Shortlist (subscription required) run an article yesterday detailing Fairfax’s move to making MyCareer a free job board.
The key reason for this move as per the quoted execs at FFX was the deterioration of value to clients provided by the online classifieds product. In turn, this is attributable to the ‘evolution’ of recruitment and consequent lack quality candidates visiting job boards.
As per the article, MyCareer will become a mass market, low-cost (to maintain) website. The print MyCareer will also continue to run.
In lieu, Fairfax will concentrate on selling targeted advertising solutions on their various platforms (displays, etc.).
Shortlist reports that “insiders” think that this is the best move against Seek’s dominance in the generalist job board space, particularly in the context of less money being spent on these properties.
• If the real reason for Fairfax to walk out of MyCareer is because there are no quality candidates to deliver to advertisers, this will not change because the job ad price drops to zero. Someone called this “the sushi dilemma”: the cheaper sushi is the less desirable it becomes. There are a number of free job boards that never got (or will get traction) because of this.
• A low-cost (to maintain) website will produce even less results to advertisers than a higher/normal cost (to maintain) website. Less investment in product innovation, SEO, etc. will likely produce less applications. Free is starting to not sound like a bargain after all.
• It is highly unlikely that FFX’s move will make a dent into Seek. Seek’s revenue and profitability may continue to slide, but it will not be because MyCareer is now free. This is because at the core, Seek and Fairfax were selling products of dramatically different grade and quality; just because a shop is giving again rubber beach sandals, it does not follow that this will impact the sale of hiking boots.
• Specially for large(r) advertisers, jumping onto a new job board always carries work and some expense, however palatable. Job ads distribution, infrastructure set up to process online applications from a new website, etc; all these ensure that “free” ends up being “no totally free”.
• The MyCareer service is effectively being degraded and priced accordingly. This is perhaps a step toward a total, already-agreed shutdown in the future.
• A total shutdown may have not been desirable immediately because it could have alienated clients even further (which could re-engaged and sold more effective ad products); the delay could also respond to sheer management hubris.
• Even though it is a free job board, Fairfax will still need to sell its value proposition, however diluted. An avenue to pursue could involve focusing on selective SEO, linking ad postings with the higher-engagement display ads, content marketing. All these potential propositions cost a bit of money, though.
• Perhaps the most regrettable outcome for the employment market are the implied assertions by the FFX execs that a) active job seekers are of lesser quality and b) that active job seekers only visit job boards.
On the latter, go to LinkedIn and type “seeking current opportunities” in the keyword section; active job seekers, by definition are active everywhere.
Regarding quality of candidates, I have never seen data-based evidence. Anecdotally, agencies and hiring organisations find great people in the platform that they use (spend) the most, or the one they are the most expert at using. You certainly find different types of candidates in different platforms but quality candidates (whichever way you want to measure quality) is not the garden-walled asset of any database or network.