15 April 2013

Recruitment ads in The Age: Loudly knocking at death's door

Regular readers will recall that this time each year, for the past two years, I have conducted an analysis of the My Career section within The Saturday Age.

Here's part of what I wrote on 10 April last year:

The 32 tabloid sized pages of ads which had appeared on 26 March 2011 has now shrunk to 17 tabloid sized pages of ads and that's still being generous considering how many internal Fairfax ads and ads for training courses were scattered throughout those pages.

My year-on-year analysis of My Career job ads showed a 47% decline between the last Saturday of March 2011 and the last Saturday of March 2012. The (Fairfax Media) share price is now (on Tuesday 10 April 2012) trading at 73 cents which is a 43% decline from the same time a year ago.

On Saturday 6 April 2013 I bought a copy of The Saturday Age to see how things had fared for Fairfax Media (publisher of The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review) in the past 12 months with their former profit powerhouse; classified employment ads.

The verdict was very, very ugly.

The MyCareer lift-out was a total of 12 tabloid pages. Just eight of these pages contained job ads. I counted a total of 156 separate ads. It only took me about 3 minutes to complete the count.

Could you imagine how long it would have taken to count every ad, say 5 years ago? There was not a single recruitment or HR role advertised, just a very small ‘pointer' ad identifying the role of Manager, HR for Banyule City Council being advertised in the Early General News

In two short years, MyCareer has shrunk from 32 pages of employment ads to 8 pages. A 47% decline from 2011 to 2012 was followed by a further 53% decline from last 2012 to 2013. That's a drop of 75% in 104 weeks.

After a Fairfax Media journalist was fired this week for criticising his own company's new business news restructure (he suggested the restructure effectively endorsed ‘soft' business news reporting and advertorials), it looks like the rocky road for Fairfax Media will continue indefinitely.

The only bright news for Fairfax Media employees and shareholders ('bright' being a very relative term) was that their share price was ‘only' down 11% from this time last year. Pretty good when you consider that six months ago, in the middle of October 2012, shares in Fairfax Media were trading at 35 cents.

Is there any likelihood that the rest of 2013 or 2014 will bring better news for MyCareer and Fairfax Media? It's very hard to believe so.


  1. Recruitment advertising in The Age is dead, but it's a symptom of the whole newspaper. Becoming a tabloid on weekdays is the death-rattle of the once proud masthead that was The age. I give them 2 more years tops.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Aaron. I agree with you on the first count and suspect you will be proven right on the second count.

  3. Couldn't agree more about print - interestingly over the last 3 years we have doubled our headcount but cut 1/3 off our advertising spend over that time.