01 November 2012

Going, going … gone? 2012 AFR job ad review


For each of the past five years I have undertaken a review of the job advertisements placed in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on the last Friday in October.
 
When I completed the 2011 review, I signed off with the comment After five years of shaking the ‘ad writing tree' I think I've said all I need to say on this topic. I doubt I'll do the same exercise again next year’.
 
And so it has come to pass. I won’t be undertaking the exercise in 2012 but not solely for the reason I stated above.
 
It’s for the reason represented by the table below - representing the history of the number of jobs ads placed in the AFR on the last Friday in the October of each of the past six years:
 
Source of ad
2007
 2008
 2009
2010
 2011
 2012
Recruitment agency
63
35
18
18
10
6
Corporate/Government
36
21
20
19
14
5
Total
99
56
38
37
24
11
 
As is starkly apparent from this table, the ad volumes in the AFR continue to plummet.
 
Just to make sure my chosen Friday for analysis was representative, I checked in the AFR on two other Friday’s in this October. Unfortunately for the AFR (and Fairfax Media shareholders) it was still bad news. A review on Friday 5 October 2012 edition saw a count of 11 job ads (5 agency, 6 corporate/government) and the Friday 19 October 2012 edition contained just 10 job ads (8 agency, 2 corporate/government). Ouch!
 
How can I do a serious ad review with such a small field to choose from?
 
As for the mass sacking of staff at Fairfax Media; how could any organisation not make that tough decision when a key asset is generating 90% less revenue than it was only five years ago?
 
I seriously question whether there will even be a hard copy edition of the AFR this time in 2013.
 
The end comes very quickly for an established company whose business model has not transformed quickly enough to reflect advances in technology and changed customer preferences.
 
At the end of October 2007, some years after digital cameras were commonplace (In the mid 1970s, Kodak actually invented the core technology used in current digital cameras), Kodak was trading on the NYSE at $29 per share. Just over four years later, on 19 January 2012, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and obtained a USD$950 million, 18-month credit facility from Citigroup to enable it to continue trading.
 
Yesterday Kodak’s shares closed at 22 cents, valuing the company just under $60 million, less than one per cent of its value of five years ago, and about 1/10th of the value of Australia’s largest publicly listed recruitment company, Skilled Group.
 
In assessing people it might be wise to adopt the general principle that past performance is the most reliable indicator of future performance, but clearly not with companies; especially those companies that have decades of twentieth century success.
 
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1 comment:

  1. Giles Hunt1/11/12 4:31 PM

    Ross

    As always an interesting analysis.

    I don't think the AFR has not helped itself in the current climate with its wince-making pricing policy. Fairfax's other publications are much more flexible, but the AFR has continued to charge top-dollar, despite what is obviously a declining market.

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