Recruiters, your Job Board is going to eat you!

Recruiters, your Job Board is going to eat you!

I have verbalised strong views on job boards over the years. An important part of the candidate acquisition mix, sure, but also increasingly becoming ineffective, geared only to active job-seekers, and in some cases price-gouging the very recruitment fraternity that allowed them to thrive in the first place.

In Australia, Seek came onto the scene 17 years ago and I was one of their very first customers (when running Recruitment Solutions) in an era when many believed the internet was a fad, let alone online recruiting!

But I have criticised Seek since, mostly as a result of some of their actions born out of their own success, and the near monopoly that created.

Indeed, at one RCSA Conference, in a moment of high excitability during my presentation, I suggested Seek ‘get stuffed’*, a phrase that was out of order, and I actually now very much regret.

Being a classy outfit, Seek have since responded by supporting my speaking roadshows around Australia and New Zealand, and then recently, inviting me to lunch!

So it was my pleasure to join senior executives at the Melbourne head office of Seek, Australia’s dominant job-board, (and now a global job-board player), to understand their new vision.

The people at Seek are no fools. They don’t need me to warn them of the threats to a traditional job board business model, so I was expecting to hear something new.

And I did.

Recruiters need to be better marketers, users of CRM, automated marketing, big data and predictive analytics. I have been saying this for some time. It turns out Seek have been thinking the same thing for at least as long, and are now acting on these needs.

Advertising jobs will only be one of several key Seek services. Talent Search for example pulls on a database of 4 million searchable profiles that Seek has collected, growing by 150,000 a month, so they say.

But what I like about the ‘new’ Seek is the use of big data and analytics. Seek collects extensive information on candidates in their database, including their history on Seek, and the roles they show an interest in, for example. Candidates are pushed relevant notifications via automated technology, converting them to active job seekers or pre-selecting roles for them to look at that they are more likely to apply for.

For recruiters, big data is allowing Seek to identify candidates that are more likely to be open to an approach (because they have applied for jobs recently, or because they are active looking at certain roles) and they have the capacity to automatically match candidates with roles via tracking of candidate behavior. This will allow Seek to recommend appropriate candidates to recruiters.

Seek will actually ‘pre-match’ candidates, based not only on qualifications and skills, but also on job search behavior!

This is a key development. The future of agency recruitment is about finding candidates our clients cannot. Traditional job boards are not going to provide those candidates. That means that Seek and other job boards risk becoming irrelevant unless they can offer solutions based on the same premise. It seems Seek are well on the road to doing that.

But the message for all third-party recruiters (and corporate recruiters for that matter!) is that you need to speed up the diversification, innovation and sophistication of your candidate sourcing. Getting ‘unique’ candidates is your holy grail. SEEK are showing they ‘get’ that consumer marketing techniques are increasingly relevant to recruitment. Their data algorithms mean they know when candidate are likely to move and which ones are ready for an approach.

The recruitment industry needs to at least get to parity with the way we manipulate our own pools of talent, CRM systems, automated marketing, social talent communities and predictive recruiting techniques.

Mostly we are so far off the pace, we are literally not in the race.

These not just words. This is not mumbo jumbo. This is now.

Seek are on to it.

Are you?

* I originally had no recollection of  making this boorish remark, but my wife, who had wandered in from the hotel pool area to catch the second half of my presentation, made it crystal clear that I had said it, and she was suitably grumpy with me for more than a day, so it must be true.


The Savage Truth Speaking Tour continues on and on. Coming up; Australia, NZ, London, Glasgow, Dublin.




About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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31 Responses to Recruiters, your Job Board is going to eat you!

  1. Rod Hore August 11, 2015 at 9:50 am #

    Thanks for this SEEK update Greg. I can’t wait for the Australian market to move further from “job vacancy” boards to “candidate” databases, much more like the US and UK markets. It is very exciting for the ANZ industry but will require a change of thinking from the agency and corporate recruiters. Exciting times ahead.

  2. Neil Bolton August 11, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    “Getting ‘unique’ candidates is your holy grail.”

    Perfectly said, Greg. And then taking care of them, being their friend, confidante and mentor, to the extent that they wouldn’t even consider talking to another recruiter.

    And then word gets out to your clients in your vertical that YOU are the one with the best candidates on call, and the job becomes even more fulfilling.

    And it goes so far that maybe you can consider yourself to be a good recruiter only when you’ve placed the candidates in your database on average more than twice . . .

  3. Bill Ellerton August 11, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    The market dominance of SEEK makes it very hard for new, smaller and often ‘unique’ job boards to compete against them. We have certainly found this to be the case at Mature Job Search, where we are committed to helping Employers find experienced people (45+) who can add value in a way only they can.
    We have over 2,500 experienced job seekers registered on our site and we know that when employers place ads, they get between 4-5 applications for each position. And that’s only applications made through our site, not those made direct to the employer / recruiter if the ad is set up that way.
    Our try before you buy policy means that employers / recruiters can post their first job ad with us free and after that our rates are about half that of SEEK.
    We will always offer free job advertising for NFP’s and Aged Care providers as part of our commitment to the community.
    (Bill, TOO much of a sell. I have cut out your last line)

  4. Alan Allebone August 11, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    Hi Greg,

    It should have happens a long long time ago and SEEK knows this.

    A wake up call is needed.

    Focus more on the candidate and as I have said for a very long time :Today’s candidate is Tomorrow’s Client”

    get rid of Job boards!

  5. Wally Barr August 11, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

    I am speaking as a person in the US that looks for opportunity. You are correct in your assumptions. However the entity that solves the issue that exists right now will win and dominate this race. Companies are putting to many restrictions on the search candidates. They are searching for the exact ideal. If that person exists they would not be looking. The current methods are producing job hoppers.These are people that bounce around in the same industry performing the basic same duties.Lets take Target for example. They will define the search asking for someone who has big box experience. Well what they will get is someone who is unhappy at a competitor that will eventually be unhappy there, Kicking out resumes that do not fit the “ideal” and not looking into the heart of a person or the work ethic or passion is omitting candidates. Plus what exactly is a resume? It is a balance sheet with only the assets showing..

  6. Kevin Chappell August 11, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    In theory, yes, Seek are trying to change. In practice, the jury’s out. Their practice is still rather antiquated in how, as their biggest customers, we buy their product. A monthly allocation is old fashioned and outdated. They have little appetite to change. As far as the “extensive” database of candidates, as you have said, databases are graveyards and Seek’s is so out-of-date as far as candidates updating their status, as to be nothing short of useless. Concept is right, execution wrong, and it will fail unless something changes quickly. For me only 25% of placements (if that) come from Seek, the rest LinkedIn or other means.

    Like you Greg, when Seek hit the market those many years back, I resisted, but then became their greatest advocate, as I saw the potential for them to make life easier for us. But the problem is that their success lead to arrogance and they have done little to really support an industry that is their greatest customer, and perhaps now it’s a little too late. I recall having these conversations with them 5-10 years back, to no avail, and as a result, we’ve had to look at different and better ways of finding talent. Time will tell whether their new strategy works, but I suspect it may be too late.

  7. Matt Bradley August 11, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    Jobserve in the UK have had a similar “recommends” feature for the last couple of years, but the hit rate on relevant candidates that actually come through is actually quite low. In theory it’s a good idea and decent sell for the Job Boards, but in practice their ‘algorithms’ are not sophisticated enough to produce tangible results for recruiters.

    • Greg Savage August 11, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

      Thats interesting Matt, and may prove to be the case with Seek as well.Time will tell. What i can tell you is that Seek told me they have a team of 14 data scientists..full time.. working on this product.. so they appear to be very serious about getting it right.. but we will see. Thanks for the input

      • Matt Bradley August 11, 2015 at 8:15 pm #

        Well I don’t think Jobserve invested that much to be fair and having used Seek from my time in Aus it certainly is a slicker product so I’m sure their version will produce better results. I’m still sceptical about whether is a game changer for job boards though.

  8. Warren Beazley August 11, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

    Powerful stuff. Sometimes the obvious is staring you in the face. You just need someone to show you where to look and make sense of it. Thanks again Greg.

  9. john milce August 12, 2015 at 8:38 am #

    Have you ever tried Seek’s candidate search facility Greg (I forget what they call it). It’s useless:-(


    • Greg Savage August 12, 2015 at 9:00 am #

      No, never tried it myself John. However I have had very different feedback from other recruiters.. and I have also had feedback like yours from others still. We will have to see if Seek can deliver on the promise

  10. john milce August 12, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    Hi again,

    1 example – If you search on “skillA” and “skillB” it doesn’t work. You have to put the word “and” in capitals. (I’m not joking). There are lots more problems with it. It has been cobbled together with little or no user input. If it has been tested in house then whoever tested it and signed it off is in the wrong job.

    I have had several long and meaningful discussions with SEEK on the shortcomings of their product. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the few improvements they have made to the search facility in the past 12 months have been as direct result of my suggestions.

    Don’t get me started on their text editor 


    • Greg Savage August 12, 2015 at 9:15 am #

      Very interesting John. I am pretty confident the right people at Seek are following comments on this blog so perhaps your message will get through and issues be addressed

  11. Scott Van Heurck August 12, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    Very interesting thanks Greg.
    Do you think the monopoly has slowed the competition and therefore progress and leaves us behind the UK and US as Rod comments?
    I see also one of the larger players is re-entering the market after a couple of years and focusing on the candidates also…..

    • Greg Savage August 12, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

      I am not sure Rod is referring to US and UK Job boards when he talks about “candidate” markets Scott. I think he is suggesting that Seek have a bigger influence on candidate sourcing i Australia than any other job boards in other markets. Maybe if Rod reads this , he will jump in and clarify

  12. Lisa B August 12, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

    Would be great to see an article from you Greg on recruitment CRM systems and which ones you think are the best for our industry?

    • Greg Savage August 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

      I am not really (in fact, not at all) an expert in assessing CRM systems Lisa B..I will say that Job science is the best system i personally have worked with and I installed it in two of my companies

  13. Duncan Norman August 12, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    Hi everyone, Duncan Norman here. I’m a Senior Product Manager at SEEK, focusing on Search. Firstly, I want to thank Greg for his kind words, and secondly I want to let everyone know that your comments are not falling on deaf ears. We are constantly striving to improve our products and, now more than ever, are focused on expanding our product suite to make life easier and more efficient for both candidates and hirers.

  14. James Roberts August 13, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    For me Seek is just too expensive. It has pushed me to use other mediums such as LinkedIN and Indeed to greater success.

  15. Sarah Moore August 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    I am currently looking into implementing a new recruitment system for my organisation. During the procurement process I have found out that recruitment systems can no longer post directly to Seek from a system. I have to say, I am disappointed that Seek have done this. It will now add fees, complexity and vendors to my tech landscape if we want to leverage our system fully. So yes, Seek have seen the writing on the wall and changed your business model. I would like to see Seek communicating this development to clients and others who would need to know.

    • Kahlia Meschiati September 24, 2015 at 10:41 am #

      Sarah, I use Click to Cloud (Salesforce platform) and we can still post to Seek from the system, with applications received into the system directly.

    • Richard B September 25, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

      Hi Sarah, if you’d like to have a friendly chat with us here at JobAdder, please don’t hesitate to call 02 8005 5711 and check out for a free 7 day trial of the platform. Kind regards, Richard

  16. Leah Gibbs August 24, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

    @SarahMoore Take a look at JobAdder for your RMS you can post direct to SEEK. Also a great product. I have been a user in the past when recruiting.

    I also have clients using JobAdder that are posting to my jobs board Lifestyle Careers. It works seamlessly.

    • Richard B September 25, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

      Thanks for recommending JobAdder to @SarahMoore, we appreciate your support, Leah.

      Kind regards,
      Richard B.

  17. CFV August 28, 2015 at 11:04 am #

    The recruitment industry is broken due to automation. Seek is the best tool around for job seekers because it makes the application process easy and efficient for the applicant. And it needs to be easy in order to pass the automated matching process and to attract the attention of the recruiter. Candidate matching and referal to the “resume kept on file” don’t work based on 110 plus applications on Seek posted over 4 weeks with a quality and edited CV have only attracted the attention of 4 recruiters.

  18. headhunter indonesia January 12, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

    seek are now going to asia as they acquire js

  19. Andrew May 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

    Hi Greg,
    Interesting article. As someone who used talent search last year I thought it was an interesting product and a good addition to their product suite.

    However, isn’t their still a fundamental issue of Seek being a portal for active candidates first and foremost?

    As a result, Seek is relying on an active candidate base to populate their database, but more importantly, relying on that active candidate base to update and maintain the relevance of their database.

    I don’t see how this plumbs the riches of the passive candidate pools on other channels like LinkedIn

    • Greg Savage May 18, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

      Andrew I think SEEK might argue that with 5 million live profiles on Talent Search (growing at 150,000 per month!) that they have plenty of “passive” candidates in their data base. They also might suggest that with their predictive analytics capability, they have a far better idea of the “readiness” of those candidates to move than other channels. I don’t know. But I do think it would be an error to think they are not tapping into passive candidates.Especially for you 🙂

  20. Andrew May 18, 2016 at 4:25 pm #

    Thanks for the reply Greg 🙂

    Certainly don’t doubt the depth of candidates in the Seek eco-system and their ability to leverage that data via predictive analytics to make assumptions. I guess my question was that if Seek is for active candidates than, wouldn’t this product, and the data it relies on, not be skewed toward a more active candidate base (given that is what the vast majority people visit Seek for?)

    An interesting one!

    • Greg Savage May 18, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

      You could be right mate. I really dont know. I suspect though that this entire product is designed to leverage SEEK INTO the passive candidate market..they don’t want to be “Only a job board” (my words, not theirs) and remember passive candidate become active become passive become active. Its purely a matter of timing

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