The four horsemen of the apocalypse? Sorry, no…

Four horsemen of the apocalypseSo 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 !).

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 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 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 to hire for those new jobs, guess what? They’ll need job boards. Gid­dy up!

The 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 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, , and reli­a­bil­i­ty. I don’t that horse­man will ride. And besides, gig 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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