Job Boards Move to an Era of ‘Matching’ and Education

Conversations with several job board leaders and a look at a number of new tools indicate that services such as Dice, Indeed and ZipRecruiter are adjusting their strategies to focus more on matchmaking, education and candidate loyalty than simple job-posting and database building.

Job Board CandidatesFor example, ZipRecruiter is “really focused right now on continuing to improve the quality of the matching that our system is making,” CEO Ian Siegel told TechCrunch. ZipRecruiter is building more intelligence into its search algorithms, including nuggets like which employers a candidate has checked out, the number of times they’ve searched for a specific type of job opening and how closely their profile matches others an employer has previously shown interest in.

The technology career site Dice is working along similar lines. At last month’s HR Tech conference, Mike Marasch, senior director of product for parent DHI Group, emphasized the focus of Dice’s new TalentSearch on surfacing quality candidates over generating a higher number of results. Marasch’s describes “quality” candidates as those who have the skills and experience to successfully fill a particular role, generate the right social signals about their likelihood to change jobs and are reachable by recruiters.

Interestingly, today the people at companies like Dice, ZipRecruiter and other job boards speak much more frequently about “matching” where they used to talk about “searching.” And Dice’s emphasis on providing actual contact information hints that job boards now think of themselves more as providers of solutions, not only information.

Providing Actionable Matches

“I think this concept of job board as a link farm, of posting the job and there’s a lot of links to it, is a fundamentally challenging concept to get your head wrapped around in this day and age,” Raj Mukherjee, Indeed’s senior vice president of product, remarked during an interview at HR Tech.

“What I mean by that is employers are looking for solutions to provide you with quality candidates very quickly at reasonable cost. Historically, job boards have not optimized for that,” he said. Instead, they were designed to “give you a bunch of clicks and get out of your way. Then it was your job to figure out what quality you want and how soon you want to get to that quality.”

Today, however, the industry is fundamentally changing as employers demand the ability to find more quality candidates in less time. Ultimately, Mukherjee believes, the market is moving toward a concept of balance that involves less volume, higher quality and shorter turnaround times.

Passive Candidates into Active Community

Of course, no discussion of job boards would be complete with considering passive candidates—the people who aren’t actively looking for a job. These folks have long been the holy grail of talent acquisition, and more than a few recruiters attribute LinkedIn’s success as a talent hunting ground to the fact that it positions itself to individual users as a business network where they can meet professionals with similar interests and, by the way, possibly gain the notice of prospective employers.

A number of job boards have met that challenge by scraping information from social sites like GitHub, Facebook and LinkedIn itself, to varying degrees of success. An unfortunate unintended consequence of the approach is that including information from such sources can water down the quality of search results.

To use Dice as an example: Searching its native community for project managers yields a far more focused list of profiles than you’d get if you include records from other social networks or third-party sources. Most of Dice’s candidates have some kind of technology PM experience, just as you’d expect from a tech-focused job board. Open up the search and results include candidates whose experience is in construction, finance and pharmaceuticals. Using TalentSearch, you can refine those results, but the bottom line is recruiters have to trade off targeted searching for broader results when they cast a wide net looking for passive candidates.

This challenge is by no means unique to Dice, and for his part Mukherjee suggests the whole emphasis on passive candidates is somewhat misguided. Indeed’s research, he said, shows that many workers begin thinking about a new job just two months after they start a position. He wonders if ultimately, candidates will want to use a broad service like Indeed to explore future options and even plot a career path that will lead to their ultimate goal. So, for example, a salesperson would be able to formulate their strategy for becoming a vice president of sales chair.

Dice offers a tool that helps tech pros do just that and ZipRecruiter’s thinking along similar lines. Siegel believes there’s money to be made in helping candidates determine why they’re not matching up with the types of job they’re looking for. “We are really good at helping you see jobs you’re likely to get, but what about jobs you aspire to that may not naturally make you a match?” he asked TechCrunch. “In the not too distant future, we will be able to say if you add one more skill all these jobs will become available to you. The nature of the guidance will be very interesting.”

Our conclusions: First, job boards will pay increasing attention to finding qualified candidates they can take action on. Second, they’d offer more content designed to attract professionals who are serious about career-planning. And third, those efforts will lead to more initiatives designed to build up their pool of candidates who post their profiles directly, whether they’re actively looking or not. In other words, job boards will have little choice but to add content and community if they’re going to succeed.

Disclosure: Mark Feffer was an employee of Dice for eight years and still contributes articles to its Dice Insights.  

Image: tashatuvango

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