Rethinking Recruitment Advertising 2000-2017

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Seeking Universal Search & The Next 800-Pound Gorilla

When the dinosaurs roamed the earth, we figured out in which newspapers (local, regional, national, etc.) we would place our recruitment ads...for a single day, Sunday. We spent $10 billion on recruitment advertising as late as 2001 in the US. Candidates simply opened the one classified section of the paper they always had delivered (or the few they could purchase locally) and perused the help-wanted content out of curiosity (passive) or need (active). There was no universal search. It was all segmented. The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, the New York and Los Angeles Times were the best of the lot. No 800-pound Gorilla to be found. Even 'Permanent' Placement agencies were more in the know than any average job seeker -  for non-specialized, everyday opportunities. Today, for good reason, spending in those sections is 5% of what it once was.

Job Boards, today's version of newspaper classifieds, have filled millions of positions each year for the last decade and a half. They aren't as sexy as having a team of recruiters directly sourcing passive candidates for tough-to-fill openings or executing on sophisticated, social media branding campaigns to drive hard-to-find prospects to engaging content. But, as a routine, effective (for some positions), and low-cost method of getting the word out, Job Boards are a fascinating study of classifieds on the web. Like their print predecessors, Job Boards added content, helpful services (resume, coaching, etc.) and had 'Titles' for every possible combination a prospect might recognize: level of job, experience, specialty, industry, function, geography, etc., etc. These niches did quite well until their numbers approached tens of thousands and then only a few, for a while, could claim to be monstrous - Career Portals of the best and the most jobs of every kind. Getting that big meant advertising everywhere (SuperBowl)... each new generation of job seekers had to be reminded where to go...until Google.

Automation, by the way, continued to make it easier for the niche j-board as employers could more efficiently plan to post to multiple relevant Job Boards once w/o reposting over and over. And now, of course, costs can be adjusted automatically for efficiency, quality and quantity.

A shift in recruitment ad placement

It was when employers began to see the results of their intended efforts that things began to change. Ten years ago Indeed (and several similar sites) claimed they would 'help out' the job boards by aggregating all their jobs on a single database - and send candidates that found a job that way right back to the job board that provided the position - so that they would be credited by the employer. In a decade, Indeed rolled up thousands of job boards' content and outshined their competitors. Indeed's success is in no small part due to its mastery of SEO/SEM. Candidates couldn't help but click through...once they searched Google. Employers eventually realized that Indeed was more monstrous than any previous 800-pound gorilla. Their ATSs began showing results that the 'original' click-through wasn't really Monster or CareerBuilder or DirectEmployers but Indeed ('Click-throughs' from Google not being tracked back). The new shift to Universal Search began and Employers began moving to Indeed directly only supplementing elsewhere as needed.

CareerBuilder pivoted to new products and services. DirectEmployers pivoted to compliance. The niche job boards worked harder on programmed services. Only Monster thought they could sell search. They were wrong.

Recruitment advertising and Google

Google has become interested in Recruiting. They have literally adopted Indeed's 10-year old playbook) as Joel Cheesman's article in EREMedia, Your Jobs on Indeed Aren't Showing Up On Google, so excellently describes (a must read). Indeed's response is to keep their jobs off of Google search results or at least hidden on the 10th page. Indeed wants to do to Google what Craig's List did to them. But Craig's List never aspired to be the King Kong of Job Boards and Indeed is taking a huge gamble that the candidates will remember to go to them without first asking Google. And that isn't all. As Chris Hoyt pointed out in a recent post, Is Indeed in Trouble? Google can take feeds directly from large employers as well as from Job Boards.

I think Kara Yarnot, responding to Joel Cheesman's article captured it best when she said:

"Job seekers have continually shown that they have no loyalty to job boards... Since most people use Google to search for everything else in their life, once they realize that Google can provide as many relevant jobs as Indeed, they will be unlikely to use another job search tool. It might not happen in the short term, but it will happen."

We agree, Google not only has the capability of being the next generation's 800-pound Gorilla, it can estimate accurately what part of the total job universe it actually covers. All hail King Kong. Indeed must inevitably pivot. It has the resources and backing to do so and could easily become an amazing RPO (IMHO) and disrupt the entire approach to 3rd party staffing.

You, your consultants, your vendors, your agencies... whatever trusted advisors you have should all be leveraging Google to make their API tools available to take your jobs and make them available for search. Study the results. The savings could be significant...even now.


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