With the major announcement over the Memorial Day Weekend that Simply Hired will be shuttering as soon as June 26th, the job board industry is shaken up. Although it remains unclear if an acquisition play may emerge between now and the company’s shuttering date, it is rumored that employees of the company are not likely to be included in any acquisition deal. Days after employees were informed of the company’s end, sponsors were notified via email with this letter (courtesy of TheJobBoardDoctor):
“First, on behalf of the entire Simply Hired team I would like to thank you for your partnership. We have appreciated working with you and your clients. I am writing you to let you know that the Company is in the process of ceasing operations and winding down and, as a result, the Job Sponsorship Program will be discontinued 30-days from this notice, or on June 26th, 2016. We greatly appreciate the partnership we’ve had with your company and regret that we will not be able to continue working with you. We would be happy to set up a call at your earliest convenience to discuss your options.”
Many have and will theorize what caused the once-dominant company’s demise. Competition with Indeed, changing in the economy and technology, and the limitations of aggregation all likely played some part. But for job sites, like all companies, the name of the game in this highly competitive market is innovate or die in order to win the business and budgets of companies seeking to hire. In this case, the emergence of newer trends like pay-per-performance ‘network’ models offered by RealMatch, AppCast, and others, may be a ‘canary in the coalmine’ for job aggregator sites to monetize their traffic. Whether it replaces employer CPC revenue or coexists with it, the sites that last in this industry will need to focus on one thing: being able to deliver performance without putting extra work on the part of HR.
One aspect that Simply Hired’s shuttering displays is that when it comes to performance, aggregation alone is not the answer. Having all jobs is great, but you have to have enough job seekers too. With the changing digital landscape, being a destination aggregator might be the digital equivalent of a highway billboard – there are still plenty, but they might not be the most effective advertising units and who wants to deal with hundreds of vendors?
Alternatively, with the advent of programmatic and its entrance into the recruitment advertising market, performance is better measured and more targeted and opens the door to efficiently sourcing talent across many aggregator sites, all through one source or one platform. For RealMatch, our vision that the internet is the job board is quickly becoming true.
Quality Over Quantity
While performance is certainly one takeaway from Simply Hired’s closure, another lesson job boards, publishers, and anyone in the recruitment advertising industry need to focus on is quality. This is often the number one criticism of job boards that talent acquisition professionals make – there is plenty of quantity but not enough quality. Programmatic recruitment advertising might go a long way to helping improve quality with better targeting and bidding, but it still leaves employers having to do a lot of screening on the back end too. For RealMatch, matching technology is the key. Job sites that can deliver quality too– through a combination of technology and services – are the ones that are poised to succeed.
The Occam’s Razor Theory
Yet sometimes, the simplest explanation is often the correct explanation. It might be that the real problems that undid Simply Hired were connecting with the right people who control the recruitment ad budgets, or for that matter the HR and talent acquisition folks across the enterprise market. If this is a struggle, then innovation, traffic, and all the other bells and whistles may not matter. At the end of the day, building brand relationships is the key to a healthy job board.
This too may also highlight the struggle of being a job aggregator. Where does the responsibility of relationship management lie? Is it on the sites that make up the aggregator or on the aggregator itself? Is it about focus on job seeker traffic or selling ads? To whom does the primary relationship fall and how can the other non-primary party ensure success without cannibalizing its relationship to the primary relationship holder? While it is likely these questions were debated through the halls and boardrooms for years at Simply Hired and perhaps every other job site, the answers remain as elusive as ever. This is another area where innovation, albeit not necessarily technological, will separate the long-lasting job sites from the rest.
No One Likes Traffic Jams
With Simply Hired shuttering, the wake-up call for the recruitment industry has been sounded. While many of the early powerhouse job sites struggle despite once being so dominant, other newcomers gain more and more traction. It should be no surprise that innovative technology may be at the core of which companies last and which do not. While traffic is certainly key, it is a warning that traffic will only last as long as the site is useful to job seekers and employers. Traffic itself can come and go over several years and simply being on top today does not mean that will be true in 1, 5, or 10 years. Traffic is not the sole laurel that a job site can rely if it wants to avoid the same fate as Simply Hired.