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Laying fiber: why you need to routinely review and upgrade your technical infrastructure

laying fiberI live in a small college town in the US Midwest. If you know anything about the US, you know what that means for internet access: mediocre internet speeds, high prices, limited provider choice, and unpredictable upgrade paths (unless your provider is laying fiber). In other words, you have to take what the provider gives you. In my case, that means middling DSL at relatively high prices from a single provider.

Well, until this year. My town’s city council knew this was an economic growth problem – mediocre internet means mediocre growth! So a year ago, they began looking around for a solution. (Believe me, this will be relevant to our industry in a bit – just hang in there!). They found it in a relatively local telecom company who was laying fiber in other small towns and providing high speed internet at a reasonable price. The council invite the company to look at our town and…well, I can look out my office window and see them laying fiber as I write.

Good news for the Doctor, eh? You bet!

But what does this have to do with your business? Well…

Job boards and recruiting services depend on a substructure of technology to serve their customers – specifically, things like sophisticated search tools, parsing, technical integrations with client systems, and so on. This technology is in many ways hidden from candidates and employers – but how well it functions is critical to client satisfaction. If a candidate runs a search for technical sales jobs in Miami, and she gets retail sales job listings in Omaha – well, you’ve got problems!

Think about it – just like my town’s upgrade of its internet infrastructure in order to support economic growth, you need to upgrade your technical infrastructure to keep your customers happy and your business competitive. In my opinion, the time is long past for a job board to rely on a search tool that only matches specific fields, instead of taking into account context and relevance. Many job boards have moved to such search tools – but many have not.  The inattention to technical infrastructure is like a hidden, progressive weakness. Much as a deteriorating foundation threatens the entire structure of a building, so too does a static technical structure on a job board. One day you may wake up to find a collapsing building.

That’s not good.

So what’s the answer? Well, this is not an ‘one size fits all’ affair. Some sites rely on a vendor to maintain and upgrade their software. Others have internal technical staff. Regardless of your situation, the first step is a regular review of your technical foundation – in my opinion, once a year is a good frequency. Look at the core functions of your service. For many, this will be job search, resume or profile search, matching of jobs to candidates or vice versa, resume parsing, posting optimization, API (if you have one), data integrations with clients, integrations with vendors, and reporting (both internal and for clients). You probably have more! Set benchmarks if you haven’t; if you have, how are you doing? Are you seeing continual improvement – or degradation? Look at your competitors – what are they doing? Have they made innovations that you haven’t? If so, should you consider them? Look up the ladder, too – what is Indeed doing? Or Seek? Or Google? Is it time to ‘steal’ some ideas from them? Look at your technical providers, whether they are external or internal. Are they functioning as well as they could or should?

I think you get the idea.

Do it once a year. Be honest with yourself. Be open to change. And be rigorous. ‘Laying fiber’ is an investment in the future – your future. Don’t avoid it!

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