My friends from Evenbase recently published the Autumn edition of their quarterly job market review for the UK. I always look forward to this research because it is conducted independent of the Evenbase brands and provides a real insight in to the UK job market. The survey is conducted by HPI Research.

The survey methodology

The quarterly review is based on in-depth, independent online research among 500 job seekers and 200 recruiters, carried out by market research agency HPI in April and May 2012.
Respondents are selected from a third-party database of job seekers and businesses, with a 50/50 split of male & female respondents, as well as a good spread across factors such as age, location, sector and salary. This spread is maintained consistently across the research each quarter, so that the findings can be compared with confidence.
Job seekers are split approximately 50/50 between active and passive candidates. Active is defined as anyone who is attending interviews or has taken steps to find a new job, such as looking at relevant vacancies. Passive is defined as anyone who is considering or open to switching jobs, but has not yet taken any action.
Business respondents are selected according to business type as follows:
● 50 recruitment decision-makers from SoHos (10-49 employees)
● 75 recruitment decision-makers from SMEs (50-249 employees)
● 75 recruitment decision-makers from corporate organisations (250+ employees)

The headlines. (My thoughts are in italics below the headline.)

> 57% of active job seekers feel the job situation is worse than last year

This is an interesting stat, given that the Evenbase report that job advertising is up on the last quarter. More jobs but less confidence. This perhaps reflects the miss-match between the types of jobs and the experience and skills of the job seekers who are active. In demand employees tend to be in demand by their current employees  with less job insecurity and a reluctance to move. I describe this as the war for other people’s talent.

> Advertised vacancies have risen from  5.5 to 7.7 mostly on-line

For the moment, advertising is still the default process for companies recruiting. Get a job, post it and see what happens. As more companies in the corporate sector develop their direct sourcing capability in their recruiting teams I anticipate this changing. Not imminently, but gradually quarter by quarter over the next few years. Job boards will never die, there will always be a place for job portals but I anticipate more companies looking to their own resources over time. In particular, I would be interested in how many of these companies are moving from automatic post to developing talent pipelines and developing their capability to search historical candidates.

> SoHo employers have open posts but corporate and SME remain cautious

The growth in hiring is coming from companies with under 50 employees. Smaller companies are more agile to change, responding to changing market demands and technology. Smaller companies will also contain a good % of technology start ups in the last 3 years who were set up and built with the new economy in mind. Those that are proving successful will be the ones hiring for growth. Technology companies should be considering offerings for this sector. Recently Work4Labs have announced the release of a free SME facebook job posting tool, Tribepad have released an SME version of their enterprise product, SMART Recruiters have developed a free ATS. These are great examples of products developed for this growth market.

> Job seekers using agencies as the route to work down 5% on the last quarter

This perhaps reflects the perception job seekers have of the value of agencies right now, and should be a worrying statistic for them. Another consideration though might be that as the active job seekers don’t match the needs of the active employers (as evidenced in point one), the agencies are distancing themselves from less in demand candidates and being more specific in advertising and approaches. Job seeker apathy seems to be prevalent right now, evidenced by some of the results in this latest survey. As much as they are reluctant to make speculative inquiries to employers, they are also moving away from registering with multiple agencies unless there is a very specific job advertised. If I were running an agency right now I would want to investigate this to understand why agencies are being seen as less of a source of the best next move, and more of a necessary evil for a specific job.

> Job seekers making speculative applications down 6% after a 9% rise last quarter

This is a reflection of 2 things in my opinion. Job seeker apathy, and unfriendly technology and process employed by corporate companies. When I reviewed a series of career sites recently, it was not uncommon to see notifications of speculative CVs not welcome or “if you don’t hear from us in 3 weeks we are not interested.” The speculative CVs fall through the cracks and just get ignored. It comes as no surprise to discover that job seekers are deciding this is a waste of time, which means companies could be missing out on some great talent, and need to rethink this process.

The most used recruitment methods.

> For SoHo organisations personal networks are the most used recruitment method – 35, job boards – 25, newspaper ads – 20, agencies – 15, trade publication ads – 10, social networks – 15.

> For S.M.E.’s:   Trade publication ads – 30,  Job boards – 32, Newspaper ads – 30, Personal networks – 25, Agency – 22,Social networks – 16.

> For Corporate: Agencies – 32, Trade publications – 27, Job boards – 25, Newspaper ads – 22, Personal networks – 20, Social networks – 10.

I would be interested in knowing where social media fits in with the high ranking personal networks. It might be that social channels like LinkedIn are an important part of personal networks, and what the respondents mean is that they are not planning on posting jobs in social networks. This is an area of confusion for many people, what recruiting via social media actually means. I also feel that the impact of employer branding activity in social media channels should not be under estimated in driving applications via career sites and job boards, although these may not be included in the respondents thinking.

The agency numbers for corporate remains high. I would be surprised to see this figure remaining high over the next 6 months, as more corporates adopt direct sourcing as an approach to hiring. It would be interesting to know the split between RPO and agency hiring, which I suspect would paint a different picture.

Most considered job search methods by job seekers.

> Job boards – 75, Company websites – 72, Newspaper ads – 70, Agencies – 60, Spec CVs – 55, Trade publications – 50, Social networks – 40.

Probably the biggest surprise here is that newspaper ads and trade publications feature so highly. I would be interested in understanding how much of this is through traditional printed newspaper ads, and how much is through the associated on-line job sites. If you go to Guardian On-line for example, or the caterer on line, would you consider this a newspaper or a job board? I suspect the former, though my view is that it is the latter. 

Most considered recruitment methods by business

> Job boards – 60, Newspaper ads – 50, Personal networks – 50, Agencies – 45, Trade publications – 47, Social networks – 40.

It is interesting to note that career sites feature so highly on the job seeker list, but don’t merit a mention in the considered recruitment methods by business. Perhaps this explains the generally poor state of many career sites, with limited investment in development or design, particularly around mobile.

> Smartphone ownership among job seekers up from 47% to 71% in 3 months.

> Location search for jobs the big feature

This is really self explanatory, and begs the question why more companies are not taking mobile and mobility more seriously. With such a hike in Smartphone ownership by job seekers, you would expect the increase in mobile sites and mobile friendly features to grow at the same rate; You would also expect mobile to be top of the list of requirements that companies want from job boards, but it doesn’t. 

Last week I blogged that e-mail opens on mobile devices had now taken over from desktops. Even features like jobs by e-mail, and the attached links should reflect this. If messages are going to mobile, and job seekers are opening them in the down time, then the job boards should reflect this. I suspect the reason mobile is not more in demand from companies is that they are not yet ready to extend the experience from board to application. 

The location features is perhaps the most interesting point in this data, and is a key consideration in how jobs are served to job seekers. It is common to post jobs from the location of the recruiter rather than the location of the job. I will be posting on this in more detail next week, in the build up to the mobile tracks at #trulondon.

> Price the biggest factor in choosing job boards,Specialism and knowledge feature highly.

No surprise to see price as the biggest factor in choosing a board. When price is the main consideration, it is fair to assume that companies find it close to impossible to differentiate between the main boards. This should be an important consideration for the boards themselves. Companies are less interested in the value add features like video upload, and are looking at the basic features.

Based on the points around specialization being key in choice, the main boards need to find a way to segment jobs and develop focus in core markets. This will help companies to compare board to board in order to choose the best option on something other than price. The desire for niche locations should also send a clear message to agency recruiters, the appetite in the market is for specialization, and clear differentiation. 

>Social media features are ranked as slightly more important than previous surveys, though still not important.

It is encouraging to see an increasing demand for social media features, even it is quite low. I would expect this to continue growing over the next year, becoming more important to companies. Over the last year we have seen more social features develop linking the boards with the job seekers social networks. The more features that are added to the major job boards, the more important they will become in buying decisions.

> Press and TV advertising to support job boards the biggest drop in importance to companies.

Only down by 7%, but the biggest drop in this section of the survey. I think this might be a reaction by the increased spend over the last quarter by all the boards in media and TV advertising. As each of the main boards even up the spend, it becomes less of a differentiator, and as a result, less important in decision making.

> Mobile still not featured as a requirement by companies

As mentioned earlier in the post, mobile is off the companies radar right now, but this has to change.

This is a quote from the report that gives a good indication as to job seeker behaviors:

“For the second quarter in a row, a close look at the most popular and desired job board services among job seekers yields few surprises.
Browsing for jobs remains the most used service, but there was
continued growth in the number of people researching sectors and
companies – an indication that job seekers are spending more time
on preparation and less time on direct approaches to companies,
further illustrated by the reduced numbers of candidates storing CVs online for direct applications.”

My feeling is that this is in part down to the rise in mobile.Job browsing via mobile in down time is also another factor in the browsing figures. I know from previous data from Jobsite that mobile access to the board continues to rise.month on month. 

The quest for more information indicates that job seekers, particularly those who are working, want to be 100% sure of their decision before applying. This highlights the big part social media and employer branding can play in the decision. The more information that is easily accessible, the more likely the potential candidates will be able to research and make informed decisions. This type of employer brand content does not necessarily increase applications, because candidates are as likely to opt out as opt in, but it often results in an increase the efficiency of application to interview to hire.  I would be interested in seeing future surveys asking companies what employer branding activity they are doing in social to support their recruiting efforts, and job seekers, what research they conduct in social media channels. My feeling is that this would give a much better insight in to the part social media is playing in recruiting, and not just the applying part.

> CV uploads up by 9% to job boards

Again my feeling is that this is linked to the impact of mobile. Candidates need a CV on-line in order to apply via mobile. This also illustrates that job seekers are in for the long haul. Uploading a CV to a database is a more passive approach to speculative applications. The job seekers want to give companies access to their details. In the last report from Evenbase, there was a big increase in the time employers were spending searching the database. This increase could be an extension of this. As job seekers have got results from being on the database, so news spreads.

> New measure of the desire for contacting employers via Facebook and LinkedIn – low at 17%.

For the first time, the survey looked at how job seekers felt about being contacted directly in social media channels by employers. The low number is a surprise. I suspect this is the result of clumsy recruiter contact in LinkedIn. The Facebook question is an interesting one. When asked the question, job seekers often say that they do not wish to be contacted in this channel. This contradicts the reality of the volume of hiring that goes on in the channel through fan pages. I would like to see that question posed the other way round, “How would YOU feel about contacting employers in social media channels?”. I suspect the results would be quite different.

> Researching companies by job seekers continually  growing in importance.

I won’t comment further on this as it has been covered in some detail earlier in the post.

> CV to email and jobs to print most desirable features. No appetite for video upload, chat or other perceived value add services by employers.

It looks like employers want the simple functions with no frills. I think it is probably to early to dismiss these add on features yet. It is notable that job seekers want access to more information on companies, whilst the companies want to stick to the provision of the basic information i:e: jobs. This could be because companies are not ready for video or engagement features yet, rather than a lack of demand from the job seekers.

> Most used services by employers CV search and advertising a job.

CV searching continues to grow in importance to employers. this indicates that recruiters are taking a more proactive approach to sourcing people, possibly because they are not getting the response they want from advertising, or because they are unsure what they are looking for and want to see the options. Either way, it seems that both job seekers and employers are heading in the same direction for a change on this one. As searching in CV databases becomes more sophisticated through the addition of new features, I would expect to see this rising as a source of hire.

> Display of print advertising on boards doubled this quarter.

This points towards companies wanting to stand out to beat off the competition. Employers clearly feel that visual look will help them to be different and improve response rates. I’m not sure that this is not thinking old school newspaper advertising i.e.: the biggest ad stands out. It would be interesting to see some data on the improved (or not) effectiveness of display ads.

Once again, thanks to Evenbase and Jobsite for making this data publicly available. When you follow it over time you start to see the trends evolving. You can download the original report HERE. This certainly impacts on my thinking. My big take-aways are the gap between what job seekers want and employers demand from job boards. It is almost opposite (except for the CV database), the certainty candidates are looking for before applying, and the rise of mobile.

Be glad to know your thoughts,

Bill

DISCLAIMER: Evenbase and Jobsite are platinum sponsors of #truLondon