Thursday, March 29, 2007

Uptake of online recruitment by finance and legal professionals

Uptake of online recruitment by finance and legal professionals and how technology will change how they search in future

Our contributors tell us that online recruitment was used early on by finance and legal professionals and is now widely established. They tell us more about why, the current market and how the new challenges of technology will further change recruitment.

Rebecca Cole, Senior Account Manager at describes the current market for us: “2006 was a strong year for London’s finance sectors, with hiring following a steady upward trend. With the expectation that the economy will remain strong in 2007, a large percentage of the city’s employers are expecting growth in job numbers, as well as an overall increase in hiring activity. The ‘war for talent’ has been an issue which has long burdened many of London’s most prominent employers, and continues to face businesses as they look to source candidates from alternative means. Online recruitment has played an important part in simplifying the recruitment process, providing employers with the means to advertise roles to a wide audience at up to 85% savings on traditional advertising methods. Some niche job boards such as have worked towards creating a highly targeted audience of finance professionals, who are specifically looking for work within London’s financial markets.”

Joel Davis, Head of Marketing at agrees that online recruitment has never been more popular. He says that his site has seen online job applications almost double in the 12 months from 2005 to 2006 – last year they had over 1.8m applications to jobs on their network. He continues: “Evidence suggests we are not the only job site experiencing success, the industry as a whole is growing too: visits to sites dedicated to online career resources and training attracted 50m European visits each month in the third quarter of 2006 according to comScore Networks- up 11% on the similar quarter of 2005.”’s Business Development Manager, Brett Marlow cites examples of big companies involved: “If you look at our client base, which includes the likes of Egg, Abbey National and HSBC, you see the calibre of companies using online recruitment in this sector. They’re not daft and if they’re doing it, you can be sure other companies will follow suit. He says: “If you work in the accounting and financial sector you’re obviously intelligent and have an ability to think logically. You’re also very busy. Online recruitment allows people to apply for positions quickly and easily and at a time that suits them. It also appears to attract higher calibre applicants.”

Jessica Healy from says the site has been operating for nine years, which suggests the sector was an early adopter of online recruitment, and it is now very well established. Her statistics show that nearly half all accountants search the web for jobs: “There are approximately 220,000 qualified accountants in the UK, and we have 100,000 on our site every month, which suggests a huge proportion of accountants are using the web to search for jobs.” She says: “Accountancy as a profession lends itself to highly specific job search criteria as accountants usually have a very specific set of skills and job requirements. This makes it better suited to online recruitment, as candidates are more likely to find an exact match for their search online than they are in other media. Also, accountants tend to be an extremely online savvy broadband connected audience. According to the NORAS survey, 82% of our users have applied for a job online, compared to an overall average of just 72%, and 69% of our users have a broadband connection at home.”

Bernard Howard, MD of totallylegal and says both his sites saw traffic increase by 50% - a growth record that companies in any industry would be proud of. He adds: “More generally, the shift online has continued amongst financial and legal professionals – it is now the norm to look at internet recruitment websites for both active and passive jobseekers. And, more and more jobseekers are putting their CVs in our CV database, Recruit:Me. They trust the medium and they trust certain well established brands.” Michelle Jones, Managing Director of also feels online recruitment is extremely popular within the legal profession. She says there have been some changes: “There has been 1 new strong player in the legal jobs-board market over the last year, and we are aware of at least 2 other new boards coming into the space in 2007.” However, she says her site remains in the top 3 legal boards, carrying over 10,000 jobs from a variety of recruiters and law firms.

Joel Davis also points out how online recruitment is ideal for a global industry such as financial services: “Finance employers need access to global talent – something is able to offer. We’ve focused on making the matchmaking process between jobseekers and our clients as efficient as possible.”

Changing expectations of jobseeker and recruiters?
Brett Marlow doesn’t think expectations of jobseekers have changed in essence. “Jobseekers want a better job. They want something that offers a new challenge, promotion, more money or an easier commute. Employers want the best possible person to fill their vacancy. This hasn’t changed with the growth of online recruitment. Some things have changed though. Recruitment costs have come under increasing scrutiny as employers seek to reduce them and this has helped online recruitment as it is a much more cost effective way to advertise. People want things so much more quickly than before. If there’s a vacancy to be filled, the perfect candidate needs to be in place yesterday. Again, the internet allows for very quick response. I also think, because employers can reach more people through online recruitment, they expect to receive a higher quality of response and the feedback I get from clients is that this is the case, the calibre of applicant has risen when using online – either in partnership or instead of conventional recruitment channels.”

Bernard Howard believes expectations of jobseekers and recruiters have both increased. He says: “As recruiters considered their budgets for 2007 we’ve seen more and more emphasis on web advertising and a desire to try new things. As candidates look online in ever increasing numbers, recruiters not only want job postings but are also interested in how the medium can be used for branding. ‘What can we do that’s different? How can we be innovative?’ These are the questions that we are being asked and which we are finding answers to.” Michelle Jones says: “Recruiters have more choice of the boards they can use so clearly they expect a healthy return on their investment and if they don’t get it they will go elsewhere. This, coupled with providing attention to detail and excellent customer service is key to meeting client expectations. Jobseekers like to see a broad range of up-to-date roles that suit their skills and ability and to be able to tailor their searches to meet their needs. They are more aware of what functions are available on job-boards and their job hunting efforts are enhanced by features such as wish-lists, jobs-by-email and a CV database, boards that don’t have these will be disappointing their audience.”

Jessica Healy is convinced there is no question that online has the advantage over other media for both job seekers and advertisers. She says that: “GAAPweb for example offers advertisers a very large audience of qualified and experienced finance professionals, most of whom are actively seeking work. It is a much more targeted way of advertising than the more hit-and-miss print alternatives, which may or may not get the right ads in front of the right people. We also offer a range of additional products that ensure that the right candidates come across the advertiser’s jobs. On the job-seeker side, we offer a database of more than 7000 high quality jobs specifically in the finance sector, accessed via a very sophisticated search engine. This allows candidates to pinpoint the jobs that suit their specific requirements, rather than coming across ads in a print publication. Also, additional tools such as job alerts take away the hassle of job seeking, as candidates have simply to wait until the right job arrives in their inbox.

As the market matures, there are greater expectations on both sides. Jobseekers are now demanding jobsites that caters to their specific niche or sector, with tools, functionality and additional services appropriate to these specific needs. Recruiters too, have higher expectations, and are beginning to benchmark the ROI they get from each of the various jobsites. This pushes us to be increasingly innovative in how we attract quality candidates to our site, and maintain their loyalty once they visit us.”

Future trends
Joel Davis says that he sees four main trends emerging within the online recruitment space:

• “Niche boards will win the war with the professionals due to the superior connection they have with the audience. Generalist boards will still play an important role in the market, especially for job seekers in the earlier stages of their career as well as individuals looking to exploit their transferable skills across various industries.

• Community activity will grow: users see intrinsic value in having meaningful discussions with trusted like minded individuals. Community can play a useful part in the different job seeking life stages of users.

• Due to the convenient and discrete nature of the mobile channel I’m sure we will see a rapid adoption of the mobile channel by employees, employers and job boards over the next year.

• Multi-formats: blogs, podcasts, vodcasts are all being recognised as an e-recruitment tool and will continue to grow, not only from a social activity but to help recruiters and job seekers stand out from the crowd.”

Bernard Howard has been surprised at the slow uptake of mobile: “I expected 2006 to be the year mobile came of age. Indeed, every year over the last few years we have been told that this is the “year for mobile and the internet”. And every year it has all been a bit disappointing. The technology is now probably there but there has not been widespread uptake. I don’t think that 2007 will be the year for mobile but 2008 probably will be.” He says he is looking forward to: “A fully web enabled world where the internet and user tailored content is delivered through a multitude of platforms. The latest buzzwords – social networking, blogging, RSS, Web 2.0 – all really come down to the same thing – an internet world where users can have relevant content delivered to them (and often provided by other users rather than media owners) through a variety of media, as and when they want, to a device (PC, Mobile, TV etc) that they choose and customized for them. The challenge for companies such as ours is to harness the possibilities within this world – and that is phenomenally exciting and something to look forward to.”

Brett Marlow predicts consolidation: “In recent years, the online recruitment industry has consolidated as larger companies acquire smaller ones or outside investors enter the market. I think we’ll see this trend enter the financial sector in much the same way. We’ll see an increase in the number of larger organisations acquiring up and coming businesses, who’ve demonstrated that they’re stable, successful and have a business model that will generate profit. As well as consolidation I think we will also see more people using online recruitment. Time pressures, the amount and quality of jobs advertised, the immediacy and cost of finding a new position via the internet will lead more and more people to use it. Plus, as more people grow up with online recruitment, the more people will use it. At the moment, there are a lot of university graduates finding their first position via the net because the internet is a natural part of their life. As these people move up the ladder and new people come in, I think we’ll see online recruitment become the norm. We’re looking forward to growing the business, taking it to its next level whilst maintaining our position as the credit and risk industry’s only specialist job site.”

Our advisors agree that jobseekers have the power to change the future. Jessica Healy says: “In the heavily candidate-led finance job market, the job boards will have to be increasingly candidate focused in order to attract and retain candidates. We are excited about harnessing the emerging technologies to provide candidates with intelligent tools to make their jobs search more targeted and effective. We see this as the way we will differentiate ourselves going forward in an increasingly competitive market.” Rebecca Cole summarises: “The future of online recruitment rests largely in the hands of its jobseekers. Job boards, such as are continually developing new and innovative technology as well as providing additional career content, in an effort to ensure jobseekers use online recruitment as their primary method of searching and applying for jobs. With 62% of the British population currently using the internet on a daily basis, the future of online recruitment is looking bright!”