Every job board is born with original sin. The very first task of any new job board is to justify its existence, and the fact that its very presence further fragments the market, which in turn makes things more difficult for jobseekers.  You could of course say the same thing of any retailer in a busy city centre, but in the entire job market there is a finite number of jobs which can be advertised at any one time.  Job boards don’t create vacancies; they seek to bring together candidates and employers, who would otherwise remain oblivious to each other.

It’s all very well lamenting the existence of a myriad of job boards, large, small, regional, national, niche and generalist, when only one is necessary, but what is to be done? Setting aside the issue of over-supply and under-delivery innate to our current job board sector, how would you design the perfect job board?  I’ve heard a lot of talk recently from “futurologists”, bemoaning the transactional nature of existing job boards, and their lack of evolution, but very little about what they want to see.  If it’s not good enough to simply advertise a vacancy and receive applications, then what do they propose?  As it happens, I mostly agree with them, but I am prepared to envision and debate how the model can improve, to the advantage of both candidates and advertisers. 

Firstly, I appreciate that there is a considerable amount of inertia in the recruitment sector. All participants (employers, recruitment agencies, candidates, media owners), have grown used to our current setup, and are resistant to change for many reasons.  Many would be content to preserve the current model in aspic, and remove the headache of a continually reinventing sector.

Right now, in offices across the country, there are teams of people trying to design a better way for employers to find candidates, and for candidates to find jobs. It is vital to remember, that these are two very different things. These teams will include those developing a brand new job boards, intending to revolutionise the market, and challenge industry norms.  Likewise, the job board establishment, including Monster, Jobsite Totaljobs etc will have project teams doing the very same thing, albeit within the constraints of an existing market leading operation.

So let’s have a bit of blue-sky thinking then. With a blank sheet of paper, and all options open to you, how would you design the perfect job board? Let’s say you were building a generalist board (let’s call it TotalJobsiteMonster), which catered for all industry sectors, and all locations in the UK.  Leaving aside the fact that you’d need very deep pockets to compete with the big boys, which features would you nick from Jobsite, which technology from Monster, how about the design of CV-Library (I’m a fan), and what useless elements would you definitely not incorporate?  I’m talking, of course, about features for both advertisers and candidates.  Just as importantly, what would you do new, that these guys are not?

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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