Ask any group of grizzled job board veterans the secret to their success, and most will say “keeping your head down.” You have to be totally focused on the details that get you to a merry-making bottom line. And that’s certainly true. What’s also true, however, is that keeping your head down, while necessary, is no longer sufficient for sustained success. For that, you also have to keep your head up.
As we all know, job boards operate in an ecosystem. The German ecologist Ernst-Detlef Schulze has noted that “ecosystems are defined by the network of interactions among organisms, and between organisms and their environment.” For job boards, that means their livelihood is directly affected both by the other companies in the market and by external factors that impact the market.
Okay, that makes sense, but it’s hardly groundbreaking. Any business person with more than 5 minutes experience knows that you have to keep an eye on your competitors and on the big picture of such factors as the economy’s direction and the rate of inflation.
The job board ecosystem, however, has morphed. It’s become far more complex than it was even a couple of years ago. There are more job boards, to be sure, but what’s different now is that there are more – many more – non-job board talent acquisition solutions that are also operating in the ecosystem. And that complexity dramatically changes the number and kinds of possible interactions a job board can have. Even more challenging, the ecosystem isn’t static; it continues to evolve. So, the complexity that exists today is different from the complexity that will exist tomorrow, and the complexity that exists tomorrow will be different from that which exists the day after that.
At this moment, for example, interactions in the ecosystem are being influenced by:
• The entry of mega social media, search and staffing companies,
• Programmatic ad buying,
• Recruitment marketing,
• Social recruiting, and
• Litigation around the use of public data as a business model.
And, in the next 12 months, it will be further influenced by:
• New privacy laws in the European Union,
• Net neutrality or possibly the lack thereof, and
• Artificial intelligence and machine learning.
And, that’s nowhere near a complete list.
This “always new” ecosystem requires that job board teams adopt a broader perspective than ever before and constantly update their knowledge of the market. That’s the only way they can preserve and hopefully expand their share of the market. They must:
• determine how a much larger number of entities could potentially affect their business and then figure out how to get along with those that are complimentary and how to protect themselves from those that are likely to be predators;
• know enough about the other entities in the ecosystem that they can appropriately address what is increasingly the number one make-or-break issue for prospective customers – how will the job board interoperate with all of the other solutions in an employer’s technology stack.
There is only one way to accomplish those tasks: you have to keep your head up. Yes, of course, you must still keep your head down and focus on the business at hand. But what needs to be done to sustain that business now also requires that you maintain a high level of situational awareness. You have to know what’s going on around you and how that other activity in the ecosystem could affect your prospects for success.
Where and how do you acquire situational awareness?
Reading and listening to podcasts is certainly a start. But even that exposure isn’t enough. To be truly head up, you have to get out of the office and put away the ear buds. You have to connect with others in the ecosystem – job boards and non-job board solutions alike – and then – OMG – actually talk to them to gain an accurate picture of both what’s happening now and what’s about to.
Food for thought,
TAprose and Job Board Journalist by Peter Weddle are brought to you by TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.
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