As we begin the second decade of the NORA’s, it’s worth reflecting on just how much the UK online recruitment sector has changed, grown and matured since our very first awards were presented. Back in 2001, we were seeing the initial bloom fall from the cheeks of many online businesses. The Dotcom Bubble, as it was called had inflated so quickly, that new online ventures were being formed every day, and often gaining investment on the basis of a “fag-packet” business plan. By 2001, no-one was investing, and many companies, like BOO.com, had folded after burning through immense amounts of investment. The online businesses that survived, and exist to this day, are those which were built on sound business principals and, more importantly, actually worked for the consumer.
It is in this light then, that we should look at the online recruitment services which were shortlisted as Finalists for the inaugural NORA’s, and especially our Winners. Let’s take a look:
National Online Recruitment Awards 2001
1. BEST GENERAL JOBSITE
Due to the Jobsite.com domain being temporarily unavailable, Jobsite.co.uk had rebranded as GoJobsite. That aside, only Jobsite and Monster remain in the same space as the market leaders they were in 2001. In doing so, they have been instrumental to the development of the sector in the UK, and continue to be so.
2. BEST SPECIALIST JOBSITE
Jobserve is in the history books as the world’s first job board. Whilst broadening their scope to include all other industry sectors, many still perceive Jobserve as an IT specialist job board. 3 of the other finalists are now owned by major publishing groups, who were late to recognise the threat and opportunities of online recruitment.
3. BEST REGIONAL JOBSITE
Whilst S1 weren’t winners in the first NORA’s, they dominated this sector for many years, demonstrating just how vital regional focus is to online recruitment.
4. BEST NATIONAL RECRUITMENT AGENCY WEBSITE
Of these Finalists, only REED were shortlisted again in 2010. However, all of these organisations still carry huge clout in the UK recruitment industry.
5. BEST SMALL RECRUITMENT AGENCY WEBSITE (3 branches or less)
From the beginning it was clear that inventiveness and innovation would be driven by the smaller, ambitious recruitment agencies. RGB continue to this day at www.rgb.co.uk .
6. BEST NATIONAL EMPLOYER’S WEBSITE (recruitment)
Frankly, these Finalists aside, the major employers of the UK often disappointed the NORA’s judging panel in the early part of the decade. Happily, most are now very much up to speed, and fully exploiting social media to source their ongoing need for talent. PS. The Army and Navy websites, as you might expect, have always led the way in successfully using the internet for recruitment.
7. BEST ONLINE RECRUITMENT SECTION BY A CONSUMER PUBLICATION
You could say that the Finalists for this award always include the same “usual suspects”; and you’d be right. However, whilst the names of the UK’s largest newspapers never changes much (aside from the NOTW), the competition between them has never been more fierce. These newspapers now derive very little income from traditional paper-based recruitment classified advertising.
8. BEST ONLINE RECRUITMENT SECTION BY A TRADE PUBLICATION
Trade magazines were amongst the very first to “get it” that online recruitment was the future. As monthly publications they very much needed to offer a real-time recruitment service to their clients and readers, and were ideally positioned to do so. We often find the most stylish NORA entrants in this section.
9. BEST EMPLOYMENT ADVICE WEBSITE
It did seem for a few years that specialist career advice sites were struggling to survive as independent businesses. Increasingly, the major job boards have invested time and resources into providing fantastic candidate-focussed services. However, in the past 3 years, we have seen the emergence of new and very innovative contenders for this award.
Additionally, since 2001, we have added awards for Best Newcomer, and for Best Innovation in Online Recruitment. The relentless advance of social media channels has meant that new ideas, and new ways to implement them are coming thick and fast. This year, we expect the use of SM channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Youtube to be strong factors in the decision making of our judges. Additionally, the ability to access recruitment services from a far wider range of devices will be vital too.
It may well be true that the NORA’s were created during a very difficult employment market, but out of that was born immense innovation in online recruitment practices. The same could now be said, as a result of the 2008-2010 employment recession that has spurred innovation. Whilst there will certainly not be plain sailing from this moment on, we now have an industry that has matured over two employment recessions, and all but usurped historic methods of recruitment advertising. I fully expect the second decade of the NORA’s to be as exciting as the first.