5 things that woodworking taught me about job boards

adirondack chairI’ve built various items with wood for many years. Tables, benches, cabinets, spoons, stools, chairs – some actually resemble real furniture, others…well, they were interesting to create. Yet, apart from the sheer fun of cutting, chopping, paring, and (occasionally) pounding wood, I’ve also managed to extract a few lessons that have crossed over to my life in job boards:

  1. Never cut first, measure second! Translating to the job board world, that means you should take some time – a goodly amount of it – thinking about what your next big move will be. That doesn’t mean sitting on your hands, but it does mean using your brain first. (As the old phrase goes, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. Some old phrases are true!).
  2. Sometimes it’s better to start over. Just as some attempts at furniture construction are doomed from the first errant mortise and tenon, so too are some job board projects. Sometimes things just don’t work. Never be too proud or stubborn to pull the plug. (I recently reminded myself of this after abandoning my third attempt at a tricky table. Perhaps I will try again in a few years…).
  3. See the whole, not the pieces. Ask any woodworker to point out the flaws in his or her work, and you’ll quickly be overwhelmed with details you didn’t know existed – yet if you just look at the piece, it looks, well, pretty good. Thus is it in the job board world – step back and look at your site as a job seeker or an employer. You might be surprised. The flaw that you are convinced is ruining the site may actually be something that your users like!
  4. That blade guard is there for a reason. I still have all of my fingers – but I know woodworkers who don’t. The blade guard on a table saw is supposed to be in place – for some reason, if you take it off, it doesn’t work so well! So too with job boards – before you go fiddling with core functions, make sure you understand why they’re there, and why they’ve worked for the rest of the recruiting world before you start tearing them out. (In particular, I’m thinking about job boards that lack search functionality – remember, job seekers were raised on search engines!).
  5. Mistakes can be good. I recently made not one, but three mistakes on a small box – one right after another. You know what? They actually made the box pretty interesting – not what I expected, but nice enough nonetheless. The same holds for your job board. Take some risks (after noting #4 above, that is). Keep plugging away. See if some of those mistakes turn out to be revenue producers after all.

(Note: this post first appeared in slightly different form back in 2009. It still seems quite relevant to me!).

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