Are big job destination sites a thing of the past?

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Back in the day – say, 3 or 4 years ago – if you were looking for a job, you typically visited a big job board like Monster, an aggregator like Indeed, a few niche sites, and a few company sites. The large ‘destination’ sites like Monster did everything in their power to draw Mr. Job Seeker to their URL – Superbowl ads, wacky web promos, and even cartoon figures. Aggregator sites flew under the radar – they depended on search engine visibility to entice their visitors. The niche and company sites focused on being visible to the people in their particular industry.

Things change.

Jobs are widely distributed across multiple sites, in ads, via Tweets, Facebook status updates, and more (much of this driven by search engines and aggregators). Nowadays, first stop for most job seekers is a search engine. If they’re adventuresome, perhaps they delve into the wild west world of Twitter. But more and more, the expectation is that (a) any job can be found if you search the Internet long enough; and (b) jobs should come to you.

If this is indeed true, what does it mean for destination sites like Monster, CareerBuilder, TheLadders, and other heavily marketed, generalist sites? Has their time come and gone?

I see it playing out as a decision on the part of job seekers about efficiency and emotion. Is it more efficient to go to a big general site to find that perfect job? Or is it more effective to rely on Google to ferret out the jobs? And which do they trust more?

There are several factors that might sway job seekers one direction or another:

  • Laziness: After all, doesn’t Google index everything? So why should I need to use anything else?
  • Fear: What if Google missed something – maybe a perfect job that only (insert job board name here) had? I’d be a fool not to check.
  • Belief: As in ‘I believe that the jobs on (insert job board name here) are fake and junk. I trust Google – surely none of the jobs it finds are fake.
  • Disbelief: As in ‘It’s too easy to search for jobs in one place. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything. My job search has to be better if I use multiple sources.”

The bottom line: if enough job seekers decide – no matter how much marketing is directed to them, no matter how many white papers are written – that they would rather use search engines, social media, et. al. to locate their jobs, the destination sites are toast.

I might add, that’s a big if. Why?

1) Never underestimate the power of marketing.

2) Never underestimate the difficulty of changing millions of job seekers’ deeply ingrained habits.

But it’s something to think about, eh?

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Charles Purdy, Monster Senior Editor

    Thanks for an interesting question — the answer to which is clearly no. The first reason a job seeker should stay attached to Monster.com is our customer base: 97% of Fortune 1000 companies, as well as local companies in every state and region of the U.S. — that adds up to more than a million job posts at any given time. And it’s important to note that many of our customers buy our state-of-the-art semantic resume search to source candidates from our database before (or instead of) posting a job anywhere.

    At Monster, we don’t think social media and Monster is an “either/or” choice. Job seekers should be using both, because both have their benefits. As a research and networking tool, social media definitely has its pluses (this is one reason Monster is so deeply invested in our professional networking app on Facebook, BeKnown).

    Job boards aren’t static, unchanging entities. At Monster, we’re responding to new technologies and to the needs of our employer customers with advances in resume search and other new products, and to the changing behaviors of job seekers with products like BeKnown and our suite of mobile apps.

    Finally, I think you’ve left a very important part of the equation our of your post. You discuss job boards, social media, search, and job seekers. But you don’t discuss employers and their habits, behaviors, and attitudes — obviously, this is a key part of the equation. And this is Monster’s area of specialty, since employers are our customers — by the hundreds of thousands. We can say that they want simplified apply streams ,the ability to easily find the perfect candidates, and the guaranteed reach of a global company with important newspaper partnerships. That’s what we provide them — and as we continue to innovate, we will continue to do so more effectively.

    Thanks again for starting an interesting discussion.

  2. Mac Byrd

    Its an interesting question, Jeff, and one that many people are wrestling with daily along with a sense of greater urgency as work get harder and harder to find. With an average of now 30+ months to find a job here in the US, desperate job seekers may be questioning the success rates of job-boards in general. I have read that most of the big job boards average a 6.3 % success rate. If that’s true, then the converse of that is an 93.7% failure rate.
    It might be a question of efficiencies, not in the sourcing of warm bodies and calling them candidates, but in the filtering and qualifying of the job opportunities with the candidates skill-sets.
    How are the big job boards (and search engines) addressing the issue of eliminating the internet ‘noise’ – unqualified candidates and inappropriate jobs – being delivered ‘in-masse’ to both job seekers and hiring corporations?
    Do you know what kind of structured search and data-matching technologies are being developed (either inside of or outside the ‘cloud’) to address this issue from both the job boards and search engine perspectives as well as the job-seekers perspective?
    I think perhaps that is the $ 68.7 billion question…

  3. Job Board Doctor

    Mac, I can tell you that roughly 20-30% of the startups I work with or cover are focused on ‘job matching’ or ‘candidate matching’ solutions. Monster’s 6Sense is another example of trying to address this. I doubt that there will be one ‘home run’ solution – rather, a bunch of steady improvements that may leave us with better results in the next few years.

  4. Job Board Doctor

    Charles, thanks for the well thought out reply. I agree that job boards aren’t static, nor are Monster (or other sites) ignoring social media. But I’m not so clear that the answer is ‘no’. I can easily imagine a future in which a job seeker no longer visits a big job site, but instead uses a tool (like a search engine) to access multiple job boards and employer sites. Combine that with some level of job matching, and you have a compelling product for job seekers. As far as employers go – I left them out on purpose. Why? Because employers go where job seekers are. If you keep your job seekers happy, your employers will stay. If not, well….

  5. Chris

    Good thoughts Jeff. I going to be frank here. People keep using these solutions, along with others, because there is little in alternatives.

    These discussions tend to focus on the technology alone when that isn’t the underlying problem. The industry continues to try and correct for symptoms rather than the customer problem. While I won’t address the specifics here I will say this – it isn’t job boards dying, nor the sole application of new technologies that is going to fix the problem – a holistic approach to correcting the underlying disconnect between the industry and it’s customers are what is going to fix the problem.

    I’m sorry to be blunt here, but I have talked with many, many customers over the last two years and, regardless of usage statistics, both companies and professionals are NOT satisfied with current online offerings – both in the traditional job boards and social media applications.

    While I agree good job matching technology will help with spam issues, it is not the be all end all, nor is it the most important issue to be corrected in the eyes of customers.

    But that, is a discussion for another day.

  6. Lee

    Personally i found from both sides of the coin, is that some companies simply don’t want to or have the budget to pay to advertise on big job boards like monster, especially if they have multiple jobs to advertise and in my industry that is often the case and so they will then opt for maybe a more industry specific and cheaper job board.

    That being the case i often find that rather than trawling through the big name job boards and the smaller industry specific ones it is easier to simply carryout a Google search to try and locate that evading job vacancy. I think also with the introduction of sites that simply pull a job boards jobs and advertise them on their own site, means that using google, bing, yahoo etc is a great way to find jobs. I don’t rule out visiting big named job boards and even the smaller industry specific ones, i just use it to further enhance my searches.

  7. Ameer Sherif, CTO BasharJobs

    I believe “traditional” job boards are a thing of the past (that includes the most known and early sites). That’s because they are inefficient. The majority of job sites base their marketing on quantity (number of job seekers and jobs) not quality. I believe this will have to change for job seekers to trust job sites again. We’re personally facing lots of difficulties trying to convince people in the Middle East to use online recruitment sites because it has a very bad reputation due to previous players in the field. Job sites should really focus on getting more people employed, not on making the most profit out of selling job posts and CV search!

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