Good morning, I am here with Jamie Simon in the colourful SEEK offices, how are you Jamie?
I am very well thanks Trevor, thanks for joining us!
Jamie I’d like to ask you some questions about SEEK’s innovations, SEEK’s products, SEEK’s direction in the future. I’d like to start with the fact that innovation is such an important thing, we’re seeing it come from our Prime Minister, there’s a lot of talk about innovation. Where does innovation stem from in SEEK? How does it come about?
Innovation is core to our DNA Trevor, thinking back to 18 years ago when SEEK first entered the market place we were a disruption. We were focused on an industry we saw to be highly inefficient, and we looked at how we could bring innovation to that market place to deliver more value both to candidates and hirers. That innovation and disruption that founded our business and lead to the success of the business over the last 18 years has been carried all the way through, and the large part we have our leadership to thank for that. Andrew Bassat who is our CEO and Co-Founder, really drives that culture through the business through his leadership, and down through the rest of our organisation. We look at opportunities and ways to lift that through the organisation. An example is our Hackathon program which we founded a few years ago.
We run the Hackathons three times a year, and these are an opportunity for all our employees to put ‘tools down’ for three days and focus on an innovation concept that they believe will drive value both for our organisation and our customers, and for the marketplace in general. Off the back of those hackathons have come some of our most exciting product innovations. The other point is that we are a very strategy led business, so a lot of the insights are drawn through our strategy team through market research we do, which provides terrific input into our investment priorities, that again drives the innovation of the organisation. So there are a couple of key areas there that we are very focussed on, in investing and driving to drive and support that innovation culture.
Jamie I’ve found that market information, in terms of jobs and types of jobs or candidates, is generally undervalued. It’s used more reactively by clients then proactively. It’s not well understood! What type of market information is available from SEEK and how would clients access it to create value?
I think that’s a very good point Trevor! We’ve been working with clients extensively. There are concepts like strategic workforce planning that are used quite a lot but there are very few organisations that are actually looking at market data to help form and guide their talent acquisition strategies. I think there is a tremendous opportunity for organisations to be more proactive in thinking through their work force plan and their acquisition strategies through the use of more robust market data and marketing sites. If I think about the information that we can provide at SEEK, given we capture such a large percentage of transactions in the employment market, we’re able to draw that information together and create some really unique insights. The SEEK Employment Index is one key piece, and has been in-market for some time. We’ve recently revamped that, in consultation with some key economic partners, and we’re bringing that to market now. So over the coming months you’ll be able to see that and leverage that insight to look at markets’ supply and demand in categories and sub-categories and locations, and look at salary trends and so on.
Our Talent Search product is another great example; we now represent about half of the working population within our talent data-base, we’re able to draw terrific insight through our market movement from that collection of information. Industry Insights is another really important tool that we have, that talks about candidate behaviour in certain industries, and again talks to supply and demand, and to key search behaviour of candidates in specific industries. Then of course we’re able to look at bespoke reporting for customers as well, depending on the problem they’re trying to solve and the need that they have. There’s a lot of information that we’ve got the ability to draw on, and given we’ve invested so heavily in structuring that data over the last couple of years it allows us to be able to create some really useful insight.
Do any clients take advantage of that?
Yes absolutely and increasingly so! Particularly in the last 6-12 months more and more we’re working with selected clients who have a particular problem they’re trying to solve, and looking at how we can draw information and data from our extensive asset pool to help support them. There’s quite a number of examples that I could cite in how we’re doing that.
That must be great for a client to all of a sudden get access to SEEK’s data scientists to leverage that skill to solve problems.
Absolutely! A couple of examples that I might give include Defence Force Recruiting (DFR), which is a very challenging recruitment platform. There’s a lot of work we’ve been doing with them around specific job families and job functions, our data scientists are helping DFR to understand how they can represent a job role to capture a broader market-place than they would ordinarily get access to, given the perspective of their brand in the market-place. I think about other organisations like Coles for example, they’ve got a great growth strategy around fresh food their in stores and they’re trying to figure out how they can attract talent into those region centres. Another example is the NSW government, they’re also looking at their regional centres and how they build out regional services to support NSW Government in understanding what their talent pool looks like in certain regional sites.
They’re some really good ones! Jamie, I want to sort of change path a little bit. I realise SEEK’s got a new product called company reviews. How do you see companies handling both the good and bad feedback, and what are your hopes and dreams for this product?
We’re really excited about this product Trevor. Company reviews is something we’ve been thinking about for quite some time and it’s something that we’re now looking at bringing to market after a heavy degree of investment over the last six months or so. The genesis of this product was a piece of research that we undertook that sought to understand what are the key problems that are trying to be solved by candidates. To be clear this product has initially been built with the candidate in mind. We see tremendous value for hirers down the track through it as well. The problem that we’re trying to solve is two-fold.
Firstly, “piece story” session that we do was called the ‘Jobs to be Done’ research. It gets into the mind of the candidate, to understand what sort of problems they’re trying to solve – in other words, what’s a real job that needs to be done for them to help their job-seeking journey. The key piece of information we learned was that candidates want to understand – before they apply for a role – what it’s really like to work at an organisation – they want to understand what the culture is like, they want to understand what the leadership is like, they want to understand more about the products and services. The outcome of not having that information is another piece of research we did, which identified that more than 50% of candidate’s expectations were not met when they started a job. That is to say, the expectation that they had of an organisation through the application process was very different to what they found when they first landed.
So we wanted to solve those two problems for them, which was the genesis of investment in company reviews and we believe that this platform will do that. Company reviews will give more authentic insights to candidates about the organisation, the culture, the leadership and the type of place it is, before they apply. This will ensure the cultural fit is there at application. That then solves a tremendous problem for hirers as well; it ensures that they’re only seeing a self-selection of candidates at the application stage. The candidates applying for that organisation are applying knowing what it’s like to work there. That means employers get better culture fit, they get a better hire and a longer tenure of hire as well. The other by-product is that over time we’ll be giving more access and control to hirers, to be able to leverage this platform as a channel to communicate their employer value proposition (EVP). Company reviews really focuses on targeted segments of the candidate population, and employers can use this to talk about their culture, their employment brand and overall to communicate their value proposition. And importantly, providing a trusted platform in which to build communities of candidates around their brand.
You know your products well and are very passionate about it, well done. Jamie, I want to go a little bit more tactical now. I want to talk about Talent Search. I’ve used the product, and I am a fan of the depth of the product and the ability to be able to get candidates to react to the product. I didn’t enjoy the point system – being a person that worries about the points and how to use them – but I thought the product itself was a really innovative tool. In fact, compared to some of the other products in the market place, it worked extremely well. So, one how do you explain to companies how to use this service? Do they need to have a job to use it, how are you marketing this? How can other people use Talent Search to move their jobs forward?
Thanks for the question Trevor. This is another product that we are very excited about. Company reviews and Talent Search are probably two of our key product innovation investments in the last six months, and both are really changing the game for our hirers and also taking SEEK in a very new direction. We’re broadening our portfolio to be much more than a digital job advertising platform and really moving to an employment marketplace. You commented earlier on the points/credit system. The genesis for the usage allocation part of the product was really to give flexibility to hirers, and that’s why we went with a points system as opposed to a license-based system or similar. The product is accessed by two mechanisms: there is the standard Talent Search product which is free to anybody that posts a job on SEEK. So when you post a job on SEEK you then get access to Talent Search, to be able to search a defined set of candidates that match a role that you’ve posted, both the category, sub category and the location of the ad that you’ve posted. So that’s a free product that’s available to anybody that posts an add on SEEK.
There is a more limited credit allocation for that product, again because it is free when you’re ad posting. There is then a Premium Talent Search that gives you much greater access, so it’s an uncoupled search which means you don’t need to post an ad to be able to search. You’re able to access the entire SEEK data base, which is now over four million searchable profiles, and growing by roughly about 100 – 150 thousand profiles each month. That product allows you to pool all of the credits across your SEEK ad contract in order to access and search whenever you like. Which again, gives you much more flexibility, and addresses any concerns people might have credit allocation and usage.
Jamie thank you, and thank you for answering a hard question. I can see now SEEK has the whole gambit of candidate job company type information, what is the value proposition in its totality to large organisation and middle size organisations having all of this information coming together?
Very good question, but a very broad question. I think of SEEK’s position in the market place, historically people are familiar with SEEK as a digital advertising platform, or in other words, job ad board, which is the genesis of our business. This is what has led to our great success over the last 18 years. We are broadening our business to be much more than that. The investments that we’ve made in product and technology in the last 4-5 years have been vast, but moreover we’ve more than tripled our product team, invested tens of millions of dollars in our product capability, and that is now manifesting itself in a whole range of new products and services. Talent Search is one example, Company Reviews is another and we have more really exciting product announcements that we’re bringing to the market in 2016. Our future offering stems from the ad board – and the ad board is still very very key – that’s still how most roles are found by candidates, and it’s still how most new hires are placed. All of our additional capabilities are broadening out that portfolio, as hirers and candidates are having a whole bunch of other channels to be able to connect.
Social platforms being a perfect example as well. So when I think about SEEK’s role in the market place, our vision is to be the first choice for candidates when they think about their careers, and the first choice/first place for hirers to go when they think about talent. To do that we have to provide something to each of those parties, and you think about the three key parts of our platform – it’s around structuring job ads, it’s around structuring candidate information, and it’s around structuring company information. When you bring those three pieces together, each one addresses a primary stakeholder – a candidate or hirer, and the benefit of delivering value and solving problems for the primary stakeholder delivers benefits to the secondary stakeholder. The virtuous circle of value that results from this is an employment market place, and that we’re trying to be and to create.
Jamie, great answers. I am going to ask you a personal one now which wasn’t on the list. You’ve come down from NSW and you’ve joined the team here in Victoria. Which is the home of AFL, what is your football team that you support? Given that you were a rugby league sort of supporter previously?
Rugby union is my game, that has always been my passion and always will be. I’ve always been a sporting individual that follows all codes, I am really struggling to let go of the Swans. So I’ve got to say it’s still the Swans.
Jamie thank you for a great interview, I’ve really appreciated your time and trouble!
Thank you Trevor!
SEEK is a diverse group of companies, comprised of a strong portfolio of online employment, educational, commercial and volunteer businesses. SEEK operates across 19 countries with exposure to over 4 billion people and 26 per cent of GDP. SEEK makes a positive contribution to people’s lives on a global scale.
SEEK is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, where it is a top 50 company with a market capitalisation close to A$6billion and has been listed in the Top 20 Most Innovative Companies Globally by Forbes, and Number One in Australia.
For 17 years SEEK has been an integral part of Australians’ job-search process, and as the country’s leading employment marketplace is uniquely positioned to empower Australians with career, education and volunteer opportunities to create productive and fulfilling working lives.
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