Uber for Recruitment? Tell him he’s dreaming!


Originally posted on Linkedin in August 2015

These are the reasons why I believe there will be no such thing as an Uber (or Airbnb) for recruitment:

.1 There is no pent up supply of talent: Uber and ABnB have made privately owned cars and properties available for a purpose they had not been utilised before. Supply of cars for rides and apartments to holiday in have exponentially grown when these apps made all of us potential taxi drivers and Basil Fawltys.

Whilst there is certainly under and unemployment to account for, there is really no hidden talent supply that can be unleashed by the disintermediation of the recruitment industry. Apps will not increase per se the availability of IT or Finance talent just because the recruitment industry is – well – uberised.

.2 Talent is not owned/managed by monopolies. The disruptive power of Uber and Airbnb stems from their ability to break the barriers to entry of the verticals they operate in. We can certainly do with process reinvention in recruitment but – again – there is no mega cartel that directs people when to work, where to work, and for which price.

.3 There is no extraordinary economic surplus extracted from the placement of talent as it currently exists. Taxis have their meters, dollars per mile cost and surcharges. Hotels have their daily rates, check out times and penalties for ruining the carpet. You could not negotiate or opt for a substitute service – until the apps ruined the cartels’ show, that is.

With the additional supply, incumbents’ margins have eroded and redistributed to the new entrants.

Meantime, talk to recruitment agencies and ask them how much price pressure they can exert on their clients (hint: not much, until they change their value proposition at least). Bottom line: there are no fat margins to be rejigged to the dis-intermediaries.

Agree? Not?

Have a good weekend.

PS Subsequent to this clumsy write-up, I’ve had the opportunity to read Barbara Gray’s economy of abundance / copianomics paper. Her solid framework is extremely useful to understand the industries where there ‘could’ be ubers and airbnb’s. Do yourself a favor and read the paper

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Smarter email

LogoEmail is the best thing, right? It can be one of the worst things too.

One of the shortfalls of email is that once what we need to communicate gets shipped out, then we’ll tend to forget about it (out of sight, out of mind – right?)

I certainly need help to follow up unanswered emails, at the right time. I am also keen to increase my email open rates.

If you are in a similar predicament, you can’t go past Boomerang for Gmail. I love every bit of it. Boomerang will schedule emails to ‘send later’ and will let emails come back to you when unanswered (or any other type of action trigger)

So, if you receive something from me on the weekend, don’t think I am not enjoying the Sydney weather when you are reading it.

Have a happy and safe weekend

Come on, be social :)

Free MyCareer: Considerations and Commentary

Shortlist (subscription required) run an article yesterday detailing Fairfax’s move to making MyCareer a free job board.

The key reason for this move as per the quoted execs at FFX was the deterioration of value to clients provided by the online classifieds product. In turn, this is attributable to the ‘evolution’ of recruitment and consequent lack quality candidates visiting job boards.

As per the article, MyCareer will become a mass market, low-cost (to maintain) website. The print MyCareer will also continue to run.

In lieu, Fairfax will concentrate on selling targeted advertising solutions on their various platforms (displays, etc.).

Shortlist reports that “insiders” think that this is the best move against Seek’s dominance in the generalist job board space, particularly in the context of less money being spent on these properties.


• If the real reason for Fairfax to walk out of MyCareer is because there are no quality candidates to deliver to advertisers, this will not change because the job ad price drops to zero. Someone called this “the sushi dilemma”: the cheaper sushi is the less desirable it becomes. There are a number of free job boards that never got (or will get traction) because of this.

• A low-cost (to maintain) website will produce even less results to advertisers than a higher/normal cost (to maintain) website. Less investment in product innovation, SEO, etc. will likely produce less applications. Free is starting to not sound like a bargain after all.

• It is highly unlikely that FFX’s move will make a dent into Seek. Seek’s revenue and profitability may continue to slide, but it will not be because MyCareer is now free. This is because at the core, Seek and Fairfax were selling products of dramatically different grade and quality; just because a shop is giving again rubber beach sandals, it does not follow that this will impact the sale of hiking boots.

• Specially for large(r) advertisers, jumping onto a new job board always carries work and some expense, however palatable. Job ads distribution, infrastructure set up to process online applications from a new website, etc; all these ensure that “free” ends up being “no totally free”.


• The MyCareer service is effectively being degraded and priced accordingly. This is perhaps a step toward a total, already-agreed shutdown in the future.

• A total shutdown may have not been desirable immediately because it could have alienated clients even further (which could re-engaged and sold more effective ad products); the delay could also respond to sheer management hubris.

• Even though it is a free job board, Fairfax will still need to sell its value proposition, however diluted. An avenue to pursue could involve focusing on selective SEO, linking ad postings with the higher-engagement display ads, content marketing. All these potential propositions cost a bit of money, though.

• Perhaps the most regrettable outcome for the employment market are the implied assertions by the FFX execs that a) active job seekers are of lesser quality and b) that active job seekers only visit job boards.

On the latter, go to LinkedIn and type “seeking current opportunities” in the keyword section; active job seekers, by definition are active everywhere.

Regarding quality of candidates, I have never seen data-based evidence. Anecdotally, agencies and hiring organisations find great people in the platform that they use (spend) the most, or the one they are the most expert at using. You certainly find different types of candidates in different platforms but quality candidates (whichever way you want to measure quality) is not the garden-walled asset of any database or network.

Come on, be social :)

LinkedIn and Monster: not happening dude

I still cannot see why LinkedIn would buy Monster.

I’ve read it’d be a good move because LinkedIn could then be able to migrate the customer/revenue base from the job board over to them, and then a different revenue multiplier kicks in, and the rivers of gold continue to flow.

… bollocks, I say.

Why as I LinkedIn shareholder would I want to spend money on a job board?

Job boards are by definition antisocial. They are not antisocial because they are nasty or mean, or run by people with those traits.

Job boards are not social because they don’t foster relationships out of the transactions they thrive on (e.g the classified ads). That’s how they make their money. Meantime, LinkedIn’s value resides in the connectivity of professionally minded individuals and the networks it reveals.

If it wanted job ads, LinkedIn could have given them for free years ago. Instead they remain stubbornly expensive. And arguably, it already has a resume search product (and more). So they’re not buying features.

What do you think? The first person to comment with an agree or disagree mention, gets a coffee (in Sydney) if the transaction happens.

Come on, be social :)

Feedback loops and the workplace

Feedback LoopI have been reading about feedback loops on the @wired magazine. If you’re not familiar with the concept, feedback loops describe the process through which we are prompted with actionable information that makes us sustainably change our behaviour in the foreseeable term.

One case of positive behaviour described in wired is that of the radar-powered, real-time speed signals by the side of the road (those that tell you ‘your speed is 67KM, thank you!’ or ‘your speed is 103KM slow down’).

Even though there is no punishment for speeding (fines, pep-talk by a constable), these signals appear to be the most effective and longest-lasting mechanism to make people do the right thing. The environment gives the individual enough data and ‘resources’ to do the right thing.

Similar examples are more briefly discussed (e.g. cutting down on energy consumption through being informed as to our carbon footprint in real time, etc.). Feedback loops are set to become even more pervasive as the data collection sub-process (which originates the loop) becomes seriously inexpensive – in the main, due to technology getting cheaper.

This got me thinking as to how we could apply feedback loops in the workplace; more specifically: Can we reinvigorate a process such as the employee performance review if we redefine it as a feedback loop of sorts?

– We’d need employee performance data collected ubiquitously and in real time; we cannot ask staff or managers to fill in more forms, more regularly.

– We’d need a scale that translates a particular employee activity/output into a level of ‘business success’ against which his/her performance can be assessed.

– We’d need a way to communicate the level of business success an employee has attained, perhaps on a confidential basis if needed, perhaps publicly made when an ‘outstanding’ success was attained.

– Employees would need the space/latitude to modify/reinforce their behaviour – effectively creating the loop and hopefully replicating it.

This might be crazy talk but, if these parameters and mechanisms could be created, we can render employee appraisal method obsolete.

More to the point, possibly managers may already be using, albeit informally/non-systematically, a loose feedback loop (e.g. when immediate feedback is given, pats in the back, prompt escalations, etc. The beauty of an institutionalised process would come from the aggregation of comparable data across entire organisations, and dissectible by teams, branches, etc.

Wired mentions that at – some point in time – by-the-side-of-the-road radar technology would have been unthinkable due to cost. That is no more. That makes me a bit hopeful as to what we can achieve in the workplace in regards to people (self) management and leadership.

Come on, be social :)