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Free job listings and an increased number of users will help the SCMP take its recruitment services to new strengths, says Elsie Cheung, chief operating officer, South China Morning Post.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) has been assisting employers with their recruitment needs since 1973. How has the company kept up with the times?

We continuously review and improve our services as recruiters’ needs and requirements change. For example, as the online world becomes more important to recruiters and jobseekers alike we have been investing more resources in strengthening our online capabilities and mobile app. But the underlying philosophy of SCMP’s recruitment services has never deviated – which is to bridge the gap between recruiters and jobseekers and facilitate a better connection between the two.

You recently changed your business model, allowing employers to place standard job ads for free. What prompted this decision?

The free standard job listing is a prelude to helping our recruiter partners tackle the challenges that they are facing. The recruitment community is facing a new wave of challenges in finding the right platforms to locate, draw in, and retain the right talents. Meanwhile, jobseekers are inundated with choices and need better, more streamlined services to help them filter out the ones that do not match their aspirations.

This is also why we significantly beefed up the matching mechanism with “Match Me+”. The feature generates job recommendations based on statistical analysis and data mapping of online behaviour, user profiles, and job descriptions. Since it was developed entirely in-house, it's continuously refined and updated in real time based on incoming data.

The impacts of “Match Me+” have been encouraging as the user conversion rate has tripled since it was launched. The feedback we gathered from recruiters has been positive and enables us to further build upon its capabilities.

With continuous updates and changes, how do you ensure a consistent image toward both candidates and employers? 

The consistency of our public image is ensured by upholding the core values that our services provide. Our clients understand that SCMP’s recruitment services – whether it is the print brand “Classified Post” or the online brand – are reliable purveyors of information and job listings with users in mind. The distinction between our two brands enables us to cater to the needs of clients who have a strong preference towards either the print medium or the online world. Catering to both and creating synergy for clients is quite a unique position that not many other recruitment services in Hong Kong can replicate.

You've launched a big marketing campaign to spread awareness of the new business model. What’s the aim of this campaign?

This brand awareness campaign will help us put in place a rigorous cycle in which more users will visit and thus enrich our algorithms and backend mechanisms. With an expanding volume of data on jobseeker and recruiter behaviour, we are in a position to strengthen our predictive job recommendations and reach a new level of compatibility between recruiters and jobseekers.

Do you have any predictions or insights with regards to the future of recruitment in Hong Kong?

Recruitment is becoming more challenging on both the demand and supply sides. For employers, soft skills are becoming more important in the fast-changing, diversified work environment. But these skills might be difficult to detect in job interviews. For young jobseekers, they will find themselves limited in their options as they place a high premium on cultural fit. They have different expectations of their work environment, including a flexible schedule, opportunity to work remotely, casual dress code and an open office. More importantly, they are also looking for meaningful jobs with a bigger purpose. It will take time for companies to meet these expectations.

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