The recruiting world’s been abuzz with news of the impending shutdown of Simply Hired, one of the more notable job search aggregators in the space. Prior to the Memorial Day weekend the organization’s management leaked a letter notifying employees that the company would be effectively ceasing operations on June 26, 2016.
Nothing’s been confirmed as of yet regarding the reason for the company’s halt, but rumors are swirling that Simply Hired simply couldn’t compete with aggregator giant Indeed, which receives at least 20 times as much monthly traffic (according to traffic-estimating site SimilarWeb). What’s more, there may very well be talk that this is the beginning of an aggregator armageddon of sorts.
But before we give any credence to or completely dismantle all the doomsday hype, let’s remind ourselves just what an ‘aggregator’ is.
Effectively, an aggregator is a job search site whose aim is to index as many jobs on the web as they can. They use methods such as crawling content, integrating with ATSs, taking jobs from other job sites, and selling employers job posting space directly to fill the search result pages with listings.
The landscape is such that, currently, most major job sites are aggregators. You could include Monster, Linkedin, and Jobs2Careers as aggregators in my book — and throw in another dozen or so sites and networks that get millions of unique visitors each month too. Aggregators exist simply because it’s near impossible to get enough employers to post the number of jobs needed to satisfy a site’s users’ demands—unless the board is vertical or geographic specific.
Secondly, it’s not new news that running a job aggregation business is quite tough (and that Indeed is very much winning). Margins have always been quite thin in the space, and traffic has been considerably less valuable than that of other industries.
If you really want to paint a picture of how challenging things are on the financial side, consider Indeed. The stalwart of the industry sold to Japanese company Recruit for a mere billion dollars in 2012 (i.e. 1/560th the value of Google or 0.1785%).
All this doesn’t mean that operating a successful job search site is ‘easy’ or can be accomplished with a shoestring staff. It’s quite the contrary; to run a successful site you need a huge staff, which can be costly or, in many cases, completely debilitating.
While Simply Hired’s story is perhaps more intriguing because of the fact that they received 34 million dollars in venture funding (one of the investors was none other than Guy Kawasaki), the reality is that the shutdown frankly isn’t that surprising—nor will it change much in the industry.
The job search space continues to be more and more of an aggregation play, as more players enter the space and old ones evolve towards aggregation. A few legitimate contenders are starting to emerge – such as Glassdoor, Jobs2Careers and ZipRecruiter, which is curious to see considering most assumed Indeed would continue to have such a firm hold despite their sky-high paid traffic cost (though, they are still, hands down, the go-to-source for candidates).
Despite more job boards becoming aggregators, we continue to see these entities struggle. This fact could be attributed to candidate acquisition diversifying into the social media realm of Linkedin and even Facebook.
This doesn’t mean that ‘the job board is dead’ or ‘aggregators are dead’, rather that recruiting continues to evolve. Unfortunately job boards don’t seem to be on the same track; ‘Job Boards Continue to Evolve’ isn’t much of a news headline now, is it?
More specifically, back in the day job boards were pretty much the only way to find candidates outside of someone’s network. Now, however, there are far more levers available: social recruiting, employee referrals, recruitment marketing through content production, etc. This makes the job of a recruiter much more difficult, and certainly makes skilled recruiters and sourcers valuable assets. If the trend here is really that less money is being invested in job boards, and more money is being invested in a labor force of recruiters, then I’d say that’s a good trend—it means that hiring is moving in the right direction!
So enjoy your morning coffee, and let’s hope our pals at Simply Hired all find great new jobs (they will). In the meantime, keep calm and recruit on, I definitely don’t see any huge fireballs headed our way!
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