Disrupting the online jobs market

16:00, Nov 04 2012
Ben Irving
NEW CHANNELS: Ben Irving's business aims to capture its target job hunters through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Wellingtonian Ben Irving is going up against the big guns of the online recruitment world through developing a business that targets young job seekers through social media.

The 27-year old chief executive of jobs.co.nz said the four-year-old company had grown its presence in a market dominated by Seek and Trade Me, by turning the traditional online market on its head.

Instead of running just standard text advertisements on its website, the business aims to capture its target job hunters of between 25 and 35 years through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

It makes jobs stand out through beautiful graphics and videos with targeted online advertising.

The company was also looking at guerilla advertising. Irving describes this as something as simple as creating a Facebook 'like' experience for people who were walking down the street.

"People like posts on Facebook constantly, so why not advertise a job or a cool company to work for on a footpath or wall and give people the ability to like the ad with a simple push of a button."

To round the recruitment process off, it also advises companies on their social media recruitment strategy so they better attract and engage the right sort of talent, said Irving.

In his spare time, Irving sits on the board of state owned enterprise Learning Media, and advises start-up companies.

How has he got to an advisor role so early in life? By starting young. As the head boy of Rongotai College, he started a charitable trust called On The Edge Trust to get young people more involved in leadership roles, and developed it when he left school.

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I never consciously set out to be an entrepreneur and it wasn't until people started labelling me as one that I realised I had unintentionally become one. However, the reason I am so proud to be an entrepreneur is the opportunity to work on a variety of interesting projects with passionate people.

What have been the biggest obstacles in running your company?

Cash flow is king so maintaining a positive cash flow is definitely one of the biggest obstacles in running jobs.co.nz or any start-up company. Beyond cash flow, it's a fine art to manage the expectations of a diverse group of stakeholders e.g. shareholders, board members, our team and customers.

Name one thing you've learnt in business and from whom?

Although it's tried and true, the value of networks is the most critical thing I've learnt in business. I haven't learnt this from one person in particular but the power and importance of networking has been taught to me by every mentor I've ever had and has profoundly affected the way in which I do my job.

What are your business and personal goals?

Through jobs.co.nz I want to redesign the way in which people get jobs and ensure that as many New Zealanders as possible love the job that they do.

Personally, I want to be a key part of building an economically and environmentally sustainable New Zealand. In support of this I am really passionate about changing the way people view the role of government and business.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?

Make sure you're good friends with your landlord. Beyond your wage bill, rent can easily be your biggest expense so finding a landlord who is both flexible and supportive can make a huge difference to your success - thanks Spyros.