When it comes to online classifieds, Seek’s domination of the market seems unshakeable. But just as the Australian start-up once disrupted the status quo by redirecting the ‘rivers of gold’ from the back pages of print media into its new digital marketplace, the incumbent has no time for complacency.
Karen Lawson brought seven years of executive roles at Yahoo7 with her when she took the reins at the number two Australian online jobs marketplace, CareerOne. What she saw there was an unseized opportunity to give the sector a serious shake-up once again.
“When you come from that digital environment and look at this industry, it’s had very little innovation -- it’s basically a print model that’s been lifted and stuck into the internet,” she says.
“There’s literally nothing that’s happened. Even the aggregators that are coming in, like [UK jobs site] Adzuna, they’re not really offering anything different. It’s still a jobs board.”
Less than one year into her chief executive role, Lawson has already taken the site in a vastly different direction -- one she’s confident can give competitors like Seek, Freelancer and LinkedIn a run for their money.
Redirecting the rivers of gold... again?
Lawson’s disruptive vision centres around the “skilled marketplace”, using keywords to match people’s capabilities -- which may apply across multiple sectors -- to jobs, rather than restricting people to their job titles.
“Most businesses, when you ask them about filling roles, they want the very best talent to fill that role -- not the very best talent that’s looking at the time,” Lawson says.
CareerOne has packaged its targeting capabilities into a ‘Branded Headhunter’ advertising product for employers, which companies like Coles are now using to reach their ideal candidates at a price that’s “commensurate” with an ad on a traditional job board.
“As a business you have a pure play focus in a vertical and for Coles, that’s retail,” explains Lawson. “We’re able to run an ‘always on’ campaign across all of our retail cookies that’s optimised towards those goals. So it’s being able to leapfrog the active hunters and those passive candidates for those hard to fill roles such as bakers, engineers and so on that would be hard to fill on a job board.”
The big data bonus
Lawson says CareerOne’s targeting capabilities are significantly strengthened by its partnerships with other businesses -- including casual jobs marketplace Airtasker -- which are tagged to provide ongoing sources of unique customer data.
“Before, the opportunity to engage with an individual would be once every couple of years when they search for a new job, but having partnerships with different organisations in different industries, we’re able to gain a really rich and detailed insight into Australian workers,” Lawson says.
Of course, it’s the marketing potential of that data that’s really paying off for CareerOne. Targeted advertising (of products, not just jobs) is growing at a rate of 33 per cent quarter on quarter and has now actually overtaken the site's job listing business. Think marketing utes to tradies, or spruiking suits to the C-suite, as Sydney’s MJ Bale is doing.
Leveraging social potential
In response to rising competition from social media in the jobs market, CareerOne has been strengthening its social presence across 29 verticals for the last 12 months, with Facebook and Twitter communities now linked to industry sector landing pages on the site.
CareerOne also recently launched its ‘Referral Amplifier’, which enables firms to leverage social capital within their own businesses by allowing employees to recommend friends and upload their CVs internally.
Meanwhile, CareerOne’s 50 per cent parent company Monster (the other half is owned by News Corp, publisher of Business Spectator) made some rather handy acquisitions just two weeks ago: social profile search engine Talentbin, and social jobs aggregator Gozaik.
Although there’s no timeline as yet for integrating them into CareerOne, Lawson says they will enable the site to proactively scour the social web for talent as well as add to its existing job listings.
She also hopes the ability to cast a wide net will cut through some of the limitations of sites like LinkedIn, which is somewhat constrained by its overemphasis on the white-collar professions.
There are more additions on the way at CareerOne, ranging from video screening -- allowing businesses to significantly cut the length of the interview process with pre-interview questions, while also saving potential candidates a trip -- and virtual career fairs.
But Lawson says her vision to “close the loop” of the site’s metamorphosis will be realised by creating a space where entrepreneurs can launch and grow their own business.
CareerOne is currently in talks with “a number of global crowdfunding providers” to set up a crowdfunding platform within its own skills marketplace. Business owners would then leverage the site's existing collaborative platforms to complete tasks and and fill vacancies.
“This is a vision that we would like to set up later in the year,” says Lawson.