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The North American job board market – by Jeff Dickey-Chasins

North America gave birth to the job board industry over 15 years ago, and it continues to provide a steady stream of interesting and unusual new sites for both job seekers and employers. Although pundits claim that ‘job boards are dying’, I’ve seen no evidence of this. Instead, there’s been a new spurt of startups and some interesting developments with established brands.

The rise of the niche

Although hardly a new trend, the number of niche sites continues to grow. There are sites for every possible slice of the employment market: vegan jobs, adjunct faculty, jobs on Block Island, extreme sports, and sign language. Part of this growth has been driven by a lower cost of entry (courtesy of more and better job board software offerings), coupled with employer dissatisfaction with the ‘big boards’. Early pioneers such as Beyond (with literally thousands of job-title-specific sites) continue to extend their reach, and successful niche players have grown their own networks (see OnTargetJobs for an example).

Social media is here to stay

The past year has seen a new breed of job site appear: the ‘social media’ site. There are boards that are Twitter-specific (TweetMyJobs), Facebook-specific (WorkForUs), Facebook- AND LinkedIn-specific (Jibe), and a little bit of everything (JobShouts!). What they all have in common is a focus on morphing the traditional job board model into something more ‘social’ – at least as is currently defined by the dominant platforms of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Then there are new sites like Koda, which melds career-related blog posts, company profiles, standard job postings, and Ning-like user profiles. Established niche sites such as CollegeRecruiter have reformatted to include user-generated blogs and videos, Twitter feeds, and old-fashioned forums (which remain remarkably popular in certain segments). In short, social media is affecting and will continue to affect the job board industry.

Job boards evolve into career hubs

The career hub concept is hardly new – MediaBistro has been around almost a decade – but dissatisfaction with the traditional ‘transactional’ model of job board has spurred many sites to look at adding content and functionality to keep candidates around longer.

Typical components of  a career hub include: newsfeeds; blogs; career advice and tools; user-generated content; forums; services aimed at the specific types of candidates on the site; ‘dashboards’ or ‘desktops’ that allow candidates to consolidate career-related activities.

Curious? Take a look at these sites for insight into how job sites can evolve beyond the ‘job board’ model: CleanTechies; Engineering.com; Nurse.com; and RecruitingBlogs.

Technology is (finally) getting better

Some job boards are still acting like it’s 1999 – and their fortunes are suffering as a result. Other sites have made significant investments in new technology, however. Nowhere is this more notable that with industry leader Monster. Faced with millions of resumes and a frustrated employer audience, they introduced 6Sense search technology, which utilizes AI and other techniques to produce better matches – faster.

Other services such as RealMatch aim to automate the matching of candidate to job opportunity. Although ‘matching’ technology has been around a while, only recently has the industry seen significant improvements in efficiency and quality.

The future looks both exciting and varied for the job board industry – not just in North America, but around the globe. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

About the author:

The Job Board Doctor is Jeff Dickey-Chasins, a veteran of the job board, publishing, and e-learning industries. Jeff was the original marketing director for Dice.com, growing it from $7 million to $65+ million in three years. He has worked with numerous job boards and HR-related sites over the past 20 years.

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