Seek change course with Onploy as UK recruitment start-ups boom

Last week two pieces of news caught my attention that suggested that the recruitment industry is ending 2017 in pretty good shape.

Firstly, SEEK announced that it was withdrawing Onploy from the retail industry candidate market to focus on the IT candidate market.

Industry news service, ShortList, reported “(Onploy) Co-founder Jack Hoi told Shortlist that its software engineering category has seen promising results with both agency and corporate customers, and will be a major focus for Onploy in 2018.”

Although I am sure there is some truth contained in that statement, the reality was that this move was predominantly a face-saving and fence-mending exercise from SEEK’s senior executives.

The uproar caused by SEEK’s thoughtless and bumbling attempt to provide an alternative candidate offer to end-user clients, in-effect competing with a segment of their current client base (ie recruitment agencies), was not going away quickly.

Meetings and other communication between the owners of large retail sector recruiters and SEEK had not been successful in quelling the anger coming from the agencies and SEEK obviously decided that it was best to concede this battle, retreat, regroup and review.

How the IT sector view this move remains to be seen but no doubt APSCo’s local leaders, Richard Fischer and Julie Mills will be keeping a very keen eye on what Onploy does in their space.

Peter Davis, Co-owner of Frontline Recruitment Group, who have a very large presence in the retail sector, was pleased with SEEK’s decision although mindful of other important issues that remained unresolved.

“I am happy with this decision however we remain in discussions with SEEK about other, related issues, specifically the use of data generated from our candidates’ applications to our ads posted on the SEEK job board data.” Davis said, when I spoke to him last week.

In the meeting between SEEK executives and the RCSA that I attended last month, it was apparent that SEEK were mindful of their large self-inflicted wound and were determined to be on the front foot with the recruitment industry about their, or partly owned subsidiaries, various new market offerings. .

I look forward to seeing how this plays out in 2018 but I remain concerned that SEEK lack senior executives with a genuine understanding of the recruitment agency sector. SEEK would be well advised to consider engaging a senior recruitment industry figure (eg retired or semi-retired RCSA Life Member) to provide input before products are put under the fierce glare of public recruitment industry scrutiny.

I am sure SEEK would be very keen not to repeat the PR disaster that the second half of this year has become for them.

To finish the year on a high note, it is very gratifying to see the robust state of health the UK recruitment is in.

According to the specialist PR firm for the Recruitment industry, ClearlyPR, the UK has just had a record year for recruitment agency start-ups: An average of 818 new agencies registered each month since January (total for the 11 months until the end of November 2017 is 9,001), with the total number of agencies trading in the UK now at a record 35,275.

Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, Managing Director at ClearlyPR was quoted as saying:

“Last year saw a doubling in the number of recruitment agencies that were founded in 2015, with the sharpest rise coming in the six months after the Brexit vote. Our research has shown that the momentum not only continued into 2017, it gathered pace.”

“The dramatic rise in new agencies being started over the last year is testament to the overwhelmingly positive mood within the recruitment industry.

“Ambitious recruiters are not only seeing an increase in demand for the services of recruitment agencies, they’re taking advantage of favourable market conditions and the opportunity this present for aspiring recruitment entrepreneurs.”

But aren’t recruitment agencies meant to be dying out because they’re inefficient, expensive and irrelevant?

Not anytime soon, it seems.

related blogs

How do I make Seek redundant?

The long game: is it Seek v Google (with agencies collateral damage)?

Sidekicker: Seek like more than one kind of cake

Onploy: Do Seek want to have their cake and eat it too (again)?

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