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Interview with Doug Monro of Adzuna

We talk with Doug Monro about strategic planning at Adzuna...🤔

  • Lucidity
  • 4 min read

What is the vision statement for Adzuna?

To help millions of people find better, more fulfilling jobs.

Can you tell us a little of the history of Adzuna and why it was formed?

In 2010 we noticed that the vast majority of job search engines were too complicated to navigate and were far too fragmented. Job search engines were just not innovating quickly enough on the product side, so we decided to launch Adzuna in 2011 to combat this problem. Adzuna is currently the fastest growing job search engine. We search thousands of websites and aggregate millions of jobs to bring ads together in one place, so our users don’t have to. Our aim is to bring together every job from everywhere.

We list over 1 million job ads on the UK site alone, reaching tens of millions of visitors a month across our different territories. We are continually expanding our sources in every country and aim to show every single job listed online, from job boards and large corporations through to smaller sites that may only post a few jobs per year.

We operate in 16 countries (UK, USA, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, France, India, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa) and target job seekers between the ages of 18 and 50.

How did you approach strategic planning in the early days?

We wrote a 3 page business plan on a word doc that we’ve pretty much stuck to, covering our vision and what that means for our tech, marketing and financials. We’ve made sure we scaled the numbers of FTEs, but maintained our agility and entrepreneurial DNA, identifying the best funding structure for our growing, exciting, disruptive business (VC and crowdfunding) as we’ve gone along.

What was your initial growth strategy?

Build great technology to ensure the user experience is as good as it can possibly be - in our case all the jobs, great filters and tools and data to support users making good career decisions. Then attract an audience through savvy marketing and PR. For the first 2 years we focused on good SEO, strategic partnerships, clever uses of social media and data driven PR – this has definitely turbo charged our growth. Only later did we focus on paid traffic and on monetisation - we charge people to sponsor their jobs on a pay per click basis - and international expansion.

What challenges did you encounter early on?

Growing our audience and brand with very little money and limited staff was the biggest challenge we faced in the early days. We also launched Adzuna in the middle of a recession. 2011 was still feeling the impact of the economic slump and there weren't many advertisers out there willing to spend their money with a new brand new company. Attracting great people to a new company was also hard but we managed it somehow!

Looking back, have you made any key strategic mistakes?

I think we were too broad in the early days. We started as a classified search engine for properties, cars and jobs and tried to do too much too soon. It would have been better to focus on one niche and develop from there.

How do you develop your strategy now?

We combine the wisdom of an experienced senior team, our fabulous board of investors and the feedback we get from our team on the frontline and ultimately our customers, then take a view of where the industry is heading and how best we can serve our users. We also constantly challenge ourselves to focus our limited resources on a few key problems.

How often do you review your strategy?

We need to constantly review our strategy to stay competitive in a market that is always moving. We make sure we look at our strategy every single quarter to make sure we are staying competitive and aligned. We tier our strategy - a long term vision, a 3 year view, a 1 year goals and quarterly OKRs.

What are your top 3 strategic objectives and why?

In general without giving away too many secrets in a highly competitive market ...

  • To be the biggest and best search engine to help job seekers find better, more fulfilling jobs, and arm our users with the latest job market data and insights to allow them to make informed career decisions.
  • To build great, market-leading technology to help achieve that aim and make sure our advertisers can fill their jobs with great candidates.
  • To grow internationally.

How do you think Adzuna will continue to succeed and grow?

We need to constantly redefine Adzuna's strategic direction and disrupt the market. The job market is changing before our eyes, and in just a few years will look very different to the world we are used to. Users expect instantaneous results, relevant jobs and excellent access wherever they are in the world. We need to remain innovative, disruptive and strategic in our approach by incorporating smart search, machine learning and automation to give our users & advertisers the best product possible.

How would you advise companies go about communicating their strategic plans?

Make sure you always have a clear, coherent strategy that everyone understands and don’t deviate from it - except by explicit choice. It’s important that your strategy is digestible and clear. Repetition and reinforcement in company meetings, team meetings and regular comms is important - as is the ‘cascade’ of goal setting in line with your strategy, both over time and to everyone involved.

What one tip would you provide to SMEs regarding their strategy?

Pick a niche, listen to your customers, nail it and look to broaden from there. It’s better to build a strong reputation and brand loyalty in one area and grow from there.

Thanks Doug! You can find out more (or a new job!) over at Adzuna.

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