What's next for job boards? Devolution? Revolution? Evolution?

“You say you want a revolution, well, you know, we’re all doing what we can.” – The Beatles

“We’re pinheads all, jocko homo.” -DEVO


These lyrics really get to the two extremes of what recruiters, employers, and job seekers think might happen with job boards. On the one hand, there are those who think job boards are on the way out, ‘devolving’ into lowest common denominator sites that carry fake jobs and offer little value.


On the other hand, there are those who think that only a revolution (think ‘social media’) can save the industry. Tear down the barricades and march in the street!


Me, I’m more a Darwinian kind of guy – job boards are evolving. Some will do so successfully (and thrive). Others will fall off the evolutionary ladder and end up in the dustbin of history. I know there will be a whole lot of morphing going on. That conventional job board you knew (and sometimes loved) picks up a new Web 2.0 skin, adds a bunch of content, and calls itself an employment portal. That blue and white aggregator suddenly decides to act like a job board. And that monstrously big job board starts popping up in places like Facebook.


So, if I’m right, then what are some of the ‘evolutionary’ behaviors we should see?

  • Platform mobility: Sites have to function equally well on desktops, notebooks, cell phones, tablets, and whatever comes next (job hunting from your car’s WiFi-ed display, anyone?)
  • Diffusion: In other words, less site-centric behavior, and more focus on getting jobs to candidates, wherever they might be. Or, for that matter, candidates to employers.
  • Redefining the mission: Job boards morph into ‘candidate acquisition tools’. As always, they exist to connect job seeker to employer – but they have more than one tool in the hypothetical belt.
  • Hyper focus: Knocking niche up another notch, with granular focus on candidates not only by job title and skill set, but also with regard to where they are in their work ‘lifecycle’. Getting ready for the first job? Transitioning? Moving up?
  • Generational understanding: Hey, after the last stock market crash, many baby boomers are going to take a raincheck on retirement – so what does that do to the Gen X / Y / etc. behind them? Does the traditional ‘one size fits all’ approach to recruitment really make sense in this scenario (actually, did it ever?)?
  • Technology:  Sites that survive will invest – significantly – in technology. Sites that don’t survive – well, they didn’t.


The thing about evolution is that it happens slowly and is by definition an adaptive process. That means that other things that are flashier and noisier can seem more important, more vital, more, well, revolutionary.


Yet what often happens is the revolution falls apart and others swoop in to pick up the nuggets of ‘usefulness’ left behind. I think smart companies instinctively know this – thus the saying ‘it hurts to be bleeding edge’.  Consider the iPad: tablets had been around for quite some time, but Apple improved the hardware and software, applied their marketing genius – and suddenly tablets were ‘the new thing’. Revolution? Nope, more like evolution.


Now (with apologies to DEVO and the Beatles) I will return you to your regularly scheduled program….

Views: 255

Comment by Katharine (Kathy) Hansen, PhD on September 20, 2011 at 11:48am
Just a little writing compliment here: "Knocking niche up another notch..."  Awesome!
Comment by Jeff Dickey-Chasins on September 20, 2011 at 11:50am
Comment by Kathryn O'Brien on September 20, 2011 at 7:50pm
I couldn't agree with you more Jeff. The "same old" classifieds on the internet just isn't going to cut it anymore. At the same time, jumping head-first onto the bandwagon can lead to an expensive product that the market doesn't want - or just isn't ready for. Smart job boards will evolve, learn from the mistakes of others, and pay attention to what their (niche) market wants and needs.


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