Net neutrality is going away. What happens to recruitment marketing?

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The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is poised to vote on Dec. 14 to rescind the so-called net neutrality rules championed by former President Obama. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal would repeal rules that currently bar ISPs from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content. The vote isn’t in doubt: with Pai in charge, the anti-neutrality votes have a 3-2 edge. So…what impact will the loss of net neutrality have on recruitment marketing in the U.S.?

  • ISPs will now be able to charge content suppliers – like job boards – for ‘fast lanes’. Companies that don’t pay could be relegated to ‘slow lanes’. So candidates may search for jobs on Indeed and get blazingly fast results – but wait and wait on a smaller job board that doesn’t have the funds to pay the ISP.
  • The fees will line ISP pockets – but (not surprisingly) the rates these ISPs charge users won’t go down. This is a big win for the telecoms.

Think about it. Let’s say your job board (or a site that you refuse to call a job board but somehow provides job listings to candidates) becomes, through excellent marketing and SEO, a very popular site. Traffic goes up – WAY up. What happens? The ISPs that feed your site to candidates will ask you for ‘supplemental fees’ in order for your site to maintain its speed and accessibility. If you don’t pay, your popular site will suddenly act like it’s being served up from a single computer deep under the ocean, with sketchy power and connectivity. Your candidates will grow frustrated waiting for their search results and job postings, and they’ll move on to other sites.

Or…ISPs decide that they will offer their users ‘career enhancement channels’. For only an additional $10.95 a month, users can access certain ‘pre-selected’ or ‘curated’ job boards and employment sites – sites that (for some strange reason) have incredibly snappy response and no problems with video and audio content. Many candidates will fork out the extra dough because they a) want to see those jobs, and b) have been well-trained by cable companies to pay for ‘bundles’. The sites that paid to be in the bundle do fine – and those that don’t disappear.

So who gets hurt by the loss of net neutrality? Well…pretty much every job board and recruiting site that can’t pay every ISP out there for a ‘fast lane’ or ‘premium slot’. Some – perhaps many – will decide to increase the prices they charge for their recruiting products.

And let’s not forget about all the employers out there. Are they going to fork out extra dollars to each and every ISP just so their career site can be easily accessed by candidates? Maybe the Wal-Marts and Microsofts of the world will – but most employers won’t. In fact, I’m betting most of them won’t even know that they’ve become invisible.

So sometime in 2018, the U.S. internet will make a big move – backward. Candidates will see big sites that run wonderfully – and niche sites that run like molasses. Sites that make use of employer videos will either go belly up – or be absorbed by bigger sites that can afford the ISP fees. Choice – in the form of lots of different niche and association sites – will dwindle, at least from a candidate’s perception. And employers will once again fade into the background.

Get ready.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Alan Whitford

    Hi Jeff
    Spot on as usual. The so called GIG economy, the SMEs and more will all fall off the table. Another example of the administration’s full scale assault on anything that the Obama administration achieved.

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