04 April 2011

RIP: Fairfax Media employment classifieds

On Saturday mornings, it really takes something extraordinary to grab my attention before I have had my first hot, rich espresso of the day.

A couple of Saturdays ago something did. It was the ever-shrinking My Career section of The Saturday Age.

Although the grand-daddy of Australian job boards, Seek, started up in 1997, and many other hundreds (thousands?) of job boards have followed since, the ‘positions vacant' classifieds section of the two Fairfax metropolitan dailies (The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald) seemed to be surviving the Internet age reasonably well pre-GFC.

It appears that is no longer the case.

First Fairfax changed the My Career section from broadsheet layout to tabloid layout.

Along with this change was a substantial beefing up of the editorial content (from half a page to now, most commonly, six pages). ‘The Special Features' lift-outs or special advertising supplements (such as the engineering one mentioned earlier), seem to appear ever more regularly.

Meanwhile the actual number of job ads listed seems to be in freefall. I counted 32 tabloid-sized pages of job ads in the 26 March 2011 edition of My Career. This is being generous, as there are many Fairfax internal self promotional ads (eg Green Guide, Epicure, My Career app etc) placed throughout these pages.

It wasn't long ago that the My Career section was twice as many pages, and in broadsheet layout.

So what sort of jobs are proving life support to the terminally ill patient?

If the My Career section in The Age on 26 March 2011 is a reliable indicator of the overall state of play in the Fairfax employment classifieds, then the Health, Local Government and Education sectors appear to be providing about 70% of the jobs still appearing in print.

I suspect this is because those sectors still have many organisations with yet-to-be-updated recruitment policies, stating that any permanent vacancy must be advertised in the appropriate metropolitan daily paper.

On 3 May 2007, Fairfax Media was trading on the ASX at AUD$4.99. In mid-October 2008, as the world digested the impact of the Lehman Brothers collapse, the share price slipped under two dollars. It's never got back to that level since.  Last Friday, 1 April 2011, Fairfax Media closed at AUD$1.29.

The financial market has clearly delivered its verdict - print media advertising is in a (self-induced) coma, destined to linger for some years yet but never to recover.

2 comments:

  1. Lawrie Munro16/11/11 11:03 AM

    Hi Ross
    I agree with your "suspicion": "I suspect this is because those sectors still have many organisations with yet-to-be-updated recruitment policies, stating that any permanent vacancy must be advertised in the appropriate metropolitan daily paper."

    I also suspect that our best known job board could be doing a lot of desperate navel gazing and trying to defy the inevitable changes taking place.

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  2. Interesting article Ross. It does not seem all that long ago that the SMH were occasionally running an employment section on a Monday to take the overflow of jobs that they could not fit into their weekend classifieds.

    As an aside, a threat to the job board monopoly (certainly in terms of pricing) may come from the job aggregators.

    I think the most popular in APAC is recruit.net but companies such as simplyhired, indeed and snipey are very active.

    While they can drive traffic to job boards they can ensure that your jobs are found regardless of where on the net they are posted. That may explain SEEK's reluctance to have their job postings aggregated.

    There is always a disruptive technology around the corner

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