Question your complacency – and map your way forward – Job Board Doctor

After the nadir of the pandemic, the current hiring frenzy feels pretty good, right? Most of the folks in the industry that I talk to are seeing big increases in candidate and employer activity. Investments are also rising, as are acquisitions and mergers. All in all, you may be thinking, ‘Things are getting good, don’t rock the boat, I’ve got my hands full already!’.

Maybe you’re right. But…maybe you should question your complacency.

I recently talked about revenue models. It might be a good time to ask yourself: have you gotten too comfortable with your current revenue model? Or, to put it another way – how sustainable is your current revenue model? An analogy: fax machines were omnipresent for decades – and then they weren’t. PalmPilots ruled for a while – and then they were gone. In 10 years, we may look at gas-powered vehicles the same way. Technology has a tendency to look very stable – until it isn’t.

Job boards rely on technology – and habit. The technology part is obvious – search algorithms, matching, data transfer, parsing, and so on. At least, it’s obvious to us, even if it isn’t to the end customer. Habit is a bit different. I’m talking about the habits of candidates and employers. Humans are creatures of habit – and habits change very slowly. For decades, candidates have founds jobs via search engines, job boards, and friends. For decades, employers have used job ads to attract candidates – first via newspapers, then via job boards, and lately via their own career sites. However, in the 2000s, a job site named Indeed began pushing the idea of pay per click (PPC) – a form of pay for performance. Many years later – around 2010 – they began pushing this concept directly to employers, and they continue to do it to this day. Reminder – they’re the largest job board in the world.

So have candidate and employer habits changed? That, my friends, is the million dollar question that has big implications for your revenue model – and a very good reason to question your complacency. You don’t want to wake up with a warehouse of fax machines!

I would argue that habits for both candidates and employers have changed – a bit. Those changes aren’t dramatic or splashy – but they should be examined as you think about what you’re doing in the coming years with your business.

For candidates, we’ve seen a growth in the options they have for finding jobs – but for most, they still rely on the ‘greatest hits’ of search engine, job board, and friends. Yet how they find at least a percentage of their jobs is now rolling through platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, which mix the ‘friends referral’ and ‘job board’ functions. They’re seeing more ads thrown up via programmatic networks. And Google Jobs’ blue search box is pre-selecting job sources for them. So yes, candidate habits have changed, driven to a large degree by the technology they use.

What about employers? I would argue that for most employers, their habits haven’t changed that much. HR has always been inherently conservative – and underfunded. Put those two things together, and you see very, very minimal changes. Sure, they’re trying out PPC via Indeed or possibly an aggregator like Adzuna. They’re dabbling in video interviewing or even programmatic. But mostly they’re running job ads. So where has there been real change with employers? It’s happened at the top – with enterprise employers. Employers that are hiring at scale, in multiple locations, all of the time – these are the employers that are willing to invest in programmatic, PPC, PPA, sourcing technologies, and so on. They need lots of candidates, in lots of places, all the times – and they have the budget to act on those needs.

So…take a look at your candidates and employers. How are they behaving? How have they changed? And what do those behaviors and changes mean for you? Now could be a great time to get uncomfortable with your business – and make some changes!

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