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The Job Board’s Dilemma

By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech

It’s common sense – and good business practice – to focus on the near term. Face the challenges that are right in front of you. They hold the greatest potential peril, so deal with them and get to everything else when time and space permit. That approach may work for Coca Cola and Proctor & Gamble, but for tech companies, and especially job boards, it’s a dangerous even fatal strategy. The future holds as much if not more peril than anything happening right now. Some call this situation the innovator’s dilemma. I think it’s just as accurate to describe it as the job board’s dilemma.

Shelly Palmer recently quoted Clayton Christensen’s definition of the innovator’s dilemma:

“The reason [why great companies failed] is that good management itself was the root cause. Managers played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. The very decision-making and resource allocation processes that are key to the success of established companies are the very processes that reject disruptive technologies: listening to customers; tracking competitors’ actions carefully; and investing resources to design and build higher-performance, higher-quality products that will yield greater profit. These are the reasons why great firms stumbled or failed when confronted with disruptive technology change.”

Job boards themselves were just such a disruptive force in recruitment advertising. Twenty-five years ago, they humbled the greatest newspapers in the world, companies that had dominated the classified ad business for generations. Some of these publications have managed to survive – they had good management and resource allocation – but even to this day, they have been unable to find a similarly lucrative business model. Their product – print classifieds – simply cannot compete with online job postings.

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Despite their success to date, there’s an axiom that every job board should remember: Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them. What does that mean in practical terms? Even as job boards are successfully dealing with today’s challenges – an upside-down talent market, a slowing global economy and changing goals and behaviors among job seekers – they must also be thinking about and preparing for whatever tomorrow may bring. They can either be the newspapers or the job boards of the 21st century.

Here are just some of the questions they need to be thinking about:
• Will resumes finally be replaced by something better – a credible and continuously refreshed record of an individual’s knowledge, skills and experience – and if so, how will that affect job boards?
• What will be the next step in improving the candidate experience in the sourcing phase of the recruiting process and how will that impact job boards?
• How will the format, content and vocabulary of the next generation of job postings change, and what will that mean for job boards?
• And perhaps most importantly, how will the increasing automation of work – and the resulting reduction in the need for human workers – affect the online recruitment advertising business model?

To help job boards begin their consideration of these and other issues, TAtech is addressing the job board dilemma head-on at TAtech North America & The World Job Board Forum. That event, which will be held in Austin, Texas on May 22-24, will feature a panel of talent technology thought leaders addressing the topic, The Once & Future Job Board: What will the job board of 2025 look like?

The day-and-a-half conference has a jam-packed agenda, so the panel will only run for forty minutes. It will make two important points, however: First, job boards must prepare for the future, and second, they have to do so right now. Or, to put it another way, good business practice means transforming Job Board’s Dilemma into Job Board’s Renewal.

Thanks for Reading,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can download his latest book – The Neonaissance – FOR FREE at And, if you don't have time to read the entire book, just download a short excerpt of his inspirational message.