website development wireframe The International Association of Employment Websites (IAEW) now boasts over 1200 members in a universe of more than 40,000 job boards at last count.

In 1999,’s super bowl ads launched the explosion of the online job posting space and wrestled the help wanted business away from print newspapers. Since then many boards launched to compete in an industry that flourished. However, the landscape changed so quickly with external market forces popping up so fast it disrupted the growth of what was once Wall Street’s darling. Monster’s stock price declined by nearly 90 percent from over $40 a share in April of 2007 to just over $4.00 a share in October of 2013.

What happened? One could certainly blame the economy for some of the plummet. However, the real answer is that a perfect storm of market shifts in customer expectations and new competitive business models changed the game. That left many traditional job boards unable to redirect their battleship and they were put way behind the leading edge. Here is a rundown of just some of the factors that drove all the transformation.

1. Customers wanted specialization and took their money to more focused niches. Why waste ad dollars on people who are not in your target audience? Niche job board specialists grew like mushrooms taking ad spend away from the generalist boards.

2. The Ladders (niche to $100K plus jobs) also changed the game by beginning to treat applicants like customers. They learned how to monetize the job seeker database along with the job posting revenue from employers. Until they came along most job boards paid little attention to the candidate and today ads on The Ladders are FREE.

3. Along came LinkedIn and they too recognized the opportunity of charging professionals by charging monthly fees to build your profile online and become part of a networking community. This made them attractive and easily accessible to recruiters. LinkedIn turned the paper-based resume into a relic.

4. Enter and we change the game again. Crawling the net to scrape ads from all other sites and aggregating them while only charging employers a premium for position while shifting the value proposition from pay upfront for stacks of resumes to pay per click for responses. Quickly copied by others like Simply Hired and JuJu. Then firms like ZipRecruiter and Recruitics began providing the one-stop-shop approach to job posting blasting a single post out to dozens of boards for a nominal fee.

5. Today, others have entered the market offering models that promise to match the applicant experience and bio data with the employers’ hiring criteria. Leading the charge was JobScore and RealMatch but most sites, including Career Builder, Monster and Linkedin, also have scoring mechanisms associated with the candidate’s application. Then the Big Data boys weigh in with elaborate algorithms for sourcing. And you cannot over look social media giants Facebook and Twitter who have entered the scene with a bang.

6. Add in a plethora of applicant tracking systems (ATS) that IBM, Oracle, ADP and now Monster offer to manage the end-to-end recruiting process. Other new sourcing tools like HiringSolved and TalentBin round out a whirlwind parade of offerings and approaches to further numb the mind of recruiting professionals seeking the best approach to finding scarce talent.

7. If past performance is any indicator of future performance, the industry will continue to morph with hybrid integrations of technology, data and novel platform user interfaces. The blogs are full of new entrants each week. Many of these are venture-backed start-ups that proclaim to be the next breakthrough in talent acquisition. Even has announced its intent to enter the job board world to help applicants and employers find that perfect fit job.

Here are six ideas we think will become popular in the future.

  • Predictive Assessments: An increased use of validated scientific tools (not personality tests) for nearly every type of job. The trend will be to administer the assessment “up front” in the recruitment process. Employers will use science to objectively identify applicant fit matching skills, motivations and cultural fit to decision criteria that is otherwise subjective. See HBR article.
  • Niche-ing the niche: Yes, suppose you want to find nurses but not just any nurse. You want ER nurses, or ICU nurses or In Home Care nurses. Like any product life cycle, sooner or later you start throwing the baking soda into the kitty litter and create a line extension.
  • Certifications:  Employers will seek evidence from talent certifications of individuals in more job categories. While many jobs already have certifications, you will see other professions adopting them too.
  • Talent Communities: Social media will prevail and more groups of people will “tribe up” to promote referrals and discussion forums to help one another find jobs.
  • Mobile – mobile – mobile: The number of applicants who apply on their smart phone will eclipse the online apps in no time. No matter what you are delivering you’ll need to look and feel good on a mobile device. Oh and the process to apply to your job better not take me 15 minutes to complete or I’m going to the next opportunity.
  • The Return of the Career Hire: The talent war for sourcing the best people really never ended. Churn and burn jobs occur in many fields, (telesales, retail, hospitality, automotive dealers, tech) but hiring for a career versus a single job title will become the norm. Unless you can offer a progression of interesting roles, the security of lifetime employment and a pay progression that allows me to achieve my life goals, I am going to go down the street. This will change the conversation especially when recruiting new hires or when convincing someone to leave his or her job and join you. That means employment websites will have to think and act more like “career portals” and networks versus simple listings of “job postings”.

Regardless of where you sit in the field of finding and keeping good talent, we predict there will be a continuous stream of new ideas and tools to help employers and career seekers find the match made in heaven.

This story is a part of’s 2014 Recruiting Technology Trends series.

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