Feature: Keep Your Eye on the Bouncing Ball
The online employment services industry continues to develop as one of the most successful areas of e-commerce. According to Morgan Stanley, the industry will grow by 10.8 percent in 2007. Corzen is even more optimistic; it is predicting a better than 30% growth rate, with the industry expanding to an astonishing $3 billion this year.
That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that our industry faces a number of new developments that will challenge our business acumen and ultimate growth. My crystal ball is no better than anyone else’s, but here’s my take on four factors that will impact job boards and career portals in 2007. Are there others? Sure. But these are four we should definitely keep an eye on.
Alternative Business Models
For most sites in the industry, the business model of choice is the one developed by newspapers. As in classified advertising, they charge an upfront fee for space on their platform and offer no guaranteed return on that investment. Now, however, some sites are offering an alternative: pay-for-performance or pay-per-click. Modeled after the wildly successful advertising model at Google, this approach offers employers a way to pay only for results, at least in theory. In most cases, results are defined not as applicants, qualified applicants or new hires, but as individuals who click on a job posting. Will this new model catch on? It’s been offered in our industry for over a year and, by most accounts, sales have been slow. But, that doesn’t mean it won’t gain traction over time; as with any new business idea, it takes early adopters to bring the rest of the customer base along.
Although often lumped together with pay-per-performance, vertical search is actually something different. It involves transforming an employment site from an advertising platform used by advertisers to a search engine operated by technology. Spiders built by the search engine company copy jobs posted on traditional job boards and employer sites and archive them in a database that can be searched on its site. The value proposition for candidates, of course, is that they can now save the time and effort required to visit multiple sites by searching the listings at a single site. Will this new idea catch on? It’s too early to tell. Certainly, active job seekers will be impressed with the potential time savings, but that’s not the population employers and recruiters want to reach. They want access to passive prospects, people who are at the top of their field and already employed, and it’s not clear whether efficiency is enough of a magnet to attract them.
The OFCCP Definition
The OFCCP issued its Final Rule on the definition of an online candidate in February of last year, and by May, all employers doing business with the government (as well as employers doing business with the employers doing business with the government) had to be in compliance. The definition had the biggest impact on searching an “external” resume database or one operated by a job board. According to the Agency, employers and recruiters using such a service must now save the results of any search, in effect creating a huge new data storage requirement. Moreover, employers are also required to make a good faith effort to collect EEO/AA data from each of the candidates identified by the search. What’s been the impact of the ruling? A lot of confusion and fear among our customers. Ironically, the rule actually places job boards at a competitive advantage in employment services, although you’d never know that from the confusing litany of explanations offered by the OFCCP. Government contractors have always had to save the paper resumes of all applicants and seek EEO/AA data from them. On the Web, in contrast, they only have to save the e-resumes of qualified candidates or, in effect, a smaller population. Until we get that message out to our customers, however, the OFCCP “issue” will continue to impact our business.
The Rise of Community Sites
Traditionally, job boards have offered a value proposition composed of several features: a job database, a resume database (accessible by employers) and content related to successful job search. Helpful as those features are, they appeal only to a segment of the candidate population: active job seekers. While active job seekers definitely make good candidates, employers want to tap into the passive population, as well. But, passive prospects are, by definition, not job seekers at all, so they need something more than job search assistance. That’s why a growing number of job boards are transforming themselves into professional community centers. Such destinations offer all of the trappings of a traditional job board plus features, functionality and content that is interesting to people who aren’t looking for a job. These new design parameters include micro-channels for specific subsets of visitors, professional (not social) discussion forums and information on career self-management. Will these redesigned sites catch on? You bet they will. Employers no longer believe they’re in a War for Talent; they think they’re waging a War for the Best Talent, and the best talent wants a very different experience than that provided by Web 1.0 job boards.
The online employment services industry is barely a decade old. In that short period of time, it has grown from a handful of sites to at least 40,000 job boards and career portals in the U.S. alone and probably an equal number elsewhere around the world. That means, of course, that the competition to survive and prosper grows by the day. To hold your own will require all of the savvy you’ve mustered to date and a steady resolve to keep your eye on the bouncing ball that is our industry.
Thanks for reading,
News You Can Use
We at WEDDLE’s offer a number of uniquely effective ways to reach potential customers among employers and staffing firms. These include:
Every quarter, we use good, old-fashioned snail mail to send a packet of information to every single person who has bought one of our books over the past eight years. That list now counts more than 100,000 customers, over 80% of which are corporate and third party recruiters, HR practitioners, HR and Staffing Directors, or Vice Presidents of Talent Acquisition and Human Resources. Your company can promote its brand, its latest products and services and/or its special programs with a full page insert in the mailing. Best of all, you have all of the space on the front and back of a standard sheet of paper to present your information.
Training for current and/or prospective customers.
WEDDLE’s Publisher, Peter Weddle, is one of the most popular trainers in the industry. His sessions are always packed with important insights, good humor and lots of practical, take-home value. His programs cover the full range of topics that represent Best Practices in online sourcing and recruiting. Now, you can arrange for Peter to present to your current and/or prospective clients, either face-to-face or via audio hookup. These sessions are a great way to build relationships with key advertisers and to impart the knowledge they will need to make best use of your services.
Sponsorship advertising in WEDDLE’s Newsletter for Recruiters & HR Professionals.
Every other week, WEDDLE’s delivers one of the most popular publications in the online employment industry. It’s Peter Weddle’s online newsletter about Best Practices in talent acquisition and leadership. Over 50,000 recruiting and sourcing professionals and executives read Peter’s insights and ideas and pass them along to their colleagues. When they do, they also see and share information about a single company-the newsletter’s exclusive sponsor. It is highlighted not once, but twice in the publication, providing extraordinary visibility for your brand and product and service offerings.
For additional information about these and other advertising options with WEDDLE’s, please call us at 203.964.1888. We’re based in Connecticut, so on Eastern time.
Announcements & Other Important Stuff
WEDDLE’s 2007/8 books are now off-press and on their way to bookstores, public and academic libraries, career counseling centers, and college placement offices. What’s been the response so far? Consider this review for our Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet from the Career Planning and Adult Development Journal:
“WEDDLE’s ongoing commitment to providing real-time, real-world career industry information has resulted in an indispensable resource for the 21st century workforce and those who seek and secure talent.”
Our 2007/8 books include:
To order your copies, visit our 2007 catalog and secure server here or call 317.916.9424 right away.
The International Association of Employment Web Sites (IAEWS)
The IAEWS is the trade association for the global online employment services industry. Barely more than a year old, its membership now includes over 125 organizations operating over 850 sites worldwide.
The purpose of the Association is to promote our industry by contributing to the success of the companies in that industry. How does the IAEWS do that? Its activities include:
Membership is open to any of the following organizations that operate an employment site or sell products and services to those sites:
If your company or organization is not yet a Member, you’re missing out on some of the most important contacts and information you can have. To learn more about the Association, please visit its site or call the founder and Executive Director, Peter Weddle. You can reach him at 203.964.1888 or Director@EmploymentWebSites.org.