Video and job boards: an unfinished story

Video and job boardsTo under­stand the role of video and job boards, you have to go back a bit in time. Remem­ber ‘dial up’ inter­net? If you’re lucky, you don’t – but that’s where we were when job boards first showed up on the web. Inter­net access was slow, expen­sive, and unable to han­dle much in the way of data. Pic­tures could take min­utes to upload and down­load – and if some­one else acci­den­tal­ly picked up the phone using the same line as your modem, well…you had to start over. The world was a dark place, kids!

So if you were a job board emerg­ing in this world, you did your best to make cer­tain that your site worked well despite a dial-up con­nec­tion (and yes, there were folks in acad­e­mia and gov­ern­ment with faster con­nec­tions – but that’s anoth­er sto­ry). You kept things sim­ple – take a look at Mon­ster back in 1996. A few sim­ple images and lots of text. 

Video? Hah! It just was­n’t a thing. In fact, it was 2002 before before you could get an approx­i­ma­tion of VHS-qual­i­ty images and sound online. Video was wait­ing on broad­band. The good news for job boards was that HR was (and is) always behind the times – they were just when their inter­net con­nec­tions worked. And, of course, when the job boards sent them plen­ty of can­di­dates.

Things start­ed to change around 2005. Broad­band began seep­ing into the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tions of coun­tries – pri­mar­i­ly the U.S. and parts of Europe and the Mideast – and with broad­band came two ser­vices that changed every­thing: YouTube and Net­flix. Well, and porn. Porn has always dri­ven the tech­nol­o­gy of video.

Folks in the HR tech indus­try looked at this, and some of them imme­di­ate­ly start­ed about video and job boards, video and inter­view­ing, video and hir­ing, and video, peri­od. Guess what? Hire­Vue was ready – it was found­ed in 2004. Tech­nol­o­gy was still a chal­lenge, though – Hire­Vue had to ship web­cams to can­di­dates in order for them to record their inter­view answers. Bring video and job boards togeth­er was still some­thing of a pipedream.

As the 2000s pro­gressed, how­ev­er, job boards began exper­i­ments with video – usu­al­ly by part­ner­ing with an exist­ing com­pa­ny such as Hire­Vue. Almost imme­di­ate­ly they dis­cov­ered that just because they had a prod­uct to sell did­n’t that HR want­ed the prod­uct. Why not? The answer was often ‘legal issues’. In a nut­shell, despite the ben­e­fits of video screen­ing or inter­view­ing, cor­po­rate legal depart­ments frowned on video because they wor­ried it would invite law­suits regard­ing bias – as in ‘you did­n’t hire me because I’m short’ or ‘you did­n’t hire me because I stut­ter’, and so on.

But job boards tend to be tena­cious – so they went back to employ­ers and said, ‘How about putting a short video in your employ­er ?’. Some job boards encour­aged employ­ers to add videos to their job post­ings. There were some suc­cess­es – such as The­Muse – and some flame-outs. But over­all, as the world moved into 2020, most job boards did not have video of any type inte­grat­ed into their sites or employ­er offer­ings. LinkedIn was an excep­tion – but the videos it dis­played in feeds ranged from per­son­al sto­ries of tri­umph over despair, adver­to­ri­als from big tech, or ‘can you believe this guy did this?’.

Then the pan­dem­ic . A large num­ber of employ­ees began work­ing at home – includ­ing HR folks. Sud­den­ly became a big deal. And of work­ers dis­cov­ered that, in fact, you could have meet­ings via inter­net video. You could con­duct . And…you could inter­view and hire. The final piece of the puz­zle for video and job boards was in place.

Or was it? Look­ing at the world’s biggest job board, you might expect to see lots of video – maybe even video-based screen­ing! Um…nope. Indeed just isn’t that into video. You want video, go vis­it LinkedIn. Or – yes – Hire­Vue, which has mor­phed into a job board, among oth­er things. I’m not say­ing that there aren’t job boards out there using video in sig­nif­i­cant ways – there are – but you still can’t say that video and job boards are hap­pi­ly mar­ried – or even in a deep and long-term rela­tion­ship. Things feel…unfinished.

Maybe next year? We’ll see…

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