I’ve just received the Spring edition of the Quarterly Recruitment Review from Evenbase. I always value this research because it is conducted independently by HPI Research, who conduct on-line surveys of 500 job seekers and 200 decision makers within corporate companies. I have found this research to offer a very good reflection of the market in the past. It’s a valuable read that anyone in the sector should look out for. The research was conducted during January and February 2012.

My first observation is that the branding has switched from Jobsite to Evenbase, reflecting the new group. I would have liked to know a little more about how the job seekers and decision makers are sourced, because this will impact on the data. It’s fair to assume that they are users of Jobsite, and as such will be job board orientated in their method of job search or hiring,. If you conducted similar research about shopping habits, by questioning the users of on-line stores, you would get a definite leaning towards on-line retail, I don;t see this research as any different, and have considered this factor in my thinking. Using samples from job board candidates will also be skewed to active job seekers who are already in the job search and using job boards. Passive candidates are less likely to be attracted to job boards and will need a different approach, and their views may not be represented in this research. This is only my assumption, contradicted by the research which lists 52% of respondents as passive. It may be that I determine a passive candidate in a different way, being a person who has not made any job seeking effort, including uploading a CV.

Despite these considerations, the trends between one report and the last makes for interesting reading. and give a great insight in to what is happening Thin this section of the market, and should be reflected in your recruiting strategy.

The following are my thoughts and interpretation of the data and hiring trends, which may vary from the findings of the report. I recommend you download the report (its free), and draw your own conclusions. Thanks again to Evenbase for openly sharing this data.

Jobs for the quarter

Reflecting the market, the average jobs open reported by the companies surveyed fell from 7.87 in the last survey to 5.74 in this quarter, a drop of 27%, with jobs advertised on-line dropping by 25% in what is traditionally the busiest period for hiring. This reflects the depressed state of the market at the moment, with unemployment in the UK at its highest level for 16 years, with over 8% of the workforce out of work, and 22% of 16 – 22 year olds being out of work.

Job search methods 

The big headline was the drop in the use of social media by jobseekers, which dropped 10% from the last quarter from 45% to 35%. I think an explanation for this might be what jobseekers regard as social media and job search. I think that they may be referring to the channels they use to search for jobs and apply, rather than following and searching for company content in social channels. Job boards have one real purpose for job seekers, to find and apply for jobs, where as social places are about much more than that. It may mean that active or unemployed jobseekers are looking to the direct route for opportunities by going to job boards in increasing frequency, where as passive candidates are being reached in the social channels. Another explanation for this result might be that Facebook and Twitter in particular has become an integral part of life. Jobseekers come across opportunities and employer branding content without  consciously searching for it. On LinkedIn, approaches and jobs are likely to come directly from recruiters, recommendations or shares. It may be that jobseekers no longer feel the need to proactively search, when opportunities come to them based on their profile.

Interestingly, companies reported a slight increase in the use of social networking, although they also recorded a much greater reliance on personal networks for hiring. Personal networks are closely linked to social networks, in particular LinkedIn.

The number of candidates sending speculative CV’s direct to companies rose by  9%. Most corporate companies do not have a process for managing speculative applications resulting in good potential candidates falling through the cracks, with the applications falling through the cracks. This result indicates that now more than ever it is important to set up a process for connecting with people who are interested in you as a company, but have no specific job to apply for. I have seen career sites that offer 2 channels for applications, one going to the jobs open and a specific mailbox or talent network for connecting speculative candidates with companies they want to work for, with recruiters to review these applications as they come in. This also highlights the need for social employer branding content and culture, as well as career sites that create the desire for speculative applications to organisations.

Job Board Use

The number of jobseekers using 2 – 5  job boards rose by 14% to 63%, and the number using more than 5 boards almost halved to 8%, the gain fairly evenly split between those who have decided to increase opportunities by using more than 1 board, where as at the`other end of the scale candidates who have been using more than 5 are failing to see a benefit to this approach, possibly as a result of seeing the same jobs multiple times.

Employers by contrast are taking a different approach, with 69% of employers using only one board to advertise opportunities.This may be because employers have less to advertise, or because they are interested in generating less, but more specific response. Use of agencies by recruiting companies has fallen by 6% again to . I would expect this trend to continue as an increasing number of corporate companies look to bring recruiting in-house.

The inside information. 

Probably the most useful data that comes out of the report comes from Jobsite themselves because this can not be disputed and is less opinion based. The first of the headlines is that job seekers are notably returning to browsing jobs, spending more time looking. After a decline, this is back to normal levels, perhaps indicating that more people are starting to consider their options regardless of the economic conditions.

Candidates are looking for more information on companies beyond job descriptions, up from 36% to 45%. This highlights the need for social places and social features on the career site that give access to more information, and let job seekers see inside an organisation. It is likely that job seekers looking for additional or background information will go to Google to search for it. What you need to consider is what will come up in a search, and where the potential will land. The landing page needs simple navigation and content in mixed formats including video, pictures and text.

The report speculates that this, combined with the 5% increase from job seekers looking for more industry information could indicate that job seekers are looking to appear to be more informed, particularly given the increase in speculative C.V.’s being sent to employers. My own view is that this reflects the trend I’m seeing for job seekers to see more culture content in order to choose where they want to work.

Using Barclay’s Future Leaders data, visitors looked at more content and spent more time on individual pages, with visitor numbers significantly up. The result of looking at more content actually resulted in a decrease in applications. This is not a bad thing, as this has been marked by a significant increase in the efficiency of applications to interviews and interviews to hires. Potential candidates are looking for more information on culture, values and environment, and are more likely to opt out than opt in. This is being reflected in the data from this research, and shows why additional information sources are more important than ever.

The Mobile Surprise

Probably the most surprising data coming out of the research is that mobile compatibility as a feature when choosing job boards has decreased for the second month running, despite what you might read from other commentators. The reason for this could be that the mobile experience when                  leaving the job board and applying in to a company career page is poor, meaning job seekers are not seeing this as a viable option when applying for jobs, and as a result rank mobile low in their list of needs. This is made more surprising given the up lift in visiting accessing the job boards themselves by mobile. My suspicion is that as more companies improve their own mobile capability, then the link with job boards will become more important  as a feature of choice, at the moment, as most companies simply do not cater for mobile applications, the last thing companies want is candidates hitting a wall once they leave the job board environment.

Changing Recruiter Focus.

It is interesting to note that recruiters are continuing to change from passive “post and wait” sourcing and taking a proactive targeted approach to sourcing. This is evidenced by the fact that daily CV e-mail requests are down by a massive 50%, whilst access to the CV database is for search by recruiters is significantly up. I see this as reflecting a desire by recruiters to find candidates themselves, with less reliance on the candidates to determine what is the right fit. This way recruiters can set their own search parameters and change them as required. They can also target only the candidates who meet their requirements, controlling the suitability of applicants. The recruiters clearly see the job board CV database as more useful to them than other channels because people have indicated they are looking by placing their CV on a job board database. I see this trend continuing, with recruiters choosing to devote their time approaching people who fit their requirements and taking a targeted approach to those active job seekers who match their jobs. They have retained confidence in the job boards attracting talent, without wanting to spend time on response that doesn’t fit.


The interesting thing about these reports is the difference between the approach taken by job seekers to get hired, and the approach taken by recruiters to hire. This has long been the pattern, with job seekers adopting one course of action, and by the time the recruiters catch on and adjust, the job seekers change again. Recruiters need to attract talent in the way they want to be approached, rather than second guessing. Recruiters are relying on less job boards, (usually one), whilst job seekers are using more to find opportunities. the recruiters are more focussed on active CV search rather than passively advertising and waiting. Whilst mobile is not important to recruiters right now, this will change as other processes fall in line by necessity and demand. I think the 10% drop in social media use by job seekers reflects the full integration of social in to life.Having a LinkedIn profile, belonging to a group or visiting a fan page with career options or clicking a job link on twitter is no longer seen as conscious job seeking and searching, hence the result. The increased use of personal networks by recruiters, and the desire for more company and industry information all points to the important part social plays in job seeking and talent attraction. What is abundantly clear is that job boards, and more specifically the accompanying CV database play a key part in recruiting and job seeking.

Thanks again Evenbase for sharing this data. You can download it HERE