In a recent blog post, Jeff Dickey-Chasins — otherwise known as “The Job Board Doctor” — posed a simple question: “What is a job board, exactly?”

If you’re wondering why a man who makes his living as a job board consultant would ask that question, take a minute to consider the current status of the job board, which is mired in a muck of competing opinions. Job boards are dying, or already dead, or irrelevant, or thriving, or supplanted by social media, etc. We could go on and on.

When we think about all of the confusion surrounding the modern job board, we can see Dickey-Chasins’ question in the proper light. Dickey-Chasins, who began his work in the job board industry as the original sales and marketing director for Dice, isn’t really asking us to define job boards so much as he is asking us to reconsider the definitions we already have.

“Historically, what a job board has been is a place where jobs are listed and candidates can search for jobs, apply for jobs, and post their resumés. Probably, that’s what most people mean when they say ‘job board,’” Dickey-Chasins says. “But certainly, by that standard, you could say that LinkedIn is a lot of things, but it’s certainly a job board, although recruiters might not think of it as a job board. And there are some sites that have a lot of content, but they get most of their revenue from the recruiting side of the fence, through the job board that they have on their site.”

According to Dickey-Chasins, job boards are in a period of evolution right now. “Job boards are evolving from that initial model, which essentially was putting newspaper classifieds online,” he says. As job boards grow and change, they stay united by one very basic idea: as long as employers are putting up jobs and candidates are applying, a website can qualify as a job board. So, in that case, Twitter may be as much of a job board as Monster.

Job boards are starting to showcase more information that isn’t specifically job content — things like career information and resources for candidates and newer, different methods of sourcing for employers. “So really, you could argue that the job boards are sort of evolving into wider online recruiting services for employers and candidates,” Dickey-Chasins says.

How Are Job Boards Evolving?

Dickey-Chasins says that, in general, job boards are trending towards the addition of features that were not historically associated with them. “One of the features, on the candidate side, is more of a cradle-to-grave approach to candidates, where they’re going to spend more of their professional life on the site,” he says.

LinkedIn would be a good example of this “cradle-to-grave approach”: candidates maintain profiles, network with other professionals, search for jobs, and consume and share work-related content, all in one place. In short, people use LinkedIn for a lot more than just job hunting.

According to Dickey-Chasins, the sort of content on these new sites differs from the content that job boards used to feature. Whereas job board content has traditionally focused on how to get a new job, new content tends to tackle a much broader range of career-related issues and ideas.

Dickey-Chasins points out that employers benefit from additional features like assessment and screening of candidates. While job boards have always been important for employer branding efforts, Dickey-Chasins sees them expanding their roles as more and more job boards incorporate and interact with social media sites.

“Most employers are not Google, or Apple, or IBM. Most of them are relatively anonymous to candidates,” Dickey-Chasins says. “One of the things they need to do to attract the best candidate is to get out there, build the employer brand, and set themselves off from everyone else, and that’s where job boards really come in. They’re probably one of the most effective employer branding tools that employers can use.”

Change Is Not the End

Despite the chorus of voices that would have you believe that job boards are on the verge of death, Dickey-Chasins is quick to point out that job boards are in a good place right now: “Actually, from a financial standpoint, job boards are doing pretty well. The industry continues to grow, it’s just growing in a different way than it did during the first 15 years, which makes sense.”

Dickey-Chasins believes that many people have mistaken the current period of intense change for a sort of apocalyptic scenario. As job boards evolve, they look less and less like how they used to look — and they look less and less like how we think job boards are supposed to look. It can seem, to some, that job boards are disappearing, when really they’re just growing up.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that every job board will survive the current shift. “I do think the classic, old-fashioned job board that you would see in the late ‘90s and early 2000s is dying. The ones that stay the same will probably go away. But the majority of them that are successful are evolving to serve a broader model,” Dickey-Chasins says.

Dickey-Chasins also believes that some prophets of the job-board end times have their own agendas for making such forecasts: “Quite honestly, you have to look at the people who say that job boards are dying. Almost always, they have vested interests in having the job boards go away. The job boards represent anywhere from $3.5 to $5 billion a year in revenue, and so obviously that makes them a big target for anyone that is trying to get into the online recruiting space.”

As further proof that job boards are not dying, Dickey-Chasins holds up the steady increase of startups in the market since 2009. “There seems to be no abating of that,” he says, pointing out  that there are currently a lot of companies and a lot of venture capital in the job-board space.

A robust market of startups, of course, invites acquisitions: Monster bought TalentBin, CareerBuilder now owns Broadbean, and Dice has picked up a few companies, including getTalent and onTargetjobs.

“It’s like any market that’s crowded and generating money,” Dickey-Chasins says. “There will always be more entrants than there will be survivors.”

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