Are Job Boards Taking Over the Recruitment Industry?!?

The last 12 months have seen a number of major announcements in the recruitment industry and associated big business which could potentially have a major impact on how people use technology to find staff or jobs.  The potential ‘disruption’ has some recruiters up in arms, some industry commentators are saying ‘the end is nigh’ and quite rightfully some candidates and clients are concerned about the privacy of their data.
Sound confusing? Well it kind of is….The impact globally over the next 10 years will be game changing, particularly for transactional recruitment services.
In order to help you understand the changes in the industry we have done a huge amount of research and broken it all down, hopefully this makes it all clearer. Be warned – it’s a long one.

To understand why job boards are changing the way they operate, it is important to better understand the context of the rapidly changing, technology disrupted world of recruitment.  Below I explore some of the exciting developments, but also some of the issues of concern for a world where everyone’s information is being pushed online.

Recruitment is becoming less about job boards, and more about marketing and branding

Job boards are becoming increasingly less effective as the primary source for employers to attract talent.  Recruitment has moved beyond traditional ‘post and pray’ tactics and the market is becoming more proactive in searching for talent.  Recruiters and employers are choosing multiple channels to market employment opportunities (e.g. Social media, niche job boards, LinkedIn).There is more of a focus on direct sourcing and online networking to hunt down elusive skill sets.

Viral recruitment blogger and respected recruitment industry expert Greg Savage states in no uncertain terms:

“Any business model that relies on candidates making proactive applications for jobs is destined to fail.” (GS, May 2015)

Recruitment is no longer a ‘clerically powered’ race for candidate CV’s through big job boards and fleet footed recruiters.  It is about proactive talent strategies through carefully devised talent attraction campaigns, employer branding, cleverly targeted content, and innovative marketing across many channels. 

To demonstrate what I mean by targeted content and branding, check out this ‘choose your own adventure’ style graduate attraction video from Deloitte:

Traditional recruitment practices are being automated & disrupted

Many of the administrative aspects, and some elements of the relationship/engagement side of recruitment are being sped up or replaced by new technologies.  Transactional or ‘just in time’ recruitment companies adding little value above fast candidate access must really be seeing the writing on the wall.

Recruitment activity was once reliant on hundreds of one-to-one conversations.  But with the success of tools like LinkedIn and online search algorithms, and the emergence of cutting-edge technology like Artificial Intelligence such as ‘chatbots’, the value-add the market demands from recruitment agencies is changing…..and fast.

Job boards like SEEK, Indeed.com and MONSTER are reinventing themselves as ‘ industry disruptors’

Job board companies see the writing on the wall and don’t want to be caught-out in a Kodak or Blockbuster style failure to innovate.  With the rapid growth of job aggregators like Indeed.com or Adzuna, and the accompanying surge in niche job sites and employers focusing on their branding,  job board giants like SEEK know heir days of dominating across markets is numbered.

Not only do tech savvy millennials dislike the online search and application process, the advent of LinkedIn and social media campaigns means there is no need for it.  Employers are proactively contacting talent in their ‘native’ environments, they are not waiting for talent to knock on their door or apply online.

Guided by predictive ‘big data,’ information and opportunities find you.  This is the way of the future.

The demise of the once thriving MONSTER (the US equivalent if SEEK.com.au) is seen as the writing on the wall for big ‘catch all’ job boards who are vigorously reinventing their businesses.

There a number of ways job boards are changing:

Are job boards taking over the Recruitment Industry?!? data stupid Archer meme

Big business and job boards see harnessing your data as the future

Think about the success of LinkedIn.  Even before they are fully profitable, LinkedIn sold for an impressive $28 billion to Microsoft.  That is the power of a business that has really nailed harnessing networks and the use of data, and it attracted the attention of one of the most successful companies of all time.

Recent activity in mergers and acquisitions also demonstrates how the people business is snapping up the biggest sources of candidate data.  Japanese recruitment consortium giant ‘Recruit’ have been on a massive acquisition trail in recent years, in 2012 they bought Indeed.com, known as ‘google for jobs’ (200 million unique visitors per annum).  Recruitment giant Randstad has also been on the acquisition trail, they bought the failing MONSTER job board group this year for $429 million.

What do you think a recruitment outsourcing company like Randstad could do with the data from 1 million new CV’s per months?  Imagine the business development call list you could create knowing the names and details for all the employers advertising directly on your site?  A no brainer right?

Job boards use employer and agency advertising to build their own database

The online advertising employers and agencies pay for and spend hours preparing is being used to build databases of candidates for the benefit of job boards.  Applying for a job on SEEK, CareerOne, Indeed.com and many other job boards, means being encouraged/cajoled/funnelled towards setting up a personal profile on that platform.  Everything is about trying to get you to say ‘yes’ to employers being able to search your CV.  Indeed.com and CareerOne are actually contacting those candidates directly to offer them recruitment services.

Indeed.com is the perfect case study demonstrating how job boards are leveraging their clients to build their platform, before ‘snaking’ them, bypassing them to go direct to their candidates/clients.  They began as a virtually free service by linking with job boards and recruitment agencies to boost traffic flow of candidates to jobs.  Having a simple, easy to use platform like Google, they quickly moved to competing directly with job boards, successfully taking away plenty of market share from their once paying clients.  Indeed are in the process of doing the same with recruitment agencies.  They are moving from agencies being a key client and source of advertising revenue, to turning around and offering the candidates the agency ads generated and selling these directly to employers.   And don’t expect SEEK, Australia’s largest job board to be too far behind!

If you are an employer using a job board, do you want your hard won candidates to also be available to your competitors?

Seems to defy the logic of investing in employer branding doesn’t it?

Job Boards are trying to be recruiters

Not for the first time, job boards are making moves to attain a larger piece of the ‘recruitment pie’ by offering low cost recruitment services direct to employers and even to recruiters.  This is moving beyond offering you access to what is generally a very average and not very current CV database, and moving towards having teams of recruiters using algorithms and digitally sourcing across the internet.

Initially job boards are targeting higher volume, traditionally transactional recruitment activities like ICT contractors.  Here is a new example of what I mean from the USA:

Indeed Prime – Meet candidates online who want to explore your jobs

But job boards have tried all this before, and are not good at it. or….are they?

It’s true, job boards like MONSTER have tried and failed to take over the recruitment industry in the past.  They did not do well.

For anyone that has received an automated ‘job matching’ email from SEEK or LinkedIN created by a nameless algorithm, I am sure there is a bit of a collective sigh of ‘yeah right’ about this one.  The most memorable job alert’ email I received was one recommending a job as a Senior Consultant in an abattoir….how do they manage to get it so wrong?

Regardless of the tech teething going on, as technology advances (particularly Artificial Intelligence), more and more of the transactional elements of recruitment processes will be automated.  Technology players like Indeed will take market share away from recruiters, without doubt, but only in time.

Here is a great example of how online applications might change the way we all recruit.  JobR (pronounced Jobber) has been called the ‘tinder for jobs’ in the USA and was recently bought by MONSTER (now owned by Randstad)

Are job boards taking over the Recruitment Industry?!? Tinder meme

JobR – Tinder for jobs

But what if my boss sees my CV online?

Exactly!! In a small employment market like Canberra, talented candidates are very reluctant to publish their CV online as an active candidate.  Not only does it feel a bit wrong or desperate, we all know how quickly your boss might hear about the move if someone sees your CV online.  So in some respects, due to the 3 degrees of separation the Canberra market is somewhat sheltered from job board ‘takeover’ shenanigans.  As a result, Indeed, SEEK and CareerOne have a very low quality CV database for our region.  Additionally, the uptake of job aggregators like Indeed or Adzuna has been well below what is seen in other cities.  But this does not mean that with better technology and the winds of change, things won’t be very different in the future.

My 2 cents

Whilst in some ways I should feel threatened as a Director of a recruitment company that still uses job boards, I welcome change and efficiencies and smarter ways of working.  Recruitment is still a very new, rapidly evolving industry and we have a long way to go.

As a value-add focussed recruitment company, our major benefit to client’s and candidates’ decision making is the insight and experience we share, as well as the depth and trust within our networks.  No amount of technology or innovation can remove this critical human element as the most important aspect of the work we do as recruiters.  We could well lose some of the hasty ‘just in time’ market share to some super savvy technology of the future, we may not.  Our clients will continue to come to us for our depth of unique, high quality talent.  Our best candidates will continue to come back for our value-add advice and the breadth of great opportunities.

For employers/recruiters – I would caution any employer about using a job board (namely Indeed, SEEK, and CareerOne) that actively, even forcefully pushes themselves into the lives of candidates through online CV’s and profiles.  It won’t be long before your candidates data will be sold to your competitors.  In a world where access to the best talent and employer brand is your competitive advantage, do you really expect to find the best quality people in one big shared pond run by a big listed business?

For candidates – I would suggest to white collar professionals, with the potential exception of ICT contractors, that having your CV available online to anyone who chooses to view it is not a great idea.  It cheapens your value in the market.  Simply put, the best people are not doing it now, and I question if they ever will.  To be recognised as top talent you need to align your personal brand with quality, and this includes what recruitment firm you work with.  For now, used LinkedIn…it works. If you are looking to experience what it is like to work with a quality recruitment operation, contact me.