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Trade Me Jobs claims victory over Seek but who is really #1 for Recruiters?

By November 4, 20103 Comments

Back in August 2009 Trade Me Jobs announced with much glee and hand-rubbing that they had, for the first time, surpassed Seek on domestic page impressions.  The then head of Trade Me Jobs, Jimmy McGee, said that:

“Our next goal is to beat Seek on local unique browsers. We’re well on track to do this by the end of the year,”


Well it took almost a year longer than that for it to happen but it looks like that target has now been achieved.  Early Monday saw a Tweet appear from Trademe Jobs declaring that:

“Our team are pretty chuffed to announce that Trade Me Jobs is now New Zealand’s #1 job board!”


This was soon followed by an article in the National Business Review explaining that Trade Me Jobs had edged ahead of Seek according to Nielsen’s October market data, with 860,922 domestic unique browsers ahead of 857,486 for Seek.

But what does this actually mean for us in recruitment?  All this talk of page impressions and unique browsers will no doubt soon be countered by Seek with claims of superior “total sessions” and “hours spent on the site”.  In fact they did respond with an immediate reposte on Tuesday, claiming that their browsers were more engaged job seekers as they had not stumbled into the Jobs section following a “fun auction” such as Trade Me’s browsers.  All of these different metrics will probably be gobbledygook to most recruiters (well they are to me anyway).  So what is really important?

I think that the real measureable that recruiters and hiring managers will want to see is which job board most frequently delivers the candidate to fill the role?  Things like Unique Browsers are useful stats to show people looking to advertise products and services on your website, but don’t really give us recruiters the full picture.

I love the fact that Trade Me Jobs is providing competition to Seek.  I think their image and approach speaks more clearly to the Kiwi way of business.  You don’t get so many overseas applications from candidates without visas to work in NZ.  They have excellent account management and customer service delivery, in my experience anyway.  However, much as I enjoyed being a customer, during the whole of 2008 I only made one placement via a Trade Me Jobs advert, against significantly more via Seek.  Since then I have only used Seek (and to post my ads.  Whilst I do get a lot more candidates via other channels such as word of mouth referrals (thanks, everyone) and social media efforts, Seek still do deliver from a purely business perspective.

It has been suggested to me on a number of occasions by other recruiters that I should advertise on Trade Me Jobs now, but I’m still not sure I will get the return on investment, not for my industry anyway.

As far as I’m concerned New Zealand’s number one job board is the one that delivers me more placeable candidates.  At the moment that is still Seek by a long shot and I’m not convinced that much will have changed since 2008.

But I have to say this is all fabulous publicity for Trade Me Jobs anyway and it has certainly got me wondering.  Perhaps I will put it to the test in 2011…

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Dan Salter says:

    There are some good questions in this post Jonathan. I’ve been in a position to look at the “Which job board do we actually place candidates from the most?” question from two different positions.

    Firstly, as the sole recruiter for a Software Development house. This was back in the day when Trademe jobs launched so volume of candidates submitting through Trademe were low. However even back then it was an 8:2 ratio in Trademe’s favour on Software engineering hires for our firm. My decision to continue to advertise on Seek at that time was solely for marketing reasons.

    Later on I worked for an Applicant Tracking System provider and was tasked with answering the same question for some of their clients via reporting. Again a clear swing in Trademe’s favour but this time across the board. I do recall however that there were some areas where Trademe had no presence at all. I believe Finance hires was one of these weak areas but don’t hold me to that.

    You’ve inspired me to look at these numbers again for my current employer. If I get permission to share the results on The Whiteboard I will.

  • Aaron Dodd says:

    As someone who actively recruits on both sides of the Tasman, when in NZ, I’ve found TradeMe to be an excellent source of candidates. I don’t use them exclusively, but in parallel to Seek. I’m on numerous records stating that Seek need strong competition in Australia like they have in NZ.

    In Australia, Seek’s effective monopoly (Careerone and MyCareer are so far behind as to be ineffectual) has meant elevated prices and poorer customer service. They need someone to keep them honest. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll see effective job board competition in Australia in the medium or even long-term.

    Hopefully soon, if not already, NZ customers of Seek will see better service and pricing as a result of the competition.

    Well done TradeMe!

  • Johan Ferrari says:

    Our experience is that motivated kiwi’s will look at least at both sites and as you mentioned Trademe has great customer service…. As yes I did enjoy the drinks at the celebration party earlier in the week.

    Johan Ferrari