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Alex Hens

So let me get this straight. We're on the verge of bankruptcy as a nation (the BBC reported last night that there's somewhere between £35-£50bn gaps in terms of planned cuts and spending between the parties - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8646612.stm) and someone wants to take some of that money we don't have and create a club (with a snazy badge) that will somehow protect us from.... ermmmm.... job boards possibly not doing things very well.

Oh good. That's going to save us all isn't it!!

But it's OK, at the helm is........ an online "news" publisher.

Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing but admiration for anyone who can make a profitable business from sending out other people's Press Releases branded as news and then create a low integrity but commercially successful "awards" and trade event. But seriously - I've heard him speak - what does he REALLY know of the actual internal workings of job boards or indeed what candidates actually want/need? I mean seriously - someone set me straight. Please.

Because I'd still be pretty damned cynical about the actual need for this whoever was in the frame - especially at a time when we can do without wasting money on anything other than the absolute essentials that will keep our society functioning and maintain enough of a platform from which to rebuild our withered economy. But even I (in my very limited exposure to people at the top of the Job Board industry) can think of at least 4 or 5 names that would be the kind of level and experience of people I'd actually expect to see doing this (although I kinda think they are of the same mind as you about this Derek - that's why they where they're at).

My hope in reading your post is in you saying "have reached out for funding", which if so then surely whoever gets in to power next week will have to take such a tight reign over spending that this is little more than an Onrec PR "newsflash" and Mr Hurst will need to take this idea and make it commercially viable (if indeed he believes it's that essential to our well being and he can) rather than taking our money away from things we ACTUALLY really need.

Matt Alder

Calm down Alex, I'm not sure this is actually one man's crusade, my understanding is that it has actually come from a number of the larger job boards.

Not sure I know enough about it to comment properly but general thoughts would be......

Do we need a body that lobbies government to stop passing ridiculous legislation and helps them understand online recruitment better? - Yes absolutely

Could the industry do with some higher standards and barriers to entry so that advertisers and job seekers get better service - Yes absolutely

Do we need something that will go out of date as soon as it is published and therefore be widely ignored - Absolutely not

Is this is a move to achieve the first two then I'm all for it, if it is attempting to or ends up doing the third then please don't waste any time and money on it


Derek Pilcher

Quite a response Alex! The political season of heckling is clearly having an influence :-)

I agree with Matt that the industry needs representation / lobbying from one industry voice to shape legislation around the benefits of the digital landscape specifically related to online recruitment, whether that be the brugeoning membership sites, social media platforms or just the traditional job boards.

But that 'voice' should be a voice from the online recruitment job board industry and not from a multitude of peripheral parties with a distinctly different agenda, as happened before in 2003 when this was last raised above the parapet....and as potentially is happening again with the BSI approach.

Alex Hens

OK - reading back perhaps I was having a snappy day - and for that I'm sorry.

I guess my concerns were similar to yours Derek (although no where nearly as well put), plus also the bit about getting money from the public purse to make this happen.

If this is something that really needs to be done (and I don't think anyone can really argue with something that helps maintain or improve standards and protection for job seekers) then surely there are a good number of businesses out there that have, and are still, making good money from the business - enough to create an independent fund from which to then get this all laid out and agreed by an industry (main player) consensus that ensures the elements Matt mentions are indeed addressed/covered.

THEN take it to the BSI and get them to review and approve this if that's the best way to go and a kitemark gives the required badge of credibility.

And if it's true that, as a little birdy told me on twitter, that it's largely (possibly entirely) the Online Recruitment Marketing Council (http://www.ormc.org.uk/display_about.asp) who are the driving force, then with the greatest of respect to those members (unless the site hasn't been updated lately with the full list of members) - I feel Derek's comments and concerns would seem to be valid indeed.

Steve Evans

I was at the first BSI meeting to discuss the standard. A good turn out, the CEOs or directors from every major UK job board and senior representatives from REC (and David Hurst).

The issue was (and is) over responsibility. If a job board adheres to a standard set of principles, but the person who posts the jobs (the recruiters) do not, then where is the value of that kite mark? At that time, there was unilateral agreement that it couldn't work.

But why not? Why not have a common set of principles across all of the job boards. Why not say that as a job board, you should only publish jobs that are for REAL vacancies, where EVERY candidate will be notified of acceptance or failure, where there is a common complaints procedure and which are bound by a set of metrics that measure success?

As a recruitment owner, I would love to be able to say to my clients that we only work with job boards that have the BSI standard. As a business, we adhere to those metrics, why shouldn't our suppliers?

Why shouldn't the job board industry want to try to do what's best for the clients, candidates and industry as a whole?

With all the discussion about social recruiting, flat fee models and the rest, let's not forget this about people's lives.

Alex Hens

couldn't agree more Steve

Derek Pilcher

Steve - if only all recruiters adhered to a set of principles around candidate management - sadly, as we all know, they do not.

For Job Boards I suspect its a bit like 'biting the hand that feeds them'. They grew up on staffing industry billings and came to rely on them - turning on them in this approach would risk 50% of their revenues I suspect.

And lets be honest, if the likes of APSCo and REC have been unable to effectively eliminate the black hole that a % of their members create, how are Job Boards likely to fare any better?

And don't get me started around the difficulty of spotting real jobs vs database fillers over the term of a 30 day posting...

All of these are things that need to be addressed, just not quite sure where it needs to start

Kevin McMahon

I am the person that had the idea and instigated the creation of the committee for the BS8877 Code of Practice for Online Recruitment and am on the drafting sub-committee.

All the top Job Board leaders were invited to the initial meeting including Robbie Cowling, Shobhan Gajjar, Joe Slavin, Morgan Lobb and representatives from Jobsite and Monster.

They all decided not to get involved in the funding of this standard. Fortunately the subject was seen as an area that should be addressed, not just by BSI, but also at the UK and European Government level. There were already moves to create a European standard for online recruitment led by other European countries, so we should think ourselves lucky that BSI has decided to take this on and have a UK perspective at the heart of the standard.

This is happening, I am currently drafting the wording of the actual standard with first submissions back to the committee by 21st May.

I think the industry is mature enough to make good use of this standard and improve the online experience for all users.

I do find some of Alex Hens comments insulting, particularly to David Hurst. At least David is putting some of his time and effort in for free to help drive the industry forward, rather than just sneering from the sidelines.

Kevin McMahon

Alex Hens

Thank you for dropping by and providing your close personal insight in this matter Kevin.

I think it's a shame that none of the Job Board Leaders felt as strongly as yourself/selves to get involved (it's unclear from your comment whether that just in regards to the funding or with all aspects of this) and I would personally be concerned about the value of anything that progresses without absolute buy in at that level.

I'm hope that those people involved have the foresight to strive for something both workable today and future-proof? Something that will have the necessary integrity to get all (key) job boards bought back into this if it does get approved? Because without that buy in, which seems you might not currently have at present (certainly not from some quite significant boards - such as TheLadders who posted the blog originally), whatever is produced surely isn't worth the paper it's written on. Or have I got that wrong?

Perhaps I should have been more guarded with my cynicism (both personal and overall) - I appreciate that in not doing so I have probably devalued my concerns/opinion in this matter (a rudimentary blogger error, but I'll leave it up as a lesson to myself). But just because someone doesn't see things your way and is very much concerned that public funds could be wasted on something that without proper and full industry support would become little more than a half-baked logo to further distort an already confused market for both candidates and recruiting organisations, I don't think means that I am "just sneering from the sidelines".

However you are entitled to your opinion as I am mine - and I hope to read again just why this isn't going to be a waste of your time and effort. I will certainly be watching this with interest from here on in.

Lee Biggins

Thanks for the invite Kevin!

I would have like to have had some positive input towards the Code of Practise, as it is something I have been passionate about for many years. Let's hope that the codes of practise will have an equally positive effect for the job boards as well as the job seekers!

Lee Biggins

Matt Alder

There is more on the debate round this here.


Some interesting thoughts and I think the whole concept should be open to a much more wide ranging public discussion

Darren Revell

I have worked in recruitment for 21 years 10 years as a recruiter and 11 years providing services to recruiters.

At some point on both journeys I have seen recruiters blamed for everything from the assassination of President Kennedy to Global warming. While some recruiters have their faults Job boards are no innocents.

It is niave to comment on how recruiters manage data, candidates have to engage as well as be engaged in the data management process and I can list a set of Job Boards as long as your arm who cold call recruiters offering free trials of their CV data, and when you get a look its mostly redundant as the Job Board has the same problem of engagement in the updating process as recruiters do.

Job boards work best in my experience, that talking to 1500 recruitment firms and 10000 recruiter over the past 10 years, when they bring in fresh talent that is looking now with a few exceptions like Jobserve whose service was built on the back end of already having an upto date CV marketing service. For those of us who have been in the industry long enough Robbie started by sending recruiters CV's and CV" updates from people he networked with and who in returned liked his proactive approach to the CV delivery service so networked back to him.

I am contacted daily by potential Job board start ups who want to launch a Job Board with no CV's and no SEO and want it all for £3000, for my part I base my choice on who to supply my software and service to based upon what they plan to do to promote the site, get CV data quickly and be honest with their clients that their service will be sporadic in the early days. Higher standard for Job boards would be a step in the right direction as they are, after all, a service industry. Most services industries perform best when there is a recognised standard in my experience.

Simple agreements on what the Job board has to do to be pass the quality standards for promoting jobs online is key to me. Having sat on both sides of the fence of being a recruiter needing ads to find me candidates, which I now know had no chance of being found due to a lack of SEO used to get fresh job seekers to my ads. Through to my SEO consulting work to help the online sector with strategies, where I see evidence of recruiters unwilling to pay for services to allow Job board to do a better job. I can say with real evidence that no formal standards exist which will suit all parties.

For my part if I am using and advertising service I think it should be possible for the service provider to tell be how my ad/ads were promoted. Did the job get optimised? Did the job get sent to an aggregations site? Did the job get any Pay per Click spent on it? How many CV's in the database are live and looking now match my jobs, not just a report on the total number of CV's? How many Candidates have job alerts set for my kind of jobs?

I have studied thousands of job boards in the past few years and the level that each put into say Organic SEO results for jobs varies from nil to millions of pounds spent. At the nil spend end there are some very big names so its not always about budget but strategy, for years one major board we reported to used Pay per Click and totally ignored the needs of organic SEO.

For me the standards must incorporate essential tasks a Job board must perform to be considered a Job Board and online presence/indexing of its site to match job seeker search habits should be a key consideration for the awarding of a BSI Kite mark.

P.S Stop bashing David Hurst he is a good guy.

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