Yesterday I spoke at the World Association Newspapers Digital Media Europe Event, my task to share recruitment market disruption.

The majority of the companies in the room ignored the web in the late 90s as a fad. In early 2000s many (not all) newsprint companies had the arrogance to say "TV and Radio came and did not destroy our advertising revenues, why will the web do anything different?". I remember a comment at the bar at a event in 2001 where a very senior newspaper executive asked "Who owns the Internet, can we buy it?"

I am very pleased to say that this attitude has completely changed and publishers are finally focused on the struggle of generating profit from web publishing with a print publishers cost structure inherently weighing them down coupled with fears of cannibalisation of revenue. Not an easy problem to solve! There is a significant focus on publishing editorial on mobile, but a lack of significance to advertising. The paywall seems to be the hopeful saviour? All I know is the pace of change is too slow maybe too late.

So what did I talk about?

16 years ago 1997, the recruitment website launched, the job board had a low cost structure compared to print, lower advertising fees and made job seeking easier. The concept was a winner! Online recruitment developed and completely changed the recruitment marketing and the newspaper industry. The impossible happend, "sits vac" revenue was gone.

Technology has enabled societies off line habbits to migrate online. The development of social network technology coupled with mobile infrastructure & mobile devices has boomed into main stream. Mobile and social media are the natural evolution of digital media. The job board was built on a young internet. The web has matured (and will continue to mature), consumer behaviours have and are changing.  This change to the relatively young online recruitment market smells very much like the web and print transformation of the previous decade. Many major job boards are experiencing revenue falls (Monster has 8% YoY drop) and are now focused on reinventing their value propisition. Many disruptive business models exist to keep the job board pulse beating.

Over the last few years LinkedIn has grown in size and matured into a social content service with transparent business networking. Over 50% of job adverts clicked on are by LinkedIn users reading the "today" content services. Users log on to check or send messages, see what their network (community) is doing and to read interesting content. LinkedIn is tightly integrated with Twitter and has converted many of its users to content creators or curators. Their focus now feels closer to what an online publisher / community platform should be, than job board. Their annual growth has been helped by investment into mobile. Their last traffic reports illustrated 27% of traffic on mobile,  19 searchs a second from mobile. They are on a projection that could see mobile represent 40% of their traffic this time next year.

Recruiters have embraced social media. Social media has opened the gates for employers to reach candidates directly. There are many case studies illustrating the
cost saving and increased candidate quality.

The social network landscape has changed significantly over the last couple of years. Talent are on smartphones and tablets. Employers supporting mobile has doubled inteh last 6 months, but at least 80% of employers still fail to support mobile. This results in a negative impact on the employer brand and reduces social recruiting ROI.

The talent acquistion director for UPS shared from his experience that "today it is a waste of time investing in social medis without mobile support". The advanced in house recruiters operate multiple social media campaigns to convert talent into candidate and the best to employee.

Their reach through social media and mobile drives significant volumes. Sodexo recently shared that 31% of their hires had consumed their mobile content.

The mobile social combo works.

The Internet grew under publishers noses. Many publishers buried their heads in the sand, praying the job revenue drop was a short term trend and would reverse in a few years. The online only players had eaten a fair share of advertising revenues. Then there was an overpriced acquisition flurry, where a large percentage of purchased job boards went south a few years later. Learn from this experience.

Mobile is an opportunity, one that is being overlooked or under played by many in online recruitment. The talent is already on mobile web waiting. There is a window to grab new revenues via mobile services before the startup market takes it. This is probably 12 to 24 months. 

If publishers want (could get focused), they could take back recruitment revenues under a new packaging - the mobile recruiting campaign

What are most publishers doing to build mobile social recruiting revenues? What are most job boards doing? 

Commercial Internet is approaching 18 years old. It is clear that organisations have to be agile and adaptive to stay on top of web business. The large corporations have to move faster. To achieve this they need to change culture around failure and proving assumptions. Until the management attitude around experimenting changes we are going to be stuck in a process where every decade the rules of the web change and the big firms loose out to the disruptive start up. VC's will cash in big time!

AuthorDave Martin