Onrec Online Recruitment Magazine Feature: Niche Sites

Written by Lauren Mackelden, Features Editor, Onrec Magazine

Niche sites have a unique understanding of their customers which they are learning to maximise fully. Their evolution is far from over,  as Onrec  discovered…

Niche sites provide a targeted arena for both employers and jobseekers says Nils Moeller Global Head of Classified Advertising at Naturejobs, which targets over 8.4 million active and passive jobseekers each month. Naturejobs is the worldwide career resource for scientists, also providing a wide range of career advice and information across their  Nature Publishing Group  journals. Nils Moeller acknowledges that traffic and job applications may be lower on niche sites, but says the relevance and quality of candidates are typically stronger: “This helps employers save time and money in their recruitment process.”

Niche sites are focused on a particular audience. However, the same strategies used by general job sites can be applied to niche ones, says Moeller. “For example, a lot of general job sites have career articles. Naturejobs provides a similar service but takes it one step further by creating its own career content written specifically for scientific jobseekers.  Producing an article on how to construct an academic CV enables us to drive traffic and highlight our expertise.

By providing relevant scientific articles, they are able to target passive jobseekers, as visitors who are reading the latest feature on nature.com can see job listings that could interest them. For instance, a bio analyst job listing can appear beside an article on biotechnology. Moeller continues: “Employers can also have their branding advert appear when someone searches using a keyword related to the employer’s activities. In addition to onsite strategies, we also use social media to build an active and engaged audience. Facebook and twitter allow us to exchange relevant advice and ideas, as well as raise our brand awareness, and drive traffic to our site.”

A specific focus is also possible that is  not available on general job sites, according to Moeller. For example, on Naturejobs, jobseekers can filter jobs by type including PhD Studentship and Research Associate. Likewise, employers can view candidates’ scientific interests and related primary and secondary specialties. Using the scientific interest of chemistry, a candidate has the option of 13 chemistry specialties to choose from.

 Of course, there is also the added weight of the brand behind a niche job site.  Naturejobs, as part of  ‘Nature’, is a trusted brand, which means employers using it gain from their association with Nature. It’s this combination of relevance, application and brand that makes the recruitment process via a niche site an efficient and beneficial one, says Moeller. For example, one of their advertisers, British Petroleum (BP), wanted to recruit professionals in geology, geophysics, and engineering.  They wanted to target researchers working in earth sciences and drive them to a recruitment landing page.  The campaign featured a combination of print and online advertising. Even though BP ran the same campaign in six competitor journals, over half of their landing page traffic came via Nature.

Regarding the future, Moeller says as personalization plays a larger role in internet use, both in terms of content and usability, niche job sites are in a good position to handle the future needs of their audiences. “In the future, Naturejobs aims to be an ingrained part of the process of securing a job; whether it’s  to research employers, find advice on interview preparation or a place to interact and seek guidance from industry experts in real time.”

Being known as the experts in a particular industry is a key driver in the success of niche sites, agrees Rob Searle, Commercial Director at CareerStructure.com. “This innate connection to an industry means recruiters know their vacancies will be viewed by the right candidates and as a consequence, jobseekers know they can rely on that site to hold vacancies from the biggest and best companies within the industry.” Searle believes that his company is the leading built environment job board and their focus on this specialism has seen the performance of the site increase, with 251,000 unique users visiting the site in January 2013 alone. He reports mid January figures were 56% higher than December 2012 and 25% higher than January 2012, demonstrating the scale of the growth of the job board. Searle also emphasises the importance of a sales team that has great expertise within the field – providing a tailored service to match the requirements of recruiter’s campaigns with the right candidates whilst providing advice on how to showcase details of the vacancy to greatest effect. Plus highlighting what the business or recruiter needs to know about wider trends in the sector which may impact their recruitment. 

Mobile platform vital

For CareerStructure.com, a presence on mobile is essential within the built environment industry, due to the remote working conditions which a large percent of our jobseekers spend their days partaking in, notes Searle. “Working outside of the office environment means workers operate on a satellite basis. Mobile now generates 5000 – 6000 applications via the medium each month, demonstrating the importance of offering such a channel for jobseekers in this sector. This surge in mobile jobseeking has resulted in 1000% growth in users to the CareerStructure.com mobile site in its first year, claims Searle, and it is now achieving 60,000 mobile visits per month.

In 2012 the CareerStructure website moved towards providing a more integrated service, with the introduction of an innovative news hub, designed to provide those working in the industry with up-to-the-minute news on what’s happening in the sector.  Searle comments that the news hub is fully integrated with social and professional networking sites enabling users to easily share stories, comment and interact with other users around the globe. The hub aims to generate greater engagement, showcasing the brand to those in the industry while encouraging users to apply to relevant jobs on the main job site. Searle believes: “For both jobseekers and recruiters in the built environment sector, having a good understanding of issues and trends is crucial.  Whether it’s a boost to Government funding in the South of England or private investment in Dubai – knowing about projects and plans will ensure both jobseekers and recruiters know where the opportunities lie.”

Niche companies can certainly be successful, with some healthy results shown already this year. The STR Group, which specialises in the Technical, Professional and Health recruitment sectors have announced a 58% rise in turnover in 2012, following significant investment into new specialist companies. They say this increase has been primarily driven by growth seen in niche markets, strong client retention, new client wins and improved performance by the brands created. Navis Consulting, the Maritime recruitment company and the first of the rebrands, has seen a 107% increase in Gross Profit during 2012 alone. Commenting on STR’s year-end trading, Richard Crawley, CEO of STR said; “Our diversification strategy is continuing to deliver strong results and we are seeing unprecedented global demand for contract staff within our engineering, aviation, maritime and oil and gas sectors. We have made a number of changes to the company structure over the past 12 months, and this will position us well for continued growth during 2013.”

New strategies and technologies will definitely help build success. According to Kevin Forbes, CEO of Oilandgaspeople, the oil and gas sector is in the middle of a recruitment crisis, yet says his company has used ground breaking strategy to disrupt and transform the recruitment sector through innovative use of social media and web technology. Forbes says: “Within its first year, Oilandgaspeople.com overtook multi-million pound competitors with large marketing budgets using social media and viral marketing online as a main route to market. For instance each job posted with Oil and Gas People gets distributed to over 30 social media and job aggregator sites.” Forbes also claims they have one of the largest social media presences online with LinkedIn groups with over 600,000 members. He believes they have had huge success because they have embraced the latest trend and technology- he warns that sites that don’t keep up will quickly fall behind like most of their competitors. 

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