JobSeekr are you one?

Over the last few months one of the side projects I have been working on is JobSeekr.  The idea come about while working with Jeremy Samuel and Riges Younan on their products 2Vouch and JobGenie. While 2Vouch and JobGenie are focused on finding the best people for a role we recognised that there was not a good place for job seekers to go to learn about how to find a job. (Other than of course the multitude of job board.)

So we built JobSeekr.

The vision for JobSeekr is a little different.

The idea is that trying to find a job can be a very lonely and testing time, every job seeker needs help. JobSeekr will allow people to come together share tips and hints on how to find a job along with some specialised services. We have engaged the support of some of Australia’s top recruiters, personal branding consultants and commentators who will all be contributing content to the site.  The first two have been Ross Clennett and Dan Nuroo, with a series from Annemarie Cross coming up soon.

Right now the site contains content to help job seekers find a job, however as JobSeekr has been built on WordPress Multiuser with Buddypress it is a complete multiuser blogging platform and social network. We have the ability to provide job seekers their own blogs, arrange their own events, groups and hang out in the discussion forum.

There is lots more to do on the site (yes it is beta) but we have opened it to the public as we felt there is enough content there today to start adding value to job seekers.

Social networking and recruitment

There are some major changes taking place within the recruitment software market at the moment. Changes that have the ability to remove vendors such as Taleo from being “top of the pops”.

What is it? Intelligent matching of jobs to social networks.

Both Australian job referral vendors 2Vouch and Hoojano do this but not to the level that we are seeing from players such as JobVite and Appirio. Appirio has a US$25,000 annual fee and connects with SalesForce and Facebook. Once employees opt-in the system reviews their friends list in Facebook and match potential jobs to friends. JobVite works in a similar way but uses both Facebook and LinkedIn, then the person who had the job referred to them can also opt-in to receive future job notices from the company. ERE had a review of both Appirio and JobVite’s new features.

These features validate the use of social networks for recruiting and move them from being a passive part of the process to a key component.

If you are in the market for a recruitment solution the decision making process just got a little harder.

(Disclosure: 2Vouch is a client of mine.)

Social Recruiting and an experiment

Last week I was meeting with Riges Younan and Jeremy Samuel from 2Vouch to discuss Riges’s presentation for Australiasian Talent Conference in Auckland, topic being “The Evolution of Social Recruiting”. To develop the presentation Riges wanted feedback from the recruiting community on their thoughts, ideas and case studies. To quote Riges:

I need your help to shape, contribute and assist in the creation of this presentation.  I’ll be posting ways in which we can work together to create something that will assist many HR, Recruiters and Jobseekers around the world.

To facilitate the process Riges wanted a blog and a wiki to collect the content and discuss the ideas. So http://socialrecruiting.com has been set up. If you have anything to say on social recruiting or recruiting in general go register and contribute, the rest of this post will be be about how I built the site.

When thinking about what tool to use to build the wiki I was very concerned that many wiki tools still use a Wiki-markup style, while basic can put a lot of people off contributing. We wanted the barrier for use to be low.

The blog was to be in WordPress 2.7, I did a bit of searching and found a wiki plugin from Instinct. While only recently released it had all of the features I needed to get the site going  quickly. I needed to modify the code a bit to fix some of the bugs, I also updated the security components along with the theme to adjust how pages were edited. Once users register they can edit any pages through the WordPress administration dashboard. This way we leveraged the power features of WordPress as a blogging platform and also its very easy to use user interface for the wiki component. Security has been adjusted so all users can create and edit and page, upload images and video, create but not publish blog posts.

Some additional plugs have been used to add collaborative features including Add to Any, Collapsing Pages, GD Start Rating, and SlideShare.

Yes there are other tools I could have used but not for only 10 hours work across two days.

I would be very interested to hear any thoughts.

Hoojano in partnership with MYOB

Today Australian job referral tool, Hoojano, announced a partnership with MYOB under the banner of StaffSearcher. An interesting move by both organisations, release here

MYOB is moving more and more into SaaS offerings to small and medium business, they even own a web hosting business! Providng these businesses a cost effective method of recruiting candidates is a smart move.

From Hoojano’s point of view an interesting move and one that will give them great visibility to small to medium business owners in a difficult market. Many industry obversers, I for one, have been wondering, after launching their beta in February 2008 what Hoojano has been up to. The main Hoojano site has no jobs which had some wondering had they pulled up stumps! 

I registered and took the site for a bit of a test drive. Still very much like the original Hoojano offering, a few bugs still in the service such as wording errors in emails, but overall a pleasant experience. The biggest complaint is still the one from February 2008, the building up of your contact for referrals is a good concept but time consuming for the user. Also the system does not seem to allow me to create a profile to find myself jobs.

The StaffSearch fees are a bit complex:-

Listing Fee $25 + GST 

Reward – $ Specified by Hirer + GST 

StaffSearcher Reward Commission – 20% of the Reward 

Referrer Reward Commission – Referrers share of reward 

Sponsor Commission 5% of the Reward net of Reward Commission 

The reward is variable and up to the advertiser, and for the initial roles seem rather high but then that’s what the advertiser is will to pay.

A different model to 2Vouch*, who have a zero listing fee and the rewards based on salary levels.

A comment MYOB with StaffSearcher have decided to go around recruiters, a tactic not used by 2Vouch who have been actively partnering with recruiters. A move that might back fire, it has Geoff Jennings off side already

Hoojano/StaffSearcher, know this.  Probably a better approach to your marketing would have been to engage recruiters, rather than rally for their departure from the recruiting process.  

Hoojano CEO Mike Wilkinson responded to Geoff in the comments:

Can I respond on the line that MYOB has added to the homepage. By the way, I respond objectively as it is not a line our business (HooJano) adopts. MYOB is free to attract custom however they see fit.

And

What we have found in our discussions with recruiters is that under certain conditions and if the rewards are at a certain level, they are completely open to submitting candidates. (FYI, recruiters can chose to be overt or not in disclosing their core business, the customer simply wants candidates.)

I hope recruiters do at least give it a go and more so I hope they make money at a good margin so it can evolve as a long term, mutually beneficial part of their business.

I say game on! The more the merrier and the only winners should be candidates and employers!

(Disclosure: 2Vouch are a current customer of mine.)

Meet Brett Iredale from Job Adder

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.

A small but important clarification

A couple of days ago an anonymous blog, The Didge, here in Australia posted a fairly length review of the job referral service 2Vouch during which they stated that I am the owner. This is incorrect I have no ownership in the business. 2Vouch are a client of mine and that is all. I did suggest to the writers that after reviewing Hoojano they should also review 2Vouch. (UPDATE: The Didge have updated their post while I was writing this clarification.)

I will say I also disagree with some of their analysis of the site, and not just because 2Vouch have been a client. Here is a summary of my thoughts:

  1. They are not too late, when there are more candidates in the market finding the right candidate is still difficult. A referral has the personal reputation benefit that the candidate is of high quality.
  2. Financial rewards are not going to pressure poor referrals. A referrer’s reputation is the most important attribute. If recruiters/hiring managers see poor referrals from someone that will reflect badly on their own personal reputation. 
  3. Referrals have been found to actually decrease the time to hire. For example Vodafone in Europe found that by focusing recruiting activities on employment brand management and employee referral, the average recruiting cycle time per hire was reduced by more than two-thirds. Further the CareerXRoads 7th “Source of Hire” survey found that the efficiency or yield of the referral process is second to none; in 20% of the time it took 2 referrals to make the hire, 16% for 3 referrals.
  4. The points on registration, branding of recruiters etc are reasonable points to some degree. I’m not convinced they are issues for 2Vouch given the business model and their go to market strategy.
But analysing the analysis was not the point of this post.

2Vouch for your friends and get paid

2Vouch

Launching their public beta today, September 1, is Australia’s newest social recruiting service called 2Vouch. (Disclosure: I have done some work for 2Vouch.) Having been in private alpha testing over the last month or so the Melbourne based company is for the first time allowing the public access to their service. The best way to describe the tool is really to quote 2Vouch General Manager Jeremy Samuel:

2Vouch is a social recruiting system that pays professionals $1,400-$2,800 when they make referrals someone who gets hired. For companies, it is free to advertise. They only pay when they place someone through the system and we offer a 110% money back guarantee if the person doesn’t work out. 

The service is fundamentally similar to Hoojano which I spoke about back in February this year, with a few differences. Both basically rely on the refer a friend approach to filling roles.

Employee referral programs are a very common approach used by many organisations and research has shown they are the lowest cost source for hiring in today’s marketplace, even lower than using job boards! In certain industries within the US best in class companies hire over 46% of employees through referral programs.

Cost is not the only benefit research by Professor Emilio Castilla from MIT Sloan School of Management found that employees recruited through employee referral programs can have a higher performance over employees recruited through other means. But back to the tool.

One of the biggest differences between Hoojano and 2Vouch are how they match jobs, although both would say otherwise. Where as Hoojano requires the member to actively review their contacts to find matches 2Vouch uses their Job Genie™ to email the member when possible jobs that match their contacts are available.

Payment is only made on placement, not to advertise so there is no harm for recruiters and employers giving the tool a test run. Further 2Vouch is offering a 110% refund for recruiters and employers if they hire someone through the tool and they do not work out. While this might sound impressive I think 2Vouch will keep their money as research has shown internationally that placements made through referrals are of far higher quality than regular placements.

Members get referral payments, ranging from AU$1,400 – AU$2,800 once someone has been successfully hired. These payments can be made to the members PayPal account or donated to charity.

2Vouch are ranked #26 in the Ross Dawson’s BRW Top 100 Web Applications, original development was completed by Ben Barren and his team from FeedCorp and have recently become part of the Pollenizer gang, Australia leading startup management garage, to create a very compelling tool for the Australian market.

A final note, and a plug, as part of my work with Inspecht we have a research report available on building a business case for using referrals in hiring.