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It is better
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John Sumser

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National Network

(June 07, 2004) - CareerCast is a surprising phenomenon that appears to stand many assumptions on their heads. Positioned as a radical alternative to the available menu choices for newspaper, the modest Southern California firm routinely appears in the top 10 traffic listings for job boards. The traffic numbers appear to be quite an accomplishment for an operation exclusively focused on the provision of technical services.

Of the top 10 most trafficked web servers in our industry, CareerCast would be the only operation that has neither a traffic acquisition staff nor a traffic acquisition budget. That's simply because CareerCast isn't a job board. Their traffic is a measurement of the heft of their customers, not their prowess in candidate identification.

Like other "Job Board In A Box" providers (Boxwood Technologies, CareerSite, AdOne and an additional cast of thousands), CareerCast "powers" job boards. That is, they provide the software services that enable a newspaper (usually) to have a job board. The firm doesn't provide marketing services or sales support (like Regional Help Wanted).

They are really good at what they do. While most of their competitors have larger client lists, CareerCast routinely acquires the business of the serious providers. The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal are among CareerCast's 60 or so key clients. With the single exception of the Washington Post, CareerCast provides the job board services for the most entrepreneurial operations in the newspaper business. This is due, in large part, because they are good at "sticking to their knitting". As a great software provider, CareerCast offers nothing in the way of support for customer sales or service (like CareerBuilder). They simply and consistently deliver a great no-frills service.

Recently, CareerCast has begun leveraging their traffic ranking. Claiming a "National Network", customers of the service are able to show job hunters two different sets of results to a job search query. Job Posting customers pay an additional fee to have their jobs shown in each set of results.

It's a fascinating upsell. CareerCast customers have the opportunity to offer their customers the ability to post jobs on the "National Network". Nearly every job poster takes a swing at the "national" audience when they purchase services from the CareerCast member. Effectively, every buyer buys the upsell.

It's an enviable position.

Imagine, for example, that you've decided to look for work on the WFIE job board. The search page suggests that about 14,000 jobs are available for review. Our standard query (used to gage the number of jobs in the database) returns a page that claims 131 jobs from WFIE and an additional 30 jobs from the National Network. The national database, in this case, includes jobs sold by other operations but within 50 miles of KFIE's home base, Evansville, IN.

Tony Lee, head of CareerJournal (amongst many other things) took the time to explain the operating details. After signing a complex national network membership agreement, each CareerCast customer has the ability to post jobs to their own portion of the overall database. Once a posting is in their database, it can be tagged to be viewed from a National perspective for an additional fee.

There are a series of interesting angles to review. While it isn't really a network, the CareerCast approach showcases a key vulnerability in top down job board business models. While the Principles would have you believe that this is some sort of open-source phenomenon, it's really a structural anomaly.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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