The Ri5 interview: Andy Sumner and Sinead Bunting

The Ri5 interview: Andy Sumner and Sinead Bunting

It is fair to say that over the years, Monster has been one of the big innovators in recruitment. From its original mission statement of ‘Never settle’, the recruitment giant has always sought to move forward in how it uses technology and how it enables recruiters to engage with candidates.

As previously reported on Ri5, a number of recent product launches, alongside a refreshed brand, have helped to move the company further forward and we spoke to Andy Sumner, Monster UK and Ireland managing director, to learn about the success of some of those initiatives, as well as discussing other developments Monster has in the pipeline.

One of the most significant recent developments has been Monster’s Social Job Ads, which in Sumner’s view are a key way of getting passive candidates to engage with recruiters without investing an inordinate amount of time, energy and money.

After a beta trial in April, which saw expectations significantly exceeded (15 customers placed ten ads each, and each ad had a target of 50 engagements; all of the ads hit this target within 24 hours), the product was formally launched in May, and the success of those early results has continued.

Sumner says: “We’ve seen real traction with it. It’s interesting because as well as attracting passive candidates, it also helps clients to be really targeted in their social attraction strategies – without the investment in effort and time that’s often been required in social media strategies.

“We’re really excited about it and so are our customers – we’ve surpassed our sales targets already. And I really believe this technology will become a key part of companies’ social attraction strategies, augmenting their standard job ads and also their employer brands. And, it could also go on to rival standard job ads as employers’ primary attraction method.”

Sumner also says there are future developments in the pipeline, with the product likely to be developed further for use on other social platforms and sites; a roll-out is planned by the end of the year.

Of course, a product like Social Job Ads isn’t just about offering a cost-effective solution; and Sumner is also keen to point out some of the other benefits. He says: “What’s really interesting is that compared to a standard job ad, you see a real immediacy of engagement, because the ad appears in people’s Twitter feeds.”

“We got on average 6,000 impressions per job ad and we also got an average of 20 candidates going through to the apply process, which surpassed our expectations. And, of course, these aren’t necessarily the kind of active candidates you’d expect to respond to a standard job ad – they’re a mixture of active and passive from the whole candidate spectrum.”

Another recent product launch, TalentBin, says Sumner, is also resonating with Monster’s audience. Again, high internal expectations have been exceeded, and as Sumner says: “The stats for clients’ usage and sales numbers have both exceeded expectations. This tells us that our clients are achieving genuine value from it – and it’s a return they’re unable to get elsewhere, which is testament to the uniqueness of our proposition.”

When it comes to the future of these products, Monster is looking to increase the number of occupational verticals offered under TalentBin, and is also working on aggregation and pay-for-performance, a piece of work has already started in the US, and which the UK team is now looking at how it can deliver most effectively.

Sumner says: “Our business is all about innovation and bringing new things to the online recruitment market, and I think over the past 12 months we’ve done that to a far greater extent than our competitors.”

And he adds: “The various new products we’ve introduced, which are delivering value to customers, are great. But we also want to deliver thought leadership and champion some of the tech talent challenges we’re currently seeing.”

Monster, as reported on Ri5, has already placed itself at the heart of the tech talent debate, and is setting out to help tackle current and future talent gaps in the digital and tech sectors.

Sinead Bunting, Monster’s marketing director, UK and Ireland, is deeply passionate about the topic, and offers more insight into what Monster is doing in this area.

“If somebody asked us what we were good at,” she says, “we could say, hand on heart, that’s tech talent. And our products really underline our strength in that area.

“Now we want to get back to our roots as being innovators, and that involves championing the tech sector – not just when it comes to recruitment but also considering the digital skills gap we see at the moment.

As Bunting points out, Monster deals with clients who will be faced with huge future challenges as a result of digital skills gaps. As a result, Monster has partnered with industry bodies and helped to set up events to raise awareness and improve talent pipelines.

Part of this is its partnership of the forthcoming Young Rewired State’s Festival of Code, which will be the largest hackathon in the UK, with 1,200 youngsters taking part and a competition around how the participants can get their peers more involved in code.

Sumner continues “I think the industry in general has a responsibility to highlight this issue and help to improve the situation. Organisations can’t necessarily do these things by themselves; they need to be guided by people like us, who have the knowledge and understanding in this area.

“We’ve all got a responsibility to highlight that, unless we do something collectively – not just in recruitment – we’re simply not going to be able to satisfy the requirement for talent.

Bunting concedes it is a large, complex task, and Monster is currently in the process of identifying other stakeholders with whom it can engage on this topic. An initiative she is driving, working alongside Monster’s European President Andrea Bertone, is to forge a Tech Talent Charter for the industry to contribute and sign up to.

With the digital skills gap a very significant challenge for the UK economy and with women accounting for only 17% of the current tech workforce, the mission of the charter is make a collective commitment to diversity and inclusion in the recruitment and retention of tech talent. Bunting says this will not only deliver the essential tech skills required to fuel the economy but truly reflect the society which is served by the world of tech.

And in addition to this, Monster will be reaching out to a consumer audience.

Bunting says “A lot of what we’ve done so far has been B2B, but we’ll also be looking to work with organisations to offer jobseekers and candidates the opportunity to learn coding – for example a ‘learn code in a day’ programme – that will be a key step in getting them involved in closing this talent gap.

Furthermore, Sumner himself will be taking part in this course, along with Andrea Bertone, leading by example and showing how this sort of initiative starts at the top of organisations.

As if that wasn’t enough to keep the team busy, Monster is also looking to relaunch the graduate section of its site. As Bunting points out: “Millennials are our core audience and we’ve got great content that we can offer them. We’ve also been running things like competitions and offering career advice, and we’re aiming for the new graduate offering to be ready in July.”

Furthermore, Sumner adds: “We’re also going through a redesign of our homepage and search results functionality to make sure it works for our users in the best way, and to make sure that it’s not just about finding a job, it’s also about helping them to be successful in the process.

He continues: “Mobile-first is one of the big initiatives for this year – almost half of our traffic comes from mobile devices, and we want to make sure that if people look at a job on Monster via mobile it’s then as easy and intuitive as possible to engage and apply for it.

“We’re in a world in which lives are spent on mobiles and we want to support that audience as effectively as we can, to engage with opportunities in an effective and meaningful way.”

All in all, it looks set to be another busy year for Monster, with further developments among its core propositions alongside its efforts to help tackle the tech skills gap. Looking back, it appears the ‘Never settle’ mission statement was an apt one, both then and now.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

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Paul Roper Date: Jul 3, 2015

Great article and also great to see the new products are developing at a pace :).

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