Career Center Networks – why are societies and associations still using them?

So what is a career center network?

Essentially it is a large pool of candidates and job adverts ‘owned’ by a third party vendor which can be plugged into society website with a ‘career center’ interface. As the members of that society start applying for jobs via this system, their details become the property of the external vendor and can then be used to provide other ‘network affiliated sites’ (and in some cases a central network job board) with applications to adverts. As the network grows so does the pool of candidates and reach into the employer market.

These networks generally take a cut of 30-50% of all revenue generated from advertisers and the remainder goes back to the society.

On the surface you can see why this solution has its appeal.

Many of these career center network providers entered the market place in the very late nineties/ early noughties when most organizations were still trying to make sense of how to move their traditional business models online. Print advertising was declining rapidly and advertisers were moving to online solutions. With no expertise or experience in this area, small online audiences and no database of candidates many societies and associations were unable to provide a credible online solution. Those that failed were ultimately unable to satisfy the return their advertisers expected and faced exorbitant costs from career center developers (only to find them obsolete in the space of a few years).

In this context, career center network providers promised off the shelf technology, nominal set up costs, a database of relevant candidates and access to thousands of potential employers. It is easy to understand why so many people said ‘Yes please!’. In this scenario the revenue share agreement was more than offset by the cost savings that societies would have incurred going it alone.

But here’s the thing…

Though it may have seemed a perfectly sensible solution at the time – networks capitalize on organization’s membership and are actively counterproductive when it comes to building and engaging an audience.

Why do people join a professional society or association?

I would say the answer to this question is simple: for their professional development and career prospects.

Organizations that went down the long hard road of developing their own unique career centers should be in a much better situation now than their network affiliated counterparts. These organizations will have captured information from every applicant, increased their online audience and (most likely) seen the knock on effect of increased membership applications.

By contrast those societies that affiliated with networks have missed out on these opportunities.

Networks are interested in gaining access to an existing audience; they have little motivation in growing it.

A career center is one of the most compelling member benefit and engagement tools at a society’s disposal. Not only should it be a great development tool for members – it should be at the forefront of a society’s online presence and mission.

The image below demonstrates how a career center should be benefiting a society and it members:

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By contrast, this is how the dynamic works for network affiliated societies and associations:

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The graphic above shows how networks act as a barrier/ obstacle to engaging and building an audience of potential new members. Networks capitalize on affiliate’s existing audiences in exchange for applications to keep advertisers happy. As a result the affiliated society loses out on the opportunity grow their audience and forge a direct and lasting relationship with potential new members.

I believe societies should be seeing the full benefit from their career offerings.

With the advent of specialist recruitment platform providers, organizations now have the option to move away from the network model without having to take the risks associated with developing a platform from scratch. Some of these providers offer great career center websites that offer a far more engaging user experience – and a number of large societies and associations are already taking this route.

Unfortunately building the website has always been the easiest part of launching Careers offering!

The major issues are how to provide comprehensive content, build a qualified audience and develop relationships with advertisers. Without considerable experience or inhouse expertise accomplishing this can be a long and arduous process with no guarantee of success.

The image below demonstrates some of the essentials in achieving an engaging and successful career center:

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At Wiley we have begun working with our society partners to ‘publish’ their job boards. With years of experience in this area, global reach, access to a massive qualified audience and extensive relationships with advertisers, we can help navigate our society and association partners through these troubled waters and ensure that their online career centers are engaging and successful.

By taking control of their careers audience, societies can grow their membership, introduce new products and services and provide a truly unique audience to employers and recruiters.

At a basic level this will result in an increase in revenues, but also (and perhaps more importantly)maintain an organization’s relevance and engage a new generation of early stage professionals who will ideally go on to form a lasting loyalty to the society or associaton in question.

Networks provide a good service for their clients. They continue to provide their affliates with applications and advertiser relationships – but a modern career center can offer so much more than this.

I think its time for societies to reclaim this audience and take their career offerings to the next level.

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Recruiting with Professional Societies and Associations

Everybody in the industry knows that in order to be a successful recruiter you need to be involved in the professional communities of your target candidates. By this I mean attending relevant industry events, being involved in the right LinkedIn groups, advertising on the correct sites and connecting with the key candidates in your industry. The more engaged a recruiter is in these environments the more likely they are to be successful. Before you switch off, on account of my stating the incredibly obvious, please bear with me….

How many recruiters actively engage with the professional bodies that represent their chosen vertical markets? In my experience this is a relationship which has traditionally been underdeveloped and yet has the potential to provide huge benefits to both parties.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example, say, The British Society of Clinical Research. A prestigious brand with an engaged membership of 33,000 professionals in the UK, its journal, website and resources are the ‘Go to’ place in the clinical research industry. Surely this hypothetical society would be the ideal partner for both employers and recruiters in the Clinical Research space? What great access to a highly qualified passive audience and prestigious brand association!

In practice however, these relationships are few and far between. This despite the fact that many societies and associations are facing an increasing amount of pressure on their traditional revenue streams and are looking to build new ones as a result. As non-profit organisations whose primary income has traditionally been via subscriptions and print advertising, societies have lagged behind other organisations in developing a strong digital offering and corresponding revenue stream. As the overwhelming majority of recruitment now takes place online these societies have been missing out on their slice of the recruitment pie. This isn’t to say that recruiters and employers don’t work with societies, a number do, but not with the same level of engagement as with other professional communities. I would attribute this to under developed digital recruitment platforms and an focus on alternative revenue streams.

The good news is that this is now changing – and fast.

Just as traditional journal and newspaper publishers have had to innovate and develop online communities, societies and associations are now following suit. Online Careers Centres have the dual benefits of providing a valuable service to members and create a new online revenue stream for the society. With the highly engaged communities that these organisations serve they are likely to have a significant advantage in building strong recruitment propositions and open the door to recruitment consultancies serving their respective marketplaces.

In my experience there is a high degree of prestige and pride in belonging to a professional body and perhaps the biggest new development society career centres will bring to online recruitment space is the re-emergence of brand association as a force in recruitment.  

I believe there is a huge opportunity for recruiters here, and my advice would be to start building relationships with the professional bodies in your industry.

Overlooked, Underused and Generally Unappreciated Digital Recruitment Tools

Part 1: Banners!

Banner_image2Banner that message home!!

Hello again to everybody, and my apologies for the long break since my last piece. I’ve been far too busy enjoying the incredible summer we’ve just had.

As the British weather has now returned to form, I felt a return to blogging would be a welcome distraction from the torrential downpour and grey skies outside.

So, onto banner campaigns…..

Banners seem to have been left by the wayside as more tactical, fashionable and measurable methods have usurped them over recent years. Consultancies now seem to spend all of their resource on social media, standard job board advertising and industry events as a result of the perception that these methods produce the most tangible return and the least wasted budget.

There’s no big surprise in this, it’s simply a symptom of an industry adapting to increasingly squeezed margins.

What most recruiters don’t seem to realise is that these old fashioned digital methods have also adapted, and as a result banner campaigns are being seriously overlooked in our industry.

Recruitment Consultancy marketers used to identify an online audience and simply buy a specific number of impressions (often linked to a keyword) and then forget about them. The number of consultancies that invested in this technique declined throughout the 00’s as budget moved towards techniques that were more quantifiable.

The big news is that banners are not what they used to be!

Since Google acquired the banner serving company Dart in March 2008 the possibilities have become myriad. Disregarding the numerous ranges of creative mediums now available, the targeting options available are staggering and for recruitment companies this opens up some incredible opportunities.

We recently quoted a client for a campaign with which they were looking to promote the results of some market research to prospective new clients. Our client specified that they wanted to target visitors to our healthcare/ pharmaceutical publications across the US and Europe.

Our total reach for this audience (on Wiley Online Library) runs into 100’s millions of impressions every month! I suspected this might be a little too expensive and less targeted than our client might have liked.

In an effort to reduce potential costs and improve the effectiveness of the campaign, I asked him to identify which companies they were looking to target and in which specific locations. In the end they identified 20 companies across 11 different countries.

After we had identified the domain names of the organisation is question, we ran a report to see how many visits we received from these in the locations we were asked to focus on. Eventually we narrowed our client’s campaign to 1/3 million possible impressions over the course of a month – which fit nicely into his available budget. The only people who will see his banners are those working at his target clients, in the locations his company operates in!

With the advent Ad Remarketing, banner ads have become as tenacious as they have targeted. You can now have banners follow potential clients/ candidates around the web like a particularly talented blood hound.

Today’s banners simply don’t let up until your message has been delivered to the right audience! I’d recommend that recruiters take another look at this old school digital method, its extremely effective – and well worth your budget.

Social Media and Recruitment Advertising – Generating revenue through Social Alliances

One of biggest issues facing publishers over the last decade has been the rise of Social Media.

In one respect it’s an obvious opportunity to promote brands and build communities in a way that hasn’t been possible in the past.

The major issue has been a lack of understanding about how to do this effectively and, most importantly, how to turn this engagement into revenue.

Many newspapers and online publications are now doing this very effectively. I’m sure most of the people reading this piece will have seen an increasing number of relevant articles appearing in their news feeds and (in my experience) these are highly effective. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn now provide the main reference tool in determining my online reading habits.

Of course these companies are chasing advertising revenue, which will increase in-line with audience size. There is also an argument that this also adds to online subscriptions, as people become more dependent on the content and publishers begin to move content behind pay walls (I know I would have trouble surviving without access to The Daily Telegraph on a daily basis).

So how has this affected recruitment media providers?

For a long time the standard job board/ employer/ recruitment company response to social media was to pump out a constant stream of job adverts and hope to engage as many potential candidates as possible. This approach just didn’t work, and most resourcers soon learnt that they have to engage an audience; and this involves a lot more effort than simply streaming job adverts.

The best way to engage a community is to provide content of interest; Webinars, Q&A sessions, exclusive news and, yes, career opportunities, will ultimately build the desired audience. The problem is that these services require resource, and social media tends to lose its USP to many people as it ceases to be “free”.

Just as many people labour under the misapprehension that (once built) a website is “free” (when actually they cost a fortune to market, resource, update and maintain) this is also true of the way many people view social media.

The truth is that building a qualified audience is never “free”, whether that is in social media, through a website or via print subscriptions.

But do recruiters have to employ dedicated marketeers, editorial teams and webinar providers simply to make the most out of social media?

There is another way……

Social Alliances

It used to be said that the pillars of a successful website community were exclusive news and career opportunities. Recruiters provide exclusive career opportunities all the time, and the providers of exclusive industry news (be that individuals, publications, societies etc.) with established and well qualified communities can benefit from careers content.

Alliances with these providers can be far more effective for recruiters than trying to build and engage these communities themselves.

With the Wiley Job Network we have formed social media alliances with numerous communities which have proved far more effective than our own WJN accounts.

Amongst my clients there is currently a lot of demand for German speaking chemists; so what better way to attract these candidates than by feeding our jobs through the Twitter feed of Germany’s leading chemistry journal “Angewandte Chemie”? This alliance, along with 29 other Wiley communities has allowed us to reach an additional audience of over 200,000 social media users with very little resource from our end.

In my experience this has been by far our most effective use of social media and has meant that we are able to provide an audience for our clients that we could never have done independently.

I would urge those recruiters looking to find candidates in niche areas to look towards building alliances with established communities. There are plenty out there, and these relationships can be mutually beneficial.

Multi-Posters – The Pros and Cons

Multi-Posters!

Having been a recruitment consultant before they were invented, I can really appreciate how much easier they have made life for recruiters around the world!

At Wiley we are massive fans of multi-posters because recruiters trialling the Wiley Job Network are far more likely to post a large number of jobs across a wide variety of different areas. This tends to mean a better return on investment for clients, who are therefore more likely to commit their budgets. Our problem, prior to the advent of companies like Broadbean, was persuading hard pressed consultants to take time out of their days to post adverts to yet another new job board. I spent five years chasing the business of a major global recruitment consultancy and, following several failed trials (when their consultants simply didn’t post jobs), we finally proved our worth after they began using a major multi-poster. Today they are one of our most important clients.

Whoever was responsible for the invention of this technology doesn’t get enough recognition (I can’t find a name anywhere) as they single handedly revolutionised the recruitment industry!

So after establishing my pro-multi-poster credentials it may come as a bit of a surprise that, after some internal research, I have to conclude that (as a general rule) posting direct to our platform yields a better return on investment for our clients.

Now, in most cases the efficiency savings in using a multi-poster will far outweigh the small loss in applications that clients would have otherwise seen posting directly, but the figures are worth bearing in mind. The first chart below illustrates the proportion of our clients using the various multi-posters available (Broadbean is now by far the most dominant player in the market as a result of its excellent service provision) and the second shows the jobseeker views to applications ratio our clients see through differing posting methods:

  href=”https://allistercrowley.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/broadbean-chart.png”>Broadbean Chart

  href=”https://allistercrowley.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/application-ratio-chart.png”&gt;Application ratio chart<                  
As you can see from the charts above, adverts posted through a multi-poster are the least effective in terms of attracting applications.

Obviously there are a number of factors that could explain these results, but I have my theories.

The most effective adverts, those posted by our own WJN team, are being posted on behalf of Recruitment Advertising agencies. They therefore have  the copy, design and branding to give these adverts the edge their clients are paying for.

So why the disparity between adverts posted directly onto our job board and those posted through multi-posters?

I believe this is all down to one crucial and overlooked factor; taxonomy categorisation.

When posting adverts on specialist sites, it’s vital that jobs are posted under correct categories.

Location is the most obvious example of this. Jobseekers search on very specific criteria, so it is important that adverts are associated with specific criteria. People searching for jobs based in Woking, Surrey, aren’t going to be seeing a job posted to the whole of the UK. Likewise, clients of ours who post purely under “Pharmaceutical”, when really they should be posting under “Pharmaceutical, Clinical Research Associate” aren’t going to see the quality or quantity of response.

Whilst the choice of taxonomy criteria is clear when a recruiter posts directly though our system, multi-poster interfaces tend to make this a more confusing exercise. The reason for this is that, because they pull taxonomy criteria from multiple job boards (each of which is likely to have idiosyncrasies), the correct categorisation of a job is not always obvious. For example, when posting directly through the Wiley Job Network it is very clear that a role in Clinical research should fall under “Healthcare and Pharmaceutical” but clients posting though multi-posters frequently choose the incorrect “Science, Life Sciences”. This is an easy mistake to make, but leads to adverts being posted alongside content in subjects like evolution and ecology, rather than more relevant topics in drug discovery and pharmacology. Both categories make sense to the recruiter, but the first will lead to quality applications and the 2nd will lead to very few applications, which are unlikely to be relevant.

So what conclusion am I making from all of this?

Well, after having established the massive benefits to using multi-poster software, I am definitely not advocating a return to the darker ages of the recruitment process. What I would suggest is that if recruiters take a little time to visit the numerous job boards that provide taxonomy choices for the their multi-posters interface, and provide their posting consultants (particularly new starters, unfamiliar with their industry sectors) with an informed user guide of the best categories for their roles, they are likely to see a better return on their investment.

Recruiting in Europe – The challenges

Firstly my apologies for the long delay in writing this follow-up piece to my last article.
Unfortunately, blogging isn’t my day job and I have been occupied with the usual trials and tribulations that come at the end of our financial year.

Hopefully a few of you have managed to read my last post, comparing the differing recruitment environments in the US and the UK. Today I want to look over to the east, and make a few observations about my recruitment experience with mainland Europe.

I must stress that the observations I make are purely anecdotal and not evidence based, so please feel free to wade into the conversation below the line!

The first thing to note is that, despite being an open market to its members, Europe cannot be treated as a single homogenous entity. There are simply too many different commercial cultures, member state employment regulations and languages for a pan European recruitment campaign to be as straightforward as you would expect in the US/ UK.

To illustrate this let’s compare a few features of the UK/ US recruitment market to mainland Europe.

Advert Multi-posters:

These simply don’t seem to exist on the European level.

Of course you can use systems from the US and UK (Broadbean, Idibu, Jobmate, VacancyPoster, SmashFly), but many European centric job boards simply are not set up for this service. In the development stages of the Wiley Job Network, we spent several hours talking to Broadbean as we saw compatibility with this type of service as being crucial to our success. Most recruitment offerings in mainland Europe don’t have the same pressure as it is not yet an expectation from most advertisers, many of whom are still prepared to create bespoke copy for their online adverts.

Aggregators:

Back in 2007, when I looked after a pharmaceutical job board, I started to notice two new domain names rapidly climbing the list of our top referrers of traffic. At first I was confused as to who these companies were, and why they were sending so much traffic our way, but after 3 months of this trend both become mainstays of our marketing budget.

Indeed.com may be the most successful and well known aggregator in the world today, but it was very close run with JobRapido.com.

JobRapido.com is a Milan based aggregator, recently acquired by the UK company Evenbase, and was founded around the same time as Indeed.com. Though Indeed.com is now global in scope, JobRapido, with its multilingual account managers and Italian base, initially had more success with the European market.

I would suggest that today Indeed.com has as much claim to a European Audience as JobRapido.com, but JobRapido remains Europe’s only major home-grown aggregator.

Professional Networking Sites:

This is where things start to get interesting.

Mention professional networking to a native English speaker and they immediately think, LinkedIn. Mention the same thing to a native French speaker and they’ll think Viadeo. A German speaker will think Xing.

Anybody who is serious about recruiting across European national borders should have a significant presence on all three. You’ll stand a far better chance of finding the perfect candidate.

This is particularly true in less flexible marketplaces. Though Switzerland may have the most international recruitment outlook in Europe, the French, German and Austrian markets are well known for preferring to employ nationals.

A German colleague of mine spent a lot of time trying to persuade a potential client in Bavaria that we could provide them with the best candidates in Europe, only to be rebuffed. The client was only interested in Bavarian applicants, only after his Bavarian campaign had been exhausted would he start to expand his search.

For this kind of recruiting you need to be Xinged up…..

This kind of localism may seem strange to the highly flexible Labour markets in the UK and the US, but, with the notable exception of Switzerland, it’s a feature of the European environment.

Job Boards:

Whereas you can recruit for a fairly generic role using a single generalist job board across the majority of the English speaking world (Monster.com still fulfils this role despite its recent travails), language is a barrier to this in Europe.

The closest that the European market has to offer the generalist job board market is StepStone, which itself is really a collection of country specific sites which fall under the StepStone umbrella.

To demonstrate this problem, if you were looking for sales reps in France, Germany and Switzerland and wanted to cover all of your bases you should be advertising on the following sites: KelJob.com (France), CadrEmploi.fr (France), Jobs.ch (Switzerland), Experteer.ch (Switzerland), StepStone (all three locations) and JobWare.de (Germany). With fairly generic roles like these in the UK or the US you could probably adequately cover your bases with a single generalist job board provider.

Sound like and expensive campaign? It is! Job Board prices are roughly twice what they are in the US and generally more expensive than their UK counterparts. When you consider that you’ll have to post the same job across five different boards – it all begins to add up!

Is there a way around this? For job roles across horizontal markets, not really. Fortunatley there is a better way of doing things when recruiting for sepecialist nich roles in the verical markets.

There are a number of country specific niche job boards available on the continent, which can only increase your overall spend if you opt to advertise across a number of these. My advice is to pick media which suits the specific niche you are looking for and has European appeal. In the long run it will cut the costs down. This isn’t always going to be possible (in some areas the media just isn’t available) but in many cases there is a shortcut.

For example, if you are looking for clinicians/ scientists, contextual advertising alongside core publications with international readership is a great way to go. Core medical and scientific journals have pan European reach (by their very nature) and, through these, you can reach the best passive candidates for your roles.

Again, (…please excuse the shameless plug) this is why we built the Wiley Job Network. A single job advert posted with us will post alongside the content of hundreds of highly respected journals, which are read by clinicians and scientists across the whole of Europe.

There are many contextual advertising opportunities of this type of advertising across a wide range of industries, but it would be amiss of me not to mention WJN!

Applicant Tracking Systems and ROI:

In many cases advertisers in mainland Europe are still happy to advertise in print publications and though this is gradually changing, there are a number of online media providers which still see the option to upload a Pdf from their print advert as an acceptable solution. The pressure to push down costs and demonstrate increasing levels of ROI has not been as voracious as we have seen in the US and the UK.

The Multi-poster was the natural evolution of this trend in the Anglo-sphere and the absence of these on the continent is a symptom of the more relaxed environment.

This isn’t to say that ATS’s and measures of ROI are behind in mainland Europe, but my general observation is that advertisers shouldn’t expect to be provided with the multitude of metrics they may have been used to seeing from their US/UK partners.

Well that’s it from me for today…

More in the near future!