Look who’s getting into the job matching game.
Popular algorithmic dating site eHarmony went mainstream last week that they have their eye on the job search marketplace.
“It seems like there’s a social problem here that needs fixing, much in the same that when we started with relationship matching, there just seemed to be a problem,” said Grant Langston, eHarmony’s vice president of customer experience.
In theory, this seems like a match (pun intended) made in heaven, but I’ll go ahead and predict disaster.
Here are three reasons eHarmony-for-jobs will flop.
1. It’s never worked before. We’ve been down this road before. The story doesn’t end well. Remember itzbig, Climber, Jobfox and Trovix? They’re all gone as matching solutions and only Trovix, a Monster acquisition, cashed out … nevermind the eventual product, 6sense, failed to round the bases.
Langston said, “We don’t see a company in the jobs market that is providing an ‘eHarmony-like’ matching service.” There’s a reason. Google it.
2. No core competency. Big companies with lots of traffic have tried to made inroads into employment for years. Remember eBay’s Kijiji or MySpace jobs? They didn’t make a dent in Craigslist.
The hubris of company’s with eyeballs and brand who think they can make a splash in recruiting never ends well. And, by the way, it reeks of desperation.
3. Recruiting isn’t dating. Motivation to fill out a 29-point questionnaire works if you’re hoping to find true love. It doesn’t work so well with employment. In order for matching to truly work, but parties - in this case, job seeker and employer - must fill out a lengthy dataset. Successful matching doesn’t occur magically, no matter what computer scientists tell you.
Only the most desperate job seekers will do it and employers don’t want to compete lengthy forms to access these candidates.
They’re right. Stick to the love connections and leave the employment stuff to the professionals.
Doostang acquired Jobfox in October last year. I interviewed the buyer’s CEO, Jeff Berger, at the time to find out more. And although he was relatively open about the purchase and what they’d do with the property, there wasn’t a lot know about the future of company founder Rob McGovern (photo).
The silence was deafening, since the new ownership was stuck dealing with some brutal allegations against Jobfox and, more interestingly, McGovern himself.
A secondary post drew a bevy of negative comments, focused on people who had delivered services to Jobfox and been stiffed on payment. One industry CEO vowed to help fund a class action suit.
Their fearless leader [Rob McGovern] managed not to pay some very large bills to a lot of people in the industry as well. Kept running them up even after it was very clear they were bankrupt. I for one would make a contribution to the legal fund of any employee who wants to sue him personally, since walking off without paying your employees as a corporate officer pierces the corporate veil in many states.
An anonymous commenter added, “Rob McGovern. This guy is just the pits. I worked with Jobfox as a Resume Writer for a LONG time. He owes me and my team LOTS of money. He is a criminal. He knowingly assigned resumes to writers, LONG AFTER he knew he would not pay them, just so he could get paid, and get out.”
About the only thing we knew was that McGovern was launching a site at www.cobrain.com, but the site was relatively barren at the time.
Visiting the site this week, however, revealed a company open for business.
The company’s mission is pretty obtuse at the moment, but all the buzzwords of the day - big data, data science and insanely great - are represented (I’m sure “pivot” will show-up eventually too).
Cobrain is about collective intelligence; the shared brain power of people like you. We’re building mobile and Web products, which will be absolutely free for consumers … Cobrain will appear in your world through various apps and software components. We’re about advanced data science and machine learning. We’ll help our members make better decisions via the collective intelligence of others.
Most notably on the company’s About page was, “The most frequent feedback we hear: ‘You’re going to change the world.’” Change the world? Certainly a piece of cake for the guy who founded CareerBuilder.
For more insight on the company’s mission, checkout their submission for a trademark here.
The best news for McGovern, who also survived a near-death car crash in 2009, is the legal troubles of Jobfox may be over. Aside from a lot of trash talking and a 2011 suit, I can’t find evidence of anything active online.
LinkedIn didn’t listen to a word I said.
Jumping onto the resume reinvention bandwagon, LinkedIn introduced ‘visually enhanced” portfolios last week. As the name suggests, LinkedIn users are now empowered to add even more eye-candy to profiles.
According to the release:
This means you can illustrate your greatest achievements in the form of stunning images, compelling videos, innovative presentations and more. From the analyst who makes annual predictions on tech trends to the 3D animator who is looking to fund a new short film, the opportunities are limitless for how professionals can now use the LinkedIn profile to help showcase these unique stories in a visual way.
Here’s the Slideshare:
I know the company is crushing it on many fronts. But this unending move to out-Facebook Facebook just seems like doing something for the sake of doing something.
The recruiters I talk to want standardized resumes. That’s boring, I know, but boring is efficient. Sure, there are professions where pretty pictures make sense, but that’s not the message here, as LinkedIn uses “Recent Grad” as one of their fancy profile examples.
Does that really say “Graduation photos”? How many recruiters want to use Pomp and Circumstance pics as a prerequisite for employment?
In contrast, Indeed remains steadfast in providing an effective, simple platform for searching and submitting resumes. And they’re quietly growing an audience that loves said interface for managing those resumes.
The more LinkedIn gets away from its roots, the more Indeed becomes a threat to its place in the market. Indeed is already the most popular place to search for jobs. By some accounts, more job seekers apply to jobs with their button than LinkedIn’s. The have commentary that gives Glassdoor a run for its money. And all the while, their stuff remains fast, mobile and search engine friendly.
I could go on.
The point is, LinkedIn is going to lose its recruiting crown if it keeps up the arms race with Facebook, Twitter and all the other Valley darlings.
Maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe the dollars outside of employment are just too tempting. Maybe their blind with success.
LinkedIn’s shareholders certainly don’t seem care. The stock is a Street favorite even after last week’s hiccup. Keep in mind, however, Monster’s stock used to be just as loved.
it took Indeed less than 10 years to remake the job search space. It may take less than that to own the entire employment landscape.
It probably started with the cavemen.
The more visually acute among us were more likely to escape saber-toothed tigers and catch Sunday brunch. Stop signs and help wanted shingles didn’t come along till much later.
In short, we’ve evolved as visual beings.
MRI in Indianapolis was an early adopter of online-video-as-job-posting. I’m talking 2006 early. At the time, posting on YouTube was too dangerous for corporate viewing, so MRI set-up a Blip.tv channel to bypass firewalls.
They still rock videos:
We’re not talking Oscar quality here, folks, but it must be effective considering they’re in year seven of the strategy. They even add “See Video” in all their job titles, which I’m sure helps them cut through the clutter on job search engines like Indeed and titillate candidates to click.
And I’d guess 7 years from now, they’ll still be doing videos. Cameras are on everything. High speed connections are ubiquitous. And an ever-demanding audience is wanting more.
Will more employers follow this example?
A growing number of vendors are hoping so. From video interviewing to promoting employer brands, names of companies like Wowzer, Hirevue, Green Job Interview, Montage and Take the Interview are connecting employer and job seeker in unique ways.
One of the more interesting new solutions is Wowzer Match, coming soon to a smartphone near you:
It’s a bold move to say the least.
It goes beyond the business-to-business model of most video recruiting solutions and goes after the candidate. Job seekers have been hesitant to download native apps to search jobs and company profiles, especially if they don’t have a ton of job listings to peruse.
Unless Wowzer has 100,000 companies using their service, the odds are against success, but it may be a window into the future. While a standalone video solution is akin to climbing Mt. Everest, becoming a nice feature to an existing product could be interesting.
A handful of job sites already offer video as part of their traditional offerings, and while most of these videos fall under the “Here’s Why It’s Great to Work Here” banner, envisioning a greater variety seems likely.
Earlier this year, I interviewed Jason LaBarbera of Sunol Group at HireCamp, who specializes in video recruiting. Their strategy focuses on sending hard-to-recruit candidates a series of three videos promoting various qualities of a company. Videos are much more attention-getting than black-and-white copy.
Penske is one example, targeting management training prospects:
In 2009, Kevin Wheeler wrote Why Recruiting Has To Go Video. In it, he said, “According to Gartner, Inc., the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, more than 25 percent of the content that workers view each day will be dominated by pictures, video or audio by 2013.”
Well, fast forward and here we are in good ol’ 2013. In those four years, the world got acquainted with Instragram, Vine and Pinterest. A world dominated by pictures? Indeed. And don’t forget about YouTube, Hulu and Netflix bringing moving pictures to TVs, tablets and smartphones everywhere.
All this video talk reminds me, there are a few episodes of “House of Cards” I still haven’t watched. I just hope I can find it among all the cartoons my kids have watched under my username.
I do admit to loving “Adventure Time” though, just between us.
Not that long ago, I used to say, “Unless you’re a sales person or a recruiter, LinkedIn sucks.” I doubt the powers-that-be were listening, but since going IPO, it sure seems like they were.
The first significant move away from being “your father’s LinkedIn” came in 2011 with the launch of LinkedIn Today, This offering “delivers the day’s top news, tailored to you based on what your connections and industry peers are reading and sharing.”
Fair enough. Aggregate some content based on shared articles within my network. It’ll be nice to finally weed through the grumpy cat memes and LeBron shares on Facebook and get right to some meat-and-potato business content.
News aggregation and original content? Check.
Early 2013, LinkedIn upgraded its company pages, complete with pretty photos, followers and tabs. (Yeah, I know this all sounds a lot like Facebook’s evolution, but stay with me.) HP hit 1 million followers in Feb. There’s even an infographic to celebrate.
Then, last week, LinkedIn acquired the popular news aggregation app Pulse.
According to the company release, it’s “completely revamped with the general professional and everyday use case in mind. … We’ve designed the new LinkedIn mobile phone app for every professional, with a richer and more engaging stream and more personalization features.”
Of course, there’s a video:
Therein lies the crux of LinkedIn’s future: It’s moving beyond the recruiting junkies and sales hounds. Though, oddly enough, it’s a great thing for this original core consumer.
A few month’s ago, I attended a recruiting roundtable where a group of headhunters were complaining about the lack of software developers on LinkedIn. “I’d guess only 40 percent of the engineers in my area even have profiles on LinkedIn,” one said.
This reality has given rise to trolling sites like Github for talent. Dare I say Facebook, with its Graph Search, may even be a better place to source certain candidates, especially with its $1-per-message pricetag compared to LinkedIn’s $10-per-message fee structure?
At a recent Facebook event where CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the aspiration for Facebook to be the world’s best “personalized newspaper,” he said:
What we’re trying to do is give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper we can. We believe that the best personalized newspaper should have a broad diversity of content. It should have high-quality public content from world-renowned sources, and it should also have socially and locally relevant updates from family, friends, and the people around you. It should also enable you to drill into any topic that you want to discuss.
The future of the Web is a battle for time, as in who controls yours. Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and myriad others are vying for your most precious resource. Few things demand attention like good content, so it’s no surprise they’re all getting into that game.
Can a LinkedIn-meets-CNBC video channel be far behind?
If LinkedIn can carve out its niche for providing no-filler content for everyday professionals, I think they’ll be fine. Keep improving the employment offerings and keep empowering companies, and differentiation will stay intact. It’ll still be a get-a-job and network destination.
If they stray too much into Facebook and Twitter territory, I think an opportunity opens up for someone like Indeed, who I’m sure would love to fill the void as “professional hangout.”
While LinkedIn is noticeably doing its best to become Facebook, Indeed is quietly doing its best to become LinkedIn. Weird. But, that’s a separate post.
There are certain things in life that have become commonplace for everyone’s benefit. Red means stop. The sun sets in the west. The Browns will never win a Super Bowl.
So why companies are still hoping to reinvent the resume is beyond me.
And speaking of beyond, Beyond.com released a new “visual resume” last month. According to the news release, it “provides a new way for professionals to supplement their traditional resume with a dynamic infographic of their career history.”
You can click here for a live example.
Industry vet Peter Weddle is quoted, saying “The traditional resume is hard to decipher, at least efficiently, and is as inspiring as a brick. In today’s hypercompetitive job market, job seekers need a way to stand out, and I think that Beyond.com’s Career Portfolio is a big step in the right direction.”
If by “stand out,” he means ticking off a recruiter who’s used to looking at resumes in a standardized format, then sure, it’s a way to standout.
Another online recruitment stalwart and friend, Chris Russell, launched CareerCloud last year with a similar pitch: “Your paper resume says what you did. Your social resumes says WHO YOU ARE.”
These are all well-meaning initiatives, but history is against them.
Five years hence, the site is still live but the most recent press release is from 2009 and the footer copyright reads 2011. It’s fair to say it didn’t take off. And a few more years of Facebook and Pinterest won’t change that.
There’s a reason resumes are the way they are. They work. They work because they’ve become standardized. Recruiters know the format. Job seekers are taught early on this format. And if they aren’t, Google searches are there to show them how it’s done.
Recruiters go blind as it is looking at resumes. Could you imagine a world where every resume they review is formatted differently? Some have pictures, some have tags, some have YouTube videos and some have all the above.
Resumes work because everyone knows the rules and expectations are met. Expecting to change consumer behavior is a failed experiment. Just ask Ron Johnson, the now ex-CEO of JC Penney.
Companies like LinkedIn and Indeed got it right. If you’ve ever exported your LinkedIn profile to PDF, you’ll notice all the bells-and-whistles get stripped out - just like a pressed-for-time recruiter likes it.
Does this mean rules aren’t meant to be broken from time-to-time? Of course not. The guy who tricked-out his resume to look like an Amazon sales page, in order to get a job at Amazon, was brilliant.
Now, that was a legit purple cow. No company would ever fault a job seeker for having such creativity in trying to gain employment, especially a recruiter at Amazon coming across such a resume.
But there’s a big difference between cutting through the clutter and becoming an “Oh my God, are you serious?” distraction for a hiring manager.
And don’t even get me started on video resumes. For the rest of world history, can we just skip all this reinvention of the resume stuff and put our resources to something a little more practical?
Have you ever heard someone say, “I can’t wait to talk with a sales person today”? Yeah, me neither.
People may love buying stuff, but they sure hate being sold.
I’ve spoken to a number of business owners over the last year or so and a growing number of them are doing everything they can to rid themselves of reliance on sales people.
That’s bad news for sales people. And technology is helping to make a salesperson-less future more and more possible.
If you pay attention to Wall Street, you know Carl Icahn, an investor well-known for buying stakes in promising companies that he deems a little rough around the edges, took a large stake in a company called Nuance.
You may not know the name, but you know the technology, which powers Apple’s Siri, a voice-powered valet for iPhones. Tell “her” to schedule a 1:00 reminder to call your mom, and Siri makes it so.
A future where we tell our remote controls to record the next Manchester United game or ask a digital waitress to summon a cold beer aren’t all that far from mainstream.
What does all this have to do with the decline of sales people? Well, I’ll go out on a limb and say a lot of consumers would rather speak to a machine as opposed to a human being. Maybe it’s the same reason we’d rather text than play phone tag or make small talk.
Checkout “Rob” rocking the tradeshow circuit.
Not nearly as cool as Tupac onstage, but eventually these holograms will be able to have Q&A with prospects and show-off products, which means fewer sales people in the booth.
I’ll give you a more relevant example closer to 2013. Thanks to technology, filling a sales funnel is easier than ever before. Savvy companies are using content marketing in any variation of webinars, ebooks and videos to send prospects on a road to an eventual purchase.
Email autoresponders make ongoing contact with prospects easy. Prospects can view demos and hear pitches on their own time as opposed to dealing with sales people calling “at the worst possible time.”
And don’t forget about cost. No doubt the best sales people are worth their weight in gold - especially in specific industries - but for the other 90 percent, there are a lot of business owners who would rather not incur the expense of dealing with such overhead.
The frontline of the sales process is slowly losing out to Mr. Roboto. Get used to it. The rise of the machines will impact a lot of people. If 3D printers ever put a whole lot of Chinese workers out of a job, things could get really dicey. That’s a different post.
But sales is a lot different than putting together an iPhone, right? Maybe. Since it’s now baseball season, I’ll make this analogy. Of the nine players on a team, maybe 3-4 are great. The others come-and-go with little fanfare. They can be a manager’s biggest headache.
That’s what sales is becoming. The best will be tolerated, nurtured, rewarded. The others will be holograms at a tradeshow.
And how does this impact recruiting? Well, fewer sales people to hire is a start. The other is knowing how close sales’ DNA is with recruiting DNA. There’s the same risk that many recruiting tasks will become technosized.
Prescreening, assessment and sourcing tools are already doing their damnedest to get rid of a lot of recruiting tasks. It’s a trend that won’t quit and many recruiters are less necessary today than they were yesterday.
Indeed Trends data may reveal the canary in the coal mine. Although job postings for titles around “sales” are steady, these tend to encompass a lot of retail jobs, which take time to catch-up to professional trends. In contrast, the postings for “business development,” a title more familiar with white collar positions, is way down even in an improving employment picture.
A recent interview with Square CFO Sara Friar entitled “Square is Avoiding Hiring Sales People“ serves as a good template for how many companies regard sales people. “I’m least excited about the day that I have to hire a salesperson,” she said.
Sales people aren’t going away. I’m sure they’ve been around since cavemen were bartering sticks for rocks. What I do believe, however, is there will be a world with fewer sales people and breaking into the profession will be tougher.
And a lot of consumers and companies are quite happy with that reality.
Time to start getting comfortable pimping your stuff in 140 characters or less. With an upgrade to its marketing platform this week, Twitter is now a legitimate advertising medium for employers.
From a recent email,
Great news! Today, we announced more targeting options for your Twitter advertising. Based on your feedback, we added new features to connect you with the Twitter users most likely to be interested in your messages.
Before the upgrade, advertisers could promote specific accounts and targeted tweets. One popular tactic, for example would be to promote a tweet that might have a hashtag that would get you in front of your prospects.
Employers looking to get in front of an audience of techies, for example, might promote a tweet with #SXSW in it to be seen by conference-goers of the popular Austin gathering of geeks and influencers.
Twitter’s takin’ it to a whole other level. Here are some of the updates:
Target by interests: by @usernames and interest categories
- Target @usernames, to build an audience with similar interests to that @username’s followers.
- Choose from a wide-ranging list of 350 interest categories.
Target by device
- Tailor your content to reach users on laptops, desktops, tablets or smartphones.
Target by gender
- Target by gender when you want to reach just the guys or just the gals.
Target by location
- Worldwide, country, state or metro.
Since we’re talking about recruiting, let’s leave the target-by-gender thing alone. It’s likely not relevant unless you’re recruiting for Hooters or Chippendale’s (not that I know anything about those businesses, of course).
Interests is the most interesting. Targeting @unsernames, for instance, allows employers to get their message in front of followers of their competition, as well as their CEOs.
Interest category targeting is also complete with subcategories, which includes Careers. See screen capture below:
Targeting by location, may be the most beneficial of all for many employers, since most hiring is done in this fashion. The solution doesn’t get quite as granular as, say, Google, unfortunately. Trying to type-in a zip code, for example didn’t take.
The option to segment by device may seem irrelevant, but for employers who have a mobile-friendly career site, specifying that your ads only show-up on just iPhones, for example, should keep your costs lower, because there should be less competition for ad inventory.
As more-and-more employers move beyond traditional recruitment advertising options, Twitter has proven itself a worthy use of your time to investigate it as an alternative to job boards and even Google or Facebook.
In a unique way, Twitter brings together the best of Google advertising and social media marketing. It’s a mashup of interests and demographics, and it’s very cool.
A little creepy? Yeah, probably. But when did creepy ever get between a candidate and a career opportunity?
Augmented reality is becoming reality.
If you’re not yet familiar with Google’s new pet project, eyewear that brings computing to your cornea, here’s an introduction:
Like it or not this is happening. Go ahead and argue how broad the acceptance will be, but you’d better be prepared as a marketer.
To quote augmented reality pioneer Steve Mann, “There will be Apple Glass, and Google Glass, and RIM (now BlackBerry) Glass. These companies are all working on glass. I think everyone is going to be making glass. I think we’re also going to have a glass war instead of a smartphone war.”
And like it or not, employment will be part of this trend.
What will it look like?
Imagine downloading an app to your smartglasses that alerts you to jobs around town or on your drive to work. You’d specify the types of opportunities you’re open to.
Then, once an appealing opportunity crosses your path, you say, “OK glass, apply to job” and, bam, you’re now an applicant. Using your Google+ profile will make it easy. You could even investigate a company on-the-go before applying, or know which of your current friends are already employees.
For a more concrete vision, TweetMyJobs is an iPhone app that enables users to see job opportunities via augmented reality by holding an iPhone up and pointing its camera wherever there’s interest.
Here’s a screen grab:
A company called Layar powers their augmented reality technology. The job content is the same found at TweetMyJobs.
Wearable technology, augmented reality’s good buddy, is the wave of the future. With products like Nike’s Fuelband, it’s already here for many. You’re probably familiar with the buzz around Apple’s “iWatch“ as well.
It’s only a matter of which device, which platform and when. The content, whether it be map information, restaurant reviews or classifieds, will only be a question of who.
Facebook is in the enviable position of being able to pretty much launch anything and get it in front of a billion human beings. And over the years, they’ve done a good job at throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.
Their most recent foray into search (a good move, in my opinion) is one such example. Others, such as deals, check-ins, chat, Poke and classifieds exist too.
I say the dabbling is over. It’s time for Facebook to get serious about jobs.
Here’s why: Facebook is losing its cool. Teens are leaving the site for cooler kids like Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. I recently presented to a group of students at Penn St. who told me Facebook is “moderately cool.” Other anecdotal evidence is even less optimistic.
It’s OK. It happens to the best of us. Fortunately, anti-cool is not a death sentence, but for a company that blossomed because of coolness, figuring out the next chapters are vital.
Most readers know Facebook acquired cool-kid Instagram last year. That good news and bad news. Good for its current popularity; bad because it too will one-day be uncool.
Facebook is putting itself in a position where it has to drop cash every so often to stay on the cutting edge. That’s a tough treadmill to run.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is on the opposite end of the social media spectrum. Possibly cool to the buttoned-up, degree-carrying, cube-dwelling humans that walk the earth, but less so to hipsters.
Who cares? You need a job? Get your butt on LinkedIn or else it’s mom’s basement for you, buster.
In other words, LinkedIn is a utility. It’s Google, YouTube and Amazon (or at least on its way). It doesn’t care about being cool because it’s become the place for professional networking.
And that’s where Facebook needs to go. it can spin its wheels on one end of the hip meter snatching up the next Instagram, but it would be better served acquiring a major player in the employment space.
So, if Facebook isn’t seriously considering a play in the employment space that’s more than window dressing, it would do right by making a serious play for Monster. LinkedIn would be nice, but it’s probably too expensive.
Monster’s stock price and lack of acquisition interest make it ripe for bargain basement shopping. Additionally, Monster’s database is rich with employers who might have soured on Monster’s product over the year’s, but are just waiting to be reenergized around new ownership.
Lots of industry partnerships, brand awareness and roots in employment add icing to the cake. Most importantly, however, Monster potentially puts Facebook on par with LinkedIn, a network immune to the winds of cultural change.
Employment, as LinkedIn has shown, will never go out of style. Facebook needs to embrace this reality, grow-up and get boring.