In spite of improvements in the overall economy, life for anyone searching for a job is a bummer. You’re more likely to stumble over a moon rock than to get a job offer. (Reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest you may be more likely to stop looking for a job altogether.) People are dying for help and advice about how to apply for jobs, how to get in the door, and how to get an offer.
So you’d think that those in the employment business would be dishing incredible how-to guidance. Their market is dying for great content. But the big names in employment couldn’t care less whether you get a job or go on unemployment—and what they publish shows it. That means a good content marketing campaign could turn this business upside down.
Ten years ago, in an article titled “Job-Board Journalism: Selling Out The American Job Hunter,” I criticized the major news publishers for violating time-honored rules that forbid mixing editorial with advertising. These companies were publishing “news” about how to use job boards effectively. But the objective of the content plainly was to get readers to use and pay for their own job-board services. The strategic failure was that these respected news outlets were publishing useless content and devaluing their brands.
Today CareerBuilder, the biggest online job board, is owned by three news conglomerates, Gannett Company, McClatchy Company, and the Tribune Company. Here’s the lead advice column for job hunters on CareerBuilder, entitled “5 ways to give your résumé a makeover”:
Use the latest technology to your advantage. Rule number one is to keep your design simple! Make sure it is compatible with the résumé database programs used by employers and recruiters. Called applicant tracking systems, these programs electronically “read” incoming résumés, parse their keywords and slot them into a database file.
Translation: Our business is not matching you to a job. Our business is selling database records with your keywords in them, so employers can dump those records into their applicant tracking systems while avoiding dealing with you altogether. So our hot new advice is to keep those keywords coming so we can “slot them into a database file.”
(If you want a real “rule number one,” it’s to use CMO.com and other good publishers to identify and meet movers and shakers in marketing who are worth reaching out to, to talk shop, and make friends. That’s where jobs come from.)
Then there’s Monster.com: “Get Ready To Get Out There”:
Resume Critique Checklist.
- Does the resume look original and not based on a template?
- Is the resume inviting to read, with clear sections and ample white space?
- Does the design look professional rather than like a simple typing job?
This “Special Report” is written by a “Monster Resume Expert.” It’s nothing but bullet points and ends with, “Let an expert write you a job-winning resume and cover letter.” Since Monster’s revenues and earnings have been dropping like a rock, it is shifting its model from pure database play to writing resumes for less than $200. (For that fee, do you think you’re going to get a resume that’s not based on a template?) This is a perfect example of totally useless content: a sales pitch with a title slapped on it.
Then we have SimplyHired, a jobs aggregator that scrapes job postings from other boards, with the article “4 Tips to Go from Job Seeker to Employed Professional”:
Include keywords that will pique the interest of hiring managers and recruiters. Find and reiterate words that are included in job listings that refer to specific skills or functions sought by the employer. Most companies use applicant tracking software to initially review resumes and online applications by searching for assigned keywords. Integrating keywords will improve your qualification ranking and possibly get you one step closer to an interview.
Translation: Send us more keywords. We make money on keywords. We have 1,923,621 jobs in our database, but good luck with that.
Why am I harping on the failure of the leading online jobs services to deliver content worth reading? Because today marketing is about content that adds value to people’s lives so they’ll want to do business with you. The leading online jobs services are delivering useless content to their customers and prospects.
What does that tell you about opportunities in this space for a savvy content marketer?
It tells me that if you do it right, you can demolish your competition—no matter what industry you’re in, and no matter how big they are. How’s the quality of your company’s marketing content? Does it signal an opportunity to your competitors?