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Are job boards tanking? The problem with very little data

job boards tankingAre job boards tanking? If you read this blog, then you have at least a passing interest in job boards – so it’s likely that you saw the news last week that Monster is laying off 400 employees and missed its quarterly earnings/revenue targets.

Now, this is the type of news that many pundits of various stripes will take as endorsement of their belief that job boards are heading off the cliff, soon to vanish forever. It is not good news – particularly for the affected Monster employees.

But is it indicative of the job board industry as a whole? I don’t think so. Here’s why:

  • It’s a single data point: Yes, Monster is big. But so is CareerBuilder, and they seem to be doing quite well, thank you. They’re both big, general job sites. One is up, the other is down. Monster had a bad quarter.
  • Monster has some baggage: As in a HotJobs acquisition that might well be weighing their results down.
  • It’s public: A good chunk of the job board industry is privately held. In fact, the number of publicly-held job boards is quite small – Dice, Monster, and a few others. What is happening in a single, quarterly-goals-driven public company probably does not represent what is happening in the vast majority of sites out there.

So are job boards tanking? Monster had a bad quarter. Some of that can be attributed to weak employment growth in general – but as we know, demand in certain segments (tech, healthcare, skilled trades) is growing rapidly. If you’re a niche site focused in those areas, you probably had a good quarter. Likewise, if you’re a niche site rather than a general site, you probably had a good quarter (or year, actually). Recruiters have found that niche sites typically yield fewer but higher quality candidates than the general sites – thus improving hiring efficiency and cost.

The recruitment sector is big and complicated. Job boards are part of the picture – as are ATSs, RPOs, social recruiting vendors, and others. Each are competing for their share of the recruitment pie – and each would like to see their slice grow while others diminish. That’s just the way the world works.

Are job boards tanking? Well, um…I take this information with a grain – no, a shaker of salt.

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Jeff, have you or has anyone defined anywhere what exactly a job board is and what it isn’t? Who lives in this world of neat lines between ATS and job board, job board and social networking site?

  2. Good point, Gregg. For example, I consider LinkedIn a job board – but many folks would consider it a social networking site. Monster and other sites offer ATS-like functionality – but I’m sure Taleo would say they are NOT a job board. This leads into another issue (common in the technology world): the name for a service (“job board”) no longer reflects reality for many of the services out there. So you’re right, there aren’t any neat lines.

  3. Good post Jeff, I find it hard to believe that CareerBuilder had such a good quarter after looking through MWW’s numbers – they’re not good at all. The steepness in the International segment is really surprising to me (could be largely cyclical). Be interesting to hear your thoughts on LNKD from this morning.

  4. Always find these conversations interesting. Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn need to decide if they are a networking or recruiting platform. One is social,very social and the other is professional and both are used by passive users so is this really a threat to the job board market. Do you really want a potential employer looking at your facebook account? What about that picture of me on Friday night, why did my friend tag me? All have a very important part to play but a job board does what it says on the tin – promotes jobs to active jobseekers.

  5. Good piece this. To me LinkedIn is a professional networking site BUT runs on the ideals of what I believe a contemporary job board should now stand for: engagement.

    ‘Engagement’ is becoming an over-used word in the recruitment industry, but it is the bet way to describe the evolved expectations of job seekers, hirers and occasional voyeurs. And perhaps this has contributed to Monster’s poor quarter?

    I’m just putting it out there that whilst I believe the behavioural change work being undertaken by key figures within the organisation is exceptional, the generic nature Monster does not lend itself to individually relevant information/content job board users now crave.

    So back to LinkedIn: for me it’s an enormous engagement tool, with an equally large jobs portal nailed onto the front. Does this make it a job board? Not to me it doesn’t – but it’s a damn good impression of one.

    Content. Engagement. Jobs. A bit like the stuff I do!!

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