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.

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.

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!

International Campaigns and Recruitment Media – The Challenges!

An old industry acquaintance dropped me a line the other day, suggesting that LinkedIn was the only decent solution available to recruiters anymore.

I disagreed….

Don’t get me wrong, as I have said in previous posts I think that LinkedIn has made a huge impact on the industry, but it hasn’t actually changed the way that recruiters work. LinkedIn may have made headhunting and networking a much easier process, but the majority of my client’s candidate placements are still made through advertising (with job boards or publications) and direct applications to their own website.

The next thing that occurred to me was LinkedIn’s international limitations. It may be the most successful professional networking site globally, but it plays second fiddle to Viadeo in France and Xing in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

That got me thinking about the huge challenges involved in putting together an effective international recruitment campaign.

We have WJN sales offices in the US, Germany, the UK and Australia and I communicate with my colleagues in these regions on a regular basis. Since we launched the Job Network it has been very interesting to see the divergent paths each office has had to take in terms of sales strategy and marketing initiatives.

Over the last couple of years I have discovered just how different recruiting environments are across international borders and this blog is going to focus on some of my observations.

To be very clear from the start, these are my observations only and are purely anecdotal. Any comments people may have are extremely welcome below the line!

I’ll start closest to home…..

The US and the UK:

I have lumped these two countries together because, as with so many aspects of our respective cultures, we are so similar and yet so different.

I met a client of mine yesterday who noted that five years ago his top choices of recruitment media for the UK would have been very different from those for the US.

Today, as he pointed out, they are broadly the same.

The rise of LinkedIn and Indeed.com has meant that these are a mainstay in recruitment campaigns across both sides of the pond, our common language and the rise of relevant publishers in the recruitment arena (Wiley, Nature and the New Scientist etc.) has seen a convergence of resourcing strategy.

It’s a two-way street of course, and the UK has exported a number of its largest recruitment consultancy brands westward.

Both labour markets are extremely fast passed and flexible and this has meant that there are many similarities in our respective recruitment industries.

The biggest difference I have found is that Internal Recruitment and RPO’s are still much bigger in the US than in the UK, with companies less likely to outsource to recruitment agencies. Regional media is also a big factor in the US (for obvious geographical reasons) and is still incorporated into most campaigns, regardless of specialism. This tends to mean that recruiters in the US, after they have booked their mainstay media, look to a variety of differing attraction methods and are more open minded in their approach. Innovation is expected and budget is more accessible as a result.

The UK’s environment is far more agency orientated and companies haven’t embraced in-house recruiters over here in the same way they have in America. RPO involvement is also still relatively rare. Where internal recruitment is in place, they frequently outsource their hiring requirements to consultancies.

Big recruitment consultancy brands still hold sway in the UK; with Hays, Reed, Michael Page, Randstad, Adecco, Man Power and SThree being some of the bigger solution providers. The US has a distinct lack of major recruitment consultancy brands, with companies of this type more likely to be boutique and regional.

By their very nature external recruiters are less likely to spend on untried media. It is a risk and bad decisions eat into margins which are under increasing pressure. This has made it harder for new media to break into the UK market place. To set up a new solution and (more importantly) to get recruiters to start using it, involves a huge amount of investment. In the UK this is exacerbated by the long lead time involved in getting recruiters to part with budget. Free trials are now the accepted norm in the UK, whereas (in my experience) US companies seem more likely to take a risk with spend.

Innovation in the UK has taken second place to efficiencies in processes and ROI. This is largely as a result of the sheer number of competing agencies over here, and the increasing downward pressure on rates of commission. Many consultancies have used experience from the UK’s competitive environment to succeed internationally, and this includes the US as much as mainland Europe.

A negative aspect of this efficiency is that it stifles a plurality of recruitment media. In earlier days of my career, a 100% return on investment was enough to guarantee a media renewal; but with increased competition and better analytics (for recruiters and media providers) I am now frequently quoted 400% or above as being the bench mark.

This proficiency has led to some world beating products being developed. Broadbean (a prime example of multi-posting excellence) has recently set up offices in the US, and is already working with a number of major brands. Likewise, our developers, Madgex, have opened up offices in the US and are doing well with a platform optimised for efficiency.

Multi-posting technologies, advanced ATS systems and a strong focus on operations have made the UK extremely efficacious, but I believe it lags behind the US in terms of a plurality of innovative media solutions.

In summary I would conclude that the US maybe exporting innovation to the UK, but its importing efficiency in return.

That’s it for this week; my next post will cover the complex recruitment environment in continental Europe.

Publishers and Recruitment – The Comeback!

Sticking to my theme of analysing recruitment related predictions, I am going to deal with one very close to home.

“Publishers are being cut out of the recruitment process.”

Until the 1990’s, publishers had a monopoly on recruitment advertising. With the exception of strategic choices, such as careers fairs and Above the Line advertising, recruiters had three options in the search for talent:

• Networking
• Print Advertising in relevant media
• Headhunting/ Poaching

Of course recruiters had their own databases, but most of the candidates these included would have been added as the result of one of the methods listed above.

There just weren’t a lot of options, and publishers were free to take advantage of their privileged position in the recruitment process. For specialist and high profile roles, recruitment adverts varied in price from a few hundred pounds to well over £10,000. There were many journals and trade publications which relied entirely on this lucrative source of revenue to survive.

The arrival of the job board, particularly those operating in niche industry sectors, changed everything.

After several years in recruitment I found myself on the frontline: in the tough position of selling both job board and print advertising. To illustrate the problems I faced selling print against online, here are a few of the typical questions advertisers might ask, contrasted with the answers I had at my disposal:

What does an advert cost?

Job Board: “£350”
Print Publication: “£2,000″

What’s your monthly circulation?

Job Board: “60,000 unique visitors!”
Print Publication: “15,000 subscribers”

How can I measure my return?

Job Board: “We measure all applications and advert views for you!”
Print Publication: “We can’t help.”

How many potential candidates do you have?

Job Board: “We have 6,583 registered users relevant to your role!”
Print Publication: “I can’t be specific.”

What’s the average number of applications to an Ad?

Job Board: “4.3 per advert posted!”
Print Publication: “I don’t know.”

Can I have access to a database of jobseekers?

Job Board: “Sure – how does 10,000 CV’s sound?”
Print Publication: “No you can’t.”

Print was at a big disadvantage!

That’s not to say that it wasn’t necessarily the best route for our clients to take; just that it was a much harder sell.

Many of the best candidates were reading our print publication who wouldn’t dream of visiting our job board, but it’s easy to see why advertisers were increasingly choosing the online option.

As I have said several times in previous posts, “poor services were opened up to scrutiny that wasn’t available prior to the digital age” and many publications that didn’t adapt went out of business or were discontinued as result.

The very best publications continued to see a steady stream of recruitment revenue, whilst nurturing a healthy online brand/ audience at the same time. The BMJ and the New Scientist are good examples of publishers that managed this transition well.

So in an era where the available methods of candidate attraction are so numerous (I shan’t list them for fear of losing your attention, but you can read more about that HERE) how are publishers making a comeback?

The answer is that relevant, respected print publications have always attracted the best candidates! They were just behind technologically; and that gap is now being closed.

Ask your average recruiter which candidates they prefer?

• Those that are actively looking for a job and probably applying to a number of competitors?
• Those that weren’t looking were tempted by the job and applied exclusively to their company?

The answer is invariably the latter!

The biggest downfall of the job board is that it has never been able to provide these ‘passive’ candidates to recruiters.

Now that publishers have caught up technologically, they have the content and have the communities to deliver. All newspapers, trade publications and journals are now online and can capitalize on established technologies to give them the same capabilities as traditional job boards; but with a far more sophisticated audience.

With contextual advertising techniques publishers are now able to place job adverts directly alongside relevant content, targeting passive candidates in their ‘natural content habitat’.

It’s the Biostatistician reading Statistics in Medicine online who sees a tempting job advert alongside an article on “Extensions of net reclassification improvement calculations to measure usefulness of new biomarkers” that provides the publishers advantage. This employed candidate wouldn’t normally consider visiting a job board, maybe adverse to social media (it’s surprising how many scientists, academics and healthcare practitioners are) and yet the publisher can still reach him/ her.

For those of you who are interested, you can see how we do this HERE

With the loss of so much print recruitment over recent years, publishers have been able to move to new online recruitment models without damaging their existing business. At the same time they now have exactly the same capabilities that were previously the preserve of the traditional job board (provided by a number of off the shelf recruitment platforms). As I wrote in my recent article about recruitment advertising agencies, employers and recruiters are increasingly prepared to pay rates comparable to those in print, on the provision that we can deliver quality candidates that aren’t available elsewhere. Whilst selling job board adverts back in 2008, the most I could expect for a month’s campaign was usually in the region of £350. This year the biggest single advert campaign I sold was booked through a recruitment advertising agency was worth several thousand pounds. Content providers, offering a unique audience, can now charge these rates and clients are increasingly prepared to pay.

With many traditional revenue streams under threat, you will notice increasing numbers of publishers taking this route. The most successful will be those who really understand the recruitment market, how to market their jobs and the best way to develop business in the new recruitment environment (in my experience this has been the biggest stumbling block for many organisations).

With social media engagement increasingly driven by content, this is likely to consolidate their advantage. We now send out relevant content to specific niche social media communities specifically to draw attention to our client’s job adverts, not just the steady stream of adverts that people have become accustomed to from many recruitment social media accounts. Being in a position to produce and access this content quickly and effectively is likely to aid publishers in their ascendancy.

In order to compete, traditional job boards are adapting, linking their roles to industry portals and blogs. Unfortunately, the brand and content of many publications is so strong that many people rely on it as part of their career development and this presents publishers (particularly those in specialist/niche areas) with a huge advantage.

That’s it for this week; I’ll be back next week to look at the how digital recruitment differs across international boundaries!

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 Whatmedia.co.uk sprang into existence in 2000 as a method for RAD agencies to find and assess different forms of recruitment media. Over the years Whatmedia.co.uk’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.

UPDATES:
An example of a print advert only a good RAD agency could have come up with:http://youngmedialove.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/an-amazing-recruitment-ad/

A few more solid reasons to use a RAD:
http://annacolquhounalberts.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/international-digital-campaigns-marketing-recruitment/

A good example of making video advertising work in recruitment:
http://ahpreflections.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/ahp-reaches-foreign-qualified-doctors-through-creative-advertising/

Winners of the 2013 RAD awards:
http://www.radawards.com/radawards2013/awardswinners/winners-2013

Recruitment 1998 – 2013: What’s Really Changed?

Over the duration of my career I have heard a number of sensationalist predictions about the future of recruitment that have yet to be borne out by reality.
In no particular order:

• The End of the Recruitment Consultancy!
• Social Media will destroy the Recruitment Industry!
• The End of the Job Board!
• Print Publishers will lose all their recruitment revenue!
• Recruitment Advertising Agencies have been cut out of the process!

In my experience I have found the majority of soothsayers who make these sweeping proclamations, normally have a vested interest in seeing them come true. So the next couple of posts are going to deal with why these predictions didn’t come to fruition and why, I believe, they are never ever likely too.

Recruitment is a people business, based on networks, communities and content. Media may come and go, technology may make the process easier, more cost effective and transparent; but this basic principle will remain a constant. The path digital media has taken during its short history has generally been to make processes more efficient and measurable; it hasn’t changed the basic desires or needs of the people who use it.

As with every industry, the advent of the internet has had a serious impact; return on investment is now transparent and competition is fierce. However, I would argue that, unlike the music, film and newspaper industries, this has only had a positive impact. Of course there have been a number of casualties along the way, but I believe this was because poor services were opened up to scrutiny that wasn’t available prior to the digital age.

I always think its best when making any judgement to do so on the basis of personal experiences so, in this spirit, let’s look at a some from my past and debunk a few of these predictions.

We’ll start with two, which I believe are closely interlinked (social media and recruitment consultancies):

The End of the Recruitment Consultancy!

This prediction never stood up to much scrutiny.

Though the internet definitely saw the demise of a lot of bad recruitment companies, it is an industry based on the personal networks and skills of individuals, which just can’t be replicated digitally.
Years ago, during my time in the world of consultancy, I worked with a chap who studied his particular vertical market obsessively in the industry press. After an article was published highlighting the immense success of a CEO at a blue chip company, my colleague picked up the phone and called him to establish whether, for the ‘right package’ he might be tempted to look at the same role with his client. Knowing his client was going through difficulties, was about to lose their Chief Exec and in desperate need of talent at the helm, he made it clear to the CEO in question that his approach hadn’t yet been sanctioned. Nonetheless, he expressed enough interest in a move, for my colleague to go back and propose the idea and six months later his client had the new CEO they had been dreaming of.

It should be needless to point out that nothing the internet can offer will be able to replace the type of service outlined above. The other important point to make is, about the nature of consultancy generally, as made apparent so publicly by George Entwhistle’s appointment as Director General to the BBC; that they are very often about deferring responsibility. Making a hiring decision is incredibly important, and judgement is always called into question when errors are made. Engaging Egon Zehnder probably saved several careers at the BBC – a bargain at the cost of only £290,000!

Of course, both of the above examples refer to the higher end of recruitment but, the same applies to all consultancies in varying degrees.

Social Media Will Destroy the Recruitment Industry!

This simply hasn’t happened, if anything, it has entrenched and consolidated the industries position even further.

To explain why this is the case, it’s important to make a distinction between the different types of social media because, most isn’t really ‘social’ at all:

• Twitter: self/ service/ content/product promotion
• Facebook: A way of staying in touch with friends, stalking ex-partners and organising your social calendar
• LinkedIn: Business networking/ a constantly updated database of industry contacts/ a permanent digital careers fare/ exhibition

Actually, I believe it’s only the first and the latter that are relevant. Facebook is the only truly Social media of the three. Anybody who has an FB friend who is constantly pitching business interests over their time line will understand what I mean when I say; no one’s interested! It’s just irritating.

When you are relaxing with friends over a pint at the pub, the last thing you want is one of them to be selling something to you. This is why I believe that Facebook has struggled with advertisers and why I can’t see their latest job board being a game changing success.

People aren’t on Facebook for work.

Twitter has definitely played its part; I use it regularly to promote my blogs, our content and our services. The very reason I joined the service in the first place was because I had heard it was a good medium to drive traffic to websites and establish new business contacts.

Most recruiters do this well and most employers now have accounts set up specifically for careers purposes. Rather this being a damaging development, it has put internal recruiters and consultants in the same space and provided both with a useful source of candidate traffic. The key thing to avoid with Twitter is, simply posting advert after advert. To make it work on your behalf it’s necessary to go out of your way to engage your audience – and that means not always being directly promotional with your tweets!

LinkedIn has had a colossal impact which has been overwhelmingly to the advantage of recruiters. I remember headhunting in the days before linkedIn and, for those of you who never had the privilege of doing this without the benefit of social media, it was a terrifying experience, fraught with danger! With the advent of LinkedIn it’s now not only expected but commonplace and without risk.

Let’s face it – being approached with career opportunities is the main reason that most people are on LinkedIn.

However, LinkedIn hasn’t changed anything in the way that recruiters operate! What was a rolodex on a desk is now carefully organised into online contacts, what was a nerve racking cold call to a potential candidate or client is now often an in-mail or direct message. The long process of interviews, writing out candidate cards and collecting CV’s, has been made so efficient and simple many of the old guard just don’t recognise it anymore. Yes, it still takes time and effort to build a network and a good reputation but, all of your potential talent and clients are now packaged up, in a single, easy to use, non-threatening medium.

It’s also worth mentioning that LinkedIn has empowered many consultants and led to an increase in the size of the industry. Being able to walk from any company with your own database of contacts just wasn’t an option in the mid 1990’s!

The most successful social media taps into basic human psychology and, my point is, that people did all of the same things, for the same reasons, long before social media was around. It’s just made doing those things a lot easier and a lot less hassle!

That’s it for today. Tomorrow I’ll look at something a little closer to home for me.

The End of the Job Board!!!

UPDATE: Just found this nice little piece which added a dimension to my comments on Facebook. I have seen successful campaigns run by Boots along similar lines: http://blog.inhouserecruitmentgroup.com/2013/02/25/social-media-and-recruitment/