What exactly do you mean when you say "job board"? And, is this question even worth answering?

Almost every week I see another blog post or story about a trend, product, or development that will doom job boards. Let’s be honest – writing about the death of any institution, especially one used by millions of people worldwide, is a great way to gather eyeballs and readers.

But as I was considering my latest snarky response to such an article, it occurred to me: What exactly is a job board these days? To wit:

  • Is LinkedIn a job board?: its primary function seems to be helping people find jobs (or, rather, find people who can find them jobs). It has job postings. It has ‘Apply’ buttons. It certainly has resumes. But….it also has Groups, Direct Messaging, news feeds, and some aspects of interactive social media sites. So: is it a job board?
  • Is Indeed a job board?: Up until a couple of years ago, Indeed was an ‘aggregator’ – it aggregated jobs from thousands of job boards, theoretically making it easier for job seekers to find said jobs. But it is now divesting itself of job board jobs, focusing on direct employer jobs instead – and has recently added a (paid) resume search. So: is it a job board?
  • Are matching sites job boards?: Sites like RemarkableHireIdentified,Jobsync, and Jobbook (and there are dozens more) all claim to be able to match candidates to employers using various combinations of profiles, resumes, social media, and skills testing. Some contain job listings (somewhere), some do not. Some use conventional resumes, some do not. There are even networks that focus on matching (RealMatch). So: are they job boards?
  • Is StartWire a job board?: How about a site that pulls a job seeker’s social network connections together, tracks job applications, and points out relevant job sources? It doesn’t look like a traditional job board – yet it’s connecting job seekers and jobs.  So: is it a job board?

Here’s what I think: the term ‘job board’ is a term coined during the dawn of online recruiting for sites such as Dice and Monster. It was a way of putting tactile terms onto a virtual world, helping us understand there was an electronic board out there in the ether, covered with jobs.

Fast forward almost two decades: the term is still around because: a) humans are creatures of habit; b) humans are lazy; and c) it is still, in some very general way,accurate. Yes, all of the sites mentioned above (and tens of thousands of others) are much more than electronic ‘job boards’. But at their core, they exist toconnect employers and job seekers.

Consider the question another way: if you removed the ability of all aforementioned sites to connect employers and job seekers, what would remain? Would they still be functional? Profitable? Durable?

I think not.

So, call a job board what you will. Maybe you’ll coin the great new term that replaces ‘job board’. But remember – it’s not a bad word, an epithet, or a thing of the past. It’s simply a commonly used term to describe an incredibly wide, diverse, and useful collection of sites that connect employers and job seekers.

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Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 30, 2012 at 11:05am
Surely someone will start calling things "social/professional career connection sites" any day now and it will all become the latest ridiculous buzz word. After all if it doesn't sound like a ridiculous made up word it ain't squat.
Comment by Suresh on May 30, 2012 at 4:40pm

Jeff, good one.

How long have we used "Classifieds"? How long have we had Niche Magazines, Cable Channels?

As long as the internet is going to be around, we will have Job Boards (no matter what you call it) with unique content, niche, style, focus...

Comment by Alasdair Murray on May 31, 2012 at 7:17am

As a society we have muddied the waters unnecessarily where recruitment is concerned. Technology is great but number crunching isn't the answer and never will be. Facebook has 900m - members so what? China has 1.2bn population but my next ideal candidate is not necessarily going to come from that country. What IS important is targetting - and there are plenty of perfectly good sites out there, mainstream and niche job boards and (here in the UK at least) media owned career portals for the jobseeker to find jobs aplenty on. I sometimes despair for the modern jobseeker. it used to be so easy and yet now, in this mad online world we have created, they are getting differing opinions from different folk with vested interests on a daily basis. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, social media in general, job boards, employers own websites, talent communities blah blah blah. It's madness! As for aggregrated sites and those that promise your job will be seen on 100 job boards - quantity sin;t what it;s all about, it's quality - something that many have sadly lost sight of and which is reflected in the prevalence of awful content that's out there right now.

Comment by Alasdair Murray on May 31, 2012 at 7:23am

PS - My typing goes to pot when I'm on a rant :-) - it should, of course, have read "quantity isn't what it's all about, it's quality"


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