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Job boards vs. LinkedIn is like Kindle vs. iPad

job boards vs linkedinThe following is a guest post by Felix Wetzel, Group Marketing Director at

A couple of weeks ago I bought the new Kindle. It wasn’t an easy decision as I kept wondering if I was better off buying an iPad. Yes, the iPad is more expensive but at the same time it fulfils more functions than just that of a reader. Then I came across the article “Kindle vs. iPad: A False Choice” by Lance Ulanoff that neatly highlights the difference, but also the different purpose of the two devices . So, it all became clear, I wanted to have the best reader (which as an added bonus was also cheaper) and so I bought a Kindle. I can only recommend it.

The Kindle/iPad relationship is also one that can be used to illustrate the relationship between LinkedIn and Job boards. Some time ago, I stated that LinkedIn is a next generation job board, but I have to revise my judgement. It isn’t a next generation job board; it never has been and never will be. LinkedIn remains “just” a professional network.  And I bet Reid Hoffman & co have no intention of being anything different. Why should they? And nor would I. They can tap into many different revenue streams; in fact there are as many revenue streams as there are reasons that people use LinkedIn. The choice of use of the individual is the real defining factor (remember razorblades in Africa?) and the real powerbase.

I primarily use LinkedIn as an address book and as a kind of an extranet that allows private conversations and organisation with a selected group of people. Others use it to find sales leads, share their views in communities or  find knowledge via LinkedIn answers – it has a marvellous array of different uses. But besides from recruiters, I never heard a user say that their primary use of  LinkedIn is to find a job. I don’t debate that everyone on LinkedIn keeps their profile updated to be attractive for potential suitors to come along and offer a job. But the real job hunting is done elsewhere.

The many different uses for LinkedIn put it into the position of the iPad. Whereby job boards are the Kindle, built for one purpose and for one purpose only, permanently refining, permanently delving deeper into job seeking and recruitment. That’s why it’s important for all the job boards to remember that everything we do – be it exhibitions, the integration of communities, the enabling of social networks etc– is about helping people find jobs that improve their life. Anything outside of this, anything without this very single minded purpose, is just a distraction and will ultimately weaken the service. In the same way, I don’t want to receive emails on my Kindle, or chat, or watch movies – no, I only want to read and to enjoy this experience, and that I do.

Job boards and LinkedIn (or professional networks) will be used by the same individuals but for different reasons. It’s not a matter of choosing between the two, it’s a matter of using each one for what they were designed for – or in the words of Lance Ulanoff, “as false a choice as choosing between the Kindle or the iPad, and the sooner we all stop asking people to make it, the better.”

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Felix

    As you know I am a big fan of the Kindle so appreciate the comparison. The simplicity and clarity of the kindle is its’ biggest strength. Focus is key. I agree job boards have a similar role whereas Linkedin is as you suggest more like an iPad. In the same way there are now many Pads there are many social networks so the decision gets harder every day for recruiters. There are of course many job boards but a typical strategy will be a horizontal job board supported by relevant niche boards; quite an easy process. Maybe in time recruiters will take a similar approach to which communities/social networks they tap into? At the moment it is all Facbook, Twitter and Linkedin but with too much glitz and not enough purpose.

    In the iPad article you mention, the writer talks about someone who carries 4 devices with each having a clearly defined purpose. Going forward I see the attraction strategy being as diverse with relevancy being a key decision maker; albeit supported by much better tracking of the various channels.

    Social is yet one more channel for the recruiter to consider. Job boards are pretty much standard now and will be around for a long time whereas social is only just getting started. The interesting development will be as per the social network and an ecommerce site i.e. talk about product on Facebook, rate and buy at Amazon with your 1-click account. Now, if job boards could replicate Amazon 1-click then they really would strengthen their position!


  2. Peter, thanks for your comment. Yes, the different channels can get more confusing for recruiters, that’s why I would advise every recruiter to assess how candidate’s use different job hunting channels, instead of just looking from a recruiters’ perspective and wishlist. The jobseeker’s realities outweigh recruiter’s desires – that shift in itself will be the first step to minimise the complexity.

    Social is just starting out – but I think it won’t be job boards versus social, it will be job boards using social but with the clear purpose above. That will be the second step to minimise the complexity. Here’s some more detail about this: &

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if we will see something resembling a 1-click account fairly soon. It’s just a matter of alignment and of positioning within the recruiter and job seeker’s mind. That would be the third step to minimise complexity – and you are right – potentially the most powerful as it brings it all together.

  3. […] LinkedIn is obviously a growing and influential force in many markets, including recruitment. But not necessarily in job seeking. As each has a different purpose, I believe that LinkedIn and Job boards will co-exist and continue to thrive, not dissimilar to the iPad and the Kindle. That’s the analogy I have used in my guest post for Jeff Dickey-Chasins, better known as The Job Board Doctor, to examine the position of LinkedIn and its impact on jobboards. Click here to read the full article: Jobboards vs LinkedIn vs. Joboards is like Kindle vs. iPad […]

  4. […] Wie het artikel goed leest, zou ook tot een wat ruimere conclusie kunnen komen: recruitment kan niet om internet heen. Zoekmachinemarketing, recruitmentsites en zelfs de jobboards, waarvan het overlijden nu al geruime tijd wordt aangekondigd, ze zijn er allemaal nog steeds. Ze innoveren. En ze zullen voorlopig dus ook wel blijven. […]

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