When job boards get big – really big – they start acting like a typical big company. What does that mean? Well…
- They are smarter than you: It’s one of those ‘totally obvious’ arguments – their site is 10 million times more popular than yours, so they must be 10 million times smarter than you, right? That means seriously stupid ideas often get greenlighted – because since the big company is making the decision, it must be by definition not a stupid idea. (Like running a Super Bowl ad. Ahem.).
- They must mark their territory: Like gorillas in the mist, the big job board must make ‘statements’ – usually in the form of multi-million dollar ad buys, very large conference booths, race car sponsorships, and lots of swag. They encourage ‘thought leaders’ to say nice things about them. They basically throw their weight around.
- They treat their customers poorly: Why would a big job board treat their customers poorly? Because they can. Because they are firmly of the belief that their customers have nowhere else to go. Because they believe there will always be another customer to replace a lost customer.
- They have a lot of VPs: This is a sure sign of a big job board – there are a LOT of VPs. You have your VP of sales, your Senior VP of sales, and your International VP of sales. A VP of customer care. A VP of marketing, senior VP of marketing, and exalted senior VP of marketing (ok, I made that one up!). You get the drift. You want to be a VP, find yourself a big job board.
- They buy other companies: The bigger a job board, the harder it is to actually create anything internally. Instead, the big job board is always on the prowl for a smaller company that can be acquired and put to work. Of course, many times the acquisition doesn’t work out for the big job board, but that’s ok – there is always more funding for more acquisitions, always.
- They forget how they became big: This is inevitable – at some point, the original founders cash out or get fired by the board, and there is what I call ‘cultural drift’. The original hard-driving, focused culture that built the business is replaced by the more common culture of CYA. This often happens when a company decides to go public. The vision switches from long term growth to ‘what numbers can we hit in the next quarter’.
Are there exceptions? Maybe. I haven’t seen any, but perhaps, somewhere, there is a really big job board that has avoided these behaviors. Anything’s possible.
What’s the lesson for your not-really-big business? I guess I would advise self-awareness. The behaviors above are simply what happens when humans achieve a certain level of success: they start to believe their own BS. If you keep that foremost in your mind, perhaps your business will prove to be the exception to the rule.[Want to get Job Board Doctor posts via email? Subscribe here.].