Only job seekers can kill job boards (not pundits)

Another week, another ‘job boards are dying’ blog post. If I had a dollar for every post like this, I’d be a (moderately) rich man. Truly.

I try to avoid the ‘job boards are dying’ discussion because (a) it’s a flamer’s game (not unlike arguing with those who disbelieve climate change), and (b) those of us in the biz know it simply isn’t true – so why waste time talking about it? It’s much more useful to talk about how you can continue to evolve and develop your sites to take advantage of new paradigms, technologies, and audiences. (I’m hardly the only skeptic out there; check out this postingthis onethis one, and this one.)

But…Gregg’s post got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be great to have a nice pocket-guide to the reasons that job boards aren’t dying? I thought you would never ask!:

  • Job boards as a ‘source of hire’ have increased: Career Xroads ‘Source of Hire’ study for 2008-2009 showed job boards at 12.3% of external hires; in 2010-2011, their share jumped to 24.9%. This type of increase suggests that employers are finding job boards more useful - not less.
  • Niche site revenues up significantly: As one of the only niche sites that publicly reports its revenue, Dice is frequently viewed as a barometer of the niche board market. For Q3 2011, their revenues increased 36% year over year – again, an apparent sign of job board growth, rather than shrinkage.
  • Job seekers use job boards: As both job board operators and employers will tell you, this is truly the acid test – do candidates use job boards? The answer is (not surprisingly) yes. A LinkedIn poll of 4,318 respondents tells the story: 23% use job boards, versus 7% for social media and 11% for aggregators. (This may have some relationship to the previous 2 bullet points…)
  • Job boards are not static or generic: Many complaints leveled against job boards are targeted at a ‘generic’ site (often modeled on a generalist board). With 100,000+ job boards worldwide, both employers and job seekers know that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ job board. Some sites including matching technology; others are focused on video; still others have screening tools, ATS functionality, mobile platforms, and more. As in any industry, those job boards that are static will fall by the wayside – but don’t expect them to drag the entire industry as they go.
  • Job boards have survived – and even thrived – in the worst recession since the 1930s: If you’re in a business that is directly tied to hiring, it would seem that a significant drop in hiring would lead to significant drops in revenue for your business – and you’d be right. What’s interesting, however, is that the number and variety of job boards has actually grown during the recession. One of the strongest IPOs in recent memory was for a job board/social networking mashup – LinkedIn. In fact, the recession has produced the biggest burst of innovation in the industry since its inception.

So what could kill job boards? Simple – lack of job seeker interest. If job seekers quit using job boards, the sites are toast.

As I’ve said many times, job boards are evolving (and I do hope they can evolve past their current moniker!). Just as this blog post will not prevent job boards from evolving (or disappearing), neither can the determined efforts of other pundits bring the industry down. Job boards help job seekers find jobs. Job boards help employers find candidates (at a reasonable price).

Ok. No more ‘job boards are dying’ posts for a while!!



Views: 140

Comment by Tim Spagnola on November 15, 2011 at 3:21pm

I agree with you John. Jeff's post title states it all. This argument is similar to the 3PR is dead, Resumes are over, and yada yada yada (sorry just one too many Seinfeld references around the RBC at the moment to resist). What I really appreciate is the sound argument to Gregg's post. Lots of interesting data here to look at to see this is indeed a flamer's game'.


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