Boxwood Technology started in 1997 as a way for John Bell’s recruitment company, Bell and Associates, to find more candidates for tough-to-fill mainframe engineering positions. We built an online platform that gave him a place to post job openings and vet qualified candidates before he would package them up and present each to a hiring company.
John saw that you could reach a much larger recruit pool in a cheaper way through the internet, so he put the job listings for his customers online, and the résumés came to his recruiting agents’ desks instead of those agents having to do the legwork of finding people to apply.
In the beginning, any legitimate job seeker would get a pin on a large U.S. map we had on the wall representing where each was located. (We would also have ads disguised as résumés sent to us. Those spammers were hoping we’d post their “résumé” and get free exposure for their product on our job boards.) It was amazing watching the growth of our job board in those early days as the map quickly filled up from coast-to-coast until we could no longer keep up with the volume of job seekers registering.
Bell and Associate’s online presence was called “Bellnationwide.com” and was so successful it was able to fund a new venture where we took the platform we had built for Bell Nationwide and modified it to work for any company that wanted to fill jobs using the internet. We called this foray into the job board business a “corporate career center.”
Our first employer to use the platform was Sinclair Broadcasting. Overnight, we went from a single instance of our application to supporting 45 sites that covered all of Sinclair’s television stations at the time. We were producing Software as a Service (SaaS) before that term existed. Commercial job boards like Monster weren’t around in the late 90s when Bell Nationwide was working on this technology, so companies would come to us for help managing the posting and promotion of their job openings.
The corporate career center eventually morphed into a full-fledged, revenue-generating job board model we called Directjobs. We offered a custom branded platform to both commercial and association clients. When selling our job board tech to potential customers, our slogan was, “Rome was not built in a day but your career center could be.” John’s favorite sales trick was to use our easily configurable system to create and show off a customized job platform for a company while on the phone with them.
Soon, demand for these job boards that spanned companies within an industry eclipsed demand for individual employer job boards. We pivoted our business model once more to focus on providing the technology behind job boards while giving employers the tools to manage job listings on their own, instead of managing a job board on their behalf. In the process, we became Boxwood Technology to reflect our more broad focus on providing technology-sourced recruiting tools. We eventually expanded our offerings to include physical and virtual career fairs, career center networks, mentoring tools and more.
When Boxwood started, we had a map of the U.S. tacked up in the office. Every time a new job seeker would register, we’d review their résumé and if they were a legitimate job seeker, add it to our job boards and put a pin in the map where they were located. (We would also have ads disguised as resumes sent to us. Those spammers were hoping we’d post their “résumé” and get free exposure for their product on our job boards.) Today we have tens of millions of job seekers, but in the beginning we had enough that marking them by pin was manageable.
At the beginning we really only had one competitor emerge. They started by copying our code base and we know that because we would put Easter eggs in our code to see if the egg would be replicated on their product. Our Easter eggs would be strings of letters and numbers that looked important to the overall page, but were in fact nonsense and didn’t have an effect on the public-facing look of the job board. And we did see it in their code when we’d look at the page source on their product. That was true validation: We knew we were leading if our closest competition was copying what we did.
We didn’t sue – John Bell didn’t want to waste time or money on legal action. He would just pick up the phone and call the competitor and tell them to knock it off. They’d say, “We don’t know what you’re talking about!” John would hang up, and then this conversation would repeat itself a couple months later. I think they still steal our product concepts, but at least they appear to be writing their own stuff now.
In late 2013, Naylor acquired Boxwood Technology and we became Naylor Career Solutions. To this day our job boards and reputation remain the gold standard in the industry.