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2016: online recruiting gets bought and sold

bought and soldAs the year limps to an end, I thought it would be useful to take a look back on what I think were some of the key events and trends. The job board industry benefited from the growth in employment – and tightening of labor in some key sectors – but the atomization of the market continued. Lots of companies launched, lots got funded, and several were bought and sold, or put up for sale.

So, where to begin? Well…

  • Indeed gets into staffingIn its continuing bid for world recruiting domination, Indeed rolled out Indeed Prime – their sourcing and staffing service currently aimed at the tech market. Will it expand? Ahem – does the sun rise in the east? Expect to see more sectors covered in 2017, in more markets. After all, Indeed is owned by a staffing company. Which brings me to….
  • Randstad buys MonsterThe international staffing monster Randstad bought the formerly monstrous job board Monster for literally pennies on the dollar. How come? Why, after years on the ‘for sale’ table did Monster finally get sold? Revenue and candidates. Revenue – as in the still substantial amount of moolah that Monster generates from its worldwide clients. Candidates – as in the millions of job seekers and resumes that can be fed into Randstad’s staffing machine. It almost made me wonder if another ‘monster’ would get purchased by a staffing firm. Alas, I was wrong….
  • Microsoft buys LinkedInIt was the purchase that sent pundits into punditry heaven. Why did Microsoft buy? Why did LinkedIn sell? Was it too much? Too little? How would it work? Why would it work? Was it the death of job boards? Well, as with the Randstad/Monster event, Microsoft saw LOTS OF DATA and they really wanted it. Not to mention healthy revenue streams. Is Salesforce kicking themselves for missing this one? Only time will tell. But the fever to buy and sell seemed to get a couple of other companies hot and bothered….
  • CareerBuilder & Dice put themselves up for sale: Two highly visible job boards put up the ‘for sale’ sign in 2016 – for two very different reasons. CareerBuilder just couldn’t get enough love from their parent company TEGNA, so they may end up becoming part of another staffing company (Kelly? Manpower?). Dice (or more properly, DHI) is just feeling the pain of uneven earnings across its site portfolio, as well as competitive pressures from new companies around the world. Does this signal the end of the world? Umm, well, ….
  • Facebook jumps into JobsMaybe they just got tired of Craigslist making so much money from cheap ads. At any rate, Facebook began phasing in a Jobs tab that would allow companies to advertise and hire directly inside the FB universe. Yes, it is clunky. No, it’s not going to help Target find 3000 new hires quickly. But FB  Jobs may well be a go-to solution for small and medium sized businesses. Which brings me to my final observation….
  • Job postings are commoditiesIt’s true! You can find job postings anywhere – even on Facebook! When something becomes a commodity, prices tend to drop – as they have been doing in the job board world for years. That’s ok. Both you and I know that the real value of job boards for employers is awareness among candidates. Job boards consolidate candidates – so employers don’t have to. Job boards engage candidates – so they’re ready to listen to employers. Focusing exclusively on job postings can quickly make a job board irrelevant.

So you’re probably thinking, “Well, 2016 was kind of crazy. Surely 2017 will be a bit more relaxed.” Yup. Well…I have two words for you: recession (overdue) and Trump.

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