How to resolve a classic chicken and egg dilemma?


My team and I are facing the classic chicken/egg dilemma and need help resolving this issue. We built a highly scalable, dynamic career site 100% dedicated to the IT industry and are ready to launch.

We would like to know how to go about attracting job seekers without any jobs posted initially on the site, and how to attract employers without any registered job seekers.

In essence job seekers will not join the site without employer job postings.
Employers will not post jobs unless they can find the talent (job seekers) on the site.
How can I resolve this issue? How did those before us approach and successfully resolve the issue?

Marketing Launch Website

asked Dec 27 '10 at 19:46
136 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

10 Answers


Basically, you do not. Whoever planned this site should have thought about the hard part - launching a buisness model - first.

There are a ton of sites already. Why should people come to you, especially when basically others have volume?

Sorry to say, but someone here was sort of having this project backward and now is the time to pay for this. The hard part is not the programming, the hard part is getting people to use it. You start a supposedly commercial offering in a highly competitive area without a marketing advantage, needing critical mass and have no clue how to start it? Not a single line of code should have been written at this stage. Same reason why so few new social networks start.

To start it, you should see whether you can team up with some communities.... that don't already have their own job boards. Which I htink there are not many. Even StackOverflow/StackExchange has a job board, but they basically started with a good commmunity.

How big is your marketing budget? Zero? Sorry to say, write off the development costs as a lesson in how not to start a business. Yes, hard - but seriously, "have site, users will come" is not really a decent approach these days. Not when you write "yet another standard site".

answered Dec 27 '10 at 20:01
Net Tecture
11 points
  • Dude, I see your point and it is well taken. However, I am not down for the count. This will work. I was just tapping the resources here to see if something other than what we are thinking is in the offing. But trust me, It does not matter if there a million of these already. i reject the premise that just because something exists no one can succeed it. Have you heard of the saying that there is nothing new under the sun? "Do not write a single line of Code before a biz plan emerge" is an overused line. Most Biz plans emerge from the serendipity of writing those lines of code. We shall see. – Donald 13 years ago
  • Yes, but then your marketing comes on with the distinguishing factors. Not having thought about the marketing side sort of makes it... a bad start. YOu can alawys break into an existing market. Look at google - came late, killed othe rengines. BUt it takes MONEY (loads of) and TIME (loads of), both of which google had access to. In your case the chicken and egg may go the twitter way - be unused until people want to shut it down, nearly, then overnight user numbers explode. – Net Tecture 13 years ago
  • I totally agree with NetTuecture, this is a classical situation when the house has been started from the roof... Let me point to [The Business of Software]('s+Blog)), a great post from Seth Godin that may help understanding some issues and, hopefully, solving them. – Fernando Martins 13 years ago
  • @Donald - no one said it will never work, you've just made it harder on yourself. – Jeff O 13 years ago
  • Personally, I'd say make it free for I.T. pros to sign up, which it probably will be, then hit the phone to recruitment agencies who'll have a bunch of jobs. Building relationships with those guys will help. If you're passionate enough and creating job listings is easy enough they might take the time to add some listings on. Failing that, make it easy for them, tell them to email/fax you each job posting and you'll add it in for them. That'll build up your job board. But I agree, you've made it hard on yourself. You need to go hard on where you can get the most jobs in one big sweep. – Lloyd 12 years ago


Agreed with everybody else who is saying that you need top get your customers and check that people want your product first - not last. If I were in your shoes I'd do this:

  1. Figure out what you're selling right now (if you haven't already)
  2. Write it down.
  3. Figure who will buy your product right now (if you haven't already)
  4. Write it down.
  5. Go find somebody who matches what you wrote down in (4). If you can't find anybody you probably need to revisit (3).
  6. Have dinner with them. Visit their office. Talk to them on the phone. Sell them what you wrote down in (2). If they don't want it ask them what they do want. Carry on doing this for a week / 10 potential customers minimum without changing what you wrote down in (2).
  7. Look at all the feedback you got from (6) and revisit (1).
  8. Repeat.
Basically - getting out of the chicken and egg situation - unless you're very lucky - involves large amounts of leg work and talking to people, figuring out what people want, tweaking your offering slightly, tweaking pricing, talking to more people, etc. There isn't a quick solution.

And next time - start doing it before you build your product - otherwise you're very, very likely to build the wrong product :-)

answered Dec 27 '10 at 23:02
Adrian Howard
2,357 points
  • This is great, love the process. – Chuck 10 years ago


You probably need to set up some kind of early-bird special. You need, more than any actual revenues from the users at this point, actual users. So waive any costs/fees/restrictions that you have/plan to have for now, and see about offering enticements to the job seekers and hiring managers. To the job seeker especially, one more place to upload a resume isn't really that big a deal, so make it easy/painless and get your product name out there. Once you actually build up some traction, you can see about stepping up your revenue, but you need that core critical mass first.

answered Dec 28 '10 at 01:41
Gw Llosa
151 points
  • No early bird special will help getting the first plants into a wasteland. That sadly is the issue. Cooperation with I have no clue with would be peretty much the only thing. – Net Tecture 13 years ago


Good news: getting employers is relatively easy. Go to other industry job boards (Dice, StackOverflow, etc.), and browse the jobs. Email all of the companies you find ("Hi, I saw that you posted on XYZ, and wanted to let you know about us... we're a free site... easy to use... 5 mintues... etc"). If the cost is low (time + money), they will give it a shot.

Or, if you're feeling bold and a little scummy, just simply scrape the content from the other sites like SimplyHired or Indeed. The other sites won't like it, but since employers are really the only ones in a position to copmlain/whine about that, you should be fine; why would they care if you're just giving their ad more views?

Bad news: getting job seekers is nearly impossible. Especially in the developer/IT niche. It doesn't matter if you have a hundred thousand awesome and unique jobs, and there's a damn good chance that anyone who visits the site will find their dream job. You still need to build your brand and pursaude qualified job seekers to come.

My company, Inedo Media is a niche advertising agency that exclusively works with companies in this space, and I can tell you first hand... it will be expensive to launch this and get any traction. Think tens of thousands a month over six to twelve months, and maybe -- just maybe -- you'll have a shot.

Oh, and that's assuming you're working with an experienced team of marketers like us. And finding that team will be a challenge; truth be told, you'd have a hard time convincing us to take on such a long-shot project. Do it on your own, and you may as well just have a cash bonfire.

answered Dec 28 '10 at 04:47
Alex Papadimoulis
5,901 points


As others have mentioned, this is a vital part of the business planning that should have been addressed from the beginning. However, I don't believe that all is lost. If you truly have a unique product, you can rise above the others.

I answered a similar question on overcoming the Network Effect which you might find useful. In addition to that post, I have a few other suggestions:

  • Have a marketing beta period to seed your site. Make it free for both prospective employees and employers during the beta.
  • Integrate with Facebook. Don't just make your jobs sharable, make an integrated Facebook job app that is useful to Facebook users. The community there is large enough to overcome any problems if you have a decent product.
  • Advertise. Don't just do social
    media or Google ads. There are also
    numerous business blogs and websites
    that you can target either through an
    ad or a helpful article. Ditto for
    trade publications and magazines. BuySellAds markets directly to IT and web people.
  • Market yourself in other ways as
    well. What are big HR conferences?
    Are there any HR newsletters? If your
    product is unique enough, it might be
    worthy of a press release. You could
    also use Help-A-Reporter-Out.
    Can you partner with existing
    business sites or sites like
    BizSugar, biznik, and countless other social business sites?
answered Dec 28 '10 at 04:58
Virtuosi Media
1,232 points


You can be the first employers. That will attract job seekers and start the engine.

answered Dec 28 '10 at 03:15
Sony Santos
131 points
  • Yeah. Sadly it does not put a sincle ounce of fuel into the tank. First three ads - and then nothing? – Net Tecture 13 years ago


Have you asked anyone? You never mentioned any rejections for this reason. Many people may be inclined to post a job or CV on a site because there are so few. Unlike the other sites, they will stick out more. The biggest problem will be asking for fees up front. Other suggestions for discounts may be useful.

answered Dec 28 '10 at 01:51
Jeff O
6,169 points


My mantra is simple. As long as you provide value people will come. I am a programmer and there are many places I can go on the net to find a job.

I can go to or or I can even get projects online from elance or vworker

They all have their usp (unique selling point).

So you need to find a something unique about your site to give which these sites don't.

Example 1:

I am drupal developer and I want to also learn more about seo. So I only like to take up projects based on this criteria.

So I have to spend a lot of time searching for these projects online and then qualify them and then the employer needs to qualify me. I personally thing someone can do a better job at this.

Why don't you curate all other job sites and help find a programmer the best possible job in one place.

In other words make a aggregator. A great example is google. Google is nothing but a aggregator for sites.

Example 2:
Go local !

Say you are from Mumbai then tap into or call all the hr managers and offer them free listings. The key is to have the biggest job listing for mumbai then the other job sites.

So this will bring value to someone who only wants jobs in Mumbai.

Then place ads on google for words like "mumbai job php" This way you will connect the two and make your money.

answered Nov 22 '11 at 17:16
29 points


Have you thought about pulling in listings from other sites via open API's? I haven't researched job search API's, but there's got to be one. I know LinkedIn has a job search API, but I'm not sure about the TOS/Use Policy. Another alternative would be to screen scrape job listings from other sites (monster, craigslist, etc.) and populate your site that way. That's surely not legit, but it will get you going. And hey, Airbnb did it and look where they're at now!

answered Apr 13 '12 at 15:06
130 points


I am dealing with a similar chicken/egg problem for Swappa, a site to buy and sell used Android devices. I've decided to tackle the "supply side" of things first by making sure there are plenty of devices for sale before I worry too much about getting buyers.

To do this, I'm constantly browsing Craigslist for well-priced, used Android phones to re-sell on the site. I'm investing a few thousand dollars and doing the leg work of buying local and re-selling cheap to solve the problem.

You could potentially do something similar for your job site. Start local with companies that are already trying low-cost methods (such as Craigslist) and let them post their jobs for free/cheap on your site.

answered Dec 28 '10 at 05:10
Ben Edwards
601 points

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