If you’ve been listening, the swarm of industry newcomers are busy proclaiming the death of the job board. The idea is that social technology is going to quickly replace twenty year old job board technology in the same way that the web replaced print ads. “Any moment now”, the breathy evangelistas shout, “the future will be thrust upon you. You’d better get on board.”
You can excuse a vendor like JobVite for exaggerating the importance of social media. Their services depend on social technologies for velocity. You’d expect their materials to underline the case for their products. After all, that’s what marketing folks do.
It’s another thing entirely when conservative analysts start repeating the hype. Recent analysts report echo the JobVite story that social media is growing in ways that threaten the existence of job boards. Jobvite claims that 16% of all recent job hunters used social media to find a job. The Bersin number is 10%.
In both cases, this marginal usage is described is dramatic.
Today, LinkedIn is nearly 10 years old. Facebook is almost 8. Twitter is 5. By the time that the web was 10 years old, every single one of the fortune 2500 had had an employment site for at least 10 years.
The social web is growing very, very slowly as a replacement for the existing infrastructure (compared to the rise of the web). At this rate, the replacements for the current top 3 social sites will be the ultimate winners. (Yes, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are today’s Prodigy, Compuserve and AOL.)
And, this is not going to be solved with referrals.
So while the conventional wisdom is that job boards have a short life expectancy, let me refer you to two interesting examples:
- The Behance Job BoardBehance is a 21st century company that specializes in helping creative people accomplish stuff. They make to do list notebooks and software. Focused on accomplishment, they are becoming a current day version of Nightingale-Conant with an emphasis on grassroots inspiration and peer to peer motivation. The job board is a supplemental revenue source for like minded people. (Nightingale-Conant would also be a great place for a job board)
- MediaBistroA prototype for virtual community, MediaBistro serves the New York publishing industry with education, networking, advice and job listings. The job board is central to both revenue and community development
In each of these cases, job boards (like classified ads of old) are significant revenue sources for operations with existing audiences. One can easily imagine that this approach will continue to grow and support any organization or individual with an interesting group of followers.
The other arena in which job boards have reasons to believe in near immortality are the places that concentrate job listings into a single location.
Most employers (over 98%) have fewer that 500 employees. Their ability to reach beyond the rigid confines of their networks is non-existent. They have to have broader access to the labor market than referrals and networking can provide. Job boards are perfect tools for this group.