Let's take a moment and think about what job search could be.
Right now, job search is static. Someone searches for a job, and either a vacancy exists or it doesn't. But what if we were a little more creative?
What if instead of getting "zero results for your search", the candidate received something like:
There are no current openings that match your search. However, the following positions exist that may have openings in the future.
What followed would be a detailed description of current positions in the organization that matched the search criteria--jobs people actually had. And you would allow people to submit a job interest request so they would be notified when that job (or similar job) became open. Yes, some systems already have job interest requests, but too often it's based on broad job titles and it fails to provide the rich information a job seeker needs (e.g., who they will work with, learning opportunities).
What else could we do with this feature? We could profile the individuals that are in the current job. Okay, maybe not everyone, but a sample. At the very least we could provide a basic job description (and not a boring one).
This idea fits with a concept I think we all need to focus more on. In addition to seeking passive candidates, we should be passive employers. Passive job seekers aren't looking for a job, but they could be. Passive employers don't have that particular opening--but they could. But unless you tell candidates that, how will they know? How do they know that a perfect match exists in your organization, and if they just had waited another week to search, they would have seen it?
Why do we make applicants the servants of the ATS, not the other way around?
Let's take this a step further. Let's say I'm an attorney in Seattle looking to relocate to Boston. I know I'd like to work for a smallish firm with decent billable hours, co-workers that know their stuff and are good at their jobs but value work-life balance.
How the HECK am I supposed to find that firm? Sure, I can look for current vacancies on job boards. Or maybe I just happen to know someone who works for such a firm and they have an opening. Or I might be able to find some information through a Google search or services such as Vault or Hoover's (although that information is very limited, you still have to know the company name, and information on public sector agencies is anemic). But that'll only get me so far. Then what?
There is no general database of employer qualities to search through (sites like Jobfox are trying a similar idea but it's still based on vacancies). No easy way to punch in the above criteria and have a system spit out, "Here are all the firms that meet your criteria. Here are the ones that currently have openings, here are the ones that don't currently may may in the future."
People search is getting more and more sophisticated. What about employer search? If we expect applicants to take an active role in managing their career, we should give them the information they need to do it. We can, and should, do better.