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Job postings are commodities – really!

commoditiesNote: The Doctor is out for the next few weeks, helping his sister deal with her cancer. This is from last year, but still quite relevant, particularly given the progress with Google’s Cloud Jobs API!

I was discussing Indeed with some other folks at the JobG8 conference (what a surprise, right?), and one person made a comment that really stuck with me.

“Google can wreck Indeed’s business anytime they want, simply by changing their search algorithms.”

Yes, that’s always been true. And up to this point, Google hasn’t chosen to do so. They’ve instead been quite happy to take Indeed’s (and all other aggregators and job boards) money. That may change. It may not. But for me, it really underscored another fact.

Job postings are commodities. They are everywhere and there are companies in the market that are continually driving down the value of these postings. That’s just the way it is (and has been for at least 3 or 4 years).

Yet many job boards still act as if job postings are not commodities (which, by definition, tend to be low margin). They see themselves as they always were: sites that sell job postings.

But it’s true, you may respond. Look at my site! I’m getting 80% of my revenue from job postings!!

Well…I’m here to tell you that your days are numbered. You’re getting 80% of your revenue from a commodity – and you are on a race to the bottom.

Smart job boards realized this years ago. They began migrating from ‘we sell job postings’ to ‘we sell access to targeted, interested candidates’. Why? Because (a) it was true, and (b) it was more profitable. If everyone is selling job postings, but you’re selling candidate access, you’re the one that’s different – the one that employers seek out. (And please note: I’m not saying that you should dump job postings – as a commodity, everyone needs them – just don’t depend on them to help you thrive).

LinkedIn played this card to perfection (we’ll see what happens now that they are in Microsoft’s embrace). Plenty of niche sites have done this as well, adding new/old ways to reach candidates like targeted emails, career fairs, prescreened and vetted candidate shortlists, company videos, and more. Why are they offering all of these non-job-posting products?

Because they aren’t in the business of selling job postings. They’re in the business of selling candidate access.

Don’t get in a down-market race to sell a commodity. Even if Google pulls the plug on Indeed, there will be plenty of other companies that are happy to play in that commodity market.

Grow your revenue by focusing on your candidates. It’s really that simple.

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