Zombie job boards (will never die)

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zombies-silhouettes-packNOTE: The Doctor is off this week, enjoying some R&R. This is a repeat of a post from last year that is still quite relevant. Enjoy!

A few years back during the deep, dark recession, a few articles appeared about zombie job boards (not to mention jobs for zombies). These sites staggered forward despite a lack of traffic, audience, or employers, refusing to die, filling the internet with aggregated jobs. Nothing seemed to kill them. Not even lack of business.

Jump forward – now the job market is more or less going boinkers, and many job boards are seeing great revenue numbers. So why worry about zombies now?

Because, as a character in a movie might say, “you might be one without knowing it.” The horror! In the public interest – and because I don’t want to run into a zombie at the next job board conference – let me offer a few questions to determine if you are or are in danger of becoming a zombie job board (plus my well-reasoned answers below):

  1. Is your job board clearly differentiated from its competitors? In other words, if you are one of 5 marketing job boards, is there a clear reason/value for picking you over the other guys?
  2. Do you get more than 40% of your traffic from aggregators?
  3. Do you have a logo?
  4. Do you offer any products other than job postings and resume access?
  5. Is your revenue per employer account flat or declining?
  6. Do you systemically talk with or survey your employers each year?
  7. Do you systemically talk with or survey your candidates each year?
  8. Can you sum up your unique value proposition to employers and candidates in 12 words or less? (Bonus: Can your employees?)

See? That wasn’t so hard. Just 8 questions to prove that your board isn’t becoming one of the undeadBut what kinds of answers was the Doctor looking for, you may ask? Well…..

  1. Your job board should have a clear reason for being, a clear value or advantage over every close competitor. If you don’t – well, you’re living on borrowed time. You have a choice – ‘low, low prices’ or differentiation. I would choose the latter, myself.
  2. As I’ve said before, a little aggregator traffic is o.k. – but a lot is not. (Kind of like sugar, bacon, and many other modern amenities, come to think of it). Why? Just say an aggregator (maybe a really big aggregator) decided to pull the plug. Is a loss of 40% of your traffic going to hurt your business? I bet it would.
  3. If you don’t have a logo, you better have some other way of visually ‘marking‘ yourself for the thousands of employers and hundreds of thousands of job seekers out there (says the consultant without a logo on his website!).  Logos are visual ‘shorthand’ for your brand, your service – you.
  4. Both job postings and resume access have become commoditized – in other words, ‘low, low prices’. Plus commodities are what everyone has. Which means your customers have no particular reason to use you. Which is not good.
  5. Hiring is up, spending is up – so your revenue per employer overall should be up. If it isn’t, you need to find out why.
  6. If you’re not talking to your clients in a systematic, detailed, and consistent manner, you’re screwed. Because you don’t know a) if they like you; b) why they do (or don’t) like you; c) why they are buying anything; and d) why they are doing what they are doing.
  7. See #6. Candidates don’t usually buy directly from you – but they drive the employers that do.
  8. If you can’t articulate your value in one sentence….well, you may be screwed. Yes, I know it’s hard. Yes, I know you have to think about what is the MOST IMPORTANT THING you do for your audience. That means you can’t jam everything and the kitchen sink in it. But if you do this right, you’ll be laser-focused on your key value – and everyone else in your organization will be, too. Think how powerful that would be.

So if you had 4  or more incorrect answers…you’re on your way to becoming a zombie job board. You may stagger onward, you may even make money, but you will not flourish – and you’ll be ripe for the first machete-swinging competitor who wanders into your path.

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  1. Pingback: Social Media vs Job Boards? | Careerleaf

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