Why paid job boards are as doomed as the town crier

glyn brokenshaJob boards like Seek may have crippled the classified revenues of traditional media giants, but they will themelves be destroyed by the next wave, argues Glyn Brokensha

Popular internet job boards are set to vanish just like the town crier. In medieval times, town criers were the chief means of communicating news. We don’t see too many job ads for town criers now.

The news that Fairfax has given up on charging money for job ads on its employment website MyCareer and will switch to free listings comes as no surprise.

While declining job ad volumes have some part to play, the fact is the business model of posting a print-style job ad online in a closed online environment is redundant.

In May Frost & Sullivan’s Australian Online Classifieds Market report reported growth of the Australian online classifieds market had halved in 2012 to eight per cent compared to 16 per cent in 2011. It predicted annual growth until 2016 would average just seven per cent as the market reached “a state of maturity” with the total market reaching $1.011bn by 2016.

Expenditure in the online employment sector is predicted to grow by only 3.7 per cent next year. This is mirrored by significant growth in popularity in alternatives to paid job listings such as direct candidate search or use of social media to source candidates.

Seek.com.au, jobs.com.au and Careerone.com.au along with many of the big specialist sites are all headed for the same fate as MyCareer. They might try to slow their decline with discounts and repackaged niche platforms but the idea of paid ads is redundant.

The simple fact is job candidates and employers can now more easily find each other via search and company websites. Jobs now go directly to applicants who set up alerts for suitable roles to come to them.

A job seekers soft copy e-resume can be sent to an infinite number of potential employers who often now find themselves inundated with hundreds or even thousands of applicants.

Casting the widest possible net for new employees allows organisations to potentially reach the very best candidates. More applicants means more choice and the knowledge that you have explored all the available talent thoroughly.

The new town criers for staff selection today are specific company career pages delivered straight to applicants via search engines which are starting to index job ads directly. And it’s all for free.

Social media platforms like LinkedIn and its large network of professionals which can be easily targeted according to job category or other characteristics now make it an attractive platform to target active candidates. However this new model is already increasingly being challenged by the ubiquity and reach of the internet where powerful self-publishing and search tools are beginning to make third parties obsolete.

Just as the spread of moveable type and the printing press saw the end of the town crier, the growth of these highly specific platforms will only continue to have a negative impact on the current remaining mainstream online employment websites like Seek and Careerone.

  • Glyn Brokensha is MD of Expr3ss! a software company which offers recruitment tools



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