I mentioned this in passing to the client’s ad agency contact when we next spoke and they, at first, like me, were surprised, but then, when the potential consequences dawned upon them, a little bit shocked. Here’s why. Direct employers use the services of a recruitment marketing agency for a variety of reasons. Amongst other things, they take away a lot of the hassle of advertising the employer’s vacancies. Copy, design, if for print, and media recommendations, sometimes based on extensive research if the role happens to be particularly niche or specialist - all are part of the service an advertising agency provides. The aim being the age old adage of the right ad in the right place, thus cutting down on the employer receiving irrelevant and poor quality response. On the other side of the fence though you have the media. Sometimes it’s the online version of a national or regional newspaper or trade publication, sometimes a niche or generalist job board. It all depends on what the vacancy is.
By and large, the agency/media relationship works fine. But, I can see a turning point coming where some recruitment suppliers, i.e. job boards, are going to seriously shoot themselves in the foot and alienate themselves from the advertising agencies that they, if not wholly, then certainly to a great extent, rely on to give them their business. The reason? When my agency contact got in touch with the job board in question they were essentially told rather glibly “Oh yeah, The Sun is part of our network. What’s the problem? You’re getting the extra coverage for free”. Er, hello? That kind of skewed thinking is ridiculous. If it were the case then let’s just get rid of every recruitment advertising website out there and just have one great big job board where the world and his partner can post their jobs. Hey presto, you’ll have what, an audience of 5 or 6 million and hundreds of replies to every ad you post (not to mention lots of lovely spam to go with it). See where I’m coming from? It’s quite simple. Quantity doesn’t equate to quality, and never will.
If I was an employer who wanted to recruit a highly skilled professional I would want my ad agency to advise me where to place the job based on targeting the right audience and cutting down on poor and irrelevant response, not have my vacancy fired out to all and sundry in the knowledge that many of the applications I get will simply present me with an administrative nightmare. Think about it. The repercussions could end up not only affecting job boards bottom lines but destroying their relationship with the agencies that are advising their clients to advertise in a certain medium but can no longer rest assured that their vacancies aren’t being farmed out to other sites ‘in the network’ that neither the agency or client requested. Indeed, it’s already happening. Some job boards admit to having networks and social teams on board whose role is purely to scattergun jobs all over the place in the deluded belief that they are doing the advertiser a favour.
In the instance I mentioned about The Sun, it turned out that the client had, for their own reasons, previously requested that none of their jobs appear on a News International website. But, as well as the embarrassment of an ad agency finding out that a job they painstakingly wrote the copy and did the media research for, had in fact ended up being advertised in a totally different place, there are also other possible consequences. Firstly, what about the candidate journey? They think they’re replying to an ad advertised in The Sun, but lo and behold then get redirected to a job board, then redirected yet again, to the employer’s website. And what about the employer’s HR or admin team that have the task of trying to keep the whole job application experience a pleasant one, but struggle, because they’re bogged down with loads of unwanted response, the majority of it awful because it came from sources where they didn’t even know they had advertised?
It seems to me that the whole online recruitment experience is becoming a mess because of this latter day notion that taking an ad targeted at one website and firing out to lots of others is actually a good thing. It’s not. Recruitment marketing agencies beware. You'll end up embarrassed and your role negated unless you do something about it.