On December 14, the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality protections by a 3-2 vote. This move could have dire consequences for everyone who uses the internet, and the staffing industry is no exception.
The end of net neutrality allows corporations like Xfinity and Comcast to implement what some are calling a “high-speed internet tax.” Prior to this decision, the internet was classified as a telecommunications service, giving it the same protections as, say, electricity and water. As Barry Levine put it in MarTech Today:
[The growth of the internet] has been built on one central idea: Every company, every organization and every individual has essentially the same ability to reach every internet user in the world. Larger players had bigger motors and much more fuel, but everyone used the same road.
Now, the internet will be reclassified as an information service, giving Internet Service Providers (ISPs) the ability to create classes of internet users. ISPs could provide faster load speeds for content they own or to companies that pay for the privilege. In other words, not everyone will be able to use the same road — there will be fast lanes and slow lanes.
Here are some of the ramifications this decision could have for the staffing industry.
Job boards with fast lanes and slow lanes
Without net neutrality, access to job postings may not be the same for all firms or for all candidates because of the possibility of new internet fast lanes.
You’re already competing with dozens of other staffing agencies to get your job postings in front of the right candidates. Now, some of your top competitors may be able to pay for job postings that load lightning fast, and you’ll have to pay a premium to keep up with them. If you can’t afford those premiums, you’ll be looking at trying to get in front of top candidates with job postings that may load with dial-up-level slowdowns.
Candidates only exposed to curated job listings
ISPs will also be able to tack on a premium for certain content. This means that candidates may have to pay to see job postings or job search results on Google. While currently we’re used to seeing search results based on geography and interest, premium job post content may now take priority. So, a candidate may not see your job listing, even if she’s searching next door to you.
Potential loss of competition and innovation
The loss of net neutrality could disproportionately hurt small businesses by hampering their ability to get their message in front of their audience. If ISPs are allowed to charge some companies more than others, then the companies that win will be those with the deepest pockets rather than those with the best solutions.
Before the FCC vote, a group of over 500 small businesses wrote an open letter calling for the protection of net neutrality, saying, “The open internet has made it possible for us to rely on a free market where each of us has the chance to bring our best business ideas to the world without interference or seeking permission from any gatekeeper first.”
What to do now?
Though how this decision bears out is still TBD, to thrive during the changes that are coming, consider innovative ways to operate, both on and off the internet.
- Stay informed. Follow news sites that aren’t affiliated with ISPs or other beneficiaries of this new internet. StaffingHub will keep you updated on changes that impact the industry.
- Check your state protections. Many states are pledging to uphold net neutrality standards, despite the FCC ruling.
- Redouble your efforts to draw people into your existing networks now. The more followers you have on Facebook, contacts you have on your existing email lists, and brand ambassadors to generate referrals for you, the less you’ll have to rely on the internet to source talent and fill orders.
- Consider hiring a brand consultant or marketing team to help you navigate the changing tides. Staffing is your business — staying ahead of the way the internet is changing may become a job of its own. Partnering with digital pros may help ease the effects of these changes.
Looking for more staffing news? Check out our industry updates.
Caitlin Delohery is the Editor-in-Chief of StaffingHub.