Why am I talking about three things that could hurt job boards? Well, basically, because of Joel Cheesman. Yes, that Joel, of ChadandCheese.
It all started with a show they had last fall, in which Joel identified what he called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – for the job board industry. Then I wrote a piece disagreeing, and then we had a very civil discussion on the ChadCheese podcast. Long story short, I told Joel that – while he was wrong about his four horsemen – I thought there really were three things that could hurt job boards. He immediately dubbed them the ‘unholy trinity’. The guy’s a wordsmith!
So enough preamble. What are the three things that could hurt job boards? And why should you care? Let’s take a closer look:
- Threat #1: Appcast.Yes, folks, from the moment that Appcast bought the Bayard Agency, it moved from ‘partner’ to ‘threat’. Kind of like what Indeed did to job boards back in the 2000s – it started out as a ‘partner’, selling traffic – and then flipped to ‘threat’ by going direct to employers. Guess what? History does repeat itself – Appcast is doing the same thing. After pioneering programmatic advertising in the job board industry, it steadily built up its network of sites, improved its technology – and then found a buyer in Stepstone. Now, with the capabilities of Bayard, it has begun acquiring those same employers that were using job boards. It’s called getting rid of the middleman. Several of my clients have felt the sting of losing clients to Appcast/Bayard – a sting that I suspect will spread as Appcast/Bayard continue their expansion. It’s smart business for Appcast – but cold comfort for the affected job boards. Is Appcast going to become an Indeed-sized threat? Quite possibly.
- Threat #2: the death of search engines: Job boards have depended on search engines since their inception. In order for candidates to discover job boards, they need to be able to find them – and of course that’s where the search engines came in. From the earliest days with Yahoo!, Lycos, and Alta Vista, to our current world of Google, Google, and…umm…ok, Bing, job boards have relied on both the paid and organic traffic that search engines provide. But what if the importance of search engines as discovery tools faded – or even disappeared? Before you say, ‘No way’, think about how AI, TikTok, and yes, even Facebook have provided alternative ways for users to find what they want on the internet. Will search engines adapt – or die? If the latter, job boards will have little choice but to adapt themselves – or disappear.
- Threat #3: generational change: This one is the most iffy – but also in some ways the biggest threat. What if an entirely new generation of HR and recruitment specialists no longer see job boards as useful recruitment tools? Some would argue that we’re already there – but given the growth and expansion in the job board industry, I don’t think that’s true. However – a new generation of recruiters – let’s call them Generation R – might have a very different outlook. Why? Perhaps years of labor shortages, changes in work formats (such as remote), worldwide pandemics, and war could bring a very different mindset to the how of acquiring talent – a mindset that might decide to exclude job boards for a variety of reasons. One factor against this threat – hundreds of thousands of people (in this case, Generation R) rarely move in one direction for any length of time. Recruiting is just too complex. But…you never know.
There you have it – what Joel has dubbed the ‘unholy trinity’. Am I right? Wrong? Let me know. And yes, I know Joel will want to chime in….[Want to get Job Board Doctor posts via email? Subscribe here.]. [Check out the JobBoardGeek podcast archive!]