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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 one, this 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 level 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!!

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4 comments… add one

  • Cindy McGeever

    November 16, 2011, 1:37 pm

    I would guess that job board revenues are up in part because third party recruiting fees have declined over the past few years. With the unemployment rate high and the economy still in a “jobless recovery”, companies are not as quick to pay a recruiting fee when a good job posting can bring in qualified candidates.

  • Eric@MinnesotaTechJobs.com

    November 29, 2011, 7:59 pm

    I totally agree. I have been a recruiter for over a decade, and I have seen again and again that a main source of hire are candidates from job boards. Heck, that is one of the first things most recruiters do…post it on a job board. As long as this is the case, job boards are not dying.

  • Lee

    November 30, 2011, 5:55 am

    I can’t see how Job Boards will die out, i know of a couple that simply packed up and went home but that has more to do with expensive operating costs and lack of development and simply buying an off the shelf service which quickly became out dated.

    When you consider the amount of commission a company pays to a recruiter for finding the right candidate and then look at how much it would have cost that company to simply place an advert on one or two leading job boards, job boards in fact make them self prime candidates, in a recession or not.

  • Niall Kelly

    February 9, 2012, 9:01 am

    We are now 10 years in operation running 4 niche sites here in Ireland (with 2 more to follow this year) and we are very confident for 2012. We can see that we are taking on more and more of the big brands that traditionally used the big generalist players but they are not delivering the quality of candidate as they used to.

    I think maybe the candidates have grown with us by realising that Niche is more more effective in their searches also.

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