A Recession Isn’t A Good Time For A Job Board’s Site Usability To Fail

As many of you may know, I recently moved to San Francisco to seek out my fame and fortune. In doing so, my 9-5 career has, in effect, been rather unfortunate. So I’ve been working on trying to reclaim that standing by looking on job boards for any available position. Over the course of my job searching, I’ve used many many websites that I felt would help bring me closer to getting a job: CareerBuilder, Craigslist, Indeed.com, HotJobs, TalentZoo, MarketingPower.com, and perhaps one of the most well known: Monster.com. It is with this specific engine that I have a grievence with, not against the jobs that are listed, but the usability of the site that has made it nearly impossible for me to find it useful for my job searching.

In my previous attempts at job searching several years ago, I’ve found that Monster’s website is pretty archaic but at the same time it still had some usability in it. Sure it didn’t have all the glamour and glitz that this version has with pop-up hovering menus & windows or more icons and symbols, but when I wanted to find information, I could. The old version seemed to understand that the functionality of the site came first before the appearance of the form. 

So now let’s take a look at what’s going on with this new version of Monster.com that was released into the Internet wild recently. Just what did I find wrong with this site that makes me want to let people know why it’s unusable?

Monster.com Fail Tweets

My first issue is when I’m logging in. Had someone done some quality assurance testing (which they may have), they would have known that the user, when logging in, would type in their email address & password and then click on submit OR would have hit the “Enter” button to submit their credentials. I’ve noticed that the only way to actually submit credentials is for you to click the “Submit” button. If you even press the “Enter” button, the page refreshes, your password entry is removed and you think it was a bad login attempt. You try it multiple times and still the same thing. There’s no error message or specific instructions to click the button using your mouse. I figured it out after several tries. And don’t give me the excuse that it’s best to use Internet Explorer or Firefox. I’m sure that a proper QA testing scenario would have accounted for Google Chrome, Safari, Opera and any other browsers that a majority of your users operate on a daily basis when visiting the site.

With job seekers, the main point to overcome when in a competitive market is finding ways to standout. I’m all in favor of that, but with job boards like Monster, shouldn’t the issue be about consistency and making sure that information is found easily? One of my big issues with the older versions of Monster’s website is that when I inputed my resume & other information, the format looked horrible & I was worried that it would skew what people thought about me before I even had a chance to show them a hard copy of my resume. So Monster’s response to this is to allow for some customization. That’s a little well and good, but too extreme. Not only does your resume look better when you input the information (and believe me it’s a heck of a lot better than the older version), but you can also format your data so it stands out more.

That’s right. Monster has built in WYSIWYG (“What you see is what you get”) editors that allows their customers to format text. So feel free to go crazy by selecting bold, underline, italics, or messing with the font size or even the type so that it looks nothing like a clean resume. But the twist is that the only bits of information you can edit in this way is the job summary/duties/responsibilities per position and also some other areas that require more detailed info – not every field is customizable. So essentially Monster.com is going the way of Myspace and allowing everyone to personalize & customize their resume & profile as such. Too much customization and liberties given to customers can be a bad thing especially when dealing in a professional environment. Having templated information is a good thing and focusing on the data entered will make sure it stands out. Job boards should control how every page looks aesthetically and only allow specific areas to have limited creative control.

It also seemed to me that Monster’s apparent lack of QA testing has resulted in me being unable to view all the search results for a particular keyword. I recently went onto the site to look up all available positions located in the San Francisco, CA area with the keyword “interactive”. Nothing more & nothing less. I saw that there were five pages of results and when I parsed through the first 3 pages, I went to click on the “next page” link but the page kept refreshing and loaded up page 3’s results. How is that helpful to anyone? Maybe there was a job on page 4 or 5 that I really wanted to apply for but you were unable to load that so now how am I ever gonig to know?

Overall, I’m liking how Monster.com has designed their site since it looks sleak and modern, but if you’re going to sacrifice usability and functionality for aesthetics then you might need to worry about people visiting your site and then abandoning it when they can’t find anything. It doesn’t matter if your site is the most eye-pleasing and best designed in the world. If you’re not going to allow for information to be found easily with less hassle, then your site is going nowhere. Especially during a time when people are looking and you have a huge customer base, do you think it is wise for a job board to be working on design versus functionality? People will simply be leaving you to find the jobs on Craigslist, CareerBuilder, or other job boards. But you might think that your employers will stay, right? Guess again. When they find your customer base has evaporated, your employers (the ones that pay you to post), will be going the way of your customers and posting their open positions elsewhere.

So fix your usability and functionality. It’s time you start creating a site that models after the way your customers think.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.