Job Board consolidation

Ok Australian daily email rumor mill Crikey has broken a story that 2nd and 3rd place vendors in the job search market in Australia are looking to merge. Thanks to Brett from the NowHiring Blog here is what is being said:-

Bitter competitors News Limited and Fairfax are believed to be in secret talks to merge their flagship recruitment websites CareerOne and MyCareer to take on PBL’s hugely successful online jobs site Seek.

Sources close to the deal say the two elephants of Australia’s newspaper industry approached competition regulator Graeme Samuel about a month ago and were given an indication that he is prepared to consider the proposed merger. Crikey understands that confidential talks between the parties are believed to have been continuing in recent weeks.

Sources say the collaboration is the brainchild of Fairfax chairman Ron Walker, who is also seen as being extremely close to James Packer and PBL.

Later On:-

Such a move would lock up the most lucrative classified advertising market of all – recruitment – for Australia’s three biggest media companies, creating a cosy Fairfax/News/PBL duopoly. News doesn’t have a big market share in Sydney and Melbourne, but it owns the market in Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart.

Today the Australian Newsagency Blog speaks (Hat tip Trevor Cook) on the same subject:-

Crikey reported yesterday that News Ltd and Fairfax are believed to be in secret talks to merge their recruitment websites CareerOne and MyCareer to compete with Seek. Based on site traffic, Seek dominates online employment advertising in Australia. This is in part due to features on their site and in part due to poor competition by Fairfax and News over the seven or eight years Seek has been in business. Early on they refused to carry Seek advertising as they were (possibly) in denial about the online opportunity. More recently, they have allowed their commitment to print revenue to treat their online employment plays as the poor cousin. That has clearly changed this year with both sites improving offerings, but not value for the advertiser.

How true! Both have protected their traditional print advertising and just let Seek walk away with the farm. Both CareerOne and MyCareer have lacked both the feature set and marketing muscle to really compete. However regular readers of this blog will know that I personally feel Seek is also really lacking in great features when it comes to job search, case in point.

Where will it all end? Not sure except I can only hope that both job seekers and recruiters benefit NOT just the big media companies.  I have been saying for over a year now that for anyone to take on Seek in a big way will need two things, firstly very good marketing program and secondly great features.  Could a merged job board do this?

Another interesting site to watch is FindIt.com.au, can they shake up the market?

24 thoughts on “Job Board consolidation

  1. Big job boards are past their use-by date IMHO, but I am a bit biased 🙂

    Seek may even agree to some extent. Not long after they floated, Paul Bassat said that Seek’s long term growth will not come from job ads, and that they were diversifying into on-line education and training.

    There comes a point where a job board gets too big. Seek are probably wondering when employers and recruiters will wake up to the fact that Seek’s growth from 100,000 jobs to 130,000 jobs is not good for them (the advertisers). It reduces their chances of attracting the right people. It doesn’t take a genius to work that out, but then there aren’t many alternatives in the Australian market.

    There is however one thing we can thank Seek for, that is breaking the stranglehold the Fairfax and News had on the classified job ad market.

    But I suspect their own goal might be to get a stranglehold on the on-line classified job ads market!

  2. Kevin I had not thought of a larger job board being a bad place for employers to advertise but you are right on the money!

    Yes and Fairfax/News don’t want to admit too quickly that they have lost this battle.

  3. Michael,

    The big jobs boards are not necessarily a ‘bad’ option, but certainly one with diminishing return as their number of ads increase. I advise employers and recruiters to cover as many bases as possible to increase their chances of attracting good candidates, which means you still need to use the big job boards, but also use other advertising products which will reach a different audience.

    Generally speaking, job boards are very unlikely to attract ‘passive candidates’, those people who are employed, might make a move if the right opportunity comes along, but are not actively ‘seeking’ a new job. Unfortunately, these are often precisely the people many employers want to hire!

  4. Netprofiled advised recruitment advertising agencies back in 1998 – who loved newsprint because of the 10% media kick back they got – and the most profitable part of their agency business – to move to the Internet. We also had discussions with Fairfax, they were only interested in businesses that increased their classified ads. The newspapers were not going to the Internet, even though the rest of the population was, it was too easy and too lucrative to stay were they were, but times do change as they were warned by us. Newsprint has always been known as the dirty unglamorous part of advertising but the most lucrative. Seek, well they are classified advertising on the Internet. They operate with the same principle milk the rivers of classified advertising gold. Seek are smart though there is way more money in selling education and now they are established as the only lead job board – Sorry its all over for News and Fairfax – who were in denial and have moved too late. Maybe they will have to ask James Packer to sell seek to them he does own 27% and I am sure if the price is right he will sell!!!!.Fairfax have made a move into online classified advertising paying a rediculous amount for online dating board RSVP. So yes I am sure they will probably look at buying Seek. Who knows the point is, be visionary look ahead and do not think things will always stay the same because they won’t.

  5. The game in web 1.0 and 2.0 hasn’t changed much. Get the listings and they will come!

    It is a virtually unbeatable position if you get it right first. Then the gorillas will have to buy you out. Good luck to RSVP and the You Tubes of this world, they got in on a niche and got out with loads of bucks. Then let the big guys lose the traffic as they muck around with trying to come up with a revenue model.

    FYI, Fairfax could have bought seek for about $50 Mil back in 2003.

  6. Geoff I suspect the game is changing a little when it comes to the 3 big boys in the Australian market.

    Niche job boards are making a play but the biggest issue here is still consolidation, for the job seeker, but you don’t need to spend $200 to put you ad with the big boys. We already have the biggest baddest job board in town, Google. Now when they decide to move into jobs and advertise themselves as a place for candidates to find jobs we can watch Seek’s market share drop like a lead ballon. Not to mention what people are going to be able to do with Yahoo Pipes.

  7. Michael, can you explain how you see Google posing a threat to Seek?

    If Google simply became an aggregator of Australian job boards that would just make it more time consuming for job seekers to find the information they require. There would be more ‘noise in the system’. Google would have to do something radically different.

    The current ‘big job board’ model clearly isn’t working, at least not for many advertisers. This is why recruitment display advertising in print media has bounced back dramatically in recent years. Recruiters or their clients place an ad on Seek or MyCareer for $150, but increasingly they will also pay $5500 – $7000 to put the same ad in Saturday’s Age or SMH, (or some staggering amount of money for the Fin Review), and they will also pay a recruiter to explore other avenues.

    They do this because they don’t expect to reach the people they really need via the big job boards. Yes they might get lucky with Seek so for $150 they will give it a go, but they know they will not reach passive candidates through Seek.

    This is why there is a place for niche employment advertising products, particularly those with carefully managed content, because only quality content will attract and retain the attention of a quality audience.

  8. Kevin I see Google, or more general any major search engine, taking on job boards becuase as you say the big job boards are just not working. Now I could be wrong and it may not be the mainstream Google product but more a vertical search offering from Google, maybe a tag job: when you search although that is not very user friendly.

    One of the biggest reasons are scope, big job boards have limited scope in that they are missing the niche boards. Niche boards won’t work in the long run either as they are just that niche. A search engine like Google will bring together this data, along with corporate recruitment sites. Making this truely easier for the job seeker and recruiter. I am just not sure when this will happen.

    On an aside the recent growth in niche board popularity has been amazing I am truely amazed at the job boards being attached to many popular blogs in the effort to capture the passive job seeker. I wonder when they will reach their used by date.

  9. Michael,

    I’d love to know why you think niche job boards and/or niche mail lists won’t work in the long run.

    When will targeted advertising reach it’s “use by date” ?

    I see niche products as the ideal solution – employers and recruiters advertising directly to the people they want to reach and no one else. The result for the advertiser is quality response rather than quantity (no chaff!).

    The result for the potential job seekers – active or passive – is only jobs which they are likely to be interested in for no effort on their part.

    Admittedly the niche products don’t carry ALL the opportunities that are out there, but the longer they exist the greater proportion of the available jobs they will have.

    To attract the same audience as the niche job boards, Google would need to deliver a similar result but more comprehensive. Meaning they need to provide the audience with very easy and quick access to *only* the *latest* opportunities in their sector *and nothing else*. This is very difficult to do just with machines.

  10. Kevin in the long run candidates want good quality opportunities available to them with ease in a minimum of locations. They don’t want to go to multiple places to get jobs listings and then to sift through the duplicates. Essentially the same as recruiters just the other side of the coin.

    Targeted advertising won’t reach a use by date, but too much targeted advertising will do. Let me explain. There are multiple jobs sites now setup for IT roles which are in addition to the big boys. Now if I want a job I have to register and monitor all of these sites just in case my dream job pops up in only a single location. This makes life difficult and reduces the user experience.

    However I agree with you in that the current interface Google provides will not be the solution. But with all of those PHD’s floating round the Googleplex I’m sure they could find an answer.

  11. Michael, you hit the nail on the head with this statement

    “They don’t want to go to multiple places to get jobs listings and then to sift through the duplicates.”

    Many people don’t want to *go* anywhere to get jobs, they would prefer the jobs came to them, and as you said they understandably do not want to sift through duplicates, nor do they want to see irrelevant jobs.

    These are precisely the requirements we set out to meet with our targeted employment advertising products. However, to achieve our goals we tightly control the content by inputting jobs manually into our content management system, we have firm rules about what sort of adverts we will accept, and we won’t allow the same advert to be repeated in consecutive weeks (unless there are material changes to the PD and/or salary package being offered).

    I can’t see any other way to create a quality product for job seekers. This makes it a tedious business for us, and limits our revenue, but it results in a very high quality audience.

    The problem for the PhDs at Googleplex, is that any automated, self service system, is open to abuse. The market is running hot so there is tremendous competition to reach the good candidates before your competitors, so any self service system WILL be abused. Some advertisers will repeatedly post the same jobs in multiple categories and locations, just as they do now with the traditional job boards. Indeed the traditional job boards encourage that behaviour, because it means more revenue.

    I hear what you say about your frustration with the IT job boards, however they are presumably just traditional job boards primarily focussed on increasing advertising revenues in favour of providing a quality experience for the job seekers. Just be thankful you are not in the UK market – at the beginning of 2006 there were over 700 jobs boards in the UK. I don’t think anyone knows how many there are now!

  12. Hi Michael,

    have a look at http://www.glassfish.com.au – brand new – all open source,locally developed, and very Jobseeker focussed but also lots of nice Job search/match features..and lots more for recruiters.

    Just need to find some marketing dollars etc! – appreciate your feedback, Nigel.

  13. Gentlemen I have read with a great deal of interest your comments on niche job boards vs the large ones that currently have a stranglehold on the Australian market.

    I am also of the opinion that niche job boards will provide a cheaper and more viable alternative to employers who are getting lost in the thousands of jobs posted on SEEK. One area which also requires further exploring is the candidate advertising option. In our current employment landscape where skills shortages will become more pronounced, we should be offering the option for employers to find candidates listed on niche boards. The suggestion was made that it would be much easier for employers to search based on profiles and direct skill sets vs thousands of old and outdated resume databases. This would save employers thousands of dollars and make it a lot simpler for the job seeker to find what they want.

    Finally I would like to comment on the employer perception that the more responses they receive to their advertisements, the more effective the job board must be. My view is that it is better to receive fewer, better qualified candidates. The measure should be how many high quality applications were received vs how many in total. This is where niche boards are more likely to add value.

    http://www.parttimeonline.com.au is one such niche board that supports part time, job share and flexible employment across all industries and demographics. Advertising here almost guarantees that the people looking are focused in this type of employment.

  14. Liana,

    I don’t think “niche job boards” per se really provide any added value over Seek et al, unless they reach a different audience. What’s the difference between wading through 12,000 accounting jobs on Seek and 12,000 accounting jobs on some “niche” accounting job board ?

    If a niche job board simply reaches a sub-set of Seek’s audience then why would you use it?
    Only if the product is different and reaches a different audience will it be a compelling product for employers and recuiters.

    But even if you have a genuinely different product, that reaches a different audience, it is incredibly difficult to get employers and recruiters to view you as anything but “just another job board”. A few get it straight away, but many don’t.

    The job seeker advertising concept isn’t really new, it’s been around for years. I don’t think it has ever been very successful, because the top candidates don’t use it. They don’t need to. Many people also have some niggling concern that somehow their boss will work out that’s their CV!

    As far as currency of candidate information is concerned, it may become out of date and relatively useless even quicker than a recruiters database, because it relies upon the individuals keeping their details up to date.

    But even if it were a good resource, even if you could get everyone to keep their details up to date, I for one would still want to advertise and/or use a good recruiter, because that is the only way of knowing that I was seeing the best people in the market at that time.

    At the end of the day, no single recruitment product will ever reach the whole market, period!

    Couldn’t agree more with you about quality over quantity when it comes to ad responses. But hey, if you’re a recruiter and your boss says you have to send out 50 CVs per day you need a lot of CVs coming in, regardless of whether they are any good 😉

  15. I guess the answer depends upon what you class as a ‘job board’. I think of a job board as basically a passive web site which primarily relies upon job seekers visiting the site and conducting searches.

    I don’t class subscriber mail list based products as ‘job boards’. They are fundamentally different (push not pull).

    There are certainly not many of any significance. In order of market share it currently goes;
    – Seek
    – MyCareer
    – Careerone (a distant third place)

    JobNet used to be a good site for IT&T jobs, been around for a long time, but appears to have been acquired by JobServe. Their site is pretty slow, probably because it’s based in the Canary Islands! – nice place to run a job board from 🙂

    There are numerous other ‘job boards’ but most are irrelevant compared with the Seek and MyCareer. Of the ones I can think of only Byron rate a mention, the others are just not getting any market share. There’s one called PositionsVacant who make big claims, but I did a search on there this morning under ‘Human Resources’ and with ‘human’ as a mandatory keyword. It returned 3 jobs nationally.

    Most of the State Governments have wasted (our) money on their own sites, but they still advertise on Seek, MyCareer and/or CareerOne, so what was the point?

    There are a couple of new ones. CareerSites have just launched, but despite their “niche” claim it’s not a great deal different to the two main players. After all you can search in different categories on Seek and MyCareer. CareerSites have just broken it down into separate sites and called it “niche”.

    There’s also jobsjobsjobs.com who’s launch as been delayed from late Feb to late April, supposedly on advice from their media agency! Apparently we will “love” their media campaign (like we loved Axel?). Rumor has it they are spending $10M on their launch!

    So these last two must have some big money behind them. CareerSites claim to have 60 staff and have three offices, which means their most basic overheads must be around $3M – $4M per year, and that’s without any promotion costs.

    There are undoubtedly more on the way, but let’s hope we don’t end up like the UK where they have about 700 ‘job boards’ !

  16. Interesting that most of the new players and even some existing job boards underestimate the development time it takes to produce or reproduce a site. Which doesn’t guarantee you any real advantage anyway, which MyCareer (MYC), found out years ago.
    CareerOne (C1), have the directive from Murdoch to own the careers space but can’t execute! Jobs, Jobs…. can’t get their act together. Seek are not performing anymore and MYC are still in the same position they were years ago.
    The next big threat to all these sites are the advertisers themselves, the recruiters! They now have to find alternative means for candidate capture and become self sufficient if they are to grow in this candidate tight market. Sites like LinkedIn and even Linkme which would not have got a look in some years ago are starting to perform. The recruiters are spending more and more $$ on their own sites, becoming job boards in their own right. Then all they have to do is give the job seekers a bit of attention and bingo, no need to spend $10k a month on seek.
    Potentially, recruiters only competitors are the client themselves if they get their act together with their own promotion! (Maybe there is an idea)…
    The jobs market will see more mergers and acquisitions over the next few years of the agencies that have their act together. The newspapers will have to spend more to continue to have exclusivity to the employers. Salaries will continue to grow as the candidates start to realise that they infact are the hottest commodity on the market, not the jobs!

  17. Hi All,
    Please let me know the best recruitment company/Jobboard that will give me the following :-

    Job distribution in Australia Citiwise/Statewise

    Recruitment companies actively looking for talent from India.

    Sameer

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