jobs.ac.uk are about to embark on another survey that measures the effectiveness of recruitment advertising media for research, academic and related jobs. I wanted to take this post as an opportunity to reflect on some of the priorities and challenges universities have been facing when choosing the right media to attract candidates.
Our first effectiveness survey was conducted 15 years ago. This was 2 years after our launch. At that time, jobs.ac.uk was the only online advertising portal for research and academic jobs in the UK. In fact, jobs.ac.uk was created through a collaboration of a group of universities as a solution to much less efficient and far more expensive print media advertising. So this first survey was mainly concerned with proving that online media is the way forward. The results caught the attention of the recruitment industry:
‘In what may be an announcement of profound significance to the online recruitment industry, Alex Sproat, the founder and director of Jobs.ac.uk, has published data relating to appointments made at four high ranking universities….This data is probably the most solid evidence to date of the rise in significance of recruitment websites, and the corresponding decline of print media dominance in the recruitment advertising market.’
The Online Recruitment Resource, onrec.com
Today, this argument is almost irrelevant – online recruitment advertising is the norm. Slowly over the following decade, our print competitors moved online and new jobs boards sprung up. While print advertising hasn’t completely disappeared, digital technology has completely transformed recruitment advertising. Connecting jobs with candidates has become far easier, it has even enabled our universities to become recruitment platforms in their own right. Technology has also enabled recruiters and advertisers to more easily monitor the effectiveness of various platforms they are using. Well, in theory at least.
So it seems that the question of recruitment advertising is no longer about whether print or online media is more effective. This issue has become far more complex. On one hand, we now want to know, just like our recruiting institutions, who is using what to attract talent to their jobs. On the other hand, how effective are these various platforms?
Well, results from our last survey which looked at data from 8 UK universities suggested that the majority of appointments (59%) came directly via universities’ own recruitment pages. Furthermore, 15% of appointments were made via a more traditional route, word-of mouth to be precise. In joint second place was jobs.ac.uk. We also delivered 15% of overall appointments. The final 11% was a mix of online and print media, which included journals as well as leading publications.
What we haven’t looked at was the proportion of jobs these 8 universities were placing across platforms. We know that universities will have used their own recruitment pages for all their jobs. jobs.ac.uk has become part of the recruitment policy for many of the UK universities, so there is high likelihood we would have advertised the majority, if not all, of research and academic posts for them. But what about other media? Specialist journals will not be relevant for hosting most of the universities’ jobs, so it is only logical that they will deliver a small percentage of appointments. These are the questions we will be asking in our current survey.
Another interesting finding was the lack of social media usage. Arrival of social media promised to change further the way recruitment is done. Yet, in 2013, we found no evidence of any significant changes as a result of the emergence of these platforms. Universities were simply not using them. Has this changed since 2013?
For this year’s survey we have been able to expand our sample to include recruitment data from research institutions as well as universities. We are particularly pleased to announce collaboration with a prestigious European research organisation. So, as we start to analyse our data we will be comparing results with our last survey and discovering new trends. Our series of blogs on the topic of ‘Methods and effectiveness’ will report on what we find and hopefully provide some invaluable insights into best practice in the global competition for talented research and academic staff.