Building and using job boards are two different things

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I’m building a marimba.  I’ve been a musician for years (although not a marimba player) but have never – until now – built an instrument. Believe me, building is different from playing. It helps to be a musician if you are creating an instrument – but the mindset is quite different. You’re worried about the ‘how’ – i.e., how high does that key need to be above the resonator to amplify without altering the pitch. You’re focused on the end result – you want to build an instrument that serves the musician, not one that gets in their way.

Same thing with job boards. Almost everyone you know has used a job board at some point; some folks, like recruiters and HR pros, use them every day. But what happens when one of those users decides to build a job board?

I’ve worked with many clients in this situation – recruiters or HR folks who have seen an opportunity in the employment market and want to exploit it by creating a job site. No matter how familiar they are with job boards, there’s always a moment in our work where we talk about the complexity of building a good site – and how to hide that complexity from the users.

The details can overwhelm you. There are a million decisions (not unlike building a musical instrument), each has consequences, and your experiences as a user will inevitably color your decisions. Hate long registration forms? Then yours will be short – until you discover that your employers really want more information about those job seekers.

You may discover that it’s often easier to have specialists working on your site – instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, as it were. Job board software vendors live and breathe job boards; they’ve had to face all of the easy and most of the hard problems.  So although you give up the complete free of the DIY approach – you also give up having to solve every single problem.

But at some point, you have to use your board – just like a job seeker or recruiter would. You can’t make excuses for its shortcomings or incomprehensibility. You simply take notes of everything that gets between your customers and their goals – and then you fix it.

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