Entrepreneur launches Northwest Arkansas-focused job board

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 2,042 views 

Randy Wilburn

Randy Wilburn, an entrepreneur with more than a decade of experience in human resources and executive search consulting, recently established an area-focused job board to help for-profit companies and nonprofits meet their labor needs.

As of Oct. 2, Onboard NWA had nearly 1,000 job posts and almost 900 company partners.

“There’s a sweet spot there of companies that have the need but can’t always afford to have a full-time HR resource in-house,” he said.

According to a news release, Onboard NWA is “focused on serving the unique needs of Northwest Arkansas. The platform seeks to streamline the recruitment process by prioritizing local talent and opportunities, making the job search more efficient, and promoting community growth.”

Wilburn said the idea for the job board came about after learning of the challenges that small and medium-sized businesses and organizations face in recruiting and retaining staff. He discovered the challenges through interviews for his podcast, “I Am Northwest Arkansas.”

A podcast strategy consultant, Wilburn has been involved in podcasting since 2009 and has produced 1,500 episodes across multiple podcasts. In April 2019, he launched the weekly “I Am Northwest Arkansas” podcast. He posted episode 237 on Oct. 2.

On the podcast, he’s promoted the new job board, and it’s grown quickly. Wilburn also has advertised it in metro areas like Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; and Memphis, Tenn. His podcast guests have become company partners.

Tyler Clark, president and CEO of Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas, said he likes the job board’s user-friendliness, applicant quality and affordability.

Clark, who handles the nonprofit’s human resources, has received many responses for the part-time position he posted recently and liked that he could post the complete job description.

“When we need to post a future position and job description, he’ll be the first tool I’ll use because it is hyper-specific to Northwest Arkansas,” Clark said.

Christina Williams, founder and executive director of Innovative Poverty Solutions and Circles NWA, looked to Onboard NWA to attract area talent. She said it’s easier than other job boards like Indeed or LinkedIn. Also, she likes Onboard NWA’s dashboard, which shows the number of times her post has been viewed.

Wilburn said that Onboard NWA sets itself apart from other job boards by allowing clients to post audio clips about their company and the job itself. The add-on feature, or sonic job posting, is $99. He noted that they are easily shareable via social media.

“A company can memorialize their mission, vision [and] values in a 45-second elevator pitch … about the company [and] why someone would want to consider working with them,” he said. “We also allow that company leader or a hiring manager to record a 45-second elevator pitch about a specific job.”

Williams said her sonic job posting was shared on social media and led people to the post.

“People around town have been coming up and talking to me about hearing about the job being posted,” she said. “They’re excited that we’re hiring. It’s generated a lot of interest and conversation about the job.”

A 30-day job post is $50 through the end of the year. Discounts are available for multiple job posts, a popular option. Wilburn said a good value is the unlimited posting package for a year, which is $999. Rates will rise in 2024.

Wilburn said one of the biggest challenges that area businesses face is telling their brand story from a talent acquisition perspective. A company website might not be best for this, and some companies don’t have the time or resources to invest in branding.

“The goal with talent acquisition is not just to hire talent, but talent acquisition is also to keep talent and retain talent — keep the back door closed,” he said. “With Onboard NWA, companies will be given another option to set themselves apart.”

Its job posts range from entry-level to executive roles. About one-third comprise healthcare-related positions. Wilburn was surprised by the number of jobs requiring a commercial driver’s license. He was also surprised by the number of Onboard NWA visitors aged 60 to 68, noting they “were off the charts.” The site has received about 2,500 views daily, and he expects that to rise.

“There’s a lot of opportunities for individuals from all walks of life to benefit from utilizing Onboard NWA,” he said. “One of the other areas we’re going to go a little deeper in is addressing the aging work population.”

Wilburn moved from the Northeast to Northwest Arkansas in 2014 after entrepreneur Mark Zweig encouraged him to do so. Wilburn was an executive recruiter for ZweigWhite in the 1990s and 2000s. The Fayetteville firm that’s since been rebranded to Zweig Group was founded by Zweig in 1988 in the Northeast. Wilburn left the company when it was sold in 2004. He returned after Zweig came back about six years later. Wilburn no longer works there but still produces podcast episodes for the company. He started that podcast after moving to Northwest Arkansas.

Born in Virginia and raised in northern New Jersey, Wilburn has lived on the East and West coasts. He started a business in the Bay Area after graduating from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1991. He sold the successful business and returned to Washington. He was hired by ABC News, working for “Nightline” and “World News Tonight” before moving to Boston and joining ZweigWhite in 1997. He lived in Boston for 17 years.

Wilburn also has trained over 10,000 professionals in leadership development and communication strategy. He still does this through Encourage Build Grow, which he started in 2018 before leaving Zweig Group. Encourage Build Grow is the parent company of the “I Am Northwest Arkansas” podcast and Onboard NWA.