Job boards are under pressure. LinkedIn on the one side, Indeed on the other. An uptick in the economy might mask this development, but it is happening. It doesn’t come as a surprise to most and is a well-known trend. What is new is that the Indeed/LinkedIn embrace is now also happening on a sector specific level.
Let’s take energy and oil – a perfect storm is brewing for job boards. So far the job boards had a pretty stable competitive landscape. Indeed is the main supplier of traffic to the boards but not affecting businesses too badly. This is about to change. With OilPro, a sector specific professional network has entered the stage and accompanying it, Oilfinity, a niche aggregator. Both companies are run by people who know what they are doing: OilPro is the brain child of David Kent, founder of Rigzone; Oilfinity is the new offering by the Potts brothers, founders of Jobsite and managers of Evenbase (owners of Oilcareers, Jobrapido and Broadbean). Both are making great in-roads. Oilfinity, for example, is experiencing significant growth rates, exceptional conversion rates and enormous client interest only 4 months after launch. Both thrive on the fertile ground of weak oil prices. Oilfinity, for example, offers performance based pricing (including cost per application) instead of the established advertising model. So the stalwarts will come under increased pressure with less room for manoeuvre as it is always much harder to cannibalize revenues at a time when the market softens. Niche aggregators also have an advantage over the Indeeds of this world: they can tailor their search more easily therefore making results more relevant, and they do not include job board postings and so improve the candidate experience significantly.
Oil isn’t a first, there are already other differentiated niche offerings such as StackOverflow that challenge the Status Quo. In some markets, it is more difficult to mount an impactful challenge: If there is – like in Germany – a clear leader within a market that still favors applications on the employers’ websites, the new models will find it harder to take hold. Job boards obviously also won’t just sit back and let it happen but will work on finding answers and solutions on how to counter the threat. Job boards have the advantage of having interactions with both job seekers and recruiters and are sitting on significant amounts of data from both parties that can allow them to make job seeking simpler by becoming more relevant and creating differentiated offerings. Finding this differentiation, finding the competitive advantage will be the key task for job boards.
Some will turn themselves into aggregators, which will present a significant challenge to internal structures, set ups and skill sets. Some will (and already have) moved deeper into the recruitment value chain and offer pre-screening, short-listing (mainly driven through increased automation), interviewing and potentially an end to end RPO set up. In effect they will start competing with their own clients.
SThree (with The IT JobBoard) and Reed.co.uk have shown that this also works the other way around. It would be no surprise if more recruitment agencies or RPOs would set up their own job board or aggregator, especially when operating in a significant niche. This allows them to counter the move of the job boards by using the same automation that job boards offer, by utilizing their own sizable candidate databases and relevant client interactions and driving the differentiation through their own skill sets. In a world where 30%+ traffic to job boards comes from Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising if recruiters would just go direct instead of feeding their potential future competitor. To be successful requires a change in mindset – innovating to increase productivity instead of purely reducing costs – and skill set – bringing B2C marketers and digital marketing experts into the company. This could be an interesting 3rd pressure point for job boards.