The Recruiting Industry Is Fun Again! 5 Takeaways From a Job Board Summit

The Jobg8 Job Board Summit I recently went to in New Orleans is a time for job board execs and those who serve them to get together and talk shop. The job board industry has been under a lot of pressure lately, primarily due to some big players entering the space, so I was interested to take it all in and see what would unfold.

Here’s what stood out over the course of two days:

  1. Google for Jobs. How apropos this event took place the same week Google launched Google for Jobs. Early feedback is positive, with the handful of job sites I talked to who had their job postings in Google’s index seeing significant increases in traffic. Let’s see how long the high lasts and how bad the hangover’s going to be.
  2. Google Cloud Jobs API. Google actually let an employee take the stage at the event, which is a pretty rare treat. They shared the stage with a CareerBuilder rep, and both broke down the API basics, which is designed to improve the search experience for job seekers. One example that seemed to resonate with the audience was Google being able to decipher misspellings in a way that most job sites simply cannot. The vibe in the audience afterward was very pro-Google, and I feel comfortable saying many will jump on board as Google rolls out its API.
  3. Indeed ain’t scared. The first panel featured the CEO of Snagajob, Christopher Gamble of Indeed, and some dude I’d never heard of. When asked about Google coming into the space, Gamble said, “We believe that the experience we give the job seeker keeps bringing them back, and they keep telling their friends and they keep coming back. Our traffic keeps growing. We have various sources of traffic; Google is just one of them.” He didn’t mention how important Google was to traffic generation, but it’s safe to say it’s not insignificant, simply based on how much Indeed advertises on Google.
  4. Follow the money. Crowded’s Howie Schwartz gave a very insightful and candid presentation on venture capital and why investors won’t touch (most) job boards with a 10-foot pole these days. He showed a visual of Monster’s crashing stock chart and talked about the challenges of a business that must acquire job seekers on an ongoing basis, only to see the lifespan of that user deteriorate in a short period of time as they no longer need a job. Schwartz highlighted the fact that money was flowing into recruiting technology because these business models tend to be stable, scalable, and predictable. At the end of the presentation, two startups pitched Schwartz, Shark Tank-style, which I found very entertaining.
  5. Beyond is now Nexxt. Huh? There are two takeaways here. 1) Throwing away a well-known, 15-year-old industry brand that people can easily spell like Beyond is just mind-boggling. Even Coke kept the word Coke when it launched New Coke. I feel sorry for the employees who have to explain this move to customers, prospects, and partners. Sigh. 2) The thinking, however, underscores how so many traditional job boards are fleeing the business of putting help-wanted signs on the Internet. Other examples include Jobing pivoting to its Recruiting.com brand, CareerBuilder changing its logo to signify a focus on technology services, and now, Beyond wanting to toss a brand associated with job postings to shine a light on its non-postings business. Like it or not, it’s what’s next, er, I mean, Nexxt.

Lastly, I have to say the industry is really fun again. I’ve been around long enough to remember the environment before the floor dropped in 2008. It was a time of low unemployment, lots of action, and constant buzz. Companies had money to spend and positions to fill. They needed solutions.

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The current environment resembles those halcyon days. Job boards, vertical job search engines, “Web 2.0” and Facebook apps have been replaced with A.I., chatbots, automation, and deep learning, but the energy is the same.

Joel Cheesman

Joel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead. He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to Jobing.com. He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is married and the father of three children. He lives in Indianapolis.