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Job boards must evolve or die

job boards evolveCan job boards evolve? Over a year ago, I wrote about the changes in the job board world. I also promised myself I wouldn’t write about job boards ‘dying’ for at least a year. Well, time’s up!

Are some job boards dying? Well, of course they are. All industries have some companies that are dying – and some that are growing. So, through the Darwinian fight for survival, some job boards die.

But does that mean that all job boards are dying? Of course not. If anything, there has been an explosion of niche sites over the past several years.  Why? Job boards can be very efficient at bringing employer and job seeker together.

Instead of arguing about the disappearance of an entire industry, I think it is more useful to look at why some job boards do die. Smart job boards do just this – they study and analyze the failures to avoid becoming one of the statistics.

So…here are a few reasons why any given job board might fail:

  • Forgot what business it was in: Job boards deliver quality candidates for employers at a competitive price. When a job board fails this basic task, it’s on the way out.
  • Didn’t pay attention to its customers: Job boards have 2 sets of customers: employers and job seekers. Both have to be treated well and with respect.
  • Didn’t understand its customers: Not all employers and/or job seekers are alike. Dentists have different needs from food production managers.  A job board should understand exactly what differentiates its particular employers and candidates.
  • Failed to invest in technology: For boards that have been around since the mid-to-late 90s, failure to keep up with the latest search and site technology was easy – no real consequences. That’s changed – increased competition from within and without the job board industry means that a site has to get better – or get passed by.
  • Ignored changes in candidate behavior: How have candidates changed since 1995? Hmm…how about ubiquitous cell phone use? A computer (or two) on every desktop? Use of search engines first to find anything (including jobs)? Willingness to disclose lots of info online? An ever-shortening attention span?
  • Failed to provide meaningful metrics: If your business is connecting employers to candidates, you ought to have some solid stats to back up what you do. “That’s too hard?” Sorry – other sites are doing it.
  • Failed to brand: When most job sites have names like “JobsIn…” or “ABCJobs”, you know you need branding. Unfortunately, most job boards haven’t learned that lesson. Strong brands survive (and are more profitable); weak or non-existent brands are always a liability.
  • Did not understand social media: Let’s face it – you need to understand something before you can really use it effectively in your business. Some job boards really understand how it works (I’m thinking College Recruiter and JobShouts!), but many don’t. Waiting for social media to go away isn’t an answer.

Evolving is much better than fading away. I hope most job boards evolve!

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Great post! I agree with all of your points. I’m so happy that for the most part, JobShouts is abiding by these tips and continuing to grow & refine. As a former recruiter, I founded JobShouts because I recognized a need for change in the industry and I had a technology partner that could make it happen. We both understood Social Media and the life cycle of the employer/candidate relationship. I think some boards had their head buried in the sand “waiting for it to go away”!

  2. Hey Jeff,

    Thanks for a great summary. There is a great deal of cultural inertia in recruitment & the job search – Job Boards have not felt the compulsion to evolve their services from the 90’s – because we’ve all (employers, job seekers, agencies) defaulted to using them regardless of service quality. It’s taken the combined force of social media + a massive economic downturn to finally force the Job Boards into doing something. The question is what exactly? Specialising into niche sites is one way, but to my knowledge most of these are start up/market entrant types. What are the big boys doing? I’m thinking it’s got to be video – we’ve been discussing this at length over at Wise Man Say and we think that this is the next step Job Boards have take to stay relevant. I’d be interested to know whether any US job boards have gone aggressively into rich media? Nobody in the UK has, though there are rumours that the TotalJobsGroup is working on a video platform.

    Thanks for a great post


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