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Online recruitment spending has surpassed print recruitment spending for the first time, according to my friends and former colleagues at Borrell Associates. The line was crossed in 4Q 2006 (now), and online now accounts for US$5.9 billion, while print accounts for US$5.5 billion. Borrell further reports that newspaper Web sites have 18.6 percent of that market, or US$1.1 billion.

But the prognosis for newspaper recruitment dollars isn’t especially good  despite the recent pacts with Yahoo! and Monster. Borrell projects that metro dailies will lose 20 percent of their annual recruitment revenues from 2006 through 2011, which will translate to a loss of 3.1 share points. Suburban and community newspapers, which are more insulated from national competitors, will gain 25 percent in revenues by 2011, but this will only be enough to maintain their current share of 0.9 percent of the total recruitment advertising market.

Borrell’s assessment is that the newspapers’ problem isn’t so much the portals as the intense fragmentation of the recruitment market, which is steadily moving toward tens of thousands of regional and vertical niche sites, such as and “It is now far more cost and time effective for recruiters to advertise on a vertically focused job board than it is to place a classified ad in 20 or 30 newspapers,” says Borrell.

Still, the potential for growth is huge. Unlike autos and real estate, where the majority of purchases are already directly affected by Internet search, Borrell cites CareerXroads data showing that only 13 percent of U.S. adults currently use the Internet in a job search  although the Internet accounts for 25 percent of external hires.

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