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Judging SEEK’s New Recruitment Awards

By August 21, 20148 Comments

Thank you SEEK. It feels strange writing that. A bit like finding yourself in a bar with your school days nemesis and indulging in small talk about kids and jobs and oh do you remember that time Mrs Odgers fell asleep in the exam room and we all snuck a peek at the answers and realising they’re actually alright. But there it is: Thanks. Thanks for listening.

This blog has had it’s moments over the years lambasting the format of the SARAs (SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards) which you can see here in 2013 and here in 2011 and even here in 2010 if you wish (clearly couldn’t be bothered in 2012). Without labouring the point too much, I found it absurd that adulation would be awarded to those in the industry who had canvassed the most votes from their candidates. Particularly when those candidates could be absolutely anyone with unique IP addresses, resulting in us enterprising recruiters, always looking for ways around things, to launch election campaigns via email, social media and direct marketing that would rival a far left weirdo’s campaign to derail the government’s own campaign in election year.

There had been rumblings and rumours that a change in format might be on the horizon, strengthened by the recent survey many of you probably received. Then SEEK announced this week that this year, for the first time since 2002, the format of the Awards would be changing. It seems that SEEK actually listened to the feedback they were getting from their recruitment agency clients! It’s almost as if they value our feedback and value our business, which it’s worth noting is a far cry from the stance adopted by LinkedIn who are openly looking to reduce businesses reliance on agencies.

I’ve had a couple of exchanges with SEEK Trade Marketing Manager, New Zealand Ana-Mari Gates-Bowey, and she had this to say:

“Following extensive consultation with representatives from the recruitment sector, SEEK has made the decision to evolve the entry format and judging of its annual recruitment awards to best align with the challenges and achievements of today’s agencies.

We wanted to ensure the SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards remained a credible and relevant title which recognises recruitment excellence. The new format allows participants to showcase their expertise and individual approaches to industry best practice.”

Obviously she didn’t actually say that. Not in normal conversation. She doesn’t really talk like that, but that’s the quote we received because she has to talk like that when in PR for a large corporate.

So it looks like New Zealand’s best recruiters and best companies will be judged by a select panel instead of candidates, friends and family of recruitment consultants, and the general public at large.

I’m glad the format is going to be a panel of judges instead of a specious popularity contest. Obviously it’s hard to please everyone and get these things perfect every time (I’ve heard others involved in the Deloitte Fast 50 and CIO Awards cast aspersions on their veracity before) but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

So the big question remains: Who will be the judges?

The general suspects within our own industry are kind of ruled out by tightly woven webs of conflicting interests.  Greg Savage?  He is a paid advisor to a range of recruitment agencies in Australia and New Zealand.  The Madison girls Wynnis and Marisa?  Still too close to their previous business, despite selling to AWF, you’d imagine.  Suppliers to the industry, such as myself, would also have their own natural bias and preferences.  After doing rec-to-rec for 7 years (almost exactly) I’ve developed a firm list of favourite clients, and then others I’d like to trap in glass and fire off into space like General Zod from Superman.

It’s my understanding that SEEK are still working out who they will appoint to the judging panel – so here is a chance for you to have you say and make your own suggestions.  Should it be GM’s of HR?  Captains of Industry? Entrepreneurs?  Sportsmen or TV personalities?  You’d like to think they should have some knowledge of recruitment process and what goes on in our industry – the comments are open for your ideas below.

I wonder if Simon Cowell is available?

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.


  • Troy Hammond (@troyhammo) says:

    About time. After winning this award almost with my former mob, I can most certainly say that is won by running a marketing campaign and not being “the best.” We at Candle were actually talking about this the other day and if we should enter and the consensus was “Nah, you don’t actually get any kudos for winning the SARA’s as they are self-won) If they are judged externally and by a good panel. I would like to think that a lot of agencies who are actually working hard and believe it or not, trying new things will actually enter. As for the panel I think it should be a group of leader/CEO’s in the #NZrec industry who cannot vote for their own agency.

  • Always entertaining thanks….particularly liked “….and then others I’d like to trap in glass and fire off into space like General Zod from Superman.”

  • Paul says:

    Like it or not the best panel of judges would be the government’s centre of excellence for recruitment, as they’re currently measuring the performance of 40 odd companies supplying against the panel deal into government.

  • Rich says:

    Hi Jon, thanks for the support. We agree that moving from a populous vote to using a judging panel will reinvigorate the awards.

  • Patrick says:

    You comment on LinkedIn is spot on. We had a “Talent Solutions Specialist” put together a special tailored (discounted!) agency package for us last month. NZD30K per annum. To help us source even more spectacular candidates for our clients…

    The very next week one of our clients forwarded an email to us. The very same client we rely on for revenue and to place said spectacular candidates; titled “How you could be reducing agency spend”.

    It goes on… “Consider how much you spend on 1 placement through an agency. We have a product which would cost about the same as that 1 agency fee and allow you to search and contact talent from a pool of 314 million LinkedIn members. Contact and hire as many people as you want for an entire year for the same price as 1 agency fee – I think that’s pretty good”.

    This feels pretty cynical. Especially as it came from exactly the same LinkedIn team in Sydney.

  • Carmen says:

    Well done Seek hope you source some good judges with some strong criteria. Paul completely disagree with suggesting MBEI there are those on the panel that are there only because they wrote a good proposal and threw in some exceptionally cheap prices with recruiting being a secondary skill!!

    • Jane says:

      Carmen, completely agree with you. The centre of excellence has turned recruiters from trusted advisors to transactional order takers that are required to work at brake neck speed!