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.

Multi-Posters – The Pros and Cons


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=””>Broadbean Chart

  href=””&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.

Recruitment Advertising Agencies – Finding a New Role

In my last few posts I have mused about the more outrageous recruitment related predictions.

A particularly fashionable one was, “recruitment advertising agencies have been cut out of the process”.

When Barkers went into administration in 2009, this statement seemed even more credible.

Recruitment advertising agencies (RAD agencies) had traditionally added value via channel planning, copy, creative and placement. These skills were essential to run a successful print campaign, but with the advent of the job board, recruitment advertising costs plummeted. Employers and agencies took control of the posting process, creativity was limited and ROI measured precisely.

In this environment it became harder to justify the costs of using an advertising agency to do the same things that most companies were doing for themselves.

Things have changed. Just as my last article dealt with how the job board is evolving into a far more sophisticated tool; recruitment advertising agencies have adapted and are turning the new environment to their advantage.

The most successful campaign on the Wiley Job Network in the last 12 months was run by a London based RAD agency on behalf of a major petro-chemical company. The role advertised would typically attract between 1 -10 applicants but, by the time our agency had worked their magic, the advert had attracted over a hundred.

On this basis, Recruitment Advertising Agencies are still more than capable of adding significant value to their client’s campaigns.

So what’s changed to create an environment where the agency can once again thrive?

I shall come back to a running theme in my blogs. At a basic level nothing has really changed since things have migrated online. Yes, the media is different, the ROI is more measurable and advertising is more sophisticated but, employers still want the best talent and they know that the search for this talent is going to involve targeting relevant communities and content in the most effective way possible.

The biggest issue agencies have had to overcome has been the transition period between print and online. To illustrate the difficulties with this transition, let’s turn the clock back 10 years and look at the issues facing recruitment advertising agencies.

• The online options were limited to a few generalist job board brands, and the rates offered were considerably more cost effective than their print counterparts.

• To employers, job boards offered huge cost savings and highly measurable results but, the scope for any form of creativity was limited; advertising was quickly becoming ess of an art form and more of a science.

• Banners/ restrictive job templates were the only options available online and the ability to add value to this process was limited.

• Volume was the primary measures of success for a recruitment agency or employer at the time and an advert could be purchased online for a tenth of the price of one in print.

Gone were the days when you had to wait a month for a print deadline, pay thousands of pounds for advertising space and pray for a good result. In the old days, it made sense to make sure a good advertising agency worked on your recruitment advert; it was just too much of a financial risk to mess it up!

In this environment it’s easy to see why agencies were suffering.

Something had to give and unfortunately there were a few casualties; Barkers being the highest profile.

That transitional period is now over and nearly all content is now available online. What’s more, as content providers traditional revenue streams have declined, more and more innovative advertising and targeting technologies have been developed in the competition for budget.

The sheer amount of media online is now huge and the range of targeting methods available is myriad.

Simply choosing the right media has become a discipline worthy of a PhD qualification. In the UK sprang into existence in 2000 as a method for RAD agencies to find and assess different forms of recruitment media. Over the years’s database has grown, and now contains 4000 different platforms, each one structured differently, with its own targeting methods and rate structures.

In addition to this, rich media, data collection and enhanced analytical capabilities, have meant that running the most effective recruitment campaigns, in terms of cost and results, can be incredibly complex.

Let’s take the example of a Pharmaceutical company looking for a Medical Advisor, with specific experience in oncology…..

In the early 1990’s it was a matter of identifying the most relevant oncology journals with the best circulations, in the right locations and creating some copy for an advertising campaign. This generally would have been in the form of a print advert, designed to different page specifications.

In the early 2000’s you may have opted for a combination of print and online, with the choice of only 1 or 2 niche job boards and a very basic static (possibly animated) banner campaign online. Job boards at the time only offered the most basic templates, restricting the creative process. There were options to upload PDF adverts but, these were prohibitively expensive by comparison and didn’t massively increase the ROI that employers received.

Today, available online media (in the UK alone) would include at least 12 relevant niche job boards, hundreds of online journals (we publish 77 in this field at Wiley alone) and countless social media communities.
The most effective campaign would involve an HTML e-mail campaign; geo-targeted, frequency capped, content linked, banners (in a range of possible formats too numerous to list); a video advert, a careers webinar (involving speakers topics and online presentations); HTML branded, sponsored, SEO optimized, online advertising campaigns; a campaign specific SEO optimized, Adword supported mini-site; Facebook pages; linkedIn groups and twitter accounts.

Oh… and because Doctors can be old fashioned in their reading habits, possibly a print campaign to boot….

A good RAD agency now relies on such skills as channel planning, creative talent, media buying, web development, SEO, Ad operations, social media expertise and video production.

It’s been a difficult transition period, and there have been casualties along the way (RIP Barkers) but, in today’s competition for talent, working with a good RAD agency adds more value.

An example of a print advert only a good RAD agency could have come up with:

A few more solid reasons to use a RAD:

A good example of making video advertising work in recruitment:

Winners of the 2013 RAD awards:

The End of The Job Board

Anyone who has turned on the TV recently and seen Max Beasley relentlessly plugging Jobsite knows what a load of nonsense this prediction has turned out to be!

Job boards have been a feature of the internet since it launched and fulfilled exactly the same role as that recruitment pages did prior to the digital age. The difference being that they made the entire process for candidates and recruiters easier, faster and more measurable; not to mention far more cost effective.

Job boards initially usurped the majority of recruitment revenue from regional, free and controlled circulation newspapers and trade press; causing many to go under (I refer the reader back to a point in my last post: that the internet exposed poor services to scrutiny that wasn’t available prior to the digital age). I believe many of the publications that suffered, just weren’t being read by the audience they claimed, didn’t adapt fast enough and didn’t modify their pricing structures to be competitive with new media. There are still many successful publications and journals that see significant recruitment revenue from print and that’s because they were able to effectively deliver on their propositions.

Although there is no end in sight, as far as I can see for The Job Board, things have changed considerably over the years. Generalist job boards have to adapt to a new market place, as more and more publishers produce niche job sites, either supported by industry focussed content or exclusively marketed to a particular sector.

Generalists still have their place but, they have had to strengthen their brands and diversify into niche areas over recent years, in order to avoid losing market share to the multitude of new competition. You may have noticed that many of these big generalist brands (Jobsite, CV Library and Total Jobs) are now advertising on TV as a way of addressing this.

I believe the future of the big brand generalist job boards is in the horizontal markets: sales, administration etc. and specialist publishers (now aware of the potential) will continue to chip away at the vertical markets.

This was why we built the Wiley Job Network.

Wiley produce 1600 highly respected peer review journals, which attract 13.5 million unique users every month, each with its own specialist audience and brand. By targeting our client’s adverts to relevant articles in these journals, we have a unique advantage, capitalising on an exclusive audience who rely on our content as part of their career development, the strength of trusted journals brands and global reach. This is something that stand-alone job boards and generic job boards aren’t in a position to offer advertisers, no matter how much marketing they engage in. Whereas in the past, a lot of the expertise and skill involved in producing a great recruitment platform was the preserve of dedicated job board providers, this technology is now available to anyone. Companies like Madgex (our own providers) have state of the art recruitment platforms that can be bought off the shelf and updated as and when new technology becomes available – all the publisher has to do is bring the audience to the table. I believe the future will see more and more content producers capitalising on recruitment revenue streams; it’s an easy win during a tough transitional time.

With Jobseekers increasingly uploading their CV’s to several job boards at a time, recruiters now frequently see the same candidate come through from a variety of different sources. The logical response to this situation is to simply choose the one producing the most volume and to cut back on spend with the others (which is where a lot of generalists have suffered). In order to have a successful platform in today’s market place, producing candidates recruiters are not seeing from another source is essential, which normally means, targeting passive candidates in a space that they don’t use for job seeking! In our case this is done through our journals on Wiley Online Library, however, you’ll see the same contextual job advertising appearing alongside relevant articles on more and more content producers. You can take a look at some examples of this below:

In this respect Job Boards are morphing into something different. An accurate description would be: “platforms that facilitate placing client’s adverts alongside contextually relevant content”.
In that respect at least, the title of this blog is, in part, true.

That’s it for today. In my next piece I am going to be looking at where Recruitment Advertising Agencies have found a new role in the digital world.

UPDATE: After searching this topic the other day, I found an article written a few days before mine on the same topic. I have met Felix before, he has been around far longer than I have and I respect his opinion. In light of this it would be rude not to link though to his blog on the same topic (albeit from a different perspective):