Ditching the recruitment middle man – StartupSmart


Employing staff can be a time-consuming process and expensive too, once you factor in the various consultant fees that are regularly shelled out by larger businesses.


Bryan Petereit recognised that there was potentially a better way of doing things and has set out to redefine the online recruitment model with ApplyDirect. 


Dubbing itself the “Google of the recruitment industry”, ApplyDirect lists jobs posted by businesses on their own websites, cutting out the middle man consultant and the often anonymous nature of jobs boards.


But does the market really need yet another recruitment site? We spoke to Drew Ilsley, who joined ApplyDirect as an investor and chairman, to find out.


So, what was the genesis of the business?


Bryan Petereit had 10 years’ experience in the IT recruitment industry and it became clear to him that the market had transitioned and there was a gap for something new.


He set about creating a unique tool that directly connects employers to candidates. It’s a paradigm shift that moves away from the traditional three parts to the recruitment puzzle – the job seeker, the recruiter and the employer.


The candidate has to negotiate the recruitment agency before they get to the interview, via Seek and so on. This process hasn’t changed for years – all going online has done is negate the need to carry around a lump of paper.


ApplyDirect isn’t rocket science – it simply links candidates directly to companies without handing the power to recruitment agencies.


How does it all work?


You pay an annual subscription based on the number of jobs you want to post and the system automatically uploads them. The employer does nothing, other than provide their branding for the ad.


There’s a sliding scale of fees, which are generally a third of the cost of job boards.


One company in Queensland used us exclusively for staff recently and managed to hire 100 people on a timely basis and saved themselves around $800,000 on their recruitment budget. Businesses grudgingly pay recruitment consultants millions of dollars, when they could be saving on those fees.


The attraction for me to invest is that there’s very little headache involved. The quality of people involved and the system are both excellent. I’ve been delighted by the way they’ve managed it.


Why does the market need this?


For the job seeker, you get the chance to directly apply to the job rather than run the gauntlet of a faceless recruitment agency.


Job boards are filled with ambiguous and generic ads – with our system, you know the jobs are genuine and you can speak directly to the employer.


Our site is basically a collection of the job ads that employers post on their own websites. You can set up alerts and know that you will hear of a job if it comes up. Most job seekers already have a list of around 10 employers that they’d work for – this enables them to find the perfect opportunity from their preferred employer.


What about for the employer?


A big trend across large businesses is to post jobs on their own sites. HR departments are growing, as are in-house IT systems, which means that businesses can handle a lot of their recruitment themselves.


That marries in well with ApplyDirect. A few years ago, just a handful of businesses were listing jobs on their sites, now it’s hard to find one that doesn’t.


As an employer, you can do more with your own listing – you can give case studies of current employees, virtual tours of the office and so on. You can catch candidates in the ether, which is what we’re trying to do.


How is the site doing now?


Work started on the site in early 2008 and we now have more than 1,000 organisations that use the service, posting a range of jobs.


Since early 2010, the site has grown exponentially, from 20,000 users a month to more than 250,000.


Bryan remains the brains trust, while I came on board last year – I’ve invested my own money too. We have 20 people in the organisation, although we outsource some functions and operate leanly.


What’s going to drive people to your business?


The major players are starting to feel the pressure. You have the first generation sites that have expensive consultants in the middle of the process or you have cheap and nasty aggregators that don’t do a service for anyone.


We think we’re a standout as a pure productivity tool that’s beautifully engineered and a very effective way for candidates to get to employers. It’s a piece of the puzzle that’s been missing until now.


But doesn’t removing the filter of consultants open up employers to a deluge of unwanted applications?


That’s not a problem for a number of reasons. Recruiters invest heavily in a number of systems that sort the applications they get.


The first cut, if you like, is usually an automated process, which edits out the wheat from the chaff. They are well prepared for a deluge of applications.


We are catered for those with a large number of jobs, but an employer can just put one job on to try it out. Ultimately, it gives the employers reach they didn’t have before – rather than rely on people visiting your site for jobs you post, they can go to one central location.


What are the plans for the future?


We can scale the business quickly, which is a great advantage to have. Initially, we thought that ApplyDirect would occupy a nice little niche for those people who want to connect directly with employers.


But based on the reception and growth so far, I see a much larger opportunity. There’s a general dissatisfaction with the job board model and the inefficiencies faced by employers and candidates.


I’ve been emboldened by the feedback. Whether it’s us or someone else, I think in five years’ time, there will be a very solid trend for employers speaking directly to candidates. The market will redefine and we want to be a big part of that.

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