Matt Alder published a fascinating piece last week about ‘job clouds’ and why he thought Twitter could be the future of job boards. It was one of those “I wish I had written that!” moments for me, to be honest.

In brief, he posits the creation of a ‘job cloud’ created by multiple employer Twitter feeds of their jobs. This cloud would be much larger than any individual existing job board offering, and would force a shift away from job boards and to providing tools for job seekers to locate jobs in the cloud.

It could happen. But I see several significant barriers to the job cloud becoming an effective experience for job seekers and employers:

1. Technical: To get the majority of jobs fed into Twitter, you have to make it incredibly simple and painless for any organization to do it. If it’s not simple, adoption rates drop. (You want the majority of employers, remember – not just Fortune 500).
2. User behavior: After 15 years and countless millions of dollars, most (not all) job seekers now turn first to a job board to find a job. To make the job cloud work, you have to make them change their behavior; not impossible, but not easy.
3. Twitter must remain free: Part of the attraction of the job cloud is that it’s (more or less) free; if Twitter begins to charge, the cloud will shrink.
4. Tools: As Matt notes in his post, job seekers need tools to find these jobs. Will these tools be free? Will they cost? And…will they work more effectively that the free tools job seekers can now access on job boards? (Another question: can a good tool perform as well in locating specific types of jobs as a highly focused niche job board?)
5. ROI: As Peter Gold notes in a comment to Matt’s post, employers will (rightfully) demand some sort of conversion metrics for jobs dumped into the cloud. Will ATSs step into the breach? Other third-party tool vendors?

Again, each of these barriers can be overcome, but it’s been my experience that change comes slowly to the recruiting and HR world. The job cloud may be on its way – but it could take a while.

In the meantime, job boards should think hard about how they can integrate Twitter and other social media tools to improve the job seeker’s experience. After all, if job seekers can find the jobs they want, when they want, using tools they know, if they can communicate with employers and other seekers…they’ll keep using their favorite job board.

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Comment by Jüri Kaljundi on February 16, 2010 at 10:02am
It's not just Twitter job cloud. It's the Internet job cloud, the same job ad reaching different people simultaneously on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, Google Search, Indeed, Simply Hired etc. At Http://Emp.ly/ we try to make that as simple and quick as possible.

For your point 2, how many jobs are found now via job boards? 25-35%? Majority is still via word of mouth, referrals, friends etc, especially in SME firms. Not everybody advertises even today.

Analytics are important. At Emp.ly we started with just providing graphs of distribution, on which social networks and sites users click on your ads. In the future, you should be able to connect the real hiring metrics to that.

Good discussions, we hope to learn a lot from these to provide value to our customers as well.

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