Ask the average venture investor how excited they are about the recruiting space--you'd get more enthusiasm in the waiting room of a dentist's office. I don't blame them. There are a million "Me, too!" companies and the space is nearly devoid of innovation.
How many ways can you smuch a resume against a job post? Turns out... tons... or really just one, dressed up as tons. On top of that, there is a severe lack of focus on behalf of the job seeker--and if you're not helping people with their career, just what are you doing?
Early in 2008, my partner Alex Lines and I finished raising a small angel round and got to work on building a company called Path101.com. We're a small team working on an innovate approach to career guidance--and we're getting closer and closer to meeting our potential each day, but we're still not there yet.
The career space still haven't solved really basic problems of helping people find jobs and careers--and each year the potential of the technology pushes forward, the industry falls further and further behind. The future is coming much faster than the current players are preparing for it.
It's clear that five to ten years from now--everyone is findable on the web. Every job is nearly already findable through aggregators like Indeed.com and Simply Hired. Just like the market specialists on Wall Street who disappeared when electronic trading came into maturity, many of the players adding friction in the middle of this marketplace will go away. We're seeing this happen on college campuses, where employers are connecting directly with students and visits to career centers are way down. Sure, there may be some people still finding niches to connect people--but surely a lot less in a hyperconnected, seemless world.
What we're heading to, like it or not, is a form of electronic trading markets for people--where exactly who you are and what you can do can get instantly mapped to exactly the company and role that makes the most sense for you and your interests. Unfortunately for most of the existing players--a resume and a job post not the kinds of data infrastructure that will get us there. A resume doesn't tell you nearly enough about who I am and what I can do, and job post doesn't tell me anything about the path that post leads to or what my experience is likely to be in that position. That's why all these "eHarmony for jobs" companies are failing to get the job done. Trying to get everyone in the right place seemlessly with such poor data building blocks would be like trying to run a stock market ticker with refrigerator magnets.
There are all sorts of incentive issues and missteps in the job space. Here are just a few, as I see them, from both sides.
First, here are five ways job sites fail the job seeker:
1) The job boards like Monster, Careerbuilder, and Hotjobs fail to give job seekers the data they need to make adjustments and navigate opportunities. How many people already applied to this job? How does my resume compare to the other applicants? What were people search for when they found my resume? How many views did my resume get? Did anyone even look at it after I sent it in?
2) LinkedIn is masterful at making you think you should be on there, giving you the impression that you'll be networking, and then having you scratch your head as to what the point is. The problem is that Linkedin has the incentive to get you on, but not have you actually do anything. Don't take my for it... these people were pretty easy to find on Twitter:
I personally use it a ton, but if everyone used it the way I do, it would be a noisy mess. Since they broker access to your profile information, the fact that everyone's on it, without really using it, means maximum profits for the company. Sure, they have a section about using it somewhere on the site, but if they really wanted you to get the most out of it, they'd take you right into, "Ok, so let's start contacting some people." Instead, they leave you off right after, "Ok, so let's start adding some people."
3) Got your resume on VisualCV or Emurse? These resume on the web sites are supposed to help you stand out and get noticed. Sure, they come up high when you Google your own name--but if someone's searching for your name (most likely you), then they already know you and most likely have your resume. What about using these sites you actually get found and contacted?
Meet Carol Anderson. She has her resume on VisualCV--it won an award as one of the best ones out there. She's a Heathcare Consultant in Fredericksburg, VA. It says so right on her VisualCV. Try Googling for "Heathcare Consultant Fredericksburg, VA". She doesn't come anywhere. In fact, you can't even find her until Page 3 of Google search results for Carol Anderson! Sure, it's a pretty common name, but isn't the point of using one of these profile sites to rise above the rest? You're certainly not going to rise above the rest on Google--VisualCV only has 9,000 pages on it's site exposed to the search engine. Either only 9,000 people have created VisualCVs, or the site is keeping all of the people who joined under wraps--certainly not what people who wanted to "STAND OUT!" and get noticed probably want.
Emurse is a bit better, exposing nearly 200,000 profiles to Google. However, they're not optimized to get you found for much more than searches for your name. Brian Robertson sure wants you to hire him as a freelance web developer, but good luck finding his Emurse resume in Google searches for "freelance web developer st. charles, missouri" on the first page. How many could there be?
4) TheLadders has a great business model...for TheLadders. You pay monthly to see jobs paying over $100,000. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what their incentive is--to keep you on the site as long as possible. If you get hired, you leave and TheLadders loses out on it's revenue. That's not really the kind of model that makes me feel like a site is trying really hard to get me a job.
5) Jobfox tries to be a lot smarter about matching you to the right opening, but unfortunately they suffer from a classic chicken & egg problem. The only jobs you can be matched for with Jobfox's highly scientific approach are openings on Jobfox. In the current economy, those are some pretty slim pickins. It would be better if candidates could see what positions they would be best for even if there weren't positions open in those areas right away. At least they'd have a clue where to look--on other sites.
...and here are five ways job sites fail the recruiter:
1) No site actually understands the full picture of the candidate that the web has to offer versus just aggregating it. Zoominfo just aggregates everything it thinks it found about you (and some stuff it finds about other people) all in one place. LinkedIn doesn't understand that even when you don't write "Python" on your profile, someone with a link to their "py.hack" blog and who tags things python in del.icio.us should come up in a search for Python developers.
2) Search is horrific...everywhere. Try to find the resume of someone with two years of sales experience with a Chemistry major who worked for a large company in a certain geographic area who can speak Spanish. This should be a lot easier--and it's why you tend to get spam from recruiters on job boards. It's not that they want to spam you--they just can't target *and* scale at the same time.
3) No reptuations: A spammy, underhanded recruiter looks the same as a recruiter who takes the time to get to know candidates and send them relevent stuff. In nearly every other kind of marketplace, both buyers and sellers have reputations. Why not in recruiting? (And no, a few "thumbs up" notes in LinkedIn doesn't count--I'm talking something that says 78% of candidates feel that this recruiters offers are relevent).
4) We all know that someone updating their LinkedIn profile and adding people is an extremely strong signal that they're packing up to leave their job. Why not expose this data and let recruiters search on it--maybe even pay a little extra to get out in front of the pack with exclusive access? Recruiting is falling behind in "real time search" and the "now web". The whole thing is based not on the blog post that a social media marketer posted just a few minutes ago, but what someone listed on their resume as their job six years ago--and that needs to change.
5) No "soft" data: We search resumes as if candidates like everything they did in the past and want to do it again---even though we know that isn't even close to being accurate, maybe not even half the time. Doing something simple like asking people if they liked their job would be a huge leap in helping recruiters find people enthusiastic for their offering--not to mention collecting more descreet data about the types of situations they find more satisfying. Now start laying on things like work values, personality, etc., and for a lot of jobs, you might not even care to see a resume.
Have we solved all of those problems at Path101.com? Not yet--but we have key data infrastructure in place. The very philosophy on which we are building out our product and laying out our roadmap is fundamentally about this data-driven, candidate centric future marketplace.
That's one thing that we believe strongly--that unless every single line of code, every business decision, every design choice is made with the jobseeker and their data in mind, you're going to get left far behind. Imagine creating a "green" car company from scratch versus thinking you can make GM green tomorrow. It's probably already too late for the existing players, but this market represents a huge business opportunity for anyone that understands that the candidate comes first and depth of data is your business--and the only way you get there is by getting the candidate to want to give it to you because they're getting something useful back.
What's the last time you got something useful back after submitting your data to Monster.com?
How long do you think that lasts?