When recruiting staff, organizations often engage specialized recruitment marketing agencies to help them place advertisements on job boards. According to the startup, these agencies use unknown margins on media budgets that are used. According to Cowboys.nl, this often leads to “perverse incentives, whereby advice from the agencies is not always in the interest of the customer.”
Cowboys.nl, founded by former top judoka Sem Zijlstra, Wouter Aijtink and Lars Wetemans wants to bring more transparency to the vacancy market.
On the one hand by making its earnings fully transparent because Cowboys.nl invoices based on hours worked. On the other hand, by making all data that is released when advertising vacancies online completely transparent. According to CEO Sem Zijlstra (see photo above, far left) there is a lack of transparency in the market. This is due to the high margins that are earned on postings on job boards, which can be as high as 80% and are hidden in media budgets. Without the customer being aware of it.
“The recruitment industry is jokingly referred to as the Wild West because of the many cowboys who are active. Cowboys.nl is a nod to that market and we are responding to a broader need for more transparency in society, “says Zijlstra. “We also want to distinguish ourselves by recruiting talent with innovative campaigns on new media. TikTok, podcasts and even the use of influencers should move hard-to-reach talent in the labor market. “
It is very common in the recruitment business that they grab an (unknown) percentage of the media budget. About 50% on average, but it often goes up to 80%.
That’s quite a statement. How do you come to that conclusion?
Zijlstra: “Many recruitment marketing agencies are active in the recruitment industry. They perform all kinds of online marketing activities for recruitment organizations and recruitment departments. It is still very common there that they grab an (unknown) percentage of the media budget. About 50% on average, but it often goes up to 80%. In all other industries, marketing agencies often work on an hourly rate and therefore costs are not hidden in media budgets. We also want to achieve such a transition in the recruitment marketing sector. We are also used to this from my other marketing agencies (DRIIVN and Boest). In addition, recruitment marketing agencies grab unknown margins on the purchase price of job boards that they do not or hardly pass on to the end customer. Or work with non-transparent kickback fees. In my opinion, the biggest problem is that the customer’s interests are not at the forefront of the advice, but the size of the margins. “
Moreover, according to Zijlstra, there is not yet much openness about the performance of job boards. Often only the number of vacancies is shared, but according to him this does not really say much.
“We will also disclose data on website visitors, time on site and the like from job boards to provide employers with greater transparency. Also, job boards are thrown in at massive discounts, but they sometimes seem to be done randomly, depending on the day of the quarter and the skill of the sales rep. We also want to make all this negotiable. “
Zijlstra and Aijtink, both also owners of event marketing agency Boest, saw their other business shrink severely as a result of the closure of the event industry by COVID-19. They did not take time to mourn. Together with the third partner, Lars Wetemans (co-founder of recruitment scale-up and Sprout “Startup of the year” Wonderkind), they switched to the recruitment industry. “In contrast to the market for job postings on traditional job boards, it was already very common in the event industry to be transparent about revenue models. Moreover, recruiting talent has a lot in common with recruiting visitors for events, “said Zijlstra.
Cowboys.nl is aiming for a million euro turnover for the coming year.
According to them, Corona also affects the labor market, but to a lesser extent than the events industry. In addition, the entrepreneurs think that Cowboys.nl is responding to an existing need that is not yet fulfilled by other parties in the market.