It didn’t happen like that then. Today’s breathy assurances that social media is going to be the death of the job boards is equally misplaced. Recruitment advertising is becoming a complex ecosystem of communications channels. Each channel has its pros and cons. Some are better for some things. Some are better for others.
Don’t expect to see another catastrophe like the newspapers experienced. From here on out, advertising and communicating about the availability of work and workers is going to evolve in a whole set of unexpected ways.
Our house on the East Coast (too many years ago) had a plant called Kudzu in the gardens. Kudzu is a vine that creeps everywhere and can’t be killed off. Every Spring, we’d try to tame the Kudzu. The best we were ever able to do was trim it back. Kudzu seemed to be everywhere. Weed killers didn’t work. Fire wouldn’t kill it. The roots were shallow but massive. Like a hydra, when you lopped off one head, seven grew back.
Job Boards are like Kudzu.
There is a growing sentiment, driven more by desire than understanding, that the Electronic Recruiting Marketplace is on the verges of an imminent shakeout. The proponents of this scenario imagine that “global dominance” for a small group of entrepreneurs is possible, desirable and likely. Somehow, the fact that no one has ever amassed a market share of more than 3% or 4% in this space escapes their notice. Time and again, we are reassured that one or two “Yahoo like brands” will emerge from the 25,000 fee based job boards that litter the net.
We think that they are forgetting that a hiring transaction is an incredibly intimate thing that relies on trust, chemistry, intuition and regional differences. We’re sure that they are overlooking the incredible ease with which proprietary Internet technology is duplicated. Once an idea is enunciated, it is easy to implement.
We know that they are forgetting the incredible turnover in Recruiting companies and departments. Customer loyalty is a reasonably fickle thing in this market. It depends on being able to deliver the right results at the right time. It depends on clear close relationships with the current customer when s/he needs it.
At its very simplest, a Job Board can be started by four people…an engineer, a salesperson, a traffic developer and someone to filter the phone calls. Building the simple board into a sustainable (if small) business simply requires a small book of local contacts in the HR Departments of major employers. The first Million dollars in revenue is easy.
Given the simplicity with which these little businesses can be started, they tend to proliferate faster than a big company with a big marketing budget can identify them and deal with them. Job Boards are like Kudzu.
This doesn’t mean that some Job Boards won’t be bigger than others. Far from it. But, as usual, the Spring crop of “How To Find A Job On The Internet” articles are cropping up. This year, they tend to focus on the regional boards, poo-pooing the idea that a big database is good for anyone. It’s no accident. Being regional eliminates at least on click from all of the search processes. The information and the opportunities are all close to home. Very few people have the need for a massive national database. They want to work close to home.
Unlike the advocates of consolidation (which might happen at an ownership level), we see an imminent flowering of niche by niche regional services. The best result of a consolidation attempt might be to prune back some of the big bushes so that the rest of the Kudzu can really take root.