Are Job Boards About To Become Extinct?

These should be fat and happy times for job boards. The unemployment rate from May of 2018, was a mere 3.8 percent, tied for the lowest since 1969. Job openings are at record high levels, and hiring is fast becoming a critical bottleneck to future growth. The Washington Post reported that “March marked the first time there has been a job opening for every unemployed person since the Labor Department began keeping track of job openings in 2000… It’s likely that the United States will soon be in a situation where there are more job openings than job seekers.”

With businesses so desperate to fill jobs, job boards who provide the all-important access to job seekers should be riding the wave with a record number of listings and record profits. Instead, they’re in trouble. For example, the DHI Group, which owns a number of job board site s including Dice has been selling off its niche boards like Hcareers in May of this year. CareerBuilder was in dire enough straits a year ago it was sold by its parent company for an estimated $400 million less than expected. And the one-time big daddy of job boards, Monster, was sold off in 2016 because of lackluster performance.

Things are so dire for job boards, that they will likely go out of business in the next four to five years. Think it can’t happen? Think of the once-vibrant retail market. Then think Amazon. The same kind of tsunami is coming the job boards’ way. Not long from now, job boards as we know them will cease to exist.

Why Job Boards Will Vanish

Several trends and events will drive job boards out of business. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will make it easier for HR departments to find candidates without job boards by doing things such as identifying passive job seekers and sending them targeted messages about open jobs.  Social media sites have encroached on the job board’s turf. Because these sites gather so much detailed information about people, they have many ways to match job seekers with open positions. LinkedIn has long been a destination for companies looking to fill positions, and Facebook’s job search and application tool is now available in 40 countries. Alex Himel, VP of Local at Facebook, cites a Facebook-sponsored poll, done by Morning Consult, that found one in four people in the U.S. had searched for or found a job on Facebook.

The real killer of jobs boards, though, will be that employers are tired of paying for job-finding services that don’t work well. They want more effective, more affordable alternatives to job boards, and they’re getting them in the form of job search sites, notably Indeed and Google for Jobs.  Google for Jobs, launched quietly a year ago and even though it’s still largely under the radar, it will go a long way towards putting job boards out of business. It will eventually kill Indeed as well, because Google for Jobs is directly integrated into Google search, and it already owns the relationship with the job seeker, and therefore owns the job market.

From a job-seeker’s perspective, using Google for Jobs is as simple as using Google. Type in the kind of job you’re looking for, including location and other details, and you get a list of matches. It’s a natural extension of the way people currently use Google. Recruiting Trends reports that “Even before Google for Jobs’ release last June, 73 percent of job seekers were starting their job search journey on Google.” And Google is advancing on its search strategy by providing fine grain filtering capability, so job seekers are able to hone in on the jobs that they really want, not what the job boards are getting paid to show.

From an employer’s perspective, things take a little bit more work. There are several ways they can get their listings into Google for Jobs. Many employers are already using one way: Pay to have your listing on a job board. Many job boards have made partnerships with Google to have their listings show up in Google for Jobs (though as of this writing, Indeed has notably declined to participate.)

Companies can also get their jobs listed for free in Google for Jobs by bypassing job board sites and embedding specifically structured schema (HTML tags) in job listings on their own careers pages. For now, that process is cumbersome and requires a technical resource to assemble the tags that Google requires and embed them in the page code. (Learn more here about how Jobiak is solving this challenge) But in the long term, there will be no need for employers to pay job board sites because they can get their listings into Google for Jobs themselves, for far less than the paying to post a job to the job boards. They’ll simply cut out the middleman and own the relationship with the applicant directly.

What does all this mean? For the longest time, Job Boards provided access to job seekers at scale. Pay to post a job and applicants would come by the droves. It was a carefully tuned value proposition, though one ripe for disruption. But now that core value of “access to job seekers at scale” is under siege. Today the Job boards are getting squeezed by social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook on one side, and by Google for Jobs on the other. They won’t be able to survive the onslaught. In four or five years, they’ll be gone.

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