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Trends in the noise – if you listen hard enough

trends in the noise
trends in the noise

If you are like me, you sift through 150 or so articles a day about the HR and recruiting industry, looking for trends in the noise that seem most relevant to our corner of it. Who got funding? What new product was launched? Who bought who? There is a high level of ‘noise’ – news that seems important or striking at first glance, but that ends up being just another thing that didn’t mean much.

But over time, you can – occasionally – tease out patterns or even bits of news that actually seem likely to impact the recruitment marketing industry. They may drop with a big splash – but more often, they are just another news release. Sometimes their real impact is actually a few steps removed from the supposed ‘news event’. Or – often – it isn’t one release. It’s several.

Take for example Indeed’s refusal to participate in the Google jobs project. Indeed won’t mark up or submit their jobs according to the Google schema, and thus job seekers don’t see those jobs when they use the (now omnipresent) blue Google job search box. So what has been the ripple effect? First, a big chunk of job search traffic that used to flow to Indeed now goes to all of those sites that are using the Google job ad schema. That’s helped employer career sites and niche job boards and LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter. And…it has presented Indeed with a problem – how to reclaim the job seeker’s attention? Well, if you watch TV or listen to the radio, you know what their answer was: they started spending money on marketing the site. After a decade of existence, they began to do what Monster, CareerBuilder, and HotJobs (to name a few) did almost from the beginning of their respective runs.

The ripple effect? Well, other sites are also cranking up their marketing machines. ZipRecruiter – which admittedly had already been marketing their tails off – is now lead sponsor of the Serial podcast. Monster has jumped back into television spots. Smaller niche sites are getting into it via retargeting (it’s impressive how many niche site ads follow me around the net). And sites everywhere are learning that ‘screener questions’ are something new and amazing that Indeed has (ahem) – and reintroducing those to their own clients.

Or take the never-ending news of recruiting sites and services getting funding. It’s almost wallpaper now – but if you’ve been in the industry a while, you know how unusual this trend has been. For years, investment in recruitment marketing companies was few and far between. Recruiting wasn’t sexy, it wasn’t interesting to the VC firms, and it took a back burner to other ventures, such as social media. Then around 2011 or so, the funding spigot opened. Some investment rounds were less than a million, and some (like Zip’s) were $50M+. But more important than the size of each investment was the frequency of investments. Look back through my industry news roundups from 2011 on. You won’t find many – if any – that don’t include mentions of multiple funding rounds. Funding happens – and it happens to firms big and small.

The ripple effect? We’ve seen dozens and dozens of startups attempting to ‘disrupt’ recruiting – and every now and then, some of them actually do something that sticks. Think Appcast. Or Entelo. Or SmashFly. Or StackOverflow. They’re doing things somewhat differently than the old guard did – and they’re having an effect on the industry. More importantly, the funding – and the successes – encourage new players to pursue their own dreams. Who knows? Maybe Uncommon will make it. Or Crowded. Or… Well, you get the picture. A rising tide lifts all boats and so on.

What are you hearing in the noise?

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