Can Adzuna’s job search brighten British classifieds?

Will Work for Bananas, Creative Commons licensed by Bethcanphoto Europe’s economy might still be circling the drain as the impact of the recession continues to wash over the continent, but not everyone thinks the job market is dead. Among the optimists is British startup Adzuna, which launched in beta today with a job search engine that it hopes can make a significant impact.

“In some ways, the value of information and the job search process is lower in a hot jobs market,” says co-founder Doug Monro, who was previously COO at property search site Zoopla and classified outlet Gumtree, which is owned by eBay. When things are tight, users are more desperate for jobs — so we have to be really fast, and providing them with a good user experience is really important.”

To get potential candidates into positions, the site’s taken its cues from other comparison websites and rivals such as Instead of bringing in listings itself, Adzuna simply aggregates job ads from across many of the major services, as well as including items from small, industry-specific boards and sites. This means it can provide a single point of contact covering wide swaths of the market — saving job hunters time they’d spend sweeping across what is, actually, a surprisingly fragmented market.

In fact, Adzuna’s engine is so broad that on launch, it claims to have more than 300,000 jobs listed all around Britain: enough vacancies to swing the country’s unemployment rate by almost an entire percentage point.

The site itself is actually pretty straightforward. You can easily refine your search by region, postal code, salary, industry, company, or contract type (I did a search for “manager” in my local area and got 720 listings back). It also adds a neat social element by letting users connect through Facebook or LinkedIn — and then showing them open jobs at the companies their friends and contacts work at. The idea, presumably, is to let them get the inside scoop on positions. Now, perhaps that’s not the most meritocratic way of doing things, but handy when it comes down to who you know rather than what you know.

So how does that compare to a social jobs search like Top Prospect and Branchout, which offer referrals and listings based on who your friends are? Monro suggests they are “doing it the wrong way around” by concentrating on niche markets first. In terms of mainstream adoption, he says, “they’re going to really struggle to get an abundance of listings”.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that he thinks this way: after all, Monro and his co-founder Andrew Hunter have a rich history in the local classified industry — they met at Gumtree and Hunter count the Yelp-like Qype in his background. But even with such experience, there’s no doubt that they will face significant competition. There are a wide range of well-established companies like TotalJobs and fish4jobs in the U.K., as well as the local arms of international giants like Monster.

“I don’t see the likes of Monster and TotalJobs as competition, they’re a consumer alternative, but really we see them as clients,” says Monro. He says data is provided to Adzuna either by dedicated feeds or by spidering job sites, but that ultimately this is good news for job listings sites as it simply helps them get more exposure. “For them, we drive traffic to their listings — we’re an alternative to Google. We’re not misappropriating any data.”

But competition in the jobs market seems to be the least of the site’s worries. In the long-term Adzuna, which is backed by a £300,000 ($478,000) seed round from new London-based fund Passion Capital, has broad ambitions. It doesn’t want to just stay in one sector, but intends to expand into other areas such as property search, car buying and so on. That’s going to expose it to a great deal of rivalry — some of it even more voracious than job listings. Is there really anything left to win in this classified battle? Monro thinks so.

“Other verticals are less fragmented than jobs, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t chances to expand,” he says. “There are a lot of parallels in search technology across different sorts of classifieds — you’ve got a listing, an owner, a price, a similar structure.”

As a result, the company is hoping to expand aggressively: new verticals could be in play by the end of the year, with a move into new territory to follow.

“We’re definitely looking at this as an international opportunity,” says Monro.

Photograph used under Creative Commons license courtesy of Flickr user BethCanPhoto