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How job seeker behavior affects job boards

Candidate BehaviorAs anyone who has tried to lose weight or exercise regularly will attest, changing your behavior is hard. You’re fighting years of mental and physical conditioning – and (unfortunately) many times the old habits win out.

That was the challenge that job boards faced in the mid-90s – how to change the ingrained behaviors of job seekers, to move them from searching want ads in the newspapers…to searching want ads online. It took many years, but eventually job seekers did change their habits. The majority now look first to online resources in their job hunt.

This was not an overnight or unilateral change, however – a fact that social media enthusiasts should note. If Twitter or LinkedIn are truly the ‘job board killers’ that some suggest they are, they must first change the behavior of job seekers. In essence, they have to ‘reteach’ job seekers to turn first to social media for employment opportunities – not job and career sites.

Social media companies will, of course, do their best to change job seeker behavior. It’s not an impossible task – just a challenging one that will take years of effort.

A more likely path – and one that I mentioned in a previous post – is that job boards will reengage with job seekers by integrating social media functions into their job sites.  Seekers are already visiting the sites to look for work – so it’s a natural step to turn the sites into community hubs. Many job boards have already done this – and have seen additional revenue opportunities follow. Thus, instead of trying to change job seeker behavior, the sites adapt to this new behavior while retaining the core functionality that brought people to the site in the first place – job ads.

Adaptation is one method of evolving – changing one’s behavior in response to an altered environment. Successful job boards should adapt and evolve in response to job seeker behavior – and will thrive.

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