An HR blogger said something interesting in a recent job boards-are-dying type post: "We will be job board free in 2 years." In a follow-up post to explain how this would occur, this anonymous blogger says (problem areas in red):
"When you need something, you go to Google, so why not use it to find a job? Simply enter your criteria, say sales jobs Chicago, and what you’ll get is a myriad of jobs. Some will be on the boards (they pay an inordinate amount of dough to get their results listed high on Google), some will be on aggregators, some will be on free sites, and some will be from company sites. The point is, they are all in one place! No longer do you have to search Monster, and then Hotjobs, and then craigslist. They are all indexed in one convenient place, your Google search results.

The huge shift that is occurring now is that companies are optimizing their own job boards so that their results will show ahead of the job boards on search. This means unless there is a huge, fundamental shift on how they do business, the job boards will continue to bleed revenues on job postings."

Now I just can't resist pointing out the flaws here, one at a time:

"We will be job board free in 2 years."

First, if your company is not jobboard-free today in the middle of the deepest recession in memory, chances are you're going to be relying on them more heavily two years from now. It's hard to remember what recruiting was like three years ago when everyone with a pulse had a job. This same lack of imagination is why sellers pay to stage expensive homes for sale, filling them with furniture, hanging paintings etc. It's hard to imagine what it would be like to live in a home, when you're standing in an empty house. It's even harder to imagine employers falling all over themselves to hire back the talent they just fired... but it's coming.

I will go out on a limb and say many companies should not even want to be jobboard-free. Let's say for example that your corporate core competencies are in structural engineering and your company specializes in road construction projects. When business is booming, will it make economic sense for you to prioritize achieving freedom from the evil job boards? Or should you be focused on sales and operational excellence? Would it make sense for Honda to prioritize going television-ad or magazine-ad free?

"what you’ll get is a myriad of jobs" and "and some will be from company sites"

When I searched Google for 'sales jobs Chicago', there were no job postings in the first page of results. There were no company sites either.

"companies are optimizing their own job boards so that their results will show ahead of the job boards on search."

Easier said than done. If you are, no sweat. But for the average company, this is a pipe dream. There are 10 search results on the first page - because of rapid click through drop-off, the first five really matter. The lions share of traffic goes to the first result, a lot less goes to the second result and so on. If you're not on the first page, you might as well not exist. The truth is, CNN could get a top ranking for 'sales jobs Chicago' but doesn't need one. And that's how this works - if you don't need the ranking, you can get it. If you do need it, it's beyond your reach. Reminds me of the saying "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it".

Let's go one step further and pretend that I'm flat out wrong about this. Let's imagine that average companies could get top Google rankings. Now pretend that 10 companies have beat the job boards out of all the first page rankings on Google. That means just five companies have traffic flow with which they can do some real recruiting. How many companies in the Chicago area hire sales reps? Would you say it's more than five companies?

For all these reasons the "job-board free in two years" movement is deeply flawed. Keep reading...

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Comment by Angelo Zucaro on January 31, 2010 at 12:36pm
You could not be more right. Job Boards may change to keep up with the times, but the bottom line is that employers need job boards.



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