Back in the day, when pundits were calling job boards dead or dinosaurs, there was considerable discussion about whether the label “job board” itself was part of the problem. Change that, some opined, and the world would beat a path to our sites. They were wrong.
The challenge for job boards back then wasn’t their name; it was their definition. The critics pinned the sites with one definition and then argued it was out-of-date compared to the capabilities of LinkedIn and other social recruiting sites. Today, they use the same definition to make the same charge when comparing job boards to Google and Facebook. They were right and wrong in the past, and they’re right and wrong now.
The critics see job boards as sites that simply repurpose old fashioned classified advertising on the web. Oh sure, they charge, job postings “look” different than their print cousins, but basically, they’re the same – an ad for an open job described with information only an employer could love – requirements and responsibilities.
Now to be honest, that was the design of job boards circa 1998. But it wasn’t a misstep; it was a smart move. Job boards took on newspapers – society’s most powerful institution back then – and clobbered them in the marketplace with their own product. There was just one difference: the ads posted on job boards were more informative, more accessible and a lot less expensive than what the newspapers were offering.
Newspapers had the financial resources to respond to the challenge, but didn’t. Why? Because they couldn’t get past their own definition. They published their ads in newsprint, so they saw themselves as print publishers. Job boards revealed, they weren’t. They were information publishers. The medium was simply a delivery mechanism – important, to be sure, but not their defining purpose.
So, How Can Job Board Critics Be Both Right and Wrong?
The critics are right because history is now repeating itself. Sadly, there are job boards today which are still 1998-era recruitment advertising platforms. Why sadly? Because their prospects of survival – let alone prosperity – in a much more competitive and unforgiving market than that of 1998 are slim and none.
The critics are wrong, however, because many – maybe even most – job boards have moved on to a new version of their sites. They won’t follow newspapers into the irrelevancy bin because they have adapted to the changing needs of their customers and the changing capabilities of technology. They still offer recruitment advertising, of course, but now, they also offer recruitment marketing, candidate management and communication, even assessment and selection support. They are, in a sense, talent acquisition big box stores.
That said, job boards do face a challenge which they must successfully meet if they are to continue to be a primary source of external, new hires for employers. While many are now big box stores of talent acquisition products and services, they remain primarily publishers. Or to be more precise, they too are information publishers … and now, they must define what information they publish.
If job boards define their information as recruitment ads with a little job search content around the edges, they will be guilty of the same myopia of newspapers. If, on the other hand, they define information as the content useful to people in BOTH job search and career self-management – in transition AND advancement – then they are far more likely to attract the kind of talent their customers crave and will pay to access.
Yesterday’s definition of a job board is obsolete today. It’s being replaced on many sites by a more powerful concept that encompasses products and services for multiple facets of talent acquisition AND information for individual success at work. That’s a winning value proposition for both of those customer sets and thus for the job boards, as well.
Food for thought,
The Job Board Journalist by Peter Weddle is brought to you by TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.
Mark Your Calendars! TAtech’s 2017 events include:
• September 27-29, 2017 Denver: The TAtech Fall Congress & Deal Center, with The World Job Board Forum and the 2017 ReSI Awards Gala.
• May 31-June 1, 2017 Minneapolis: The TAtech Leadership Summit on Programmatic Ad Buying, featuring two tracks: Programmatic Ad Buying Applications & Programmatic Ad Buying Technology. See you at next year’s Programmatic Summit!
• May 17-19, 2017 Barcelona: RecTech, The TAtech Industry Congress in the EU in partnership with the AIM Group. See you at next year’s RecTech in … Dublin!
• April 22-23, 2017 Chicago: The TAtech Spring Congress & Deal Center, with The Business Accelerator has now occurred. See you at next year’s Spring Congress in … Miami!