Net Neutrality: The Recruitment Marketing Fallout

01.22.2018 / Zachery Tweddell

Director, Marketing & Innovation
What is net neutrality?

Introduced on February 26, 2015, by the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC), net neutrality has since regulated the internet to allow the internet experience to be controlled by the user. In essence, net neutrality prevents internet providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast from speeding up, slowing down, or blocking any content that you want to access. Without the current regulations, the power will shift to the internet provider and away from the user. For example, revoking the net neutrality regulations would allow Netflix & Comcast to leverage their partnership by increasing streaming speeds on Comcast and slowing it down on other providers. The same rule would apply to the candidate search. Job boards or aggregators that share a common interest with an internet provider could benefit at the expense of others, with the candidate potentially losing out in certain scenarios.
 
 

Why should we be weary of the impact on talent acquisition?

As previously mentioned, the candidate experience could potentially suffer as a result of lesser regulation on the internet. Search-based algorithms have grown to function with the user in mind, with the emphasis placed on clean, responsive design and relevant, meaningful content. There is now the potential for the interests of internet providers to trump all of that and candidates being left to interact with content that is somewhat dictated by others.
 

So, what does that mean for vendors and job seekers? We talked with some industry leaders to find out their thoughts…
 

“I see more emphasis inevitably being placed on the moves that Google and Facebook have made in the recruitment space. Given their scale, they will likely be in a ‘fast-lane’ and will have an improved experience when compared to regional or niche job boards.

Content-wise, it will be interesting to see how bandwidth fluctuation affects the way we consume video content.”

Howie Schwartz – CEO & Co-founder of Crowded.com
 
 

“Until we know the result one way or another, there are many variables to consider. That said, I do think that large vendors would likely look to create partnerships with Internet Service Providers. Alternatively, in Brazil, candidates pay the job board so we could potentially see that model replicated in the U.S. to cover the cost of increased bandwidth.

For the candidate, I think the impact will be minimal. If you’re a motivated job seeker, you will pursue multiple channels to achieve a positive outcome. Where we could see a real impact is in low-income markets where any level of the high-speed internet may become too expensive.”

Will Yankus – Results Generation
 
 

“As we look at potential impact, a lot of additional costs associated with the removal of net neutrality restrictions are going to translate to smaller, niche job boards as they are forced to cover the out of pocket costs for increased bandwidth. While established companies will likely adapt, I think we will see a significant impact on the development of new and emerging technologies within our space. At one point Indeed was a new and emerging technology too. We tend to forget that.”

Garrett Friedman – SVP Business Development & Media at Jobcase, Inc.
 
 

“I don’t think we have to worry about anything in the immediate future. I do wonder how things like video services might come into play eventually. Lets say you are a video interview vendor will you have to pay more for bandwidth to ensure your service works? There are a number of HR startups working on various kinds of video solutions so if I were them it might be something to watch. Job seekers in general probably have nothing to worry about at this junction. A lot of their interactions happen by email, phone and text.”

Chris Russell – Managing Director, RecTech Media
 
 

“The companies that have the most to lose or gain are those who operate on high-bandwidth platforms, namely video and communications technologies.

If we look at the recruitment world, with the exception of video interview providers, there’s no one operating in that realm. That being the case, I think the impact on our space will be more of a drop in a bucket.”

Chris Forman – CEO of AppCast
 
 

What does all of this mean and how do we plan for it (if it happens)?

There are possible scenarios and likely scenarios as a result of retracting the Net Neutrality agreement. The most likely is that, due to the relatively low bandwidth nature of the recruitment space in comparison to others, we will not see a huge amount of change. That said if ISPs implement tiered pricing for bandwidth, candidates in low-income markets will be most likely to suffer due to more expensive access to internet at all speeds.
 

On the vendor side, there are a couple of potential scenarios if the impact is more significant than expected. Large vendors will potentially gain more of an edge by forming partnerships with ISPs that share common interests. An alternate outcome would mean we could see models similar to that implemented in Brazil, where job seekers pay a subscription fee to job boards, to recuperate the additional cost of higher bandwidth.
 

An area that most feel could be vulnerable to less regulation is video interviewing. Given that video interview tools require more bandwidth in order to function optimally, users may be subject to a lesser experience. The trickle-down effect of a poor user experience could lead to organizations abandoning the idea and shifting back to more traditional interviewing techniques.
 
 

For more information on Net Neutrality and other trending topics as 2018 gets up and running, please click here.