Forgive me for taking the next few paragraphs to state the bleeding obvious.

In every job board, there are three interested parties; those who run the board itself, the job advertisers (employers and recruitment agencies) and candidates.  Candidates may feel that it is they who are looking for jobs, but the truth is that they are the quarry  Searching for a job has always been a difficult and arduous task, fraught with so many unknowns, old-wives tales, bias, discriminations and inefficiencies.  It was always hard to know quite what to do, and where you were in the process.  Whilst anyone who can use a mouse can now apply for many more jobs than ever before, I believe the current system has not made things easier or less frustrating. 

Whilst you can apply to 50 job ads in an afternoon, you can also find that each of these adverts is ultimately for the same job; assigned to multiple agencies, who each advertise it on multiple job boards, and never mention the identity of the employer.  Because of the immense volumes of jobs, candidates and applications, many job boards make a point of concealing their own telephone number, which a candidate might try to use to get some human advice.  When the application process is often, in the eyes of the jobseeker, automated, impersonal, and unyielding, is it surprising that they seek a little reassurance from a human voice? Candidate forums can be good, but they can’t refer to specific vacancies.  A number for the recruitment agency would be good, but these are often not given for the same purpose.

I’ve said this a few times recently – I believe 2012 will be the year of the API.  For the uninitiated, the API is the technology which allows separate networks to connect, and share information. *

This week I tried registering with some of the UK’s largest job boards, to see how they were embracing the popular social media platforms.

  • Jobsite allows you to select one social link from a list of platforms. This is then available to any job advertiser, who views your profile and online CV.
  • Totaljobs allows you to add Linkedin and Twitter links.
  • Monster doesn’t appear to offer this option, even though it has the most apparent social media play, in the form of Beknown.

Why is login security so strict with job boards?  Every major job board I registered with insisted upon at least an 8 character password, including letters AND numbers.  Not only that, one of the big three refused my chosen password, which met their criteria, and three times deemed it to be too weak!  Frankly, I have logged into some internet banking services more easily than this.  Seriously, whilst all online security is important, why is this more stringent than Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter?  Job boards would really be doing themselves a big favour if they adopted OAuth, and allowed candidates to login with their choice of social media profile.

Linkedin has over 5 million CV’s in its database in the UK, and they’re all open to the public.  “Aha,” you say, “but those people aren’t all actively looking for a job”. Oh aren’t they? And I suppose the 4 million or so CV’s on each of the major generalist job boards are all active candidates too?  No, of course they aren’t, as those databases have accrued over years; and even those refreshed regularly will contain a significant number who are now off the market for a variety of reasons.  So how does a job board market its CV database in this climate?  As many job boards now allow candidates to import their Linkedin details, will they allow the reverse to occur?

We are living in very interesting times.  The recruitment sector is evolving at a rate of knots. I don’t claim to have the answers to these questions, but I will be very keen to discuss them in my track at #TRULondon on Thursday 23rd February.  I look forward to seeing you there.


*PS. My favourite acronym is TWAIN. It’s the technology which allows scanned image material to be converted to digital files on computers.  It stands for Technology Without An Interesting Name. And yes, I did use the image at the top of this page last year.  So shoot me.

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

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