Can I take your temperature?: the case for an annual biz checkup

Operating a job board or recruitment marketing company can sometime feel like putting out a never-ending series of fires. Employer A’s jobs aren’t doing well. There aren’t enough candidate signups in Singapore. The job wrapping system suddenly broke – or was it the employer’s career site? And so on. The incessant drone of the ‘now’ can drown out the bigger picture – sometimes to the detriment of your business.

That’s why you should take the time at least once a year to give your company a ‘checkup’. Check the thermometer, roll up the sleeves, poke at the belly – ok, enough with the doctor metaphors! Here are some of the areas you should really examine:

  • Product sales: The key here are trends – what is trending up, or down. I like to look at 4 week averages – this filters out the up-and-down of a big sale or a bad week. Are key products consistently trending down? Are goals being missed? Are products really returning the margins you expected? This gives you some guidance on where to dig deeper.
  • Client sales:  Specifically, total revenue per client per year. I would also break clients out by size (or possibly number of offices). Where are you showing growth? Decline? These numbers are the first step on the path to understanding how important your services are to your clients.
  • Candidates: Candidates drive your business, no matter if you’re a traditional job board, a recruiting platform, an aggregator, or whatever. So you need to understand how you’re doing with them – and you need to get past simple traffic numbers. I suggest looking at average time on site, registrations, resume uploads, applications per candidate, and candidate referrals. You may want to add some additional metrics specific to your particular business. But let’s be honest – you can’t have too much candidate data!
  • Competitors: Most of us spend too much time thinking about what our competitors are doing, and too little time focused on our own business. However, at least once a year, it’s worthwhile to look at where you sit vis-a-vis your direct competitors. Maybe – if you’re really big – that is LinkedIn or Indeed. More likely, your true competitors are going to be other niche recruitment businesses, associations, and possibly even offline services like career fairs. The competitive analysis really needs at least a couple years’ worth of data to be valuable, so the sooner you start, the better!
  • Bottom line: So how is your bottom line doing? Are you happy with that 17% margin? Did you actually achieve 45% YOY revenue growth? Did your salespeople produce 5X of their total compensation? Bottom line metrics are going to vary from business to business, depending on your objectives and how you are making the recruitment marketing sausage. That’s fine. Just make sure you have some bottom line metrics – and that you track them, regularly and honestly.

Checkups are – honestly – kind of a pain. They require collection of data (which can be challenging), time away from the day-to-day, and a willingness to question. But skipping your annual checkup isn’t a good idea – for one thing, you go forward in a kind of fog, not really knowing how you are or what might be going wrong (or right). More importantly, you run the risk of missing warning signs – and I’m talking about the kind of signs that may be fatal for your business!

So take a deep breath, pull out the calendar, and set a date for your next checkup. You’ll be glad you did! (And remember – this is the Doctor speaking.)

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