Will recruitment companies become the next Blockbuster?

By Arran Stewart, Co-founder, CVO Job.com

Brick-and-mortar businesses are disappearing everywhere, with hugely successful companies such as Toys-R-Us and BlockBuster, once dominators of retail spaces, now collapsing under the fierce competition from e-commerce. The retail industry is not the only one threatened, however. This article talks through the evolution of how people have gained employment traditionally, and what the future of job seeking will look like. Not the most enthralling subject, but one profoundly relevant to the success of our society.

Why have traditional businesses start to fail? The answer is simple really- the world has moved on, and the digital, on-demand industry is located in the comfort of your own home, marking the end of physical outlets and companies. Instead, a virtual world is at the forefront of our lives and it’s just the beginning.

Without getting too into specifics, I will tell you that job boards were marked to replace recruitment agencies decades ago, however, they failed to do so, and the only dragon they managed to slay were the classifieds. I spent my entire career within the recruitment and online recruitment space, and have seen the market develop. Job boards made it easier and cheaper for recruitment agencies to find the candidate they needed, and sites like Monster.com or the world’s first true job board, Jobserve.com, brought candidates to the jobs postings of agencies more efficiently than ever before.

But job board technology was not enough to replace the recruitment agency, and companies still looked towards the hand-holding of a human associated with a brick-and-mortar business. About 25 years has passed since the job board made its debut in the market and since then, many other technologies, processes and players have come to exist. For example, we have seen the birth of Aggregation in our market, with sites such as Indeed.com, using this method as a way of gaining organic SEO supremacy, piggy-backing off the content of job boards. Once Indeed successfully built their site and brand, they switched the job boards off. Another technology that emerged was the creation of Talent Management systems, like Taleo, that was eventually swallowed up by Oracle. We had matching technology from companies like Textkernel (acquired by Careerbuilder.com) to bring candidates and companies together better than ever before, with semantics, machine learning, AI, Taxonomies and NLP. Companies like Infoemployeo.com used NEO4J graph database technology to create newer more improved matching. With such an array of job boards and resume databases to search, companies like Broadbean.com (acquired by Careerbuilder.com) or Idibu.com solved this mass posting issue by allowing recruiters to instantly post their jobs on multiple sites with just a click. More recently we have seen candidates being able to publically feedback about their employer through Glassdoor.com (acquired by Indeed.com) and the most famous site newbie to the job board main stage is Ziprecruiter.com, a site consolidator, bringing hundreds of sites response into one place.

What is clear above is everyone is trying to find the holy-grail to hiring and every time someone gets one step closer, they get acquired. The industry fragmented massively in a race to achieve this and as a result, its quickly being consolidated by the bigger companies as they stitch together all of these technologies to at last create what everyone feared 20 years ago, the replacement to the recruitment agency.

If you needed anymore convincing you only have to look at a service such as ‘Indeed.com Prime’. This platform expansion has the potential to replace the traditional agency through online recruitment platform automation. It’s the same path that Job.com is taking, and it’s the next clear evolution through technology to the development and growth of our industry.

So should agencies be shaking in their boots? I think so, many of them are old fashioned, old modeled, have high overhead, no tech and are completely irrelevant to the next generations of workforce that is coming through. A popular study estimates, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.

The smart money agencies like Recruit.com, who acquired Indeed and GlassDoor, are definitely here to stay. It’s a powerful indicator when they create a service like Indeed Prime, which in essence, renders the parent company’s services redundant. In 2016 Randstad bought out Monster, probably for their database, but in my opinion, at $429 million, this was the most expensive database license in history, and the most stupid. You’ll find all of Monster’s candidates also on Careerbuilder, Zip, and Indeed, making this an utterly pointless acquisition. I would be astounded if they actually bought Monster.com for all its exciting and revolutionary tech.

Other than that, what are Adecco, Kelly Services, Robert Half, ManPower, Hayes and all the other big players doing? You think your Contractor book is going to keep the lights on when you lose your Perm book, and then your candidate base, as soon as they realize you’ve been screwing them all these years? The recruitment industry is bloated with big, inefficient companies that do not have the candidate’s interests at heart. I have to say it, even though you may know it, but the recruitment industry is huge- $638 billion of often lost potential. What on earth are companies doing, wasting all that money.

Now I don’t want to use this article to plug my beloved Job.com, but I have to, not for sales purposes but for the benefit of explaining where we are, the near future for the industry and the vision of where we are going when it comes to the world getting work.

We agree with the vision that Indeed Prime has, but we have gone at it our own way through the blockchain. We think that by consolidating technology, as discussed and then using blockchain technology, we will be able to completely remove the recruitment agency and in the future we will be able to completely remove OURSELVES. Yes, you read it right, even Job.com as an organization will have no place in a decentralized recruitment community ecosystem. For those of you who are blockchain geeks, like myself, you will know exactly what I mean, but for those who aren’t, allow me to explain.

When shifting and moving markets, changing behavior and creating change on a global scale, it has to be done in very calculated steps. Blockchain is about decentralization, which means removing everyone from between two parties, and having systems working around a level of democracy (or a meritocracy, as we look forward to bringing to the masses). The first middle man we can surely remove now is the recruiter. The role is dated and candidates are ready for something new. Understanding that, we focused on building a platform that allows this to happen, bringing in all the services needed to hire together and then incentivized both parties (job seeker and hirer). I won’t turn this into a pitch, if you want to know more about that you can click here https://youtu.be/EucnLccB1rM

We’re using solid financial incentives on both sides to encourage job seeker and hirer to feel confident dealing directly with each other. It’s the first major step towards changing the expectation of hand-holding that recruitment agencies have so cleverly installed into the minds of companies. You don’t need them to get great talent, you don’t need them to make it easy, and you will save a fortune in the long run, not to mention the job seeker’s experience will be massively improved.

There are challenges with this new experience. How do I know the job seeker is who they say they are? What if the company isn’t who they say they are? How can I be sure my resume is right? What sort of prep do I need for my interview? These are all questions that recruitment agencies would normally answer, but we know that in the near future, a value exchange recruitment community ecosystem with a solid token economy will support this gap in service crowd-sourced verification and validation, realizing the future of complete decentralization. For years, people online have been volunteering their time for the benefit of mankind, look at the largest knowledge database in the world, Wikipedia, it has been created through non-profit, mostly by volunteers. Look at Glassdoor, a site where we share our views on companies for free, with others, benefiting everyone. On LinkedIn, we have been endorsing one another for years, providing testimonials and support. Why couldn’t all of this value be aggregated, and consolidated into one ecosystem, where instead of it being free, we all earn incremental amounts of crypto that allowed everyone in the ecosystem to benefit and distribute this bloated recruitment industry amongst the masses, removing complete centralization and the inequality of power it creates? Look at Facebook and Google, who have so much power, but are nothing without their users, yet their users get nothing for making them so powerful. Isn’t it time for change?

The end goal for Job.com is to create a platform ecosystem, where candidates and companies can recommend each other, advise each other on resumes, interviews, match jobs to one another, find jobs in the market and add it to the ecosystem, recommend companies, even act as proof of authority on new blocks, its own protocol within the hiring silo of our lives. Why couldn’t the community build the platform and matching through open source? Why couldn’t the interface be improved for the community by the community and pay those who added to the ecosystem with a simple decentralized Job Token, a global recruitment currency and value exchange in this economy? We’re not worried about profits, we’re worried about creating the best possible place for the candidate to get gainful employment and all the other stuff behind that and the business will sort itself out.

Trust is what blockchain brings. The ultimate vision is creating a democracy within our ecosystem where users are in charge, resulting is an ecosystem that candidates and their peers rank based on trust reputation, contribution to the platform and a proven meritocracy. Job.com will become a silo in users lives where they achieve gainful employment and make a further income by supporting the very platform that got them their job. We are calling it People as Nodes. It’s the future, its blockchain, and it’s coming. (In some cases it’s already here).

I’m excited to see what the world has in store for itself. And although we have made plenty of mistakes, it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s clear by the tech we build and the organizations coming to prominent play, that we have learned and are creating amazing companies to ameliorate this.

Out of this evolution, I want to create a new way of getting employed. My business partner, Paul Sloyan, and I set on a journey to change the world for the better. When we started our online recruitment business 8 years ago, blockchain was embryonic, and it would have been too early, but now, we are committed to creating a platform owned by the people, for the people to bring opportunity and people together with no centralized intervention.

The revolution is coming- cryptocurrency with banking first, next recruitment, health, logistics, social, and so forth. The important question remaining, is who will be the major players of tomorrow? I can assure you, it will not be a major staffing firm making $20 billion a year, even with antiquated and inefficient processes. Job seekers and hirers now know they can be their own recruitment agency, and will demand a service that meets these new needs. See you later recruitment agency, you’ve done a great job, but we’ll take it from here.