Life on set with TopRecruiter series 5


Amy, Bert, Mike, Rachel, myself, Hannah & Iain on location in Greenwich

The countdown was on for the 20th July and as it approached, I cast my mind back to Top Recruiter 2 in 2013 and remembered what a great day I had spent with the cast and crew filming two episodes as a judge. This time it was TopRecruiter 5, a competition between North America and Europe to find the recruiter with the best idea to help the business side of the talent industry. My role was to be a “Global Counsellor”, offering business advice and mentorship for each of the candidates. Being independent and not affiliated with either side meant that I was free to roam around set providing help and advice to all of the candidates, a role I knew I was going to cherish.


Jerona and I about to step on board our flight.

At first light, our Talenetic MD (and fellow cast member), Jerona Noonan and I rocked up to the check-in desk at Southampton Airport and before we knew it, we were landing in Nantes, France to join the cast & crew at Chateau de Challain, a magnificent French castle in the middle of the Loire valley. At the airport we bumped into my lovely friend Ann Swain, the Chief Exec of APSCO. I originally thought that Ann was joining for the judging on the last day so seeing her there on day 1 was a great pleasure knowing that we’d be spending a few quality days together on set debating our world of recruitment. We met up with one of the candidates, Adam Razzell, the top biller at Advanced Resource Managers (ARM) and then we were off in the rental car in search of the castle.


Adam from ARM – Day 1

During the journey my mind was filled with images of TopRecruiter series 2 – the faces, the smiles, the cameras, the microphones and the popping of Verve Cliqout corks – What was it going to be like this year? Who will we meet on set? and how will the show emerge day by day? It was all getting rather exciting and we were about to step right dead centre into the middle of it.


With my friend APSCO boss, Ann Swain

An hour later, down a tiny village road, we turned a sharp corner, went through a huge gatehouse and there it was in all its glory….Chateau de Challain, our home and film set for the next few days. Outside on the steps to welcome us home stood our very good friends, Chris & Mory Lavoie, who not only create the programme, but whose dreams inspired the entire TopRecruiter movement. In typical Lavoie style, it certainly wasn’t long until the chink of champagne glasses echoed throughout this magnificent castle and there I was again – part of the Top Recruiter TV Docu-Series cast with cameras and microphones potentially recording our every move. Glass in hand, time to get changed – excitement was about to happen!!


The imposing Chateau de Challain, our home for the next few days.

As an industry focussed TV Docu-Series, the Top Recruiter challenge is uniquely special due to the relevant relationships you build up along the way. Chris Lavoie is connected with the recruitment industry’s finest global talent leaders/entrepreneurs and it was a privilege meeting and getting to know the cast and hearing their unique and fascinating success stories. If Chris hasn’t introduced people beforehand  (and I’d already been introduced to Darren (Opus Recruitment), Tom (Lawrence Harvey), Hannah (EnergyJobLine), Amy (Recruitment Entrepreneur), Jo (Glassdoor) and Randy (Pocket Recruiter), there’s plenty of time to get to know everyone else in the cast and crew whether this is on or off camera – but unlike an expo where you are typically corralled into a series of brief meet ups with a quick exchange of business cards, TopRecruiter allows the space to really spend quality time together with awesome industry people over the days and nights of filming. The discussions are always embellished with the constant flow of champagne which the cast is encouraged to sip (or sometimes gulp) throughout the day. I’m sure that if Carlsberg made TV programmes, then this would probably be how they’d do it. I’m not sure if the champagne is for steadying the nerves or facilitating conversation flow but who cares, it works – Chris, the creator/executive producer/executive director has the formula just right.


Life on set with Creator & Executive Producer/Director Chris Lavoie 

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On set with Kelly and Stef

The basic show concept was for “Bosses” and “Advisors” to choose one of their two candidates to go to the final in London on day 6 and support them along the way. This was a pitch to “BBC’s Apprentice” judge, Baroness Karen Brady, Dragon Den star James Caan, Top Recruiter 2 runner up Jer Langans and SAP’s Global head of sourcing, Matthew Jeffrey who would decide on the winner. I really enjoyed getting to know each of the candidates well. Some had progressed their ideas further than others at the early stage but through discussion, mentoring and offering advice we strived to bring them all up to speed ready for the first round of judging and so they could present their idea in the very best light.


Fun and the bar with Tom and Darren


Jojo and Jerona at the door of the castle

Over the many days the cast and crew were together, we ate, drank, filmed, talked, danced and partied our way through the recording of the show. Great relationships were formed by everyone and I particularly enjoyed spending time talking tech with my friend, Randy Moore from Pocket Recruiter. Through Chris, we’d met up already at the TATech conference in Orlando where Randy took us through his incredible neural network based candidate matching engine. We spent days on set discussing ideas and ways we could use the product within Talenetic’s job board offering and how efficient we could make the recruitment sourcing process by combining our offerings

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Esther, Salma and I hanging out with some of the crew in London

Meeting Human capital strategist and diversity ambassador, Torin Ellis was another highlight for me and an absolute pleasure. It was great to hear the important work he is doing to promote diversity in the work place through working with leaders. His thoughts were genuinely inspiring and it reminded me of what a great industry recruitment really is.  I wasn’t surprised that Torin was the reigning TopRecruiter.


Last day of filming. Randy and Jer in the “Painted Hall”.


Sound check with Torin, Rim, Bryan, Randy and Matt.

There were many inspiring conversations over the several days of the film shoot, probably too many to list here but I will never forget the great chats I had with recruitment legend Mr Jack Felice, CFO of AGS. I remember once seeing a film of Jack describing the early history of recruiting which really hit home how our industry all started in those early pioneering days. It was a great pleasure getting to know Jack. ( My main takeaway though was the recruitment banter that constantly flowed morning, noon and night – so many different topics, ideas and debates with everyone. Getting to bed was always a problem and we frequently found ourselves up until the early hours chatting to our new friends.


Jack and Randy checking out Adam’s photos on set


On set with Salma and Amy

No write up of the TopRecruiter experience would be anywhere complete without a mention of the fine dining and fine wine involved. Turning up to lunch to witness a complete pig roasting over a huge wood fire should not really have been much of a surprise – but it was. The obligatory giant paella was something I’d experienced on TR2 but it made a welcome return at the castle for TR5 and was extremely well received by the cast and crew alike. The wine tasting evening was just superb and was hosted by Bryan’s lovely wife, Sara Moll. Sara gave us some fascinating insight into the wine region of the Loire valley and shared some superb wines, oysters, cheese and information with us all.


A Giraffe photobombing Rachel & I at the bar

On Monday, the final day arrived. We all flew to London for the last part of the film – the grand finale in the “Painted Hall” at Greenwich – the last resting place of Lord Nelson after his victory at the battle of Trafalgar. For me and my role, together with Jonny from SocialTalent, there was a twist in the tale though which certainly gave me a surprise and definitely raised my blood pressure for sure. It’s just not TopRecruiter without the odd twist and turn and curve ball along the way – Chris certainly makes sure of that. I won’t spoil the surprise as the show is out in 2017 but let’s just say my role somewhat changed – overnight!!

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Jerona and Hannah behind the open bar at the Chateau


Gavin, Bruce, Rick, Johnny, Jerona, Hannah and myself giving Stef some tips.

It was a great week together working with Chris, Mory and the crew and I took a lot away from the experience not least some fresh thoughts on the recruitment industry. I’ve always been involved with the technology side of recruitment and not the actual sourcing side itself but being surrounded by some of the worlds recruitment experts was extremely inspiring, very insightful and very rewarding to me. What it did show me is the depth and breadth of the industry we work in and how many different ways people are tackling the various issues. Whether it’s Rachel Petero with her focus on indigenous women leadership, Torin Ellis’ incredible mentoring on diversity leadership, Bert Miller’s (CEO of Protis Global) niche food and beverage market or Randy Moore’s passion for artificial intelligence, there’s a lot of very different and great ways of contributing to our ever expanding sector. I hadn’t met Baroness Karen Brady before but James Caan and I know each other from my Jobsite days and we even feature in the same book (The New Rules of Business – ) so it was great to catch up.

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It’s a wrap. End of filming with Baroness Karen Brady and James Caan

The show is out next year and I’m really looking forward to watching it and in the meantime I am keeping half an eye on the Whatsapp group we created for the show which is still going strong with banter, questions, meetups and advice…. two weeks later.!  A great show, new friends and an ever expanding network – I think everyone agrees that we miss it already.

The EU vote – Be careful what you wish for.


Unless you’ve been frozen in a block of ice for the last few months you would have noticed that the train wreck that’s come to be known as the “Brexit referendum” is very nearly upon us. On Thursday the 23rd June, our generation of British voters gets to make another vote, but this time it’s much more serious….and the consequences could literally be a life sentence. Are we aiming head first towards Britain’s single worst decision in our 309-year history? From a small to medium business perspective, I personally think we are, so let me tell you why.

Who am I to comment?

Firstly, I am no Lord Bamford, the party loving billionaire, who, last week, waded into the fray from the heavyweight corner of commerce using his dynasty and presence to promote the “Leave” vote. I’m from the small to medium business fraternity and unlike Bamford, haven’t inherited a business from my father nor do I have £3.1 billion floating around in the bank as a back up if things go pear shaped. What me and my brothers have done together though was to found, run and grow various very successful UK businesses from scratch, two of which entered the Sunday Times FastTrack 100. I’ve had a business in the Times “Top 100 Best companies to work for”, been a finalist in Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the year”, been a leading charity trustee for nearly a decade and (probably like Bamford), have been invited by the Queen to eat cucumber sandwiches on her lawn. SME’s of course play an incredibly important role employing 60% of the UK’s workforce and contributing £1.6 Trillion to the UK economy. As a SME business owner for over 20 years, I feel I have enough experience in commerce to understand that billionaires like Bamford and Dyson (yesterdays new Brexit closet emergee) are simply seeking more variety in their life (whether the outcome is good or bad) and are certainly not representing the vast majority of employers across the UK. It’s because of their obvious advantage in terms of reach that I thought I’d put pen to paper and put my position across as I see it, which is that I strongly feel that being part of the EU gives us the best chance for a stable economic environment, the basic ingredients for successful entrepreneurship in small and medium sized businesses (SME’s) and anything else is just a gamble.


Lord and Lady Bamford.

The experts view

What really confuses me is the growing trend towards a “Leave” vote whilst we are hearing more and more each day about how bad life would be outside the EU. No less than 9 out 10 top economists are suggesting that Brexit will be be bad for the British economy. If we support the hypothesis that a bad economy is bad for each of us personally then why are the general public ignoring this advice and supporting a Brexit – a shift of 10% in the last day or so? I mean if a doctor said that you had 3 months to live if you carry on with your particular unhealthy lifestyle, would you ignore this advice? Imagine if 9 out of 10 doctors suggested the same advice, would you really back the one doctor who was saying the opposite and celebrate with a treble Vodka and a packet of Malboro? This seems totally moronic. The experts are saying that a vote for leave is a vote for recession and I’m sure nobody from the SME world wants to get straight back into that mode any time soon – the truth is that if the experts are right, we would need to make people redundant from our SME workforce – and possibly lots of them. Boris and Bamford of course would be arguing that the experts aren’t worth listening to and that they are wrong. The impact for small to medium businesses who do not have a strong global brand like JCB or DYSON (and lets face it, companies with a big global brand are in a minority) is catastrophic. In 2001, when that previous recession hit, we had to make 85 of our wonderful, rockstar staff redundant OVERNIGHT – that was really tough as it was 50% of our workforce. That’s what the reality of recession to an SME looks and smells like by the way – believe me.

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Source:  Department for Business Innovation & Skills

Who has a crystal ball?

Whilst on the subject of the economy, the “Leavers” keep banging on about having independence to grow a better economy. This is pure fantasy unless of course these people have a time machine or a crystal ball. If they do have the flux capacity to travel back in time to 1950 then they will see for themselves that Britain was almost a third higher in per capita GDP than the EU6 average but by 1973 (when we entered the EU) we were 10% below. Outside the EU, Britain was in desperately steep decline and thankfully the EU helped stem this. So what’s all this rubbish about a better economy outside the EU? Has anyone noticed that none of the Brexiteers have any clue as to HOW we are going to have a better economy, whilst past evidence would suggest a decline. Haven’t these people learnt anything from history? If they do have some secret formula then lets hear it…but I’ve heard nothing so far except silence. As a small business owner, we pretty much consider all options carefully and the notion of getting behind a “Don’t have a clue” answer is totally alien to me.

Small business is actually quite sensitive to fluctuation and generally needs a stable environment in which to flourish. Anything that interrupts cashflow has a very detrimental effect as there is often no cash floating around to overcome the larger dips – this means business death and loss of ALL jobs as cash is normally a killer to the SME. This is cruel really as to start a new business 9 out of 10 fail despite the hard work and the cash expended by the entrepreneur. I’ve seen an awful lot of moaning and scepticism about the EU but has anyone stopped to notice how well the UK has actually done within the union? When we joined in 1973, we were the 6th largest economy in the world but now we are the 5th largest. With phenomenal business success like this the phrase “Leave well alone” springs to mind. Under the EU from the 90’s until today, we were able to grow companies like Jobsite from two people in a garden shed to a 450 person enterprise operating in 56 countries across the globe. This was undoubtedly helped by the stability and regulations under which we were free to operate. Not only were my brothers and I proud to have generated so many jobs in Britain, we were actually bringing in money to the country from 56 other countries around the world. I’m flabbergasted that Bamford and in particular smarty pants Dyson aren’t saying the same – maybe in Bamfords case he was too busy partying to pay it any attention but Dyson seems to have missed the fact that he flourished under the EU in his earlier years in the same way as we did. He was a start up enterprise and SME during the EU days.


Keep it in the family

So, it’s not just billionaires who are all for Brexit, as I’m sure you’ve noticed that the older generation are favouring it too. Could it be because it affects them the least? A final swan song in their twilight years for a bit of fun perhaps or maybe because they, like Bamford and Dyson, more than anyone else in the UK have much less to lose? When I look at my 12 year old boy, who is fairly oblivious to most politics, I know that the decision that the country will make will almost certainly affect him more than us voters but I (and the older people) get to vote on it and he doesn’t. It’s not as if we are making a decision on something we can change every four years or so, a vote for a Brexit is possibly forever – certainly for decades. Once we break those ties with Europe, we will never, ever be able to go back to the way we had it before we left and it is this long term position that bothers me the most. I’m sure that some people are bored of hearing “remainers” going on about our children so I can only assume that they either haven’t got any, don’t give a stuff about them or that they just enjoy gambling –  Will they be prepared to personally underwrite this decision for our children if their gamble does go wrong though? There are 5.4 million private businesses at risk with this gamble in the UK and 60% of our children will find themselves working in them – remaining is a vote for the “known knowns” but leaving is a vote for the “unknown unknowns”, in other words a complete gamble.

This is all bananas


Other claptrap that we’ve been hearing over the last few weeks is the notion that the EU directives are a load of time wasting rubbish. Well, sorry but I don’t really want malformed bananas either (not overly precious though), people are telling me that they’re not over keen to use oven gloves that burn their hands and I’m sure none of us would look forward to the prospect of wearing Marigolds that leak bleach onto our skin either – all of which are subjects of much mocking by the Brexiteers. As for this mumbo jumbo about banning waitress’ cleavages, the Queens corgis and custard creams, pull the other one Boris & co – was it you Boris who was suggesting that kids were being prevented by the EU from blowing up balloons? What a brainless shot that was. All very amusing but actually there is a very serious side to this, in that people are actually believing this bullshit as evidenced by a latest MORI poll. An article I read in the Independent the other day suggests that when it comes to the referendum, the British public have almost everything wrong!!! In fact, according to the poll, not only do a lot of people admit to believing at least one of these colourful EU myths, 84% believe incorrectly that Britain are in the top three contributors to EU funding when we are not. This ignorance really concerns me as, if we are to have a fair referendum, a lot of people voting are not only without the facts, they also believe some of the myths!! What chance have we of having a fair, considered, sensible outcome when it looks likely at this stage that the process could be as ridiculous as the Boaty McBoatface vote fiasco.  This all sounds ludicrous for such an important decision for Britain.


What’s the point of a point system?

Immigration is the central argument for the Brexiteers and one that seems to be capturing the British public’s attentions the most. The “Leavers” seem to have jumped on the bandwagon and using it to their own advantage by promoting the idea that a Brexit will help control immigration. The decision to opt for free movement goes back to 2004 during a period of strong economic growth. At that time, Britain had around 500,000 unfilled jobs and migration was somewhat of an attractive option. What we didn’t expect was that we would receive as many migrants as we did but it is true to say that migration generally helps with our economic growth by injecting talent into various parts of the employment spectrum – it’s been of huge help to our own businesses over the years. If we are to leave the EU, then new trade agreements would almost definitely mean a continuation of EU immigration (covered of course by sponsorship from an Employer). The Brexiteers are suggesting that the immigration puzzle will be solved by using a points based system but forgetting to mention United Nations figures which show that immigration per head is actually higher than the UK in Australia, The U.S and Canada – all who use a points based system.

Immigration is an issue of course which needs to be resolved and arguably best resolved from a position within the EU not from outside – but I’m prepared to take on that debate. There is no evidence to suggest that a Brexit would be an instant resolve to the immigration problem so I’m puzzled as to why the Brexit camp seemed to have hijacked it as their very own silver bullet. I won’t mention their names but there is a massively successful IT company on our site who couldn’t survive without immigration. They have attracted all sorts of amazing talent throughout Europe and beyond and I really hope for them that they are not ill-affected if the vote doesn’t go their way – a Brexit will certainly stifle their growth. The digital skills gap is actually a crisis of its own here in the UK and according to some latest research costs us, or should I say “wastes us”, £69 billion per year – yep that’s right. That, by the way is an annual loss that would have funded Britain’s £5 billion EU contribution for 14 years!! The report suggests that by 2017, we will be short by 745,000 digital workers and we currently have only managed to recruit around 70% of the required computer science teachers. We are always looking for digital talent ourselves as 90% of all jobs require digital skills to some degree and are proud to be working with co-workers from other countries – at Talenetic, it’s actually part of our fabric and certainly one of our USP’s.


Deal making is easy isn’t it?



Anyone worth their salt in business will tell you that doing a deal is a long term process which is labour intensive, legally expensive and involves a high degree of uncertainty. Brexiteers will have you believe that we will all go swanning around post Brexit, fixing this, negotiating that and rebuilding the deals which we just voted to scrap – which of course is absolute rubbish. At Talenetic, for example, we are currently in the middle of negotiating a small deal with a US supplier to incorporate their product into our offering and despite it being seemingly straightforward, we have been going backwards and forwards to the negotiation table for months – this is very typical of commercial negotiations I have seen over the 21 years I’ve been a CEO. What worries me is that Boris seems to think negotiating a commercial deal is simple and we all know that Boris is not a business person, he’s a politician, so how the hell would he know? Again this guesswork on the part of the Brexiteers is fuelling the confusion. I had a chat to one of our partners the other day who was arguing that a Brexit was a good idea and when I asked him what he liked about it, he said “We get the chance to take back control and all we need to do is renegotiate all the contracts”. RENEGOTIATE ALL THE CONTRACTS?!!! Is he kidding? There’s a 28 month lead time to renegotiate these types of contracts and we will be negotiating them from a much smaller and therefore weaker position (UK as opposed to UK + EU). Who has the time and the money to renegotiate all these contracts and what will a small/medium business look like following an almost definite commercial hiatus. A lot of small companies will be dead by then having run out of cash. Small companies simply don’t have the reserves to ride through crises whilst everything is “renegotiated”.

Be careful what you wish for

What I really hope happens on the 23rd is that the voting public only go to the polls if they are fully aware of the history, the consequences and the repercussions of what Brexit really means. I’m not suggesting everyone becomes economists but unlike what’s happening now, at least look into the basic facts with regards to what’s being said, some history of our involvement with the EU and a look at what it has actually brought us. Without it, you’re in the lap of the gods listening to the BS spouted out by people like Boris who seem to be saying anything to get your vote. Boris, rightly or wrongly is operating a scorched earth policy with his career at the moment – a mode that David Cameron, as Prime Minister, is unable to afford himself the luxury.

Voting to leave may well be the right vote but then again it might not. Bamford & Dyson have both said that leaving will be good for UK’s global brands but for the SME’s it’s a different story – leaving the EU risks 60% of your friends and families jobs and £1.6 Trillion to our economy. My advice is to be very careful what you wish for – if you’re really unlucky, your wish might just come true.

Recruiters EU Poll Click Here ->

The Evolution Of Job Boards: What’s Next?

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The job board industry has been through a whirlwind these last years. Some businesses have evolved and thrived, others have withered and are now a shadow of their former selves. When you step back and think of the huge transformation we’ve seen in our industry, it’s little wonder some businesses have struggled to adapt. A short potted history may help us to appreciate what’s happened – and to determine the strategic next steps that’ll position a job board for continued success…

Job Board Evolution Phase 1 – Recruitment Agency Focused

The early years of job boards were all about serving the recruitment agency market. Before ~2002 corporate employers simply weren’t on board. As an industry we focused on winning big annual contracts from recruitment businesses – and many sites were secretly thrilled to see the same job advertised a dozen or more times by agencies all working on the same brief. Basic job listings, jobs by email and a CV / Resume database were the staples of our industry – and it was the newspapers’ lunch we were eating.

Job Board Evolution Phase 2 – The Rise of Corporate Employers

As economies recovered from the dot-com crash and hiring demand gained momentum, in-house recruitment teams came to recognise that a portion of all their roles could be filled without the need to pay an agency fee. From 2002 to 2008 we saw employers increasingly saturate job boards with the majority of their open vacancies. Exploiting this without alienating the recruitment agency market was a delicate balancing act for job board owners.

To address this, job boards greatly expanded their range of “add-ons” so as to accommodate both the cost-conscious agency market and the exposure-hungry corporate market. They also ratcheted up mainstream advertising campaigns in order to attract ever more candidates for a recruitment market that had an increasingly voracious appetite. The newspaper industry’s recruitment revenues had another huge bite taken from them in the process.

Job Board Evolution Phase 3 – The Tremors of Competition and a Focus on ROI

From around the time of the Lehman crash, we can see the impact of two distinct forces. The first – hastened by an era of austerity – was a new focus on ROI. Within the job board industry, we’d marvelled for years at the seeming inability or disinterest of the corporate market to accurately track the ROI from each element of its online recruitment spend. We’d similarly been horrified to see how job board results were allowed to be decimated by an insistence on using cumbersome online application processes to boost the efficiency of candidate screening, at the complete expense of candidate experience.

With austerity things changed. Corporate recruiters were increasingly pressured to do more for less. A focus on ROI became de rigeur. For the job board industry this meant greater efforts being expended on technologies that would allow the job board itself to track the candidate interest being generated for each client. Demonstrating the value of that spend versus competitors was key to ongoing success.

This period also saw the emergence of job boards’ two most ferocious competitors. On the one hand Indeed started to make serious inroads in the market, tapping into austerity with its promise of indexing and marketing jobs at little or no cost. This was particularly noticeable within the mass market recruitment sector. Whilst on the other hand LinkedIn was gaining traction in the professional hiring space. With the lure of helping corporate employers to reduce their recruitment agency spend, LinkedIn licences similarly tapped into the prevailing sentiment of austerity. Together these new players meant that job boards were no longer the default low cost option for filling corporate vacancies.

Job Board Evolution – What’s Next?

Many in the industry think that where job boards can win is i) in providing best-in-class matching technologies between candidates and vacancies; and ii) in providing a better candidate experience than competitors. In various markets job boards are also iii) extending their range of services to move up the value chain and encroaching on the types of activities that a marketing agency or recruitment agency would typically have provided. For some boards this third approach will also see them able to thrive in a changing market.

Through intelligent sourcing and indexing of jobs, niche job boards should be able to present candidates with a better candidate experience than they can find anywhere else. LinkedIn has compromised its ability to do this by differentiating between the service levels that a free and a paying jobseeker will receive. Whilst Indeed is a mass market play that can never know and serve individual niches as well as a specialist team devoted to that particular market. Niche job boards can win by providing a more comprehensive range of opportunities – and then matching them to candidates’ search queries more accurately than anyone else. Plus complementing this experience with more comprehensive advice on careers in that particular industry.

This can then be further enhanced on the back end by proposing to advertisers a set of ideal candidate matches for every new vacancy posted. With a set of up to date CVs in their databases, job boards arguably have a more complete picture of the active candidate market than LinkedIn has with its more stale database of profiles. Providing recruiters with an ever more refined set of ideal candidates for each vacancy posted is one way that job boards can look to sustain a competitive advantage.

Alongside these two opportunities to win are a plethora of value-add services that job boards have been bolting on to their offerings. From undertaking the shortlisting of candidates to bundling in social media advertising campaigns, those who sell job boards are increasingly adding on ancillary services that would historically have been the preserve of an advertising agency or a recruitment agency. Expect to see more of this as the industry looks for ways to remain relevant in the face of heightened competition.

Final Remarks

If the above has made you pause to think about how your job board will adapt to prosper, do let’s have a call and see how we might help. By providing job board owners with cutting edge technologies, we’re helping businesses like yours to secure a brighter future. Let’s talk soon on +44 (0)330 055 5850.

Understanding your KPI’s


A few weeks after Manpower became a minority shareholder in in 2000, they provided us with golddust: We ran a project to look at vacancy views, applications and placements. Manpower posted exactly the same jobs on all the major job boards in the UK and recorded every step of the funnel, from views, to applications, to placements. One of our major competitors at the time beat us (and all the other job boards) in the number of views and applications delivered but what was interesting was that our site totally outperformed the others on the number of placements made.

A few years later, we were working with a newspaper group. They ran a job board with significantly more unique visitors and page impressions than Jobsite. In the initial meeting we were being questioned and challenged as to why our site wasn’t performing as well as theirs. We looked at each other in astonishment and – realising that all their execs came from a newspaper background and were more concerned with eyeballs – explained our philosophy: Visits and page impressions are irrelevant and it’s all about making it as easy as possible for candidates to find relevant jobs and apply as quickly and smoothly as possible. Later on they asked us to run their job board…

You see where I am going, right? To run a successful job board you need to focus on the most important deliverable – the number of placements made and the value per placement. This is the ultimate success criteria.

We had many clients who didn’t want to share this data with us as they were afraid that it would be used to increase prices, but they missed the point: This information would have allowed us to make our site perform even better for their company. The recruiters that were prepared to help us, received better and better returns from Jobsite.

Based on this experience but also to have a view on our performance earlier in the application process (these days also called funnel), we also looked at the number of applications made per vacancies (ApV). The ApV cuts both ways: It ensures that you have relevant jobs for every candidate and enough applications for every vacancy (job) of your clients. This in turn gives you a clear insight on where to look for product improvements and marshall your sales and marketing resources in the most appropriate way for maximum impact.

These days you can obviously aggregate jobs based on candidates in your database that haven’t applied, as we do very successfully at OilFinity ( It is all about balancing supply and demand. Obviously, as outlined in my previous posts, these KPIs always need to be seen in context of the market you operate in and your role in the recruitment value chain.

There are many other secondary performance indicators such as number of sign ups for job alerts (as on a normal job board they deliver more than 50% of applications) and CVs searched and downloaded within a given time period if you have a CV database as you want to make sure that candidates are having a great experience here being contacted. Obviously you overlay every step of the funnel with cost, so you can manage your cost per registered user, cost per job alert, cost per application – this enables you to really dig into site performance and unearth product and marketing channel improvements. How can I improve conversion rates to make every step more profitable and optimise it for maximum return of my business?

The other KPI besides placements and APV for me is the number of exclusive users for your service: How many people only use your job board to find a job? With all job boards we’ve run, we record this on an on-going basis by industry sector and hence could show recruiters how many of the overall population of an industry sector were using us and how many were using us exclusively. If this is high, it is a very compelling reason for recruiters to use you.

These are the KPIs I use to assess the health of job boards and manage their performance. These KPIs are at the heart of the work and development we are doing today at Talenetic and are certainly ones that we use and, our latest products.

Understanding the world you operate in



Last week I wrote about the importance of understanding your position in the recruitment value chain; as important is today’s topic “understanding the market you operate in”. The external environment is the biggest factor in defining your business success. At Jobsite and now at Talenetic I always tell my people: “You can have the best surfboard in the world, but if there are no waves, you won’t go anywhere.”

Because of this enormous impact on a business’ performance, it always surprises me when companies are only internally focussed. They know every conversion rate on their website, have highly tuned internal processes (and that is really important, don’t get me wrong), but forget to link it to what happens outside their four walls. I had this happen to me, you often don’t notice how your universe shrinks and you need to make a conscious effort to look up, understand what happens outside of your company and permanently adapt how you fit into the wider world.

In last week’s post, I wrote: “Recruitment and job seeking (and finding) is driven by speed and relevance. Job seeking is – for most parts and for most people – a stressful and confidence-zapping experience, as there is limited control over the process and outcome and maximum impact on self-esteem through rejection and probing. A job seeker therefore wants to get over it as fast as possible and this can be done by finding jobs that are relevant on skills, experience and culture.”

Relevance and speed has driven recruitment in the past and will drive it in the future. But the context is changing. So, now let’s put it in context to the world we live in, to the broad behaviours we can observe today:

Frictionless experiences: We are busy. Our lives are full. We want everything within it, all the services and technologies to be as easy and as smooth as possible. In an ideal world, they just run in the background with minimum interference. Take Terminal 5 for example, it is very easy to go through check-in and security, hardly any waiting and only afterwards you notice how easy it was and how all the different little items created an overall smooth and seamless journey. Even leaving feedback is easy and simple via the smiley buttons!

Amazon is another great example: easy to understand and use, accessible everywhere, entirely flexible. No unnecessary actions, as few clicks as necessary, great suggestions (like mind reading at times) and completely reliable at every stage. They make my life easier and that’s what I want.

Mobile centric: Even though we have been talking about mobile for a long time, we are only starting out on the mobile journey and still now there are many companies with unresponsive websites. But that’s not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is using the data that is intrinsic: it knows my location, it knows my address book, it even knows and remembers the languages I use to write texts to specific people. Linking up these data sets is incredibly exciting and users today expect that it is being used to give a more personalised experiences.

Diminishing loyalty:  People are happy to share personal data, login by Facebook, try new apps and website. But if it doesn’t work as promised, if it uses your data for something else than stated, they abandon you and won’t use you again and to top it all off: they tell the entire world. Loyalty has to be earned through every interaction, every single time. This is especially pronounced with younger generations such as Millennials, but now seeps through everyone, as we all have learned the hard way that most companies don’t reward loyal customers but just chase new ones.

People expect a tailored experience that works around their busy lives, uses all the available information to make decisions easier and faster and communications with them in an honest and authentic fashion. Use my data and deliver me the best solution, don’t bother me with having to make unnecessary steps. How this translates into the job board and talent acquistion world, I’ll explain in another post.

Understanding your role in the recruitment value chain


Whatever I do, I always like to remind myself of the fundamentals. That is my way of making sure that I focus on the most important items and it really served me well when running Jobsite and developing it from a tiny startup to a world beating force.

The first thing everybody needs to understand are the drivers of recruitment and how they apply to both job seekers and recruiters. A job board (and it is the same for aggregators and CV sources) is a two-sided market place and they only thrive when there are benefits for everybody involved (more about this in a blog post at a later stage).

Recruitment and job seeking (and finding) is driven by speed and relevance. Job seeking is – for most parts and for most people – a stressful and confidence-zapping experience, as there is limited control over the process and outcome and maximum impact on self-esteem through rejection and probing. A job seeker therefore wants to get over it as fast as possible and this can be done by finding jobs that are relevant on skills, experience and culture.

This in turn is also beneficial for the recruiter as they receive more relevant candidates, therefore need to spend less time filtering and screening irrelevant ones and through the higher probability of success fill the job faster. Time to hire and cost to hire are two performance indicators used to assess the recruitment process.

So relevance aids speed. Speed on its own can also be enhanced by giving recruiters priority access to candidates, through easy and automatic integration with multi-posters and other point solutions in the recruitment and screening process.  Vito Lomele, my good friend and founder of Jobrapido described them very fittingly as “productivity engines”.

For some aggregators, relevance is often a hindrance to revenue growth: If they would show only the most relevant organic jobs and a tight search, then they’d receive less sponsored clicks hence less revenue. That’s why you will find that sponsored results are often so much more accurate than organic inclusions – after all the candidate is supposed to click on the job that earns money. A couple of years ago it reached a climax when, especially in the USA, aggregator linked to aggregator linked to aggregator and it took up to four steps before a candidate reached the destination of the job. A rather awful user experience, driven by short term gains.

This will change over time; the more job boards and aggregators will expand and include recruitment agency services into their offering (see this article aboutIndeed) the likelier that the performance model will mirror that of recruitment agencies. Additionally, job seekers are not as loyal as one might presume and will move on to the one source that gives the freshest and most relevant jobs, hence make job seeking as speedy and smooth as possible.

And – this has often been said and still holds true – without job seekers there is no business. This can be refined further, without giving recruiters relevant candidates that they can’t get anywhere else (increased value) and/or you are better integrated into the recruiter workflow (decreased cost), there is no business.

The recruitment workflow is best understood in the four stage model:

  • Stage 1: Sources candidates by advertising and other methods
  • Stage 2: Screening of potential candidates through tests and/or interviews
  • Stage 3: Selecting the deserving candidate based on the test and/or interviews
  • Stage 4: On-boarding and training – equipping the new employee with the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours to become effective organisational members.

(Source: Koncept)

Job boards and aggregators generally sit in stage 1, but as mentioned above with Indeed, plus increased focus on automating stages 2 and 3, they will delve deeper into the value chain. Obviously any job board owner can also expect that some of their recruitment clients will increasingly compete directly with them on stage 1.

Success is mainly measured at stage 3. Keep this in mind and act accordingly. The size of your user base isn’t important, but can you find relevant jobs for those users and therefore make the recruiter happy.

Reminding myself and my team about this was the cornerstone of our success at Jobsite and Evenbase and continues to be at the heart of all our developments now at Talenetic.

Next week’s blog will be about understanding the world we operate in – this backdrop is crucial for understanding the audience, developing the right tech and choosing the right messaging.

Talenetic attracts prominent investors from the recruitment industry


July 2015 London/Chichester – Talenetic (, the latest start-up of Keith, Graham and Eric Potts (the founders of, has received early stage investment from a consortium of prominent individuals in the recruitment industry. The consortium is headed up by Miles Hunt, a serial Recruitment Entrepreneur, Chairman of APSCo (Association of Professional Staffing Companies) and Chairman of several recruitment companies around the world. It also includes Simon Lawton (Director of Benula Capital), Paul Huntingdon (founder of Serocor) and the Serocor Group.


Keith Potts, CEO of Talenetic, states: “We weren’t looking for investment at this stage, as Talenetic was developing according to plan with strong partnerships and client interest, but when Miles and his team came knocking, we didn’t have to think twice. Their industry knowledge will make our product suite even stronger and their contacts will speed up Talenetic’s growth far beyond our current trajectory. We are absolutely excited to be working together.”

Miles Hunt comments: “It is an absolute privilege to be invited by the Potts brothers to invest into their company. As an investor, it is ideal to work with people who are absolute experts in their field and have a proven track record. We are looking forward tohelp accelerate growth into other areas of the recruitment industry and to support Keith and his team in building a world class talent acquisition platform that really addresses the needs and desires of the recruiters around the world.”

Talenetic ( is the new venture of the Jobsite founders Keith, Eric and Graham Potts together with Parthasarathy R. Talenetic focuses on three areas: job board technology and talent acquisition platforms for media, recruitment agencies, corporate recruiters and job boards; their own niche aggregator (; strategic consultancy for job boards and recruiters. Talenetic launched in July 2014 and since then has been chosen by numerous companies in the UK, the US and India.