Job Board Journalist: Talking About Walking as an Ethical Business

Peter Weddle

As the Bard began, “in this winter of our discontent,” there seems to be no end of organizations with challenged ethical standards. Hardly a day goes by without a new report of yet another broken law or still more dishonorable or contemptible actions. This blizzard of bad behavior not only affects those involved, it also casts a cloud over the good work and reputation of other businesses. And that includes job boards.

Most posts on this topic begin by citing example after example of organizations that have cheated or mistreated their customers or business partners. Given the frequency of such misbehavior, however, I don’t think we need yet another a recitation. If you’ve drawn a breath over the past several years, you’re well aware of it. The bad news has been and continues to be all but inescapable.

And that persistent coverage has the potential to overwhelm the ethical credibility and positive reputations of all companies. Don’t believe it? Consider this: the 2017 Gallup Survey of the public’s confidence in institutions ranks Big Business near the bottom, with just 21 percent of the respondents giving it a thumbs up. Its ranking was only better than that of the U.S. Congress, HMOs and news on the Internet.

Yet, that confidence is incredibly important to a job board’s bottom line results. It is the foundation to believability, and believability – more than any other single factor – influences customer decision-making. If job seekers don’t believe that the jobs posted on a site are real, they won’t visit. And if employers don’t believe that the ad clicks reported by job boards were made by real candidates, they will take their advertising business elsewhere.

So, how can an ethical job board retain the customer confidence it deserves? The first and obvious answer is to continue its behavior. No matter what the outlook is for any financial quarter, no matter what slope sales are on, it must stick to operating at the highest legal and ethical standards. And it must walk that commitment with everyone, whether it’s dealing with job seekers, employers, third party recruiters and sourcers or with its own employees or with business partners and even its competitors.

But – and this is the step that’s often overlooked – it must also talk about the walk it’s taken. It must state its commitment to high standards and promote that statement broadly. It must make operating as an ethical business a part of its brand. That can’t be assumed, not in today’s tawdry environment, so the only way it can be believable is to live up to such a claim that it’s had the courage to make publicly.

Here are two ways a job board can assert its commitment:

Complete and post the TAtech Declaration on Traffic Quality, the first-ever industry standard for reporting performance in online recruitment. The Declaration is a voluntary publisher self-evaluation, developed by an international Working Group established by TAtech. By publisher, the Group means the evaluation is applicable to job boards, social media sites, job search engines, aggregators, digital media companies, programmatic ad buying companies, association career centers, and classified portals (whether or not they’re a TAtech Member). Its goal is to bring accuracy and transparency to traffic measurement for the online job advertising industry. Download the Declaration, complete it and then send it back to TAtech to be published on its site with the public affirmations of other job boards committed to honest performance reporting.

Join TAtech and promote its Member Code of Ethics. Okay, I admit it – I’m biased, but to my knowledge, this Code is the only public statement of business standards developed specifically for the online talent acquisition technology industry. It was developed a decade ago when TAtech was established as the International Association of Employment Web Sites. A Working Group of Members made it the Association’s first order of business. They researched other industry Codes and then wrote this one to reflect the unique dynamics and customers of our industry. As with all such Codes, it is only as good as the organizations that claim to abide by it, but by posting the TAtech icon on their sites, it enables Member organizations to publicly affirm their commitment to operating as ethical businesses.

All businesses – including job boards – face a daunting challenge in today’s winter of discontent. Unless corrected with a message to the contrary, many and maybe even most customers will assume the worst about an organization’s ethical standards. To be effective, however, that message must have two parts: facts – the site has to actually operate ethicly – and formulation – the site has to blend its commitment to ethics into its brand and promotion.

Food for thought,

TAprose and Job Board Journalist by Peter Weddle are brought to you by TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.

Mark Your Calendars! TAtech’s 2018 events include:

• February 12-13, 2018 Scottsdale, Arizona USA: The TAtech Leadership Summit on AI/Machine Learning in Talent Acquisition – the only conference totally focused on the capabilities and impact of AI/ML/NLP in recruitment.

• March 13-14, 2018 Dublin, Ireland: TAtechEurope 2018 – the premier event for recruitment advertising and technology thought & business leaders in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

• April 18-19, 2018 Las Vegas, Nevada USA: The TAtech Spring Congress & Meetup – a unique conference designed to maximize opportunities for B2B networking, trending topic discussions and the exploration of partnerships and business opportunities.

• June 5-6, 2018 Minneapolis, Minnesota USA: The TAtech Leadership Summit on Programmatic Ad Buying – the only conference totally focused on the technology and applications of programmatic ad buying by both publishers and advertisers.

• September 26-27, 2018 Bourbon Street New Orleans, Louisiana USA: The TAtech Fall Congress & World Job Board Forum – the only conference that brings together the global thought and business leaders of the TA technology industry.

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