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The hybridization of job boards

First movers define categories. This is a given in marketing, and we have seen it over and over in our industry.

The ‘classic’ job board is defined by Monster of the ’90s and ’00s – chock-full of job ads, interstitials, and a million add-ons to nickle-and-dime their employer-clients. To this day, if someone says ‘I hate job boards’, they’re probably talking about a site resembling the Monster of 2002.

Professional networking sites are defined by LinkedIn, the grandaddy of them all, who popularized the public resume/profile, pesky recruiter InMails, and amorphous Groups that sometimes served their users’ needs – but sometimes let recruiters run rampant. If you’re mixing social media, networking, and recruiting together, someone is going to call you ‘the LinkedIn of….’.

Indeed essentially created the aggregator category, spidering job content from job boards, gaming Google’s SEO, and selling traffic right back to job boards – a game plan continued by latter-day aggregators. Along the way they borrowed Google’s AdWords pay-per-click model, then turned around and sold it direct to employers. Nowadays Indeed is just another job board (albeit a PPC job board), but if you say aggregator, most folks will think ‘Indeed’.

So why is any of this important to you? Because…most sites and services in the recruitment marketing industry are defined by the words ‘job board’. In reality, over the past 10 years we’ve seen the hybridization of job boards. They have done some mixing and matching – sometimes so much that they no longer offer job postings per se. For example: StackOverflow is a Q&A site for developers – but it is also one of the largest tech job boards. Or ZipRecruiter is an aggregator, a job alert provider, and a SMB-focused ATS provider, among other things. Or, Seasoned is a job board, scheduling tool, and training platform for workers in the hospitality industry.

Each of these could be called a job board – but you can see that in fact they are hybrid platforms that pull together different services and engagement devices. Now, at their core, they are similar in one key respect: they connect candidates to employers. It’s the ‘how’ that differs.

It’s also worthwhile noting that none of the above examples would call themselves a ‘job board’ – even though in some respects they are. As I’ve mentioned before, I think that’s the smart move for anyone offering a hybrid solution. Don’t let a term from the late 90s ‘box you in’. The three categories above are defined in candidate and employer minds – so unless you really are a LinkedIn clone or an Indeed-mimic, stay away from ‘professional networking site’ or ‘aggregator’. Instead, as a moderately famous band from the 70s once sang, you should ‘go your own way‘.

In the plant world, hybrids are grown to combine multiple positive traits in one plant strain. In our industry, hybrids are developed to serve specific needs for specific candidates and employers. So as you create your own particular strain, think about your ‘category’ – and choose your words carefully!

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This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I think this is a good insight to highlight. My question is to everyone on this forum or blog is how do you evolve from being just a site that post jobs and get candidates interest to being this “community”? Any learnings and tips? Thanks!

  2. Nice post – and very true.

    There’s been lots of talk about how job boards (the totaljobs, monsters etc) have ‘evolved’ and ‘adapted’ over the past few years. But have they really?

    Candidate traffic has always been a mix of search (and later on aggregators), and email alerts. That hasn’t changed. Recruiters still use job boards to post jobs and search cv databases. That also remains the same. When aggregators started sending job boards free traffic, job boards in effect became a cts by default. So the things that Zip did that seemed new (alerts, cts) – job boards were really doing that anyway. When we started Executive Placements back in 2011 job alerts was core to our strategy.

    As you say it’s all about how you present yourself.

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