By Chris Muktar (Founder - Wikijob.co.uk)
Let me start by saying I'm a guest writer, so please be nice!
One of the things I have noticed lately is how the recruitment industry has changed not recently but over centuries. In biblical times, I imagine jobs were advertised by word of mouth, then signs for the literate, likely followed by job noticeboards and then local press, finally culminating with the internet in the last decade and a half, and moving towards social media in the next.
One of the most interesting problems we face when trying to sell social media is selling the concept. It's rare that a client actually expects that their social media campaign will generate any applications. Many are just sticking their toes in the water and seeing what happens. We tend to find that companies spend only 5-10% of their budget on new or innovative media, while focussing the remainder of their efforts on the old faithful. Not very adventurous, but very reasonable.
One of the most interesting stories is Milkround, who have been going for twelve years. They are, for the minute, considered to be the central core media of online graduate recruitment. Founded in '97, their struggle is similar to ours. While at WikiJob we are selling social media in the wake of traditional online job boards such as Milkround, they were selling the internet concept as a whole back when print and campus was the only way to advertise, and their struggle was probably even greater than ours. Interestingly, they have risen to change the industry, by providing a default channel and also by reducing the price per application that employers expect to pay.
At the beginning of the millennium, millions of pounds were burned on either advertising on or acquiring the wrong online job boards. Even the large agencies got bitten, and the demise of Barkers was at least in part due to this fact. It seems nobody knew anything, and it was just important to get involved in some way. Fast forward ten years, and I can see a slightly similar approach with social media. At least in our industry, the investment in social media has been more measured than it was a decade ago, with existing online job boards providing a good backbone for any campaign.
It seems once again that people aren't sure what to do. Is it Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn we should be advertising on? How effective are these channels? The message again seems to be that nobody really knows anything, and people just want to be seen to be doing something, regardless of whether it works or not.
Running WikiJob, we've always believed that social media, for the employer, has to be about one thing alone, and that is reducing the cost per application for online marketing campaigns. That means driving more applications and better applications, for less money. It's always been our tact to try and have some substance in an industry that's full of fads and innovative new-waves. Using this principle, we try and deliver better results than Milkround, Target and our other competitors. Most employers and agencies who were tracking their campaigns last year will know we did as we promised. So, we are trying to edge our way into the 'core media' territory. We have a little way to go to shake our new-kid-on-the-block image amongst some people, but we expect to keep and grow all our customers from last year.
Of course, I have no idea what is going to come along next, or what will work in Web 3.0. Probably geolocating social aggregating mobile in-brain job applying technology, who knows. I guess the truth is, nobody really knows anything.