Did LinkedIn hijack the resume database? And what should job boards do?

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As recently as several years ago, it was considered standard operating procedure for job seekers to post their resumes on as many job boards as possible. Why? Visibility. Employers and recruiters used the job board resume databases to find possible hires, so it made sense to have your resume in as many places as possible. Job boards encouraged this behavior because it made the resume access features easier to sell to employers.

Enter LinkedIn. It was certainly not the first ‘public resume’ site, but it quickly became the most successful. As mentioned in this insightful article, LinkedIn provided candidates with a place to brag – and (at least at first) a free source of resumes for recruiters. It then successfully added numerous services such as Answers and a bunch of places for advertisers to advertise. Along the way it appeared to suck a lot of the life out of the job board resume business.

Or did it? Research continues to show that job boards get between 20 and 40 percent of their total revenues from resume search and access. That figure appears to be unchanged since the mid 2000s. ‘Free’ resume sites continue to flourish. What’s really going on?

The short answer: job seekers are not stupid. It still makes sense for them to post their resume on the sites their target employers use.

The long answer: If a job seeker sees a company advertising on a particular job board, he/she will post a resume there. Then they will also post their resume/profile on LinkedIn, because those same employers and recruiters might find them there. They’ll continue posting their resume on certain sites until they are certain that there is no likelihood of a potential employer finding them there.

So what are the implications for job boards? Should they ignore LinkedIn, per the reasons above, and assume that the resume database will continue to contribute its piece of the revenue pie?

No. Here’s why:

  • Critical mass: the number and quality of profiles in LinkedIn for a particular industry will at some point (in fact, may already have) become so large that key employers will decide that they can save money and time by relying on one vendor: LinkedIn. They may convince themselves that this is a smart decision by locating their friends and colleagues in LinkedIn.
  • Technology: Many job board resume search tools are abysmal. In a limited universe, this may not matter – but if your particular niche has met the LinkedIn ‘critical mass’ as per above, your search tool may drive the nail in the proverbial coffin as far as the employer is concerned.
  • Atmosphere: Social media is in the air that job seekers breathe – and it’s part of the fabric of life for newer candidates. They may continue to post their resumes in ‘gated’ databases on job boards, but that doesn’t mean they want to. Long-standing privacy concerns appear to have been decimated by social media’s omnipresence – so job seekers may gravitate toward the most ‘open’, exposed places to post their skills.

So what’s a job board to do? I have a few ideas:

  • Remember why employers use your site: They want to hire the best people, as quickly as possible, with as little hassle as possible. Is your current resume database helping them – or driving them nuts?
  • Lower the hassle factor: Make it as simple and straightforward as possible for candidates to post their profiles. Tie into popular social media tools. Don’t have a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
  • Give options to top-level candidates: In other words, give them control over their privacy in a way they can’t get from LinkedIn – or other job boards.
  • Pump up the quality: Ask employers to describe what aspects of a resume indicate ‘quality’. Then make sure your resume database provides that information. Invest in technology and staff to screen resumes.
  • Provide services that LinkedIn can’t – or won’t: You’re competing with a huge company – which means by definition that it simply can’t or won’t provide certain types of services. Ask your employers what they want – and sell it to them.
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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jade Bourelle

    Job boards can expand their value to clients by allowing a client to search candidate data from sources other than their own site. Why limit their value to only the candidates they have available in their database? Including allowing clients to search linked in FROM their job board site. Email me and I will show you how we are enabling job boards to change their business.

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