All this fuss has perhaps distracted people from what progress has been made in the fight for eyeballs and dollars in the Australian job board marketplace.
Seek's share price has rallied from around $5 two months ago to now be sitting just above $6, yet it's still a long way from the $8 of 18 months ago.
Seek have made no secret of where they see their significant growth occurring (overseas jobs boards, online learning portal) outside of the traditional Australian & New Zealand online jobs space, but the fund managers are not exactly knocking themselves over to take a bigger position in our most profitable job board.
The two big traditional newspaper publishers, News Ltd and Fairfax Media have both gained new CEOs in the past 12 months. Kim Williams (News) and Greg Hywood (Fairfax) are both very competitive men, not used to being on the losing side. Their public pronouncements on their respective organisations' employment offerings will be watched with a great deal of interest by the recruitment sector.
But firstly, what has happened online in the past five years with job boards?
Here's my summary, thanks to data supplied by Neilson//NetRatings as published in recruitment extra.
Average Daily Unique Browsers (000's)
Page impressions (000,000's)
My conclusions from this data:
· Seek's lead over the #2 has continued to grow over time. In August 2006, Seek's lead in unique daily browsers was 105% over the-then #2 mycareer. By September 2011 Seek's lead over the now #2 (careerone) was 372%. This is mirrored in page impressions where Seek's 2066 lead has gone from 89% over jobsearch.gov.au (#2 then) to now 816% over the current #2, careerone.
· CareerOne has been the big improver. In August 2006 both its page impressions and unique daily browsers were approximately two thirds of mycareer's. As of September this year, careerone is now 12% ahead of mycareer in unique daily browsers and 6% ahead in page impressions.
· Mycareer and jobsearch both continue to drop away. The jobsearch page impressions figure has plummeted two thirds since 2006.
· Seek has continued to grow their page impressions while their competitors have not. Seek's page impression growth from July 2008 to September 2011 has been 16.8% contrasting strongly with the page impression declines recorded for each of the other three job boards in the top 4 (-18.3% for CareerOne, -59% for jobsearch and -27.4% for mycareer).
I am sure everyone in the recruitment agency world would agree that strong competition in the job board space is essential. Earlier this year there was plenty of online comment on Jonathan Rice's blog when Seek announced a hefty price increase. Also, a few of my clients passed comment to me that recently Seek account managers seem to have a shorter tenure in their role than has been the case in the past.
I was encouraged when I met CareerOne CEO, Michael Harvey last week for a conversation about CareerOne. He's a man certainly focused on providing a very competitive offering in the Australian online employment marketplace. Since September 2006, when Harvey joined CareerOne as COO, he has clearly made an impact in differentiating the CareerOne product from that of mycareer.
The joint venture between News Ltd and Monster Worldwide is now starting to pay dividends for CareerOne. Harvey is confident that both the existing product BeKnown and SeeMore product (just launched this week), will ensure CareerOne is not put in the shade by perennial #1, Seek or new-kid-in-town, LinkedIn.
That's good news for all stakeholders in the recruitment industry. Recruitment agencies are all used to fierce competition and we welcome and encourage the same within our suppliers, especially ones with which we spend tens of thousands of dollars.
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