Dear Job Boards

October 16, 2009

Dear National Job Boards:

 In these economic conditions, major job boards are all seeing huge increases in usage by consumers looking for jobs. But the big national job boards have major challenges. So, big job boards, what are you going to do about the following?

Social Networks:

Social and professional networks have seen their use skyrocket in the last few years. Facebook has grown to over 250 million unique visitors per month. Professional network LinkedIn now has over 40 million users who display their basic professional resumes for the world to see (and for recruiters and hiring managers to find).  This is a HUGE problem for job boards. Job boards have two primary revenue streams, job postings and resume database subscriptions. If an employer can find the specific skills they need for free on LinkedIn (like say a product manager), then they don’t need to post jobs on job boards. They also don’t need to buy licenses to resume databases when there are 40 million free resumes on LinkedIn and hundreds of millions of (admittedly not professionally focused) profiles on Facebook.



Aggregators like Indeed and Simply Hired make the job search easier for job seekers by assembling all the jobs in one place.  This would be fine if those companies operated like news aggregators, just gathering the content and passing along clicks to the job boards. But increasingly, the aggregators are reaching out to corporations to feed their jobs directly to the aggregator and also to “sponsor” their jobs to get more consumers to see and click on those jobs. It’s a classic disintermediation problem and the job boards just let it happen. At least Craigslist had the smarts to force the aggregators to stop scraping their content. Maybe it’s because Craigslist has enough of its own traffic. But now, the job boards have let 2 other brands emerge as THE PLACE to go for a job search, and a more efficient place at that.


Niches, Blogs, and Matching

These two emerging trends are linked in my mind and they are a direct result of the job boards’ poor job in providing sufficiently good matching technology. As a consumer, if I do a search on a major job board, I get page after page of results, but only a small percentage of it is what I’m looking for. If I look for a CFO job I may also get results for Controller positions, accounting positions, and maybe even CEO positions (because they mention CFO in the CEO job description so it gets picked up as well.)

Niche job boards have emerged to provide a more personalized and targeted service. If I am a retail store manager, maybe I can find better results on than I can on Monster. And if I’m a major retailer, I know that the candidates I get will be more relevant too. So not only have thousands of niche job boards sprung up, but blogs with targeted reader audiences have added job board functionality to enable companies looking for that audience. If I’m a media company looking for a media buyer or creative talent, now I can find good candidates on the MediaBistro job board.

Both employers and job seekers are frustrated at the quality of the matches they get from big job boards. New start-ups have emerged promising better “matching” technology. Most of these entrants don’t have scalable business models yet (their strategy for attracting job seekers are generally not well developed), but they are worth watching.

 So there are your challenges, guys. What are you going do about it?


Facebook is doing some creepy stuff

October 5, 2009

I am a fairly active Facebook user. Yesterday I got a friend suggestion that really creeped me out. Facebook was suggesting that I friend my deceased mother.

Facebook’s suggestion was creepy not because my mother has passed away. It was creepy because the way that Facebook reached that conclusion is pretty damn invasive. You see, my mother remaried and we don’t share the same last name. We don’t share any common friends. We don’t live in the same part of the country. And I never imported my contacts from Yahoo or any other system into Facebook. 

My guess is that Facebook is doing some pretty invasive stuff to determine the linkage between my mother’s name and mine. Perhaps they are examining my email stream.  Maybe they built a web crawler to  look at public documents or announcements in which both of our names appear (there have not been many of those, like my wedding announcement and of course her obituary).

However they are doing it, I don’t want them doing it. I didn’t import my contacts into Facebook by choice. I didn’t ask them to find my friends, my future friends, or my dead mother, and I don’t want them to.