Taking the Temperature at HotJobs

By Jonathan Pont

May. 2, 2005

Yahoo HotJobs is a bit of an anomaly: It has deep ties to one of the best-known sites on the Web but still trails competitors Monster and CareerBuilder in terms of revenue and traffic.

    In fact, Piper Jaffray & Co’s Brett Manderfeld says he expects Monster’s 2005 market share advantage to be “roughly two times CareerBuilder and five times HotJobs.”

    In an interview with Workforce Management, HotJobs executive vice president and general manager Dan Finnigan says his site nevertheless offers advantages over the two industry leaders.

    Workforce Management: Are customers’ budgets rising to reflect the uptick in hiring?

    Dan Finnigan: People’s budgets are still aligned with the downturn of the economy even though they have aggressive hiring objectives. There’s migration from traditional recruiting media or services to more cost-effective, Internet-based services.

    WM: Do recruiters and workforce management professionals have different demands than they did a couple of years ago?

    DF: During the downturn, many companies became concerned that through layoffs the image they had in the job market may not be as positive as they’d like. Now they are interested in opportunities to buy a bundle that allows them to target people who may not necessarily be going to a job board right now.

    Recruiters want to be smart: They want to have their dollar do more. They don’t want to just post their job on a job board and hope someone finds them. They don’t want to just look through the résumé database. They want to target the passive job seekers. And they want to build their brand as a great place to work and have the effort be cost-effective.

    WM: And I imagine this emphasis on passive job seekers has changed the products you offer.

    DF: Yahoo is rolling out Yahoo360, our own thing, that some people call a social networking site. People can save profiles of themselves, meet others and share photos and keep closer ties with friends and family members. It’s clear to us that as (online social networking) grows, the sharing of work experiences will become part of that.

    WM: Are you trying to find some sort “killer app” or revolutionary killer application of technology? Or is there just a natural progression of adding features in time?

    DF: I think it’s more the latter. When a critical mass is reached, people will say, “Can you imagine looking for a job in print?” It takes too much time. You talk to people who rely on Yahoo for news or sports scores, or what happened last night. No one said that on its own that this (type of service) was a killer app, but people make products like Yahoo a part of their life. I think that is going to happen on the job-seeking side. For the job seeker, a convergence is taking place that will allow a number of things to happen together.

    There’s more innovation that hasn’t taken place, but is going to. If you look back four years, the Web sites people turned to for, say, music, have evolved. It’s the same for retail and travel. New players emerge and take advantage of new technology. That’s going to continue in the job marketplace. Job seekers will use sites that are comprehensive and allow personalization.

    WM: Do you think the type of job seeker HotJobs attracts differs from those who use Monster or CareerBuilder?

    DF: I don’t think there’s a dramatic difference in the quality of the audience.

    There is a difference when someone types in one of those sites versus everyday using Yahoo and seeing a link for HotJobs and deciding to look, or use their Yahoo module to link to a job.

    There are perhaps more of the passive job seekers who check to see what’s available on HotJobs even though they didn’t wake up that morning with the intention of going to HotJobs.

    WM: One trend is the rise of the consolidator sites like Indeed and Workzoo that sweep the Internet for jobs and deliver “metasearch” results for a job candidate using a variety of job boards. Are they a friend or foe of HotJobs?

    DF: I don’t see them as a foe. We believe we need to be the first and only place people think about when they search for something online. That is the core of our mission. There are always going to be startups in search products in any number of categories.

    WM: HotJobs is distributing two games, one where the worker has to sneak over to a printer, and another where he has to cover up art depicting the boss. How important is viral marketing in your sector? How effective is it in attracting people?

    DF: Our own research shows that people are spending several minutes playing these branded games, and in the case of this Spring Break campaign, there is an intuitive connection: If you’re constantly playing games at work, you should probably be looking for a new job. This campaign helps drive traffic to HotJobs and engages both active and passive job seekers with our brand.

    We believe viral marketing will continue to play an important role in our industry, but we’ve found it’s most effective when part of a more comprehensive, integrated communications plan.

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