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What I want in a jobs web site

Dear Reader,

It’s rare these days that slashdot has something that is compelling enough to make me read the comments. But this story really piqued my interest.

Part of it is selfish. Just last week I exchanged several emails with careerbuilder‘s auto-responder bot complaining about the fact that they sell my email address to companies looking to recruit me into selling insurance. It’s bad enough that these mails come in but I can usualy catch them with my spam filters, except when they come from and are formatted like legitimate offers. It’s hard to filter these out without tossing out my daily job postings.

This along with the proliferation of ‘YOU TOO CAN WORK FROM HOME’ posts that, because they mention computers, invariably get stuffed into my potential job lists are marginalizing just like did several years ago.

The story on /. really got me to thinking. I know these companies have to make money so I’m not opposed to the ads, even to them up selling services. But I fear that is losing their focus. Worse yet, I think that the C-level of might be steering the company in a new direction. They used to be the best place for people looking for a job to go to find one. Now they are becoming the best way for people who are trying to market to people looking for a job to find them. HUGE DIFFERENCE in focus.

Here’s what *I* want to see in a job service:

  • No ads from recruiters. Sorry guys, I’ve got several friends who are recruiters but my ideal job service is a place where companies can connect to job hunters. Call it disintermediationbut I feel that the average business owner or manager can do a better job of screening applicants than a recruiter.
  • No MLM, commission only, ‘Work from home with just your computer’, or envelope stuffing schemes. Please guys. If I’m reading your site, it’s for one reason. I want a job. I don’t want an ‘opportunity to make six figures’. I want a real job. Some place where I can apply my hard-earned skills to make the company a better place.
  • No Spam from your ‘associates’. Your associates are bottom feeders. Don’t make me block you from my server. I know you need to make money too. You sell the job ads, you sell ads on the job ads, you sell services to me like resume writing, etc. I’m fine with all of that. But I don’t want an insurance company contacting me saying that they ‘saw my resume on your site and just know I’m a perfect fit.’ (Hell, it’s obvious from their email that they never ever saw my resume.)
  • TAGS. C’mon guys, get with the program. We can tag blog posts, pictures and emails these days. Let employers tag their jobs. Let me tag my resume. To paraphrase Fletch “It’s all tags these days”.
  • RSS Feed. Don’t make me go to your site every morning just to see what’s new. Let me subscribe to a feed. I’m must more likely to care if I see that there is a job tagged with my city name or keyword. give me feeds for industry, tag, geographical area. You get bonus points if I can create a custom RSS feed with everything I’m looking for in one feed. (Nashville Director of IT jobs for companies who use Open Source technologies. Companies developing web properties. Companies with at least 25 employees.) it’s not that hard. You already send me an email every morning with what you think are my best bets. How about letting me tell you what my best bets are and you send me those via RSS within an hour of it being posted.
  • Standardized resume format. If all you guys would get together and agree on a DTD for a resume, I’m sure some enterprising Developer 2.0 would build a site where I could go and enter my resume once. then when I’m signing up for your site, I don’t have to enter all that information yet again. An added bonus is that you could ask your job posters if they want a completed job application in the format they use. Since there’s a finite number of forms out there, it wouldn’t take too much effort to create a PDF on the fly in the format the company wanted. That’s what we call a ‘value added service’ as opposed to selling me a ‘premium listing‘ or those cute little charm bracelet icons to put next to my listing.
  • Salary requirements. Force companies to put a salary range in. Let’s not waste either of our time here. I know what I need to make, they know what they can afford to pay. If those two numbers aren’t in the same ballpark then why bother talking? It’s just one more piece of information that will help me find the exact job I’m looking for.
  • Job scoring and moderation. Everybody loves to pick on slashdot and in some cases (like when I do it) they deserve it. But they pioneered the concept of moderation and meta moderation. let the users of the service moderate the posts. Write it into the contract with your posters that people will see their ad and if they are posting irrelevant, mis-tagged or just plain scam posts, they will get quickly moderated out of existence. Use common sense when doing this. Don’t open the system to abuse just because someone or some group does not like a potential employer. But if enough people say that a job is junk, maybe you should have someone take a look at it. Since you sold the ad, you may not be able to simply remove it, but have a category called scam or junk. Put it there. That way if there actually is anyone out there looking to get scammed, you’ve got the premium listings.

Craigslist understands most of this. Sadly, outside of the Bay Area I don’t see a lot of support for it. When I was a hiring manager in the Bay Area, I posted on craigslist, dice and careerbuilder. Same ad, same day. I got 75 responses from craigslist, 3 from careerbuilder and 1 from dice. really, the only thing craigslist is missing is some of the formal structure features. But I don’t see them adding that because it breaks their model in other areas.

Until next time,