A Job Board Killer Lurks in the Shadows


Monster, career builder and dice should be thinking hard about how to maximize their life span, or think about kicking up a new business model in the not-too-distant future.

I am going to take a risky shot and make a claim that job boards have a shelf life that is quickly coming to an end.

It’s hard to fathom that the hub of internet job posts for the last 10 years may be at risk. Well, there are a number of scenarios coming to a head that seem to create a likely event where job boards will come to see their demise.

For starters, there are a few factors that need to be considered in this conversation. First off, the job board era has been in full swing for more than a decade. The reason that these platforms have continued to grow is because of the increased candidate attraction and demand side economics of the model. Because candidates have become accustom to searching the boards and posting their resume in these portals, the candidate database of these boards has massively grown. And, because the candidate databases have become so gigantic, employers must continue to post and search the boards for their ideal candidates. It has become a continuous cycle that is a self feeding mechanism, due to a lacking alternative. However, if one of these levers in the equation starts to trail off, the whole model will collapse. My theory outlines this concept as the result of a few significant converging events. Trends are picking up that may abolish job boards as we know them today. Here is why it will happen:

  1. Access to people requires less clicks. Because of the popularity of social and business networks, free access to talent pools has exploded. Prior to the advent of these networks, knowing a few hundred people made someone quite popular. These days, if you only have 200 connections across all of your networks, you’re on the low end of the popularity contest spectrum. The Kevin Bacon degrees of Separation has shrunk from 6 to 3 in just a few years span.
  2. The Job Board Model follows a number of points in the free theory. Chris Anderson’s book, FREE, creates a number of arguments and examples around why things ultimately move to free. Many of the examples touch on the job board business model and Anderson’s point about “Information wanting to be free” nails home the scenario that these businesses face. The characteristics that traditionally been in place that follow this movement are innate in the job board model.
  3. The interoperability of networks give job seekers more options. Open systems, api’s, portals and integration technologies provide a streamlined communication process that hits many people at once. Increased adoption of these platforms only makes the world smaller with a push of one button hitting a ton of people in a matter of seconds. We’ve all heard the stories about how quickly news travels and how stories go viral. communication flow and speed to market is no different for free opportunities to spread job openings. The continuing speed of web-based information aggregation will force search traffic in places other than the job boards; quickly minimizing their value.
  4. Gen y is a different breed. As the younger generation hits the job market, their connections are so much deeper than those outside of their generation class. A report from pewsocialtrends.org outlines a number of stats that talk to the GenY crowd and their focus on information access through networks, social media and the use of technology. With so many options being created for (and by) the younger generation, the job boards are going to need to fight for browsing time, which is finite. I compare this to television in the 70’s versus cable/satellite in the 00’s. Gen Y has way too many resources at their disposal to have the need for job boards.
  5. Net based businesses have a target on their back. The new tech savvy generation seeks opportunity to follow the footsteps of the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and other networking based Internet businesses. The opportunity to hit the jackpot has low barriers to entry, with a huge pay-off if successful. Additionally, as the free concept continues its prevalence, entrepreneurs will look to attack large cash businesses, plant a blue ocean in these markets and turn the process for resume hunting and job posting upside down. New digital age start-ups are web and mobile traffic centric companies that are driven off of back-side economics. Offering up free (job posting and candidate searching) to companies in exchange for traffic, provides a downstream valuation that is easier to achieve, versus modeling around a pay-and-receive fee-based business. I see this as the #1 threat to the boards.
  6. Outsourcing continues to thrive. According to Ovum, global BPO will continue to grow at an annual rate of 5.4% to $93 Billion in 2015; a clear alternative to hiring employees and building internal processes. Instead of hiring full departments, companies can outsource locally or globally and save on huge operating expenses, while maintaining lean organizationally. Flexibility and cost savings give companies a clean operating statement, and vendors that are on the ball to deliver. With outsourcing growth, companies will scale down the need to have to find more employees. (Although, an argument could be made that this is just a job shift, not a job elimination…).

There is no question in my mind that the job search market is going to drastically change over the next few years. The costs associated with posting jobs and searching resumes is significant; $12,000 annually on the low end. Even in a market where applicants are hard to find, companies will look to social networks and other free avenues for sourcing talent. As it is, many recruiters are already using social networks and free platforms for job posting distribution.

There are many stories that can be referenced regarding cost declines of a service or product. As technology continues to change more quickly than we can react, increased access to information will rise, free of charge…and so will the next coming of the job boards.

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