job boards are no different—an empty job board isn't useful to anyone! Relevant and local job listings are already out there and published, they just need to find a way to your new job board.

There’s a right and wrong way to do this – “backfilling” (as it is sometimes referred to by other job boards) can pull low quality job postings from bulk job websites like Indeed or Monster, leading to a bad first experience for job seekers.

You need a job board that can pull information right from local employers’ websites, or let them import jobs directly. This makes sure not only your job board is filled with job postings, but high quality job postings.

6. Built-in Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Economic Development Organizations don’t exist only to support large companies - they also help to build smaller companies as well.

Smaller employers want the ability to track applicants, interview applicants, and review applicants, but do not have the funding for or knowledge of HR applications.

It is essential for the EDO to provide basic level Applicant Tracking System (ATS) capabilities to these smaller companies that lack resources. This will provide them a better chance to hire great candidates and grow their small business into a larger one.

7. Supporting assets

Supporting assets are any manuals, documentation, guides, videos, or technical support that are part of a product.

As an Economic Development Organization, you want to spend as much time as you can supporting your community, not troubleshooting simple problems.

You need a job portal that comes with documentation and videos to help users solve their problems without having to resort to contacting the EDO for technical support.

8. Easy branding

Every organization has invested heavily in their brand - it’s their identity! As an Economic Development Organization, it is essential to keep all properties directly associated with the organization under the same brand umbrella. This means color, fonts, and design style.

For a job board to be successful, it needs to take these branding concerns into account. Not only should the job board be theme-able with your colors, fonts, and more, but it should also be embeddable so the job board looks like your website because it is in your website!


A job board that has the 8 critical features we’ve listed will benefit the EDO as well as the employers and job seekers in your region. These benefits include:

  • More participation and interaction from your local employers
  • Better control over your website content and brand image
  • Additional sponsorships and funding by using the job board to demonstrate your value to the community
  • A larger pool of applicants that are a better match
  • Applicant tracking tools to save smaller employers time and money
  • Analytics to learn how to improve the hiring process and attract the best candidates
Job Seekers
  • Access to a high quality, curated selection of local job opportunities.
  • Filtering and matching tools to stay up to date on the latest opportunities and

TrueJob has all of these specific and critical criteria

Economic Development Organizations are unique institutions that must satisfy not only their own needs, but the needs of the employers and job seekers in their region.

Existing job sites and basic job portals can’t help these organizations. Specific and critical functionality is required in order for these organizations to demonstrate their value and help their constituents be successful.

TrueJob and Economic Development Organizations - a 3 minute overview

Note: this is a review of our 3 minute overview video on YouTube. If you wish to watch the video instead, please check it out here

TrueJob triangle

With TrueJob, we help your Economic Development Organization connect the job seekers and employers in your community together. We do that with a job board we built specifically for Economic Development Organizations that allows them to interact with each other more easily than any other job board around.This helps you achieve your mission as an Economic Development Organization of growing your community, and is a great way for you to start attracting more sponsorship and funding.

There's no software for you to install and maintain, and we can integrate TrueJob with any website. And it can be done in seconds, with little to no administrative effort. Let me show you how it works:

Setup and install


Above we have an example economic development website which doesn't have a job board yet. We'll assume that it's built on top of WordPress, but again this process will be similar no matter what your website set up. To build out your job board it's as simple as:


  1. Making a new jobs page
  2. Pasting our snippet of TrueJob code into that page, and
  3. Publishing it on your website.

Now your site will have a new area called "jobs" and you'll have an
advanced job portal ready to go:



For jobseekers, they'll be able to "like" or "dislike" job postings, similar to Pandora, to improve jobs that fit them from your community. They can also quickly navigate from job to job posting, and search and filter for the things that they want to see.

When they're ready to apply to a job posting, a job seeker can apply on the local company's website, or can receive applicants through TrueJob's applicant tracking system, allowing your smaller companies an easy way to track applicants when they might not have an HR budget.

Portal Administration

As the EDO job portal administrator you can curate your job portal by approving which employers get to post jobs, and which jobs from those companies get posted:


You'll also get to see powerful analytics as to how your job portal is
doing, so you can show your impact on the community to your benefactors, and get
more sponsorship and funding:


Expected Results

With TrueJob you can expect better job seeker participation on your site than any job board out there. You'll also see more jobs posted to your site from local companies, and more local companies joining your job board.

Click here to see our case study with Ann Arbor SPARK, a Michigan Economic Development Organization, where by adding a job portal they ended up DOUBLING the traffic to their website.


For pricing, TrueJob is based on the size of your community, but comes with two factors:

  1. An initialization fee
  2. A monthly fee

The initialization fee covers things like:

  • Working with your team
  • Theming your job board to your site and
  • Helping you build a promotional plan.

The monthly fee:

  • Allows us to keep TrueJob up-to-date and maintained
  • Gives you the latest features as we create them, and
  • Technical support when you need it.

To give you an estimate, small communities can expect to pay roughly $425/month for TrueJob, and larger communities $925/month. But we know each community is different, so reach out to us for pricing that fits your needs as a community.


This is just the beginning of what we can do.Read more at, and contact us for more information.