The Jobg8 interview series – Peter Zollman and Katja Riefler

One of our media sponsors for both our North American and European Job Boards Summits was AIM Group or many of you may know them Classified Intelligence. I have known Peter Zollman, the founder for over 12 years and Katja Riefler, Principle Director EMEA for 5 years. They both have an incredible knowledge of our Job board sector.

Katja attended and reported on our European Job Board Summit in December. Both she and Peter agreed to be interviewed to share their thoughts on the Job Board Markets in within Europe and the US.

Interviewees Katja and Peter

Some great insights;

Q What are the key job board trends that as leading industry analysts you are seeing?

Europe

Katja – Obviously we are seeing a lot of innovation. Lots of start-ups try to re-invent the recruitment process, making it easier for employers and job seekers to connect and make the matching better. Mobile accessibility isn’t something special any more. It’s a prerequisite. Interesting times!

North American

Peter – The move to mobile is changing things fast. Employers must have a viable mobile strategy. Recruitment sites have to be more than “mobile friendly”. They have to be “mobile excellent” and “mobile-excellent” requires more than just an app or a responsive / adaptive design.

We’re also seeing more and more the use of video in a variety of ways. The days of the initial phone screen interview are going to fade fast; everyone will be doing the initial screen through video within a couple of years. Branding videos will be critical as well as “position videos” which will also be important for specific positions. Consolidation among job boards and a move to newer pricing models is also under way.

Q – Do the traditional Print2Web publishers see your identified trends differently from the pure play job boards?

Europe

Katja – Print2web isn’t big any more, it merely exists. We’ve seen some regional job boards being newly built (for example in Germany) containing a Web2print component, but it doesn’t take the centre stage. Print and web seem to separate. There still seems to be a market for print when it comes to employer branding and we have seen some nice initiatives of newspapers in this space. Some of these initiatives seem to include a “multimedia” or “crossmedia” component. But the web in these initiatives is only an add-on that is somehow seen as a needed part of the package but isn’t often paid attention.

North America

Peter – A few traditional Print2Web publishers we follow are looking at new business models, including the possibility even of getting into the staffing agency business. However, most Print2Web publishers we’ve found are still just working with outside job boards such as Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, RealMatch and Workopolis in Canada. Some use white-label products like Adicio, which means they’re more actively involved in selling and managing the relationship with the client.

Q – What do your clients see as the main threats to their job boards?

Europe

Katja – Not being able to deliver the results their clients expect and of course competitors that deliver results at a lower cost which are result based.

North America

Peter – LinkedIn is clearly seen as a threat to “traditional” job boards, along with social networking. Although Graph Search on Facebook and Facebook recruiting is growing, most of the recruitment sites we talk to don’t see them as a significant threat (yet!).

We then asked the guys to comment further;

Peter commented – LinkedIn is a force in recruitment and is only going to grow for a few years, but the novelty may wear off. It may become more of a nuisance to users as it becomes more of an advertising and sourcing tool and less of a network for individual users. Already there are significant issues of safety, security and fraudulent usage of LinkedIn and the company seems to be doing little to address them. It’s tough to determine whether LinkedIn will be as important in 5 to 10 years as it is now, even though we expect significant continued growth in the short term.

Aggregators

Katja commented – Aggregators have evolved into a very useful tool for delivering quality traffic to job boards. It’s interesting to see how they are now moving into the mobile space and trying to facilitate the business on this channel as well. Making it easy for candidates to find the right job at the right company and to apply directly through the mobile phone seems to be an area aggregators are moving into and where they can find a new role. It’s also interesting to watch how branding initiatives work-out. Aggregators don’t need a consumer brand in order to serve job boards. However, having one might help a lot in order to facilitate mobile traffic through apps (which raises the issue of competition once more…).

Social media generally

Peter commented – Social media is evolving. Facebook seems to have peaked or plateaued. Social media incorporates a lot of fickle users, so while one day YouTube is a social media channel the next day it’s Vine. One day it’s Instagram, next day it’s SnapChat. Pinterest grows but could fade away as the fad lessens.

Facebook specifically

Peter commented – Facebook is a potential gold mine for recruiters and job-seekers, but it’s hard to predict whether it will work out that way. Graph Search is good for location and some skills, but it leaves a lot to be desired because so many people think of Facebook as “social” media for friends and family, rather than for professional connections.

We’ve seen some vendors doing extraordinary things with Facebook recruitment, but we don’t know if Facebook will ever play a truly significant role in recruitment generally.

Niche job boards

Peter commented – Niches are the key. If you’re an electrical engineer or a school principal, you’ve got two or three (or five or 10) choices for recruitment sites that are tightly focused on your skills and job requirements. Why look through millions of jobs on a major job site when the jobs you’re looking for are tightly defined on a specific site? Also, if you’re in a specific local market and can’t or don’t want to move, you may do better on a local niche board than on regional or national job sites.

Katja commented – Niches are indeed important and there’s a bunch of niches out there. We do not only see professional niches evolving, but also regional ones. Definitively an ongoing trend.

Q We are seeing some consolidation, do you expect this trend to continue and why?

North America

Peter – We certainly expect consolidation to continue. Witness the recent purchase by Dice.com of JobTarget and its collection of niche sites. At the same time, new sites may launch and operate on a stand-alone basis quite successfully.

Europe

Katja – Yes it will as the bigger and established sites are looking for ways to expand. They can do this either by expanding internationally (which most often will lead to consolidation as there are almost no white spots left on the globe) or by complementing their offerings (by acquiring related businesses like niche job boards). Of course these established companies also don’t want to let newcomers eat their lunch (another reason for consolidation).

But we’ll see a lot of new initiatives as well that get funding from investors outside the traditional industry. The willingness to support new ideas even if they are risky is growing.

Q What is your opinion on pricing models? I.e. The UK job board market is volume led but with big discounts and low prices. However in Germany the pricing has been high until now, what are you thoughts please?

Europe

Katja – We’ll see price sophistication evolve – charging clients according to their willingness and ability to pay. We’ll also see all kinds of business models that are being tested in other marketplace categories on the Internet being tested in the job board space.

North America

Peter – Monster.com has hinted at major changes in its business model in 2014, but hasn’t given any details. Changes in its pricing could have an impact across the entire U.S. marketplace, and if successful, could be exported to other Monster sites (and by extension other sites) around the world.

Q – Finally you operate globally, what trends are AIM seeing in the World?

The trends in the rest of the world are pretty much the same as in North America and Europe – growth of mobile, increased use of video, consolidation among job boards and the like. No major differences in North America, Europe and the rest of the world in that regard.

Keith Robinson is a regular contributor to the Jobg8 blog, co-produces the Jobg8 Summits and works with a range of job boards advising on strategy, NPD, marketing and NBD across Europe.

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