Retention - this is a KPI for most businesses. We all know the CRM principles, the research shows what a significant impact retaining existing customers has on the bottom line of the business. We know that selling to an existing client costs the business a lot less than acquiring new clients. But what does this mean when translating the term away from paying customers and to online website or mobile users? Or more specifically to online job seekers?

First off the big problem for job boards and job search engines is content. While I am job seeking, the content is interesting, but when I am no longer job seeking that content  - job adverts - is pretty dull.  Corporates are building out their EVP and employer brand making it easier for potential candidates to fall over them. This seems to work, but it still feels as strategic as digging a hole in the street and looking forward to seeing who walked into it? This is trickier for a job site or job search engine, how can a job site attract "passive" job seekers? I took a look around at the UKs biggest job sites - the answer is, they don't.

In the US it is the same, attracts the most visitors, but do they have retention? So unless job sites can identify a method to retain users after the job search, retention means being a site the user returns to next time they are job seeking. Well how do job sites achieve this? Do they do it with am amazing product with fantastic rapid and clever job matching? No, why not - because the job seeker probably won't notice the wonderful product innovation, even if the site does a great job at finding great jobs, the individual still has to get an Interview to feel the site helped them, and ideally the job. Talk to any recruiter, do candidates remember where they found the job, the answer is no. Why, because they have looked at hundreds of jobs across on average 6 sites. As aggregators gain market share this only gets worse, the candidate is likely to come across even more job sites.

What the candidate remembers, is either the site that marketed their brand at them the most, or the site where they found a lot of interesting jobs. They might remember the annouying jobs by email pestering them daily, but that soon finds it way into junk. So the killer is Brand and Content. So far, content has given the top slot in the US, with minimal brand marketing. But their traffic appears to be highly made up of SEO and SEM.

The answer  has to be community. Career is a word the US enjoy and one in the UK we are less keen on. The future online recruitment will stem around mobile and career communities.

Will the job boards be able to achieve this, or will they fall like print in the naughties? I dunno - but I will enjoy observing what happens.