Soon to launch search.co.uk (
) is touting itself as “a revolutionary new recruitment advertising site where you only pay for results”.
But is that really true?
I’m happy to be proved wrong of course, but looking at the blurb for employers, I’m not sure if there’s anything new or revolutionary about it, other than the pricing model of course. And that’s hardly revolutionary – there are any number of on/offline recruitment services available that have some form of response-based pricing/pricing-by-results model, and search.co.uk seems to borrow from those.
The way it works is this. I post my vacancy for free, and only pay for the applications I receive. A rate card cost of £15 per application for the first 10 applications, and £10 a go after that. They’ll even throw in a vacancy management system so I can easily post my jobs and an employer profile site. Which is good.
But it’s hardly revolutionary; it takes a pricing model used by employment agencies, paid for search, and even some recruitment advertising agencies (who offer a joined up attraction plus screening and selection service) and puts it into a jobs board setting.
Which is hardly surprising, given that search.co.uk is part of Search Consultancy, a recruitment solutions business that (according to its site) offers a range of recruitment advertising, response management, temp and perm agency services, volume resourcing and on-site/outsourced recruitment.
But if we leave its ownership to one side (as an advertiser I’m always initially sceptical of a jobs board that is part of a wider recruitment advertising/employment agency: can they be entirely independent of their owners or am I being asked to support my competitors, and pay for the privilege?), the problem with search.co.uk’s pricing model is all about timing.
After all, with official unemployment figures rising to 1.92m as at November (surely they must be well past the 2m mark by now?) there are record numbers of applicants for most roles, never mind that the quality is not necessarily there, and that is bound inflate the amount that employers using search.co.uk have to pay.
With search.co.uk, if I receive 10 applications for a role, I’ll pay £150. Which sounds reasonable. But if get 100 applicants (and let’s face it, lots of junior and middle tier roles are regularly attracting much higher levels of response), I’ll pay £1,050.
Which is a lot more than I would pay if I was using a carefully selected combination of existing job boards, paid for search or social media options.
Search.co.uk would claim to have thought about that. You can ‘cap’ your budget and limit the number of applicants. Which is OK, but as an employer you want to select the best candidates from the total number of applicants received, not stop taking applications at some arbitarily set limit. So it’s not an ideal solution.
But they do make a bold claim. “Guaranteed quality applications or you don’t pay”.
Well, that’s good. They’ve solved the quality issue. Until you learn that “quality applications” is defined as someone who has the right to live and work in the UK and lives within 40 miles of the job.
Which clearly won’t cut it for most employers.
Actually, on second thoughts, that makes me a qualified brain surgeon. Really, it’s true. I have the right to live and work in the UK and there are any number of hospitals within a 40 mile radius of where I live. My mum will be so proud …
The problem with a response-based pricing model of this type, is that somewhere along the line you are going to have to limit the number of applications you accept, or costs will run out of control. And if you limit the size of the pool you’re fishing from, it’s bound to limit the number of quality applicants in that pool.
Maybe at another time, in those halcyon, pre-credit crunch days when we were still talking about rising employment and ever more acute skills shortages, this kind of model would have worked. But in today’s high unemployment economy, getting the right balance between cost and the best candidates probably means sticking to the more established pricing models (including traditional job boards, social/professional networking sites and search).
As my wife is so fond of telling me, it’s all about timing.
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