SEEK, the world's third-largest online job advertising firm and Australia's dominant job posting platform, has recently announced a significant price increase to the market.
Many recruitment agencies were shocked when SEEK announced this price increase. Especially given their close relationship with the platform. Yet, with Indeed entering the market as a genuine competitor and Google For Jobs potentially around the corner, SEEK is in a race against time to cash in on its market monopoly.
Whilst painful for recruiters, this battle between SEEK and its serious challengers presents a catalyst for marketing professionals to diversify their sourcing strategy.
Some might feel that the success of SEEK comes mainly on the back of high-value yearly contracts and support from recruitment agencies in Australia. This doesn't capture the whole picture.
For many years, recruitment companies have freely given SEEK their valuable content (jobs) and paid the job board to rank number one on Google as their jobs are displayed within the SEEK brand. All in all, allowing SEEK to become the destination for job seekers and build its monopoly. This has resulted in recruiters relying almost on this job board to source candidates. Not a sustainable strategy.
From SEEK's perspective, it sounds like a textbook strategy that companies like Indeed, Booking.com, and Google have applied right from the start. Build your consumer base on a great experience that feels like a one-stop shop and becomes the go-to destination. As these companies monopolise the market, the only competition is left to those with bottomless pockets.
With SEEK's dynamic pricing model pushing through a significant price increase this year, recruitment agencies have had a rude awakening to the fact that the machine they fed has now come back to bite them.
the question has never been to SEEK or not to SEEK.
It has always been about getting the fastest, quality candidate at the lowest CPA (cost per acquisition) to acquisition value. This makes a clear case for a diversified recruitment marketing strategy in a market with multiple players. Recruitment industries in markets like the US, UK, the Netherlands, and Germany operate in a more diversified job board market which demands diversified strategies. In those markets, job boards have primarily shifted to Pay Per Click (PPC) like models, partially due to the new dominance of Indeed.
In Australia, with the monopoly of SEEK, the approach to sourcing has been dictated by the platform's dominance. Some job boards have gained minimal market share in niches, but none have been able to break the monopoly.
But things are changing fast. Indeed, spotting that Australia is a global top 10 recruitment market, they entered to get their piece of the pie. Since their launch, we have seen Indeed invest, grab market share, and lure SEEK into launching countermeasures such as Jora. At the same time, we have seen LinkedIn play a vital role in the hard-to-fill roles, headhunting, passive candidate space, aggregating jobs, and offering job slots.
We have also seen Google For Jobs enter multiple Asian markets, but it has not entered Australia for now. I believe that we can expect further disruption to SEEK's hold on the market when Google For Jobs launches here.
Since SEEK has become more expensive, they have levelled the playing field for alternative channels like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Google to be leveraged by digital marketers at relatively cheaper rates and similar outcomes. For many, SEEK is no longer the fastest, most affordable way to source candidates.
the need to diversify has become more apparent with other sourcing options available.
We must bring our recruitment marketing efforts back to "what is the fastest way to get a quality candidate at the lowest CPA to acquisition value?"
In e-commerce, managing spending over multiple sources based on CPA has been a must-have skill for digital marketers for many years. If not already present, this skill needs to be quickly brought into Australia's recruitment companies, too, including programmatic job posting engines.
Strangely, marketers at recruitment agencies might almost be thankful to SEEK. It has caused recruitment companies to rethink their performance marketing strategy and the risky dependency on SEEK. They also realise that marketing has moved from a consultant activity to a highly skilled function, key to the success of their businesses.
My hope is that while SEEK drives up prices to maintain its monopoly, recruitment agencies will be agile and diversify their recruitment marketing strategy. Trust is hardly ever beneficial to the market. I'm pretty sure SEEK has thought this through from A to Z, but have all those in recruitment done the same?