Landscape: a 10,000 foot look at the recruitment marketing industry

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As you already know because you’re in the thick of it, our industry has been morphing and evolving significantly over the past 5 years. Companies have been bought and sold. Buying habits are changing. And hundreds of millions of dollars (and hundreds of startups) have poured in. In other words, there are a lot of trees in this forest – so many that it’s hard to get a perspective sometimes. So I want to step back (and up), and see if I can describe the lay of the land, though – the bigger movements and changes that are shaping the way forward. Here goes:

  • Pay per click: Indeed launched in 2004, promoting the concept of paying for job ads by the click, instead of the post. Over a decade later, I think they’ve finally broken into the general HR consciousness. Most recruiters and HR folks now understand that PPC can be used for job ads, and most of them are using Indeed to utilize it. For many of them, however, the jury is still out on its effectiveness vis-a-vis more traditional methods. Why this is, I’m not sure – its effectiveness can certainly be measured. But this is what I hear from employers. At any rate, PPC is now offered by multiple vendors, including some of the ‘old guard’. It’s been ‘mainstreamed’.
  • Programmatic: Appcast, the pioneer of programmatic in the recruiting industry (it’s been around for quite a while in the consumer market) launched in 2014. Although you can make the argument (and some have) that Recruitics beat them to it by a few years. At any rate, since then, other vendors have appeared and the approach is gaining traction – at least with more sophisticated recruitment buyers. The concept is simple enough (algorithms drive where your ads appear and how much response you get), but I suspect the name is holding this part of the industry back. Traditional job boards are participating, both by being part of the network, and by selling the product. At this point, it feels like PPC back in 2007 – everyone on the inside knows about it, while vendors are struggling to explain it to prospects. But hey, it’s got its own conference!
  • Recruitment marketing platforms: The concept isn’t new. I’ve been writing about it for a while. Smashfly, Entelo, and others are battling for market share. And of course, for the recruiting pro, the idea is alluring: do all of your recruitment marketing work from a single platform. Create a job ad; distribute it; track it; gather applicants; interact with them; and do all of this without jumping from job board to ATS to email to whatever. Heck, if I was a recruiter, I’d want one! It’s no coincidence that some job boards are providing their own take on the concept. But for these platforms to work, they need to be like Switzerland – not favoring one candidate source over another, and focused instead on making the recruiter’s life easier.
  • Staffing firms muscling in: Hey, it wouldn’t be the first time! Staffing firms have long been involved in the recruiting site world, and most of the larger ones run their own job boards. But with Recruit’s purchase of Indeed and Randstad’s purchase of Monster, it seems that the industry has finally decided to get greater control over its ‘supply chain’ – i.e., those sites that excel in attracting and delivering candidates. DHI and CareerBuilder are up for sale. Don’t be surprised if the buyers are staffing firms. Want to sell your job board? Start going to the staffing industry conferences – and bring plenty of business cards.
  • Matching: I hesitate to even bring it up. (sigh). But…matching sites seem to sprout almost in spite of the lack of success. I guess VCs haven’t gotten the news that matching is hard. But who knows? Maybe this time next year I’ll be eating my words. In the meantime – look! There’s another new matching site!
  • Niche: This meta-trend is nothing new – but niche continues to flourish despite of (or in spite of) the trends listed above. Whether they’re big with a Q&A twist (StackOverflow) or hyperfocused (GISJobs) or double-dipping (tech AND diversity at Blendoor), niche sites seem to be flourishing. It’s probably because they have to keep their subgroup of employers, and do so by staying close.
  • Contingent workers: Freelancers have always been with us. Now the gig economy glorifies them as crazy cowboys that drive cars by day and code at night to generate previously unheard-of wealth. But you know what – they’re still freelancers! Hot right now are employment ‘marketplaces’ like Crowded that allow these cowboys to pick and choose their next gig. Upwork is surging, and at least one-third of the startups I discover claim to be ‘Uber for….’. This too will pass. The big question is this: does the needle actually move? In 2020, will freelancers really make up 40% of the workforce? If so, a bunch of job boards and recruiting sites will need to retool their offerings. But I wouldn’t go changing my code just yet.
  • Trends I don’t think are trends yet: Facebook. No resumes. Swipe to hire. Virtual job interviews. Curated jobs. The death of job boards.

Ok, back to earth. I have to get my glasses back on so I don’t run into the next tree.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Maddy

    How popular is the pay-per-application model, I wonder? I don’t really hear about it as much, so I don’t have a sense of how people view its effectiveness compared to PPC, but I’m curious.

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