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Career 13: Jobs Pages or an Obituary Column?

By January 31, 2013One Comment

I couldn’t help but feel that the three “Career 13” supplements published by the NZ Herald recently had more a feel of an obituary column than uplifting and edifying careers pages this year.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last year it is published in such a way.  What was once a cornerstone of the New Zealand recruiting calendar, a deliciously thick, juicy, wedge of tempting and tantalising career opportunities fighting for the reader’s attention, was this year reduced to a thin, apologetic collection of randomness, dominated by local governments, councils and trusts.

The impact of the internet on the way we consume and communicate is well documented.  The music industry has been hung out to dry by iTunes, with Netflix starting to do the same to television.  Retailers cannot compete with online shopping prices and are having to drastically change their channels from bricks and mortar to internet.  Even the good old posties are facing their own online demons, with e-mails threatening to reduce physical mail delivery to 3 days per week here in New Zealand.

Print media, of course, is one of the highest profile casualties of this online revolution, a fact brought to stark and startling attention by the Career 13 supplement.  Over last weekend I found a small window of time to look through them in a bit more detail, to try and get sense of how much things have changed and where things are heading.  Some numbers for you:

  • There were just over 100 different advertisers across all 3 supplements, although some listed multiple jobs.
  • The first weekend exhibited about 90 different advertisers, meaning the ensuing publications were largely re-publications of the same ads.
  • There were just 14 different recruitment agencies advertising roles, and 7 Executive Search firms
  • Jobs were advertised by 13 local councils, 12 Not-for-Profits / Trusts, and 9 Construction / Engineering companies.

You can deduce what you like from those numbers, but it is clear that the public sector and local community organisations still love their print media, whilst the recruitment agencies have mostly turned their backs on it completely.  And I can understand why.  I just don’t see the attraction for jobseekers anymore and, as such, I wouldn’t feel confident that my expensive advertising would even catch the right eyes.

Putting myself in the shoes of a jobseeker the first Saturday, I was relaxing on the deck in glorious sunshine, enjoying that musty smell and crinkle of peeling apart a fresh newspaper (so far so good).  But some domestic event or other took me off inside the house again and, upon my return, I found a gust of wind had redistributed the careers pages all over the deck.  Gathering them up into some semblance of order I later realised that two pages were actually still missing.  One I found later on the other side of the house, the other I found the next day, wedged under the greasy base of the BBQ where it had acted as a wonderful cleaning agent, soaking up the grease but sadly making the page mostly unreadable.

That doesn’t tend to be a problem with online, not unless one of the kids decides to scarper with the iPad to play their Wiggles app.  It’s a bit like being in the market for a second-hand lawnmower and looking for one by heading down the local junk shop to see if they have one.  Rummaging through the assorted bric-a-brac, cracked-plastic garden furniture and boxes of old toys, books and cutlery, you decide to try again during midweek (same stuff) and then the following weekend (the garden furniture’s gone but been replaced by an old chest of drawers and a sink).  Or alternatively, you could hop onto TradeMe and refine your search down to a splendid list of second-hand lawnmowers, all in your area, all different prices and states of disrepair.

No offence to the friendly accounts executives of APN but this one-time employment industry institution is dying a tragic and painful death.  The thing is you know it, judging by the excellent work you’ve started putting into a digital offering.  That’s the future for the Career supplement and you know it.

PS: Well done to the Northcote Tavern who are now serving up fish and chips in newspapers just like the old days.  Great for nostalgia, and a perfect use for this now redundant format.


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.

One Comment

  • Kevin C says:

    It’s funny Jonathan, I was thinking exactly the same and passed comment to my wife.  We browsed through it and thought it was a shadow of its former self.  I spoke to a number of senior job seekers this week, and not one had read it, and in fact some didn’t even know it had been published.  Most read the news on-line anyhow (as I do) and no longer buy the physical paper.  Funnily enough, I bought the Herald for the first time for ages just to have a look at the supplement.  I’m not a hypocrite, but we did have a couple of adverts in it, but only at the request of those clients who wanted them and wanted them branded.  I certainly would not recommend it as value or getting the best response.  It’s like watching tele on one of those bug-eye TVs!

    But I suppose this is the attitude of the Herald as it has for as long as I remember.  Their response to declining readership (of job ads) has been to keep putting the price up which in turn pushes people away.  There are of course still recruiters who love to see the “big spread” with their name plastered across the pages, but they are a dying race thank goodness. 

    Wouldn’t it be innovative if APN took the supplement into the digital media as a one-off and pushed us to go on-line and follow it?  Or used Facebook or Pinterest as a medium to do the same?  I can see the newspaper people shaking their heads, their green plastic shade caps on their foreheads moving from side-to-side, quill pens poised above the ink-well, saying “But then that takes our readers away from the printed media and we can’t have that, can we?”