Over a year ago, I wrote about the changes in the job board world. I also promised myself I wouldn’t write about job boards ‘dying’ for at least a year. Well, time’s up!

Are some job boards dying? Well, of course they are. All industries have some companies that are dying – and some that are growing. So, through the Darwinian fight for survival, some job boards die.

But does that mean that all job boards are dying? Of course not. If anything, there has been an explosion of niche sites over the past several years. Why? Job boards can be very efficient at bringing employer and job seeker together.

Instead of arguing about the disappearance of an entire industry, I think it is more useful to look at why some job boards do die. Smart job boards do just this – they study and analyze the failures to avoid becoming one of the statistics.

So…here are a few reasons why any given job board might fail:

  • Forgot what business it was in: Job boards deliver quality candidates for employers at a competitive price. When a job board fails this basic task, it’s on the way out.
  • Didn’t pay attention to its customers: Job boards have 2 sets of customers: employers and job seekers. Both have to be treated well and with respect.
  • Didn’t understand its customers: Not all employers and/or job seekers are alike. Dentists have different needs from food production managers. A job board should understand exactly what differentiates its particular employers and candidates.
  • Failed to invest in technology: For boards that have been around since the mid-to-late 90s, failure to keep up with the latest search and site technology was easy – no real consequences. That’s changed – increased competition from within and without the job board industry means that a site has to get better – or get passed by.
  • Ignored changes in candidate behavior: How have candidates changed since 1995? Hmm…how about ubiquitous cell phone use? A computer (or two) on every desktop? Use of search engines first to find anything (including jobs)? Willingness to disclose lots of info online? An ever-shortening attention span?
  • Failed to provide meaningful metrics: If your business is connecting employers to candidates, you ought to have some solid stats to back up what you do. “That’s too hard?” Sorry – other sites are doing it.
  • Failed to brand: When most job sites have names like “JobsIn…” or “ABCJobs”, you know you need branding. Unfortunately, most job boards haven’t learned that lesson. Strong brands survive (and are more profitable); weak or non-existent brands are always a liability.
  • Did not understand social media: Let’s face it – you need to understand something before you can really use it effectively in your business. Some job boards really understand how it works (I’m thinking College Recruiter and JobShouts!), but many don’t. Waiting for social media to go away isn’t an answer.

Evolving is much better than fading away.

Views: 258

Comment by Jeff Dickey-Chasins on September 21, 2010 at 4:59pm
Sure. Besides College Recruiter and JobShouts, take a look at Jobsite (http://www.jobsite.co.uk/) - they have an active 'Insider' section with advice columns, employee-written blogs, ratings of recruiters, etc. I also think Dice is heading the right direction with its Talent Network - bringing a useful level of social media into the recruiting process.
Comment by Doug Boswell on September 21, 2010 at 7:06pm
There are other important reasons why job boards are dying.

Most are too expensive for what that deliver. The performance of customer mission means ROI is poor & getting poorer. A-list candidates who we recruiters most desire, are leaving job boards as they're not providing the service these top individuals deserve. Why? Continue reading.

Job boards fail to deliver what job seekers want, access to current openings at COMPANIES. Instead, what they find is that most postings are by recruiters. Top candidates don't need job boards to engage a recruiter. They already know a dozen who've kept in touch with them, networking over the years. They already have contact info on plenty of recruiters they're familiar with.

And our own industry is especially responsible for the decline of job board use, especially among A-list candidates. They respond to job postings, but get nothing back. Or they post their resumes and get swamped with calls from trainee recruiters who can't understand their needs and even treat them as commodities. Soon they get smart, take down their resumes and go to their networks to find quality career opportunities.

What's a job board to do? Apparently not the obvious. First, they should kick all us bumbling, rude, over aggressive and self-serving recruiters off their site. Then, focus all their sales talent on marketing to corporations & publicizing it to candidates. Instead, they spend bid money making a nicer looking site with slicker search/reporting capabilities. Unfortunately that's like dressing up a dead rabbit. It's still a dead rabbit.

What job boards need to do is give the key population (the A-list candidate) what they want. Stop investing in IT, and start investing in sales.
Comment by Chris Amato on September 22, 2010 at 12:26pm
Many boards have passed on the opportunity to incorporate necessary features to stay relevant, valuable content and the ability to share this content via social and mobile means.

Look at the kids, teens and college students to look at the future of job boards (if they are still called that). Doug mentioned the most important aspect, listening to your audience, job seekers. Rayanne mentioned another, well written content. Who shares crap? If it's sharable and likable, it gets play if not the message will never see the light of day.

Relevance means much more than just pertinent. It means usable and applicable to the overall discussion which is an ongoing sharing of information between jobseeker and employer. The job board that helps their customers convey that information/message (social, mobile, airplane sign over the beach) to an audience that will act upon it, will survive. Job postings are everywhere, and in most cases, worthless. Jobseekers' perception of employers that list jobs on job boards, is one of a big black hole and most employers have obliged in making this true.

People want and expect more. We all know networking from trusted sources including current employees produces results. Listen to your audience, share your story, become trusted, likable, instead of relying on a poorly written job description and employers will score big. The boards that enable its customers to do so, may just be the long term winners.

Just my thoughts - enjoy your day!
Comment by Slouch on September 22, 2010 at 1:17pm
Robert, I love that comment. It should be the quote of the day.
Comment by Jeff Dickey-Chasins on September 22, 2010 at 2:06pm
Great comments, everyone! I think one point that I didn't make that often gets overlooked. Let's say I have a bad buying experience at a shoe store. Does that mean that all shoe stores are worthless? What if I can't find the shoes I'm looking for? Do I give up and assume ALL shoe stores suck and won't have what I need? No. I decide to move on to a new shoe store (or if I'm ambitious, maybe I'll make some shoes myself :-) ) Same thing with job boards: just because you as a recruiter have had a bad experience with job boards doesn't make them worthless. That's really my point. The ones that don't deliver will fail. The ones that do, will survive. We may quit calling them job boards at some point - but they'll still be fulfilling the same function: putting employer and jobseeker together at a reasonable dollar and time cost.
Comment by Jeff Dickey-Chasins on September 22, 2010 at 2:18pm
Ouch! Very true.
Comment by Michael Hennessy on September 22, 2010 at 11:54pm
Great conversation...and some very good points. When i think of the question "What does the next generation job board look like?", I immediately think of LinkedIn. I don't know if they planned on being the next generation job board...but that's what they are. Their entire model is built for recruiting...and the social networking/referral aspect of the site is dead on. Case in point: I would never consider submitting my resume to a job board, yet I have a linkedIn profile. I'm guessing you do to.

If Job boards are dying, LinkedIn represents the Phoenix of this industry...re-emerging with unmatched recruiting possibilities.
Comment by Robin Eads on September 23, 2010 at 4:06pm
Lively discussion here. Contempt for job boards is what led me to create one. I wanted to build something that was actually useful to recruiters. Of course, it's useful to job seekers too - because if it weren't then it wouldn't be very useful to recruiters! ;)

I got tired of paying ridiculous money to job boards that delivered excessive and poor results. I vowed that I could do it better because I knew what recruiters really wanted. Better results, not more. Millions of resumes in a database? Big deal. The internet is my database. You see my point. :)
Comment by Kathleen Smith on September 27, 2010 at 1:10pm
I like the comment that job boards have two customers: job seekers and employers, but some times too many job boards pay more attention to one customer than the other.

We also tend to think that job seekers completely understand and get job boards, but they don't. Just like any type of technology there are early adopters but most job seekers still don't understand the the basics of a job board and yet we build more and more widgets and functionality into them to "stay current" or "trendy" rather than understanding the communities they serve.
Comment by Jeff Dickey-Chasins on September 27, 2010 at 2:26pm
Absolutely right, Kathleen. I continued to be amazed at the number of job seekers I talk to who don't even recognize the term 'job board'. Sometimes we get caught up in jargon and familiarity!


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