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.


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. may be the most successful and well known aggregator in the world today, but it was very close run with is a Milan based aggregator, recently acquired by the UK company Evenbase, and was founded around the same time as Though 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 has as much claim to a European Audience as, 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 ( 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: (France), (France), (Switzerland), (Switzerland), StepStone (all three locations) and (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!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s