Unshaken by the misfortunes of other dotcom ventures, e-recruitment firms have proved that irrespective of market fluctuations, jobs will remain an active sector both with givers and seekers. But despite the continuing success of these ventures, most e-recruiters seem to have learnt much from the doom period. The clear advertising and promotional strategies applied by the sector’s top players today is a fitting example.
Commenting on the effect the dotcom doom had on the online job search sector, Rajiv Puri, CEO, JobsAhead.com says, “The dotcom industry did witness a period of doom. But the e-recruitment category has seen continuous growth. So honestly there has been no such doom period as yet for this category”. To this adds N. Murlidharan, MD and VP, JobStreet.com, “Job dotcoms always had an opportunity because of the pent up demand. There has been and always will be a demand to service a whole lot of clients in a cost effective, fast and efficient way. Internet as a medium helps meet that demand. It is fast owing to its speed, its reach is high as you can access areas that cannot be reached in the conventional ways and it is cost effective as once you develop the technology, its deployment is inexpensive”.
Sanjeev Bikhchandani, CEO, Naukri.com believes that the strategy behind the commercial success of Naukri was the company’s decision to watch their ad-spend even during the boom days. “We spent as per the needs of our business which at the time was setting up offices outside Delhi to create a national presence. There is no point in spending a lot of money to shake a tree when you don’t have the wherewithal to gather the fruit that falls. As a consequence of that, our ad spends have always been closely associated with the needs of our business,” he said. However, this was not the case with most other online ventures. Describing JobStreet’s ad expenditure during the boom days as “vulgar”, Murlidharan says, “Frankly, even we over spent during the boom period. But the good part of this was that all our ads projected a satisfied user for a referral customer. This was certainly the good part of the noise levels that we sent across to our customers. But the choice of medium or the placement of a hoarding or the number of communications that we did – we are wiser now in hindsight”.
The lesson learnt by most online ventures can be seen clearly in the advertising and promotional strategies they use today. Most companies use a combination of mass media and below the line activities. JobsAhead has divided its audience into two segments and approaches them accordingly. “For advertising to the corporates we use the direct marketing and events route, where the quality and length of our interaction with our target audience is larger. Our advertising strategy to reach out to jobseekers across India is rooted in mass media,” Puri explains. Naukri also uses a multi-media mix and applies a combination of print, television, radio, outdoors and online in its campaigns. According to Bikhchandani, direct marketing is used to access niche audiences. Besides using research in deciding on the medium, its frequency and the number of communication outputs to be used, the media effectiveness of these campaigns is also closely watched. JobStreet conducts such an effectivity test on each of its campaigns before venturing further.
While some believe that using the emotive route in advertising will result in creating a loyal user base, Murlidharan holds a differing view. According to him, job seekers look at e-recruiters as complementing each other. He adds, “Most people sign up on all available online options. The only way one company can make a mark is by offering exclusive services. At the end of the day what the customer is looking at is service levels”. Some of the specialized services offered today include resume updating options, higher confidentiality, a client base of top companies from different domains, a multi-national database, career management assistance and a host of other offerings.
Despite the limited reach of the Internet in India, the future of job dotcoms appears to be promising. Voicing his optimism Puri says, “Taking a broad perspective on net adoption and usage in India, till date email has been the biggest driver for net adoption. The second biggest driver for net adoption and usage has been messengers (chatting). We at JobsAhead strongly believe that applying to jobs online is one of the biggest drivers for net adoption in India”. This optimism has also found its way onto paper. According to Bikhchandani, Naukri’s revenues have double each year for the past four years and the company is said to hold a market share of around 52%. JobStreet, in turn, has also seen a rise in its revenues with the increase in its customer base, which is at around 1.5 lakh users in India and steadily growing. With facts like this, one would be right in saying that as long as there will be job seekers and givers, the e-recruitment sector will ride on a continuous boom.