Last weekend the Emirates Stadium in North London was the scene of widespread discontent amongst several sections of the Arsenal fan base. The cause of this sentiment was not just the fact they lost their last home game of a stalled season to Aston Villa, but also due to the announcement of a price rise of 6.5% to next season’s season tickets. The UK is experiencing severe financial constraints post-GFC and this piece of news will stretch some of the loyal fans too far.
At around the same time last week SEEK announced to their Australian customers:
“..From 1 July 2011 (or from your next contract renewal date) the price of a standard job ad will increase by approximately 9%….”
This was apparently justified by the change in market conditions and to reflect the levels to which the Australian economy is recovering post-GFC. However, it has sparked something of a backlash in many quarters of the Australian recruitment industry. A particularly lively discussion was initiated on the Linked In Australian & New Zealand Recruitment Network group by Piers Rown from Recruit Online questioning the validity of this price rise and whether SEEK actually return the value they once did (something many Arsenal fans are also wondering about their team’s performances lately). Many commentators seem to agree that the volume of applicants via SEEK remains high but the quality is diminishing, and social media is an increasingly successful alternative sourcing strategy.
Things were then racked up another notch with Recruiter Daily tweeting yesterday:
“Was just approached to launch a campaign against SEEK’s price rise urging all recruiters not to use them for a week”
It seems something of a rebellion might be stirring across the ditch.
So earlier in the week I sent an e-mail to Janet Faulding, General Manager for SEEK in New Zealand, asking what their intentions were for New Zealand and whether we could expect a similar price hike. I was informed she was in Australia this week so would reply next week. It soon became apparent what she was over there to discuss because yesterday we in New Zealand received this e-mail:
“I am writing to let you know about some upcoming changes to our advertising prices. SEEK’s prices will increase by 3% across the board from 1 July 2011.
These changes will not impact your current SEEK advertising agreement and will only start to affect your account after your next contract renewal date.
We currently have more jobs than anywhere else – around 60% more than our nearest competitor – and the introduction of our new prices comes after 3 years of price stability. The price increase reflects inflationary changes and our ongoing commitment to getting your ad in front of the highest number of jobseekers.”
At first I was relieved. Only 3% for New Zealand. A third of the price rise for our Aussie friends. Barely noticeable really.
But then I started to question whether any kind of price rise was justifiable at all? The Budget announced yesterday is heralding a new era of austerity. Businesses and consumers are not spending. We are all repaying debt and learning to cut our cloth accordingly. The economic recovery is steady, but slow, and patchy, and ever so fragile.
Does the price rise reflect inflationary changes? I can assure you that salaries in recruitment have not risen by 3% or more in recent years, if anything they have retracted and are still there now (with some very rare exceptions).
But do we really have an alternative? 3% is not a huge amount, and knowing many New Zealand businesses, they would rather just quietly take SEEK’s punch on the chin, put their head down, and keep working harder. SEEK still delivers the best results overall, even though they do also deliver the greatest number of timewasters, and clearly have a very questionable PR department. Looking back over my last 15 placements, 3 of them applied to me through a SEEK advert. Whilst I was surprised to see that only 20% of my last 15 placements came directly from SEEK, that is still 20% of recent revenue that I wouldn’t want to throw away by turning my back on SEEK and flouncing off somewhere else.
I do think they could have done a better job of communicating this though. But that has never been SEEK’s strong point. Just last week I attended a SEEK Forum for new product strategy and was openly informed by the presenter that they do not focus on the relationship with their clients (us in recruitment), but rather with the jobseekers. Because they know (this was what I read into it anyway) that they can treat us how they like as long as they keep providing the jobseekers to fill our vacancies.
It may suck to be dictated to by SEEK but how many of you out there will honestly be brave enough to turn your back on this candidate sourcing method altogether, to make a stand on this issue?
As for Arsenal, it is customary after their final home game of the season for the players to conduct a “lap of
honour appreciation” to thank the fans for their support throughout the season. Last Saturday they witnessed many empty seats in the stands as large numbers of fans turned their backs on this tradition in protest at the season ticket price rise. But do you know what? When Arsenal kick off the new season in August, every one of those 60,000 seats will be filled again. Somehow the loyal fans will find a way to pay.
And so it is with SEEK. We may not like it, but we don’t have much choice, and come 1st July when the prices go up, we’ll all be there grazing in their paddock as usual.