The four horsemen of the apocalypse? Sorry, no…
So why am I going religious on you and talking about the four horsemen of the apocalypse? Well, see, it’s Joel Cheesman’s fault. Really.
I am a longtime fan of the Chad and Cheese podcast (now a media empire), but life being what it is, I am a somewhat irregular listener. However, I had a few spare minutes the other day and listened to their latest episode. Things were going along as usual, when Joel launched into what he called “the four horsemen of the apocalypse to the job board or the jobs industry”. My attention grew sharper. Both Chad and Cheese know the job board industry quite well, having worked in it, so I’m always intrigued to hear what they say about it (even when they’re wrong!).
Joel goes on to list the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Google for Jobs, LinkedIn, automation, and the gig economy.
Really? These are the things that will finally kill job boards?
But I kept listening. So Joel claims that Google for Jobs is a ‘juggernaut’ and is ‘putting a hurt on the job board industry’. Really? Google for Jobs has generated plenty of traffic for job boards – and continues to do so. Not sure how that hurts. But he’s talking about what he thinks will happen when Google for Jobs finally rolls out their planned ad program, where job boards and employers can sponsor paid ads. Why exactly will this hurt job boards? They’re already sending plenty of money to Google in the form of AdWords campaigns. Now they’ll do so via the Google for Jobs ads, right? And if companies spend on those paid ads – well, more power to them. They’ll be competing with job boards of all sizes, just like they are now in AdWords. This is just a new shiny toy that looks and acts a lot like the old not-so-shiny toys. And remember – first Google has to actually roll it out. They’ve been taking their sweet time about thus far.
Horseman number two: LinkedIn. Joel says that LinkedIn put “a walled garden around their data” and “now they have OpenAI thanks to Microsoft’s deep pockets to now take that to another level”. All true. So? They continue to do a great job as a job board, just like they have for the past 20 years. Nothing’s really changed, except that they landed a very rich parent company (just like Indeed) to help them grow. Yet for some reason they have yet to kill the job board industry. They continue to be one of the biggest job boards – just like they have been for the past 20 years. I don’t see destruction coming out of this horseman’s mouth.
Third horseyman: Automation. Joel says “Why would you buy stocks that are job postings to hire people when you see images about Amazon replacing everybody with robots that carry boxes, not to mention driverless cars that are eventually going to come?” In other words, robots and AI are going to eat your job – and thus, who will need job boards? This argument has been around since the industrial revolution – and inevitably, jobs that disappear (like telephone operators) reappear elsewhere (like baristas and programmers). Why? Automation and technology tend to create jobs, too! And when companies are trying to hire for those new jobs, guess what? They’ll need job boards. Giddy up!
The final horseman: the gig economy. Joel says “People can gig it as a career”. They can – and many do. But many don’t. Would you run the Postal Service as a gig enterprise? Or the Defense Department? There are large segments of the economy that depend on permanent hires, specifically because of the need for specific skills, continuity, and reliability. I don’t think that horseman will ride. And besides, gig sites and so-called ‘traditional’ job board have been coexisting for quite a while. Neither are getting obliterated.
So this is perhaps one of the (rare) instances when Joel is wrong. But he has trotted out a number of the ‘this is what will kill job boards!’ tropes that you hear from folks in the HR sector. At least when Joel uses them, he’s entertaining!
Now, it’s time for me to watch Mr. Ed…
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