The debate on the future of Job Boards seems to become more polarized by the day. Depending on your viewpoint / agenda it seems you should either believe they are going to suffer a painful death and all shut down tomorrow or carry on regardless effortlessly circumventing the massive digital changes that are effecting every other industry so dramatically. History should teach us that changes in the recruitment industry are never so black and white but instead always come in a million shades of grey. With all of this in mind I've been pondering recently what the future might actually hold and some recent experiences are indicating the emergence of a massively disruptive trend.
As anyone who has properly experimented with social media will tell you, it's all about conversations. It's all about connecting, listening and engaging and the ability to do this on an enormous scale offers the glimpse of a brave new world for recruitment. Emerging "conventional" wisdom says that bulk feeding jobs into Twitter is at best missing the point and at worst cynical spam. While I strongly agree with the "conversations" viewpoint I would now argue that Twitter job feeds are not necessarily mutually exclusive. After all following someone's Twitter feed is an opt in choice and it is impossible to spam users on Twitter if they are not following you. The flip-side of this though is that not many people will want to follow an automated job feed, making its potential reach distinctly unimpressive
However a few weeks back I became aware of a fascinating paradox. While I was doing a project for a big corporate employer they started experimenting with an automated Twitter job feed. Expectations were low and the number of followers the Twitter stream attracted was even lower! It soon became clear though that something very unexpected was happening. Despite only having 50 followers the Twitter account started generating over 200 quality CVs / resumes a week. Since then I've found numerous other corporates and job boards who are experiencing the same thing and keeping it to themselves as a kind of "dirty secret". Before anyone starts thinking this has got anything to do with brand or employer brand it's also worth noting that a lot of these feeds are anonymous!
So what's happening? Well in addition to being an excellent tool for conversations, Twitter is also an open platform that it is very easy to get content into and out of. While people may not be following job feeds directly, they are obviously using Twitter to search for jobs somehow. This may be via general search engines like Twitter Search, via vertical ones such as Twitterjobsearch or by other means. While we may not be exactly sure how these quality candidates are accessing the jobs, the evidence that they are doing so and in numbers is pretty strong.
If this trend continues and more and more employers set up free job feeds, we'll start to see the creation of a what I'd call a "Job Cloud". Effectively a free Twitter powered open access database of jobs much bigger than the closed databases job boards currently hold and charge for. This is highly disruptive and would certainly dramatically alter the recruitment advertising landscape. Rather than the focus being on the publishing of jobs it would shift to be providing users with the tools to access, find and filter jobs within this "Job Cloud".
How will this pan out? Well I'm not exactly sure at this stage but I would suspect that as an industry we should start taking companies like Twitterjobsearch and the many other start ups offering Twitter job filtering very seriously indeed. Although they could be an even more radical viewpoint that this will be a concept that is impossible to monetize. If that's true it would be great news for employers but bad news for the job board industry.
Whatever people might say, two key revenue pillars of the recruitment industry have always been "owning" candidates and "owning" jobs. LinkedIn is already disrupting the candidate ownership space and it looks like Twitter might be about to do the same thing with job advertising