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Technique and technology: what’s new, what’s old, and what works

I recently wrote a post for HR Examiner that looked at the profusion of choice for recruiters these days – how they are presented with lots of tools to do their jobs. It got me thinking about how things are similar for job boards. Never before has the industry been presented with so many options for improving and expanding their services. Whether it’s resume parsing, contextual  search, ‘talent communities’, social recruiting, video interviewing and resumes, or AdWord optimization, job boards have access to lots of technology and approaches that promise to improve their ROI for employers.

Which brings me to this: in the quest for the next ‘new’ thing, I think that we sometimes forget to focus on what works.

An example: one of the earliest job board innovations was the lowly job alert . It was a masterpiece of simplicity: the job seeker entered his/her job search criteria, including job title, location, industry, etc., and once a day/week/whatever, the job board ran the search against its job database, then emailed the matching positions to the job seeker. Easy, simple – and effective. In fact, apart from actually searching for jobs on the site, job alerts remain the most popular feature of a job board, according to this year’s survey of job seekers. Yes, it’s simple – even kind of boring. But like a good pair of shoes that actually fit and cushion your feet (as opposed to something with narrow toes and high heels), a job alert brings jobs to the candidate in an easily usable and consumable way.

So what’s wrong with that?

Nothing. Sometimes old (and simple) technology trumps new (and complicated) technology.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am first in line to push job boards to invest in technology. Too many sites have lame search engines, poor posting structure that makes finding the right job too hard, and less-than-friendly tools (not to mention a lack of a mobile interface!). But always, the goal when investing in technology is to focus on what works…and to make everything work better, for both candidates and employers.

So…what works on your site? And (ahem) what doesn’t?

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