Archive for January, 2007

Are you being “scraped”?

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Scenario 1.  You get a phone call from a recognised job board.  They say they can offer the free service of listing all the vacancies that appear on your corporate website.  You say great.  One month later you get a sizeable invoice for the 18 vacancies they copied across.

I have heard anecdotally that this scenario has played itself out a few times recently in a NZ context.  In this situation the job board provider is offering a ‘free service’ of transferring vacancies across, but what isn’t clear is that once on the job board, the company has to pay for the listing.  I hear that some clients don’t feel that this is really made clear to them.

Depending on your viewpont, the above scenario might sound bad, sneaky, ambiguous or clever but at least these organisations are being asked for permission to copy the vacancies over.  In fact for many organisations the option for their vacancies to appear automatically on a job board makes life easier – no need to key in the same info.

Scenario 2.  Your vacancies appear on the job board’s website without your permission, but they do not charge you anything.  Yahoo! HotJobs in the US has been providing this service since 2005, not without controversy may I add.  This has bought them sizeable market share in a competitive market.  Some employers are stoked as they get to reach a larger talent pool.  Paid listings appear separately from the free listings, feature higher on the results page, and an employer has more control over branding and can edit or delete the posting whenever they want.  Once captured, a client can always upgrade their vacancies to paid.

To job scrape, job boards web crawl the internet to lift data about vacancies posted by other employers (and even other job boards) and post this information on their own website.  There is a lot of web crawling technology available across the internet.  I don’t mind the concept of ‘soft scraping’ – having links back to the organisation’s web pages – but I do take issue with ‘hard scraping’.  Hard scraping is where information is directly copied and the copier purports to be the originating website.  Often this is simply a ruse to collect candidate data, which is then used for other purposes and not transmitted to the employer.  For more information on job scraping and its legalities I recommend reading this very informative article.

As the job boards in NZ jockey for position, job scraping will no doubt be a more regular topic of discussion.  I believe NZ employers need to be aware of these practices.  If anyone has any tales of job scraping, especially if you are not happy about it, then please share these or contact Engage anonymously and confidentially if you prefer.

Paul Jacobs
Engage

Look at me, look at me, look at me…

Friday, January 26th, 2007

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Get ready to see blocks of bright orange and green (throw in some teal and red) in the employment sections of your local newspaper.  I can see a rainbow.  Yes, it is the season of the end-of-January recruitment spreads.  It is a chance for NZ recruitment agencies to show their dominance in the market and wow employers who may flick through the paper – it is honestly hard to miss the sizeable lift-out employment sections.  Gosh there must be a lot of vacancies out there all of a sudden. 

Agencies began gearing up for these spreads a long time before Christmas.  They have bought the space (sometimes many pages), and have focused on convincing their clients to list their vacancies on their fantastic piece of real estate.  The incentive of discounts for the client is often the clincher.  Everyone is in on this game – the recruitment agencies, the recruitment advertising agencies and of course the newspapers – promotion all round – everybody is clipping the ticket.

I always find a client’s logo looks its best, and really stands out, on bright orange and fluorescent green – don’t you?  Actually, a proper co-branded campaign doesn’t look too bad and in 2007 I predict we will see more of this approach under the guise of ‘employment branding’.

I nearly fainted when I recently heard the confidential dollar figure that the public sector spends advertising in the Dominion Post, both direct and agency-placed.  Sam Morgan recently commented in the press that:

employment advertising was bleeding away from newspapers and would eventually become a purely online medium, apart from advertisements at the very top end of the executive market, which would continue to be placed in a variety of media.

It’s an interesting position that Sam is taking, especially as he is part of Fairfax – perhaps Fairfax themselves see there is a bigger return from pushing the online space.  Toward the end of last year we saw online recruitment advertising surpass print advertising in NZ for the first time.  However, if one looks at the stats a little closer, 2006 saw a steady stream of positions being advertised across all media, brought about by a more mobile workforce, a growing public sector, and a tight labour market.  I’m not so sure if recruitment advertising will become purely online, especially if the agencies want to maintain their visual presence.  There is also some confusion about whether or not a public sector organisation is required to advertise in the newspaper. Perhaps the State Services Commission will take a position on this down the track.

There will be continued competition between the leading job boards, but I’m seeing organisations starting to take a more strategic approach to sourcing talent – job boards, print media, and recruitment agency advertising form only part of the overall solution for them.  Some NZ organisations are starting to have more success through building their employment brand, recruiting direct from their own talent pools, using employee referral programmes, and conducting targeted recruitment campaigns developed in-house.  They are also tracking the effectiveness of each sourcing approach.  But recruitment agencies still play an important role in these organisations, typically conducting specialist searches, running blind advertisements, being an additional resource to a stretched team, etc. 

Roll on 2007!

Paul Jacobs
Engage

New NZ website: RateYourBossNZ.com

Monday, January 8th, 2007

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Happy New Year!  We’re back. 

You may have heard about rateyourbossnz.com, a new Kiwi website that launched just before Christmas.  The site provides people with an opportunity to anonymously comment on and rate, in a public domain, their past or current managers.  It provides job searchers with another tool for assessing a potential future employer (see the previous Engage Blog post What’s it like to work for you? New websites that give job seekers the inside scoop for similar initiatives).
 
This type of rate-your-boss site is not new in a global context. There are even a number of sites (with all sorts of rude words used in their domain names) where one can visit with the express purpose of venting about or commenting in a negative way about a boss.  In New Zealand, ratemyteachers.co.nz arrived on the scene in 2006.
 
I like the concept of rateyourbossnz.com but I maintain my previously-stated reservations around anonymous posting – I’m sure a lot of bosses will provide glowing comments about themselves.  Though there are some caustic, unfair bosses out there, there are lots of very capable bosses that could get a bad rap from current or existing under-performing employees.  There is a mix of good and negative ratings and comments on this site.  Maybe bosses (and their teams) should receive therapy or coaching prior to seeing any ratings or comments about them.  Are the bosses that have a firm-but-fair approach going to be rated more harshly than those who socialise and are matey with their staff?  A good manager wears many hats, they set and communicate a vision, provide a motivational work environment for people to perform, recognise positive behaviour, tackle under-performance issues etc.  I find a lot of the comments on rateyourbossnz.com only scrape the surface and are nowhere near as behavioural or specific as a properly designed and administered, criteria-based upwards or 360-degree feedback process.

A possible positive outcome of such a site may be to alert organisations of bullying in the workplace that has not been recognised or addressed.  As a result, an organisation may need to look at its policies and practices to see if they are up to date, implemented and effective.  HR has a key role in addressing complaints from employees before they escalate and are discussed in a public forum.  If an employee has major concerns about their manager I strongly recommend they speak to HR or senior management in the first instance.  It helps if the employee provides specific examples of the inappropriate behaviour.

Could these types of sites in reality be getyourselfsacked.co.nz sites?  It appears possible for an organisation to get a court order to trace any defamatory, rude or just plain negative comments.  To deal with those really bad days at work, maybe we Kiwis should instead consider the concept of this Chinese bar where you can really take out your frustrations, and even punch the staff!
 
I feel rateyourbossnz.com needs some refinement, as I found it hard to navigate around and found many of the instructions and fields to be somewhat ambiguous.  I would also like to see an ‘About Us’ section on these types of websites, because I want to know who runs them.
 
I look forward to the launches of rateyourspouse, rateyourparent, rateyourchild, rateyourdog, rateyourbutcher, rateyourdoctor, rateyourrecruitmentconsultant etc.

Paul Jacobs
Engage