Following last weeks interview with Kevin Howard from Jobs in HR today we have another local recruitment expert Brett Iredale. Brett runs the successful automated job posting system JobAdder and as you will see from the interview an early adopter of technology. While the last few interviews have been focused on recruiting I am working to expand the topics into other areas of HR.
Tell us a bit about your background, how did you end up in the job board business?
My background is in IT, in particular business systems consulting and sales. I started my own business in IT Recruitment in 2001 and first started developing niche job sites in 2002 as a way to attract staff for our recruitment clients. The job boards were really an experiment initially and I was lucky to have the background and the people around me to be able to do it very affordably. Long story short the job board business generated a lot of interest so we white labelled the software, streamlined our processes, automated the entire thing and started rolling out more job boards.
When did you setup JobAdder?
We started developing JobAdder in 2005 for the reasons outlined below.
Who or what was your inspiration to start JobAdder, and can you briefly explain the idea behind JobAdder?
JobAdder came about as a result of our experiences selling job board memberships. As job board owners we kept coming up against 2 issues over and over again:
1. Without an automated job posting solution our advertisers were just not posting their ads so it was very difficult to get traction. Advertisers would ask for an introductory offer but then they wouldn’t get around to posting their jobs because it was all too hard. Converting a client to an ongoing contract from that starting point is nearly impossible.
2. When we started launching job boards we soon discovered that the recruitment systems our clients were using wanted an average of $10,000 a site to integrate our job boards into their posting platforms. It became very clear that most ATS systems see job posting as a low priority pain in the butt. I approached the only dedicated job posting software provider that existed back then and found them even less interested in integrating our job boards. I was told “sorry we only integrate large well known job boards”. That staggering attitude was the impetus for what we now have in JobAdder.
With these challenges in mind we had little choice but to set about solving our own problem.
Can you explain the value proposition of the JobAdder tool?
There are a number of important value props however here are a few of the key ones
1. Save time and money by making it easier and faster to post ads onto multiple job boards
2. Increase staff satisfaction and productivity by reducing menial time consuming tasks
3. Increase job distribution and brand awareness by making it easier to utilise additional job boards
4. Spend your advertising dollars more effectively by better understanding the effectiveness of the job boards you are using.
5. Turn your own web site into an effective candidate attraction channel by using the broad range of tools available in JobAdder such as an integrated job search on your web site, send to a friend, referral tracking, ability to send jobs to social networks, job alerts and more.
6. Control and understand ad spend through the sophisticated job allocation system
How do you feel this approach benefits the advertisers and candidates?
Benefits to advertisers are covered in the previous point. Benefits to job seekers are that consultants have more time to work with candidates, thereby able to provide a better service.
Why did you decide to move away from niche jobs boards, such as NowHiring, to focus only the JobAdder service?
I have a deep passion for niche boards and had I been 2 people and not one I would still be involved. My situation was simply that I had 2 businesses showing strong potential and as a small business I felt that the smart thing to do was to find a home for one and focus 100% on the other. 6 months on I am absolutely certain it was the right move.
You have integrated with over 125 jobs boards, are you able to comment on if niche job boards gaining or losing postings?
I think it is safe to say that across the board most job sites are seeing reduced job volumes. We track the advertising volumes of most major sites in Australia and have been seeing this now for a couple of months. However job board success is not measured purely in job volumes so a drop off in ad numbers in itself does not mean certain sites are struggling. There are a number of niche sites that continue to increase their brand awareness and seem to be making strong inroads.
While you have integrations with the major Australian job boards, what are some of the more obscure boards you work with?
If there was a job site for left-handed Smurfs we would integrate them. Unfortunately we haven’t come across that one yet but we do have a very broad range of niche sites from niche Microsoft software solutions (DynamicsCareers.com) to job and resume sharing sites such as RecRadar.com and the very new 2vouch.com.au. Another niche site that keeps popping up is Adage.com.au – a site for mature aged workers (mature being over 40 years of age, cough cough). Adage recently picked up a gong at the Diversity at Work awards presented by Sir Bob Geldof so it is plain to see that niche sites form an important part of the job board eco system.
You have recently launched a new version of JobAdder, what are some of the new features?
This has been a major new release so pretty much all areas of the product were touched however some of the major enhancements were:
- Improved User Interface. The UI has been modernised and subtly re-engineered to allow us to continue to expand the product throughout 2009.
- New job board integration platform. Our developers have spent months developing a new job board integration platform that allows our consultants to add new job board partners in as little as an hour each. It is critical to our growth plans to be able to add new sites quickly and easily.
- Free trials. We have taken the decision to open up our site to allow prospective clients and clients of other systems to be able to sign in, have a play around and even post live ads to free job sites in our network.
- A new template system that allows users to easily save and re-use job ads as templates. For example if you have ads you commonly write then you can now save them as templates and use them over and over again as required.
- Improved spell checking including a new and improved spell checker and the ability for managers to set rules in place so that users cannot post a job without first spell checking it.
- A new job board module for advertisers wanting to send jobs to their own sites either using iframes or XML. We have always provided this service however the new system includes a number of enhancements such as referral programs, job alerts, ability to send jobs to social networks and more.
Clients can track applicants within the JobAdder tool, does this mean you are really an ATS with a job posting engine?
No, applicant tracking in JobAdder is predominantly for reporting purposes. ATS systems are complex animals and there are some very good ones out there, however as a group they tend to be lousy at job posting so we are continuing to focus on our knitting.
With so many jobs being posted everyday what are some of the tips you could provide for crafting the perfect job posting?
I am not sure there is such a thing as a perfect job posting but in my experience the number one rule is to focus on the person not the job spec. Understand the person you are targeting and write your job ad accordingly. There are a number of ways to understand the kind of person you are targeting and I don’t recommend one method over the other. The important thing is that you do understand the type of person you are after and write the ad as though it is written just for them.
You recently blogged in late October that “The reality for job boards is that the strong will get stronger and the weak will get weaker.” Can you explain this statement a bit further.
I don’t believe a downturn in itself creates more opportunity for niche sites. Advertisers tend to rationalise their ad spend when things tighten up so by definition it cannot mean a blanket advantage to niche job sites. What we are seeing is that advertisers are seeking efficiencies as they are in all other areas of their business. This means looking at where they are getting best results so that they can spend a greater percentage of their budget with proven performers and spend less on speculative channels . If (and only if) a niche site is delivering strong results to an advertiser then there is every chance it could be selected on a panel instead of a second or third ranked generalist site.
We are seeing a similar thing in the generalist market. A lot of advertisers who were previously advertising with 3 generalist job boards have rationalised that back to 2 sites.
For this reason I believe the relative gap between top and bottom stretches in a downturn. There is not as much money to go around so stragglers and underperformers will be left behind and strong performers who are adding real value will shore up their positions and move ahead relative to their competition.
What do you see as the current trends for recruiting talent in Australia over the coming one to two years?
That is a broad question but I see a strong sustained move towards technology and towards corporate careers sites (of course you would expect me to say that).
For example I know quite a few companies in Australia now receiving more than 15% of all job applications through their own web sites. At the other end of the spectrum we still have some large recruiters and corporate advertisers who don’t even advertise their jobs on their web site.
There will continue to be a lot noise around social networking however I think it will largely continue to just be noise.
Do you see a growth in posting jobs via social networks such as Facebook, MySpace or Twitter?
I hear an increase in the number of people talking about such sites however a lot of the noise is coming from people who don’t really use or understand these mediums. I do use them to varying degrees and so do all the people who work here and so far we remain underwhelmed.
Linkedin (Facebook for adults) will continue to grow in popularity and effectiveness but I am afraid I do not see Facebook and Myspace as the next hot frontiers in online recruitment.
That said we will continue to invest in leading edge technology and will continue to look very closely at anything that we believe will add value to our users. For example we are currently working on some significant social networking initiatives for 2009 and are trialling in some very exciting emerging technologies that we hope to roll out in coming months.
What blogs do you read and why do you recommend them?
Unfortunately I don’t read as many blogs as I used to. I tend to read a lot of technology and trend related blogs (mainly out of the US) however won’t give away my favourite ones in this article if that’s OK. In terms of online recruitment I read Cheezhead although he has lost focus over the last 6 months so my interest there is waning. I read your blog of course Michael, John Sumser, Mashable, Standout Jobs Blog, The AIM Group, YourHRGuy, Destination Talent and many of the other usual suspects.
It is difficult recommending blogs because they are such a personal thing. It depends on the industry you are in, your particular personal interests, the writing styles you like and so on.
What other social media tools, if any, do you use?
My tried and tested social media of choice remain the phone, the BBQ and a bottle of wine.
For me “online social media” is still a contradiction in terms. If I am online I am either working or wasting time but I am definitely not socialising.
Any final comments or words of wisdom?
I am too young to be wise and as my wife always reminds me, nothing I say is final.