Recruitment advertising from candidates’ perspective: Recruittech presentation

At Recruittech I argued that the balance of power has shifted to job seekers. I highlighted three trends which I think made this scenario possible:

1) Information asset increased: Barriers to corporate information and employment opportunities are broken. We are in an environment where job seekers know more about an employer then vice versa.

2) An explosion in job searching tools and options: Without doubt the job seeker of today have a myriad of tools to find jobs. If 250+ job boards are not enough, a whole world of connections is offered by social networks. New media continually offer new platform to announce availability.

3) Changing job search and work behaviour : While tools are abundant, it’s the changing behaviour of job seekers which will have the most impact on job advertisements. Job seekers are increasingly mobile, frequently change jobs and do not trust corporate advertising. Our view of workplaces and jobs is evolving.

Implications for recruiters and employers are many. Attention will be harder to win. Targeting and employment branding will go niche. Generic ‘employer of choice’ doesn’t mean much to job seekers accustomed to seeking contextual content. How recruitment advertisement (vacancy index) moves and behave will be dictated by the whims, behaviour and choices made by job seekers. Rejection or patronage by job seekers will dictate the winners.

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3 replies
  1. Warren
    Warren says:

    Excellent presentation and right on the money as a statement of fact. I find myself asking in response, “and…?” but the picture is complex.
    Employers are now also faced with many more options and potential exists to own channel strategies.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Phillip
    Phillip says:


    Good point. Agree, there is little mention of how recruiters and employers should react (except for slide 52). The presentation was mainly to champion the reasoning that job seekers will increasingly dictate how advertisement and targeting will evolve.

    I will be addressing how employers/recruiters should response to the changing scenario in later presentations or blog posts.


  3. Carey Eaton
    Carey Eaton says:

    Hi Phil
    I’m not sure many recruiters would agree with your suggestion that ‘the balance of power (shifting) to the jobseeker” is something new.
    The labour market in Australia has been demographically short of talent for over a decade now; while the recent 18 months of economic uncertainty has moved the unemployment rate up by a couple of points, I don’t think anyone but the jobseeker has had ‘the balance of power’ at any time in the last 10 years or so.
    This jobseeker power shift certainly strengthened with the mass adoption of the internet over the last 10 years. It was Web 1.0 that did this, not Web 2.0. At SEEK, we’ve seen the traffic go from no-one to everyone in 10 years, and the advertising come with it. We even attracted employers who were never advertisers before.
    I agree with your first point that the information volume has increased. This started many years ago when the volume of advertising in the market massively increased as the audience and advertisers moved from print to online. Yes, over the last 3-4 years we’ve seen a lot more social and workplace information become available, but I don’t think those factors are the cause of the change in market dynamics. The jobseekers are primarily interested in job information; social and corporate information is secondary, and tends to be sought as a secondary addition to the job information.

    So while I agree that the information asset has massively increased, I disagree with what I think you’re saying, which is that there’s a link between the information volume increasing and the fragmentation of jobseeker destinations. I think these are quite different. Yes, there is an information explosion. Yes, there is fragmentation of destination. The conclusion is not that there is a fragmentation of the jobseeker audience though – the numbers show the correct conclusion is the opposite – there is a consolidation of the jobseeker audience.
    This is because an information explosion and fragmentation is not necessarily a positive thing for jobseekers. It brings new problems into play: relevance, accuracy, information overload, time consumption.
    As the information increases and the possible destinations fragment, the jobseeker reaction is to optimise their chance of not missing out on the right information for them by heading to the place where all the information is, where relevance can be understood, at those destinations that remove the fragmentation barrier. This is why job board traffic continues to rise at a much faster rate than the unemployment rate even in a downturn.
    You can see this reality in the U.S. and other offshore markets where aggregators have taken a large share of the jobseeker audience precisely because of the market fragmentation. This is not a likely scenario in Australia for a bunch of other factors that are fairly well understood.
    You can also see this jobseeker response in the traffic statistics to SEEK and the secondary generalist Australian job boards, all of whom have seen traffic and usage massively increase across the decade, even more so during the last 2 years when the information has fragmented spectacularly during the rise of social media.

    So yes, jobseekers have the power, and an information tidal wave is out there. But this doesn’t mean that we’re going to see a fragmentation of the audience or a rise in alternative business models.

    I think you’re right to observe that there has been an explosion in job seeking tools. Probably more accurately, there has been a fascinating era of experimentation in response to the market dynamics changing. Yes, there has been a proliferation of different ways to search for a job. What would be worth exploring is the fact that almost none of them have gained traction or a business model.
    When you consider the number of these search methods that have lasted more than three years, developed a sustainable business model or indeed gained any sort of audience, there are very, very few.
    A better analysis is that three generalist job boards have taken 99.9% market share between them, with a very large number of ‘churning’ new job boards, whether generalist or niche. Almost none of these seem to survive more than a few years. There are fewer than 10 exceptions I can think of in the niche space that are making good profits, taking a fairly liberal interpretation of the words good i.e. under $500K per year. I would not bet on all 10 surviving either. Australia has a unique combination of low immobile population and absolute job ad price levels on par with Romania that make these businesses very difficult, if not impossible, to sustain.
    More critically, I am not aware of a single incidence of a sustainable, profitable, alternative business model other than the job board in the Australian market during this power shift to the jobseeker over the last decade.
    Both these points therefore call into question your observation of ‘changing job search behaviour”. The numbers don’t support this at all. Yes, while more people are likely to put their personal content into social media, it does not at all mean that they’re abandoning the job board. Quite the opposite as the numbers attest.
    I agree with your conclusions that recruitment advertisers are going to have to think harder about targeting the right audience. That’s true, but I think they’re going to have to do that on job boards just as much as they do in any other channel, and to that degree, it is nothing new either – it has always been the case. If anything, the demise of print has made it easier. Job boards will continue to evolve through the adoption of highly sophisticated search technologies that enable highly sophisticated targeting – more sophisticated than the average advertiser will be able to do themselves perhaps, and in a medium with a greater audience than any other destination.
    Finally, I completely agree with what you’re saying when you say “recruitment (advertising) (vacancy index) moves…will be dictated by the whims, behaviours and choices made by job seekers.”

    This has always been the reality.


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