Jobs, jobs and more jobs!

Fuck all y'all -- icons by laksmanDamn, there’s a lot of job boards out there. A new one every other day. It’s practically distributed already, except that they’re all speaking greek to one another, and engines like Edgeio, well, can’t make uniform sense of them because they all have their own way of marking things up. Like, it’s all the same kind of data, but if I were a computer, damned if I know that!

I mean, look at this… why haven’t they standardized on … or something?

Jason has a point as usual, but, man, to really go decentralized, you have to flip the whole model on its head. In which case he half misses the point too (sorry, even though I luv ya man).

is nice; a good step. In fact, everyone should be publishing their own hResume + hAtom, if anything, for shits and giggles (though we really need a tool for this).

Though, stepping back, what we really should be doing in this age of authentic empowerment is allowing people to write the job descriptions for themselves and declaring themselves competent for the purpose. I mean, if someone can accurately describe what they’re good at and what they’re not, that’s a person I want to hire!

Let me put it this way — which is the way that I want to see this balance shifting, since all the job aggregator and job listing sellers seem to have forgotten this part of the equation: we are living in a time of abundance, a time that will last a finite amount of time, to be sure. In this finite time period, I believe that it is possible more than ever for people to pursue work that they love to do, that really makes them happier than anything else, that really fills them up and doesn’t leave them somehow feeling diminished by the end of the day. A herd-mentality job board doesn’t help me feel like a unique snowflake; it doesn’t make me feel like I have something special to offer the world, nor does it make me feel like I’m in command of my destiny but rather waiting around for the hammer to drop and some business-two-point-oh-dude-you’re-so-not-even to anoint me their , picked from amongst a sea of similar generics.

What these boards ignore is the humiliation and please-pick-me! sameness that relegates my humanity to bumble alongside inside someone else’s aggregator. Ugh, think about that: to end up in someone else’s aggregator! What am, just a bunch of bits and data? Jason, I get the visual analogy, but to suggest that you’re choosing between a shotgun and a rifle when you go job “hunting” is a bit, um… Cheney-esque (Oops, did you really mean to shoot me… or not?)?

Your semantics betray your purpose (and everyone else’s) because I know you mean well and I’m really not trying to pick on anyone except those who think job boards are a good idea.

Here, okay, let’s redefine the problem before I get myself in serious shee-it: the goal of any job “service” should be to bring together people together who love to do certain things for a living with the folks who have a need (and capital) for those who happen to do that certain thing very well. To aim at less is to subjugate the potential of the new network (aka The Tubes) and to ignore the potential of this new medium to elevate the status and capability of the individual.

On the one hand, we are talking about work; exchange of value (usually represented in dollars and cents) for someone else’s time, attention and/or effort. On the other, we are talking about that which someone is devoting their waking life to — that is, the stuff that they share with their friends, their family, their relatives. Too often I’ve seen friends, family, my brother, settle… for less than what they’re capable of taking on. And it’s disheartening, it’s saddening, it’s less than what I would hope for anyone.

We’ve come so far — too far &mdash, for anyone with the volition to not be able to pursue a career doing that which they most want to do. These job boards are holding back the potential, reinforcing hierarchy and pushing people to be squeeze themselves into job descriptions that don’t really fit. It’s supply-side economics right? And we have the terms and vocabulary to describe work that needs to be done… but strangely, the reverse is also true, we just haven’t developed the nomenclature to express the demand side of the job performer market: I demand this kind of job with this kind of work, this size pay and these vacation dates.

Ironically I learned a lesson a long time ago from Jason, one that I think is didactic and worth repeating. As a company and small business, we hire our clients — that is, we pick folks to work with not based on pay but based on how well we think we can work with them. We hire them based on their openness, their desire to work collaboratively and whether they’re willing to look at the world with eyes wide open. It’s a challenge to maintain this standard, but it ultimately benefits both us and our clients. I would recommend this for anyone looking for work or thinking about what’s next — don’t just sell yourself to the most nichefied job board — hire your next boss. Make it your first priority to spell out clearly what you want to do and for whom you’re willing to do it. Job boards, sadly, will not reflect this preference, so it’s up to you to defend your right to pursue the work which will most satisfy you. In fact, you owe it to yourself.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

8 thoughts on “Jobs, jobs and more jobs!”

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  2. Great post Chris. As the owner of my own job board I should be firing back. But alas, even I understand that there is no perfect solution to the job hunting process. Bringing together employer and candidate in one fell swoop is pehaps a holy grail, and I’m afraid it will always be so – after all we are talking about people and personalities and god knows they clash much too often.

    But your last sentence is perhaps the crux of this argument. Today’s job hunter must be focused on himself and begin to manage his own career with an intensity never seen before in the workforce. The world is changing (not always for the better) and it’s time to look out for #1.

  3. hey chris –

    excellent observations, but i think it will take a little more time for everyone to standardize on hListing (or hJob) and hResume. i agree with you it makes a hell of a lot of sense, and in fact i started talking with Tantek about this stuff over a year ago to see if we could get some of it rolling at SimplyHired. i’m not at SH full-time anymore, but i get the sense they (and others) recognize it will make sense to do it sooner rather than later.

    however, i also think whomever implements these standards needs to do more to make sure that not just the technical elite are empowered to create them. the hListing and hResume standards are great, but the average employer and job seeker should not have to know WTF is going on with either of those 2 standards in order to have a better online hiring / job search experience. it should be implicit and automat(t)ic, not explicit and cumbersome.

    as to the “social networks comprise of like-minded jobseekers & employers” ideas, i think you’re right on target there too. kind of similar to what i was getting at with part I of a post i wrote recently about Publishing 2.0 meme. working on thoughts for part II on the subject, if i get my ass in gear soon.

    bet you’ll see more & better stuff coming out of Job Search very soon tho. whether it’s the eMurse guys or SH or Indeed or Jobster or other folks, the pace of change has been pretty decent when you look in the rear view mirror.

    alas, i think both you & I are looking expectanctly over the horizon, as far as we can squint into the sun… cheers, & here’s to never being satisfied with the status quo 😉

    – dave mcclure

  4. I would like to trade or barter my skill set for some other type of service instead of getting money. I have invested hours on honing my skills as have many, many other people and I am impressed by expertise of others in areas which I know nothing about. Instead of a job board I would love to set up a site that trades in services. Web Site Design in exchange for Plumbing for example. Bartering is the oldest form of commerce, before money was invented, so why not combine the very old with the very new and put barter on the net in a major way… a bit like eBay?

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