This week we were greeted with the sad announcement from Jobs.co.nz that they had placed themselves into voluntary liquidation. Sad, from a few different angles really. A product that caused barely a ripple on the Australasian market dominance of SEEK ultimately failed in its’ bid to change the prescribed and traditional way of things. I’m a change agent, prone to occasional rebellion and a fan of disruption to effect positive change. The team at Jobs.co.nz operated under a similar mantra, bringing their cheeky, playful and irreverent style to a somewhat staid and static industry.
But it didn’t work.
The business launched with impressive flourish. There’s no doubting that jobs.co.nz is a stonkingly good URL to own, but the founders were somewhat naive to believe this might be strong enough alone to take on the might of SEEK and rapid emergence of TradeMe Jobs. Developing a pretty looking job board helped, and their working culture clearly succeeded in attracting talented web designers and developers to make something that actually worked.
But the truth behind job boards is that it’s mostly about who has the biggest marketing war chest to bring job seekers to your site. Without job seekers you are going to struggle to retain clients paying for ad posting. This is where TradeMe have been able to invest significant funds to build a marketing presence, an account management team and enviable SEO performance in order to successfully leverage off their “Kiwi” brand and get job seekers to apply for jobs there instead of on SEEK.
A futile ambition for the plucky but under-resourced Jobs team, they reacted by selling monthly subscriptions to job advertisers at cripplingly low rates, and attempted to create an impression of their site as a “socially-powered” job board, which basically entailed the marketing of the site, and the jobs on it, through the energetic, endearing and quirky personal brands created by the account management team within their own social media presence.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this didn’t work either. I personally never received a worthwhile application to any of my ads on Jobs.co.nz, as much as I was longing for it to happen.
What Jobs excelled at was creating an aura of innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. A collective of bright, smart, engaging individuals who once even received an approach for acquisition from a large US job board. In many ways I think they probably believed their own hype a bit too much and when that offer was eventually withdrawn, the wind seemed to go from the sails.
The real shame is that 2013 has probably witnessed their best work. Making the correct decision to move away from job boards (which can never be truly “Social” no matter how hard you try and make them), they concentrated their creative energies into creating job infographics and job animations that begged for viral sharing across social media channels. This was great stuff and what I believed would define their long-term success.
Sadly, the legacy of debt and technology issues was too all-encompassing and smothering a burden for that creative and entrepreneurial spirit to continue to shine with the necessary fire. Ultimately they failed due to spending too long trying to be the wrong thing. When the lightbulb came on, the room was too dark to illuminate.
For me personally, I feel sadness because of what Jobs represented, and that this eventually failed. Jobs sought to take on the establishment, refuse to behave within pre-determined parameters, to re-define a stuttering industry and breath new life and innovation into the sector. That they failed is quite simply a huge victory for the prescribed, the traditional, the banal, and the old-fashioned ways of recruitment.
Many of our industry will probably be quite glad about that, and possibly even feel a sense of vindication, maybe even relief. But not me.
The previous employees of jobs.co.nz that I’ve spoken to so far seem in surprisingly good spirits about the whole thing. But then that’s their way, I suppose. They had a go, it didn’t work. At least they tried, and had a good time along the way.
Anyone interested in acquiring any of the assets of jobs.co.nz need simply visit their homepage to make contact with the liquidator.
Cheers Jobs. Tip of my hat to you. Good effort and no doubt we will see you in some re-incarnated form further down the track.