SEEK seeks to take jobs portal space to the next level

  • Job matching will become more personalised
  • To launch more products in Malaysia this year
SEEK seeks to take jobs portal space to the next level

 
WHILE jobs classified portals have been in existence since just about the dawn of the public Internet era, it is an area where “not much innovation” has taken place, according to SEEK Asia chief product officer Jake Andrew.
 
All this is about to change over the next three to five years, as SEEK Asia aims to make a bigger impact in the employment marketplace space.
 
“About 100 years ago, we used to have this little job advertisement in a newspaper under the classifieds section. That’s how employers looked for prospective candidates, and vice versa,” says Andrew.
 
“However, what’s happened in the past 10 years is that jobs classifieds have moved from print to online.
 
“Fine, now you have some key words with which you can search, but how big of a change is that?” he asks Digital News Asia (DNA) in Kuala Lumpur recently.
 
“I think there is a whole new way to do matching without that old-fashioned paradigm. I think it will be quite interesting,” he adds.
 
Growing beyond scale
 
SEEK Asia is the regional subsidiary of ASX-listed SEEK Ltd. In February 2014, SEEK Group acquired the remaining stakes it did not already own in the online assets of Kuala Lumpur-based JobStreet.com in a deal that valued the latter at US$524 million.
 
Prior to the acquisition, SEEK Group already had a controlling stake in jobsDB.
 
Today, SEEK Group, via its various entities like jobsDB, JobStreet and SEEK, is arguably the largest employment marketplace in the region, at least in terms of listings.
 
For example, JobStreet has over 18,000 job listings on its Malaysian portal; in contrast, US-based Monster Group says it has over 1,000 jobs listed in Malaysia.
 
SEEK seeks to take jobs portal space to the next level“In terms of scale, we are by far the largest player in this country. We are like five or six times bigger than the next biggest player in Malaysia,” says Andrew (pic).
 
“So more scale isn’t really going to drive our business. It will be helpful, but what will make a big difference is what we see as better matching.
 
“If I can show you more relevant jobs, or if I can show employers more relevant candidates, the more likely it is you will apply and get the job, and the more likely the company is going to recruit you,” he adds.
 
Currently, Andrew and his team are working on a few projects that he claims would help boost the overall experience of both job seekers as well as employers. The aim is to help match organisations and prospective candidates more efficiently.
 
There are a few key areas they are focusing on, with the first being matching.
 
“There is a whole lot more we can do on matching. Today, if two guys are searching for a job as a journalist in Malaysia, it is highly likely that both of these guys will be getting the same job recommendations,” says Andrew.
 
“But we can be more personalised. We know where the candidates live, we know where they were working previously, which in turn means we should know what kind of company culture they like or can fit into.
 
“So in future, when these two guys are looking for the same job, they could be getting two different lists,” he declares.
 
Another area is mobile. For Andrew, SEEK Asia’s mobile strategy is critically important to ensure the company plays a more relevant role in the future.
 
Today, more than half of its traffic in Malaysia originates from mobile devices, he says.
 
“We are using mobile but are still thinking about things in an old-fashioned way, but I believe that there is another whole way to do mobile that’s very exciting and very innovative,” he adds, without elaborating.
 
Company reviews done right
 
SEEK seeks to take jobs portal space to the next levelIn January, JobStreet unveiled a new feature called Company Reviews, still in beta stage, for both candidates and employers to expose and to make transparent what it is like to work for a particular company.
 
“This way, candidates will be able to have an insight into the company culture – what the benefits are, what the stress levels are like, among others,” says Andrew.
 
While a company review function is not new in the employment marketplace space, Andrew claims that JobStreet’s version is more relevant as it is structured in a way to provide candidates with a balanced view of a company.
 
“We asked people what the best things are of working in the company, and what the bad things are about the company, instead of just ‘What do you think of the company?'
 
“I think it is a more structured way to get and present feedback. We don’t think it is helpful to have only the good things or only the bad things,” he argues.
 
“Also, ours is very localised. If you want to know what it is like to work for Microsoft in Malaysia, it is pointless to read about company reviews on Microsoft in the United States,” he adds.
 
So far, JobStreet has managed to collect over 50,000 reviews and ratings on more than 8,000 companies in Malaysia.
 
“In terms of reviews and ratings, we are already more than 10 times bigger than the other players who have had a similar product or function live for years, and ours has been live for several weeks only,” Andrew declares.
 
Besides helping candidates get a better idea on what it is like to work in a particular organisation, the feature helps employers get a better idea on employment trends and to also respond to any criticism.
 
“As this platform is transparent, employers can respond to comments that are inaccurate, out of date, or biased,” says Andrew.
 
He notes that people these days tend to do more research on a particular product and service before procuring it.
 
“For example, people will read the reviews on an app store before downloading or buying an app, they will go to TripAdvisor before booking a hotel.
 
“But how much information do they need or expect when they are making decisions about where they work? That’s a much bigger decision, yet they don’t have means to meet that need,” he adds.
 
SEEK Asia has no plans to directly monetise its Company Review product. However, it will help the company significantly if the product manages to engage users.
 
“In the past, matching was very functional – as in what is the job, what is the industry, the job title, the salary – basically, the hard facts.
 
“However, increasingly, candidates or organisations are looking beyond the facts to try and assess the suitability of the match. They want to know what the company culture is like, and what the workplace is like; people demand that,” says Andrew.
 
“What this product is trying to do is to make an efficient and transparent marketplace of information about workplaces.
 
“We hope that by adding these qualitative aspects into matching, we can help candidates find relevant roles, help them find jobs that they like and not only jobs that they can do, and to help organisations find candidates who are not only able to do the job, but can also succeed partly due to cultural fit.”
 
Unified brand?
 
With the JobStreet acquisition completed, some changes were made to its operations. For example, SEEK Group’s employment marketplace business in Malaysia operates under the JobStreet brand. In Singapore and Indonesia, it is operates under both the jobsDB and JobStreet brands.
 
With different countries carrying different brands, are there plans to unify all under an umbrella?
 
“No, there are no plans to rebrand them to SEEK Asia,” says Andrew.
 
“I don’t think it is very important. I don’t think someone will visit our website more often if we change the name from JobStreet to SEEK or to jobsDB. It means absolutely nothing.
 
“There is a huge amount of brand equity in the local markets anyway. Why do I need to change the name?” he adds.
 
Related Stories:
 
As Mark Chang prepares for Act 2, so does JobStreet
 
SEEK Asia appoints JobStreet’s Suresh Thiru as CEO
 
‘If anyone can beat Goliath, it’s us,’ says jobsDB CEO
 
 
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