Whether you realize it or not, as a jobseeker you are participating in a marketplace. Even when you're not a jobseeker, you're part of the equation. Employers are the demand and workers (or resumes) are the supply. In this economy, demand is low and supply is high. Employers have more workers in their ranks than they need, so layoffs and cuts continue to pile up. They also have stacks and stacks of resumes from people wanting work--even willing to work for free. Right now, most HR departments could probably recruit from their own inboxes without ever spending a dime on job postings or resume databases.
Actually, I'm not kidding. That's probably closer to reality than many big job boards are willing to admit. Revenues at Monster, Careerbuilder, and Hotjobs have taken a nosedive recently. Because these companies have totally inflexible business models, jobseekers who post to those boards are feeling the hit, too, but they might not realize it.
Many people aren't getting any bites on their resume and assume that's because companies aren't hiring. That's partly the case, but it's also because those job boards are charging fees to look at your resume and contact you. In today's market, this is a bad deal for companies who already have plenty of resumes in their inbox. The market had decided that the incremental value of *another* resume in their inbox is near zero, if not zero already--so why pay for something you already have? More and more people are uploading their resumes to Monster and the big job boards when fewer and fewer companies are willing to pay Monster to see them. That's right--receiving your resume is essentially worthless to an employer right now... and the big job boards are making it even harder for you by trying to charge companies to see them.
It's the same with job postings. Why pay to post a job when you can just email your network and ask "Does anyone know anyone good who needs a job?" You know what the answer to that is these days.
In any transaction, one or both parties needs to pick up the tab for the cost of the exchange. If companies are less and less willing to pick up that cost in a tough economy when it comes to jobs, it's really going to have to fall on the consumer. Lots of people recognize that cost will mean additional time and effort on their part, but how many people are actually investing real money into their job search?
On the higher end of the market, users of TheLadders are paying to see only the best jobs and many are paying getting their resumes edited as well. Is that helping them get in front of employers or getting them a better shot at a job? Jobs on TheLadders aren't necessarily exclusive, but one would imagine that it does indicate some level of seriousness if you're paying in to see a job.
What else is out there? There are lots of conferences and career coaches--essentially content, but the thing with content is that you don't really know if it's worth it until you consume it. Career content can't be advertising backed in this economy, because as we said before, companies aren't paying to reach you and see more of you now.
If I were job seeking now, I'd be paying for a Google and Facebook AdWords campaign--putting money behind my efforts at getting in front of the right employers. Apparently, I'm not alone in that. In a recent survey that we took at Path101.com, 55% of job seekers would pay to promote themselves online. Even more interesting was that 23% of people would pay to promote themselves even if they weren't job seeking.
What do we mean by that? How about making sure you're ranked first in all the places people might go to look for you? Take WeFollow.com for example--the Twitter user directory. If you were an athlete trying to generate a bigger fan following, paying up to be the "Featured User" on a list of top Twitter users tagged "sports" would be worth it. I think this is where MyBlogLog could have gone, too. How many people would have paid a little extra to be a profile that lingers longer on Fred Wilson's blog, for example, perhaps with a direct link to their blog. What about Disqus? Featured comments? You could argue that would lower the quality of these lists, but on the other hand, wouldn't you make sure you had a quality/relevent listing if you were paying to make sure it ranked high?
I think there's an untapped market here--to bring the power of sponsored search to the job seeker and individuals to help them promote themselves in the right places--similar to what Indeed.com does on the job side. I wrote about this about a year ago in relation to people putting cash behind their best blog posts to gain exposure. Enabling people to get more active about their own self promotion is something we're working on now at Path 101. Uploading your resume to a big job board is like sending it into a black hole--and candidates can't do anything to actively get noticed as part of that process, even though they want to.