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Job Boards in the AI Era

By Peter Weddle, Founder & CEO

The advent of AI in general and especially generative AI will open a new and profoundly different era for job boards. These sites have always morphed, enabling them to continue as a prime source of talent for employers for almost thirty years. That approach, however, is now obsolete. The capabilities of AI are expanding so rapidly that job boards will have to move rapidly to a very different business model to keep up. That’s easier said than done, of course, especially for the tens of thousands of relatively small sites that populate the industry. The key to success, therefore, will be two-fold: first, sites must reimagine themselves as a talent acquisition resources business; and second, they must expand their service portfolio to leverage AI’s capabilities. It is far from a trivial undertaking, but also one that is well within the reach of every single site.

So, where do I get off opining on this subject? Well, I’ve been around job boards since their very early days. I owned and then sold a precursor to job boards, wrote a biweekly column for The Wall Street Journal about them, and published an old-fashioned paper guide to almost ten thousand of them that Amazon still sells (and is clearly outdated). That doesn’t make me an expert, but it does give me a foundation for thinking about what happens to them next.

So, what will a job board look like in the AI era? In a phrase, nothing like what it does today.

Although many job boards have incorporated ancillary services over the years (e.g., job alerts, resume assessment, even ad words), the vast majority still operate as an online classifieds business. Ninety percent or more of their revenue comes from job postings. That highly focused model, however, is no longer sustainable, at least for most of them. Most recruiters need a more robust slate of capabilities and they’ve read and heard enough about today’s technology to expect it. To put it bluntly, it isn’t the shiny new thing, but increasingly, the only thing they’ll buy.

To survive and prosper, therefore, a job board will have to transform itself into a talent acquisition resources business. It will continue to offer job postings (although even those will change), but it will also offer employers a range of additional services, almost all of which will be powered by generative AI. This transformation will separate the winners from the also-rans in the market, but it is not without precedent. Take Amazon, for example, it started as a book business, and its retail prowess enabled it to move into a vast range of other products. Similarly, job boards started as classified sites, but their job market prowess positions them to expand into other facets of talent acquisition by leveraging the power of AI.

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The AI-Powered Job Board

We’re currently only scratching the surface of potential genAI applications for job boards, but the following are either available now or will be shortly:

Intelligent Labor Economist
Use genAI to provide employers with real-time data on local and national labor market trends, enabling them to develop better targeted job offers.

Intelligent Talent Marketer
Use genAI to build dynamic talent pools that can fill pipelines for employers by identifying and communicating with individuals in select workforce cohorts.

Intelligent Talent Advertiser
Use genAI to upgrade employer job ads at scale so they accurately reach prospects with target skills and thereby improve the employer’s advertising ROI.

Intelligent Talent Communicator
Use genAI to welcome job applicants to an employer’s recruiting process or career site, answer their questions, keep them informed, and generally improve their experience with the employer.

Intelligent Selection Aid
Use genAI to help employers improve the productivity and performance of the selection process by evaluating applicants’ match with job openings and rank ordering them according to their fit.

Intelligent Onboarding Host
Use genAi to help employers shorten new hire time to full productivity and improve their retention by tailoring the information and experience provided to them during onboarding.

Admittedly, even the largest solution providers would be challenged to find the financial resources and talent to implement even a couple of these capabilities soon enough to have a meaningful impact on the near-term bottom line. So, what’s the alternative? Find partners with AI powered TA solutions. Some may offer a white label product while others may prefer a go-to-market alliance, but regardless of the contractual arrangement, now’s the time for job boards to start building their business for the AI era.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle has authored or edited over two dozen books and been a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.