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Job boards and department stores

department storesRemember department stores? I do. I remember going to Hubbards, our local version – riding up the escalator to the men’s department in the 2nd floor, and of course the reverse path to the toy department in the basement. You could get pretty much everything there.

That’s how job boards have functioned in online recruiting: a one-stop shop for recruitment marketing. Want a job ad? Here you go. How about a resume search? No problem. A place to promote your business? Check out our company profiles! And on. If you were an employer, job boards wanted to make it simple for you to get everything you needed. In one place.

But department stores began to suffer from the ‘specialists’. Want stuff for your bathroom? There’s a superstore for that! Toys? Another store! Kitchen stuff? Yes, another store. Each set of goods in the department store got its own store. The department stores’ market atomized. (And yes, department stores are still around, but they’re suffering).

Guess what? The same thing has happened to the job board world. Want job alerts? ZipRecruiter would love to help you with that. How about a company profile? TheMuse and Glassdoor want to own this space. Job postings? Umm….Indeed. And so on.

Each discrete function of the job board has been broken out and ‘productized‘. In some cases, new sites are reassembling the pieces into different types of offerings (think Vettery).

Is this good or bad? Neither – it just is. It’s the nature of successful businesses to cannibalize themselves over time. First, the pioneers (i.e., Sears or Monster). Then, the upstarts, breaking out a piece of the pioneers’s business model (i.e., Victoria’s Secret or Dice). And finally, the young Turks, promising something new – that often looks like something old (Amazon or Hire). It’s a cliche, but it’s true – businesses are like sharks. They move or die. Change is inevitable.

If you’ve been in the biz for a while, you already know this. But this is a reminder – look at what you do for your clients. Look at it through their eyes. Peel away the packaging and identify the real value. Then think about how you can make it better – and make it stand out in sharp relief to everything else out there. Productize it.

I think it’s better than being atomized.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. What made shopping malls great was the same thing as department stores except it extended their value proposition. Enter online shopping.

    The new HR Tech ‘marketplaces’ are trying to follow the shopping mall model, and therefore I believe they will fail… in their current incarnation.

    Imagine a huge marketplace where HR Tech vendors can connect with each other to address customer needs by ‘stacking’ solutions together with partners in a way that is customized for each unique set of customer requirements. That marketplace is just around the corner and it will be

    Our customers don’t have the time, expertise or patience to figure out what HR Tech will properly address all their needs, so why would we put up marketplaces and tell them “have fun shopping”? It’s like giving your teenage kid your credit card and saying “go to the mall and have fun shopping!”

  2. Another way to look at it might be generalist job board (department store) vs niche (specialty shop).

    But it’s true there is a lot of opportunity for job boards to market their services differently.

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