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Whenever jobs board behemoth SEEK launches a new product or makes a public pronouncement that impacts the local recruitment industry it generates immediate interest.

Whether it’s their ventures into adjacent marketplaces, controversial use of candidate data, price rises, subsidiaries doing sneaky stuff, or  foot-in-mouth clangers from co-founder Andrew Bassat, there’s headline-generating material reliably flowing every few months from Australia’s dominant rec tech company.

Industry news service Shortlist gave us the most recent news from SEEK HQ when it ran ($ subscriber links) Set fees and no BD calls: Inside the Seek Recruiter Network on 30 January, followed by Seek’s recruitment marketplace up and running, last Monday.

SEEK commercial director, Ricky Lam was the only company executive quoted in both articles.

The core information, as outlined in Shortlist’s article, about the SEEK Recruiter Network, is as follows;

  • SEEK is trialling a concept where it connects SMEs, who have been unable to successfully fill a job via a SEEK ad, with recruitment agencies who specialise in recruiting such roles
  • SEEK charges the employer 15% for a successful placement, takes their cut and pays the recruiter within 21 days of the candidate starting.
  • SEEK takes full responsibility for the collection of the placement fee
  • The placement guarantee is a no-charge replacement within 90 days of the start date
  • Recruiters agree to abide by the RCSA Code for Professional Conduct, whether they are RCSA members or not
  • The trial appears to only involve permanent accounting roles in both Sydney and Melbourne
  • Direct engagement of the recruiter by the SME is forbidden for 12 months

The lure of using tech to successfully connect employers with recruitment agencies has seen several start-ups enter the field over the past two decades.

Large-scale commercial success has alluded all players to date with Recruitment Revolution, and Recruiter Critic, early failures, Find My Recruiter a more recent failure, and TalentVine the most high-profile existing player attempting to scale with Find a recruiter. a recent entry into this market.

Intrigued by SEEK’s play into this market I recently met with SEEK’s head of client segments, Con Marchesan who gave me a greater insight into the SEEK Recruiter Network (SRN).

The critical, so far unreported piece of the SRN is the role SEEK majority-owned recruiter review platform, SOURCR plays in the SRN.

SEEK estimates there are approximately 100,000 Small-to- Medium Businesses (SMBs) in the SRN core target market (employers with less than 50 employees) that are potential customers of the SRN.

The tech foundational to the SRN will identify the jobs posted on SEEK that are most likely unfilled (based largely on the duration of the live job ad) and will also identify a shortlist of relevant recruiters via SOURCR profile ratings and testimonials.

The trial involves a phone call from an SRN employee to the SMB employer to advise them of the SRN and gain a commitment to use the SRN

The employer will choose a recruiter from the SEEK-generated-via-SOURCR shortlist and is encouraged to provide job exclusivity to the recruiter for thirty days.

Marchesan said the trial didn’t have a specified duration – it would continue until SEEK gained sufficient data to decide what the next step in the platform’s development would be.

From where I sit that means one of three possibilities at the end of the pilot; there will be a full-scale launch, or more substantial development is required before a launch or it will be scrapped because there is insufficient evidence that the platform has long-term commercial viability.

What does long-term commercial viability look like?

Given the history of failures in this area, SRN must

  • be simple to use,
  • create repeat customers,
  • be scalable,

and, most critically, must

  • be profitable for all stakeholders.

Given their deep pockets and unmatched customer list of employers and recruitment agencies, if SEEK can’t make the matching of employers with relevant recruitment agencies a commercial success then I doubt anybody can (at least for the foreseeable future).

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