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Job Board Definitions

(April 28, 2004) - We waded through another study on the job board market recently. Apparently it's as if the car with the biggest tires is somehow the best car. Determining who is or isn't a job board is an analyst's sport akin to defining the pack at the "Tour de France" as "only those bicyclists from France". In a perspective that harkens back to the dotcom bubble, most evaluations only look at traffic. The one with the most traffic is the biggest player.

Hmmm, we were sure that the biggest player would have the largest revenue.

There are a range of players providing an array of services. There are many differing business models. New approaches still continue to emerge. Apples to apples comparisons are hard, in part because we are still learning about the web.

We've spoken with a number of Job Board operators from the big guys to the little ones. Business models vary intensely and there is, at least to us, a question about whether or not these people are even in the same business. At the results end of the equation, things equalize somewhat; candidates are produced on behalf of users.

Consider these cases:

  • While HotJobs has an aggressive traffic acquisition program, their core business appears to be becoming the management of relationships with the 80 Million Yahoo members on the subject of careers. This means that their product set and emphasis will evolve away from the models of more traditional job boards. The competitive advantage offered by massive volumes of "free" traffic is the centerpiece of their go forward strategy.
  • Monster now has offices in 60 MSAs (as well as all colonized areas of the known universe). Their sales force is a critical, hard to duplicate strength. Coupled with a high powered (and very focused) traffic acquisition engine, they are rapidly becoming a local operation within a national framework.
  • We often see CareerCast mentioned as the number three or four player in the business. This is a reflection of the traffic generated by CareerCast's customers. The firm itself is a technical shop with limited sales, no marketing and no traffic acquisition capacity. In reality, CareerCast is less than 1% of the size of Monster.
  • Salary.com is rarely mentioned as a player in the industry yet their traffic would easily place them in the top five. Salary simply sells its traffic to the competition. However, the traffic generation expertise makes them a sales force away from becoming a powerhouse in the upturn.
  • Unicru has managed over 23,000,0000 applicants in the past two years. The staggering performance fact is that nearly 10% of them got work form the experience. This dwarfs the relative performance of the other players.
  • CareerBuilder has built an interesting operation that is coming up the learning curve on traffic acquisition. While CareerCast has a larger stable of local success stories, that has more to do with the options available to newspaper companies. In general, mobilizing the local sales force has been a major issue over the past decade. Local newspaper teams are still order takers rather than salespeople.
  • Retailology is a fascinating play by Federated Department Stores. Being a standalone job board forces the Retailology team to grapple with the dynamics of traffic acquisition (and they are defining standards for all company job boards). But, with no sales force to maintain, they operate at a significant discount to the retail purchase of talent. (We're waiting to see whether or not Unicru and Federated can figure out how to work together...that would be a very interesting alternative model.)
  • With the release of version 8.1 (more about this later) Hire.com's customers are rewriting the company job board game. The consistent focus on process control and relationship development allows customers to harvest their brands as traffic acquisition engines. By building a working stock of relationships, they set the "new meat in the database" model on its ears.
  • New entrant, TheLadders.com proposes yet another alternative. By positioning itself as a data flow manager for high powered candidates, and taking their fees from the candidate end, Ladders offers a more refined candidate experience and appears to be the first real mass-market candidate advocate in the game. Only Workstream has been able to field real revenue from candidates in a predictable model up to this point.

We're going to take some time to focus on the evolving job board scene. Tomorrow, even more examples and the beginning of an answer to the question "What is a job board?"

John Sumser

The Job Board Definitions Series:

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