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Job boards with a twist: what you can learn from Glassdoor and LinkedIn

GlassdoorTo listen to some recruiting industry pundits, a job board is a job board is a job board (except, of course, when they’re dead). Usually what they mean is a job board = Monster or CareerBuilder; to wit, they only have job postings and resumes (of course, don’t tell that to either site – one is becoming an aggregator, and the other is turning into an end-to-end recruiting service).

Well…we have seen many permutations of that basic mythical model: sometimes you charge the candidate (TheLadders), sometimes you push ‘matched’ candidates to employers (RealMatch and others), and sometimes you ask other job seekers to rate candidates (StackOverflow and others). But for my money, the two highest-visibility job boards ‘with a twist’ are GlassDoor and LinkedIn. Why? Let me tell you!

LinkedIn, of course, was the first widely used job board to feature a public resume database and some social networking features (InMail, Groups, etc.). Of these, the public resume database made LinkedIn what it is today – rich, well-funded, and growing like a weed. Interestingly enough, one area where it is seeing increased competition is from sites like Doximity, which move the resumes back behind privacy walls (and away from the prying eyes of recruiters). (And no, LinkedIn refuses to call itself a job board – a fact that I continue to find amusing; at a recent job board conference, 3 corporate recruiters were asked if it was a job board. All said, ‘of course it is!’.)

LinkedIn continues to struggle with the right balance of exposure and privacy for its members. Obviously it’s risky to cut off access to recruiters, which remain its largest source of revenue. But it is also keenly aware that abuses by those same recruiters drive away the candidates – um, sorry, ‘LinkedIn members’. Fewer candidates also threatens another key revenue source: advertising. While I don’t expect LinkedIn to disappear anytime soon, I do expect to see it continue to experiment with how far it can wall off access to its members – without explicitly shutting down the public resume database.

Glassdoor has taken a different aspect of the ‘traditional job board’ and put it front and center. I am, of course, talking about the company profile page. The twist? Employees, ex-employees, and pretty much anyone else can publish their comments about the company on the profile page. I was initially skeptical of Glassdoor’s ability to extract revenue from employers – after all, who wants to pay a site that is running negative reviews of it? They’ve proved me wrong. (For a different take on the company profile model, look at TheMuse).

Along the way, Glassdoor has also pivoted into looking more like a job board – if you visit the site, you’ll see the traditional search bar, front and center. It’s also providing lots of useful content that of course can be repurposed and syndicated – smart move.

The lesson? Take a look at your job board. Break apart the pieces. Almost any one of them can become a prominent (if not the most prominent) part of your ‘identity’. Both LinkedIn and Glassdoor have been very successful at portraying themselves as something other than job boards simply by emphasizing different aspects of their services. In both cases, it has been a smart marketing move. You can do it too.

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