Listen to BOSS tell recruitment stories

After 20 years of dark wars in the online recruitment jungle, some pioneers have become martyrs, and some old guns want to tell new stories.

Listen to BOSS tell recruitment stories

In the early morning of August 3, 2017, it was pouring rain in Beijing. While the city was in slumber mode, the 3rd floor of the Guanjie Building near the Sun Palace was still lit up. It was the office of BOSS Direct, which was established more than three years ago.

Because of the “Li Wenxing incident”, Zhao Peng, who usually schedules seven To-do’s a day and works until 7:30 at night, broke his work routine. As the founder and CEO of BOSS Direct, Zhao Peng needs to face the concerns of the community.

Also in the early hours of the morning, on May 22, 2021, BOSS Direct Employment submitted an IPO application to the U.S. SEC. The bell ringing is imminent.

Xiao Ming is a personnel director of a Beijing-based education company with hundreds of employees.

Before the epidemic, the company spent about 40,000-50,000 RMB per month on BOSS Direct Recruitment for recruitment. Last year, because of the epidemic, many positions were being scaled back and the cost was reduced. With the epidemic under control, recruitment is back to normal this year. He estimated that “we still have to spend more than 40,000 yuan on BOSS.”

As a senior recruitment manager of a pharmaceutical company in Shanghai, Zhou Meng believes that BOSS Direct Recruitment still needs to improve its user experience, “however, compared to other platforms, it is direct and efficient enough.”

In particular, the efficiency improvement is more prominent in recruitment for positions that are more basic. “Our own internal channel analysis, through the BOSS direct recruitment of grassroots positions recruited to employees, to account for the overall 6-7%.” Zhou Meng revealed.

Through the product “direct chat” + intelligent algorithm recommendation, as well as marketing investment, in recent years, BOSS direct employment development is rapid.

According to the prospectus, BOSS direct hire achieved revenue of 1.94 billion yuan in 2020, an increase of 94.7% year-on-year; Q1 2021 recorded revenue of 790 million yuan, a 179% increase year-on-year. In March this year, the monthly active users (MAU) of BOSS Direct Recruitment reached 30.6 million.

By this standard, BOSS Direct Recruitment has become the largest online recruitment platform in China. However, the birth of BOSS is quite fortuitous compared to its “success”.

Prior to founding BOSS, Zhao Peng worked at WisdomLink, where he was admitted to the law department of Peking University in 1989 as the top student in Shanxi Province, and worked in the system for more than a decade after graduation.

In 2005, at the age of 35, Mr. Zhao joined Wise Recruitment. He started as a PR manager and went through different departments such as marketing, product, BI and sales before finally becoming the CEO of Zilian Recruitment.

At that time, traditional online recruitment giants were developing more and more features to increase revenue. It was just artificially complicated recruitment tools instead made it farther and farther from the essence of recruitment.

In addition, the industry was also responding poorly in the face of the mobile Internet. At that time, the industry formed a consensus: although recruitment was just a need, it was really low-frequency. It was not cost-effective to develop a costly app for this low-frequency behavior.

Many companies discussed it internally for a long time, but eventually they did not choose to do mobile.

Zhao Peng, who has been immersed in the recruitment industry for many years, smelled an opportunity at this time. In thinking about “what is the essence of recruitment”, a sentence suddenly broke into Zhao Peng’s mind: big brother looking for brothers, brothers looking for big brothers!

The product was developed to allow job seekers to chat with their bosses directly, and so BOSS Direct Recruitment began to sprout.

The initial team of a dozen people took three months to write the program, and on July 13, 2014, the iOS version of BOSS Direct Recruitment passed the audit and went live. This day is also considered to be the birth day of BOSS Direct.

Several years later, looking back on this matter, Zhao Peng felt that firstly, the decision to do BOSS direct recruitment was very accidental; secondly, the product was not much innovative, but just a restoration of the tribal era of job search and recruitment.

This may be Zhao Peng’s self-effacement. The main “direct chat” function is considered by the outside world as the shell of BOSS Direct Recruitment, and the constantly optimized algorithm recommendation is the core of its rise in the online recruitment jungle.

Before the emergence of intelligent algorithmic recommendations, the domestic online recruitment jungle was still in the mode of “selling resumes”.

In 2006, a program “Winning in China”, which imitated the U.S. “Fei Huang Teng Da” in terms of creativity, appeared on CCTV 2. Jack Ma of Alibaba, Niu Gensheng of Mengniu and Xu Xin of Today Capital appeared in the program as guest commentators.

Once the program was launched, it was soon sought after. The show’s popularity also made its sponsor, China Talent, an instant hit. The company, which is based on the business model of the American online recruitment giant Monster, has just received a $50 million investment from the latter.

Monster is not the only company that has followed in its footsteps. As early as 1997, the Australian recruitment service group SEEK invested in the headhunting company Zhilian to set up Zhilian Recruitment Network; two years later, the Hong Kong native Yan Ronghui founded a newspaper to publish mainly job information – “Mileage Recruitment Special”, and then incidentally hired someone to make a website – – Mileage. -MileagePlus.

As the world’s largest online job site at the time, Monster used the Internet to build an information platform for recruiters and job seekers. Job seekers submitted their resumes to the platform, and the platform could sell advertising space or resume download services to generate revenue.

In both the U.S. and China, the scale and efficiency of recruitment under this model far exceeds that of traditional job markets held offline.

When BAT had not yet figured out the way to make money, MileagePlus’ net profit in the first half of 2004 exceeded 3 million yuan. The total population of the United States is more than 300 million, Linkedin Linking sold for 170 billion yuan; the population of 127 million in Japan gave birth to the Recruit Group with a market value of 540 billion yuan.

For reference, many people think that China will also come out of the local online recruitment giants with huge business value.

In 2004, MileagePlus was the first to go public in the U.S., raising $73.5 million and generating annual revenue of 47.99 million RMB. On the first day of the IPO, the stock price jumped 51.07%.

Before 2008, it was the era of the online recruitment world that belonged to Zhi Lian Recruitment, MileagePlus and China Talent Network.

However, the storm soon came.

With the financial crisis in 2008, the affected China Job Network failed to go public and was taken over after a failed bet. Later, Monster also sold off China Job Search at a low price due to its own performance losses.

The number of employers on Mileage Plus is also decreasing year by year. From 2018, the year-on-year decrease rates were 6.6%, 12.9%, and 14.6%, and the number of decreases reached more than 60,000 for two consecutive years. According to Mile High’s unaudited 2020 financial results, Mile High’s fourth quarter revenue was $1.163 billion, up 2.4% year-over-year, but total revenue for the year was $3.689 billion, down 7.8% year-over-year.

Monster’s model is no longer in vogue, and since then there have been social recruiting companies represented by, and, but none of them have made a big splash.

In addition to social recruitment, vertical recruitment represented by has also told another story of commercial realization to capital. However, it was not until the emergence of intelligent algorithmic recommendations that the online recruitment industry was considered to have undergone a more fundamental change.

In August 2018, Zhao Peng said at the NBI Summer Innovation Summit that BOSS Direct Recruitment used the dividends of the mobile Internet to create scenarios and build bridges for employers and job seekers, and made the matching between the two sides more accurate based on algorithmic engineering.

This model has also made BOSS Direct Recruitment quickly gain a firm foothold. From iOS to over 1,000 daily active users (DAU), it took only 7 months.

On the day the DAU broke 1,000, Zhao Peng also took his “brothers” out for a big drink.

China has a working-age population of nearly 900 million and the number of enterprises is over 44 million. At the same time, an objective reality is: companies can’t find people, and people can’t find companies.

Many small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, may not have the wealthy capital to buy ads on traditional recruitment platforms, nor do they have effective channels to reach potential candidates.

From the prospectus, it seems that BOSS Direct Recruitment is currently doing business mainly for SMEs.

As of March 2021, BOSS Direct Recruitment serves 6.3 million certified companies, 82.6% of which are SMEs. Zhao Peng believes that China’s enterprise services will mainly serve SMEs in the next decade.

However, BOSS Direct Hire, which serves SMEs, is clearly not willing to stop at SMEs itself. Smashing advertising has become an important step to expand its influence.

Zhao Peng has been called “marketing CEO” for his marketing achievements when he was working in Wisdom Union Recruitment.

At the end of 2017, BOSS Recruitment was slightly profitable, and the Russia World Cup in 2018 became an opportunity that Zhao Peng wanted to seize.

“Find a job! Get on BOSS! Find a job! Talk directly to the boss! Promotion! Get a raise! Find a job! Get on BOSS Direct!” During the 2018 World Cup, BOSS Direct Recruitment’s advertisement successfully brainwashed job seekers.

After this battle, BOSS Direct Recruitment expanded to a volume similar to that of MileagePlus and WisdomLink in terms of user service scale.

On the other hand, it has also attracted a lot of complaints from the public. “Being scolded like this is like a particularly decent person walking down the street, playing a live treasure in the heat of the moment, and then someone comes out and says you’re just a stupid X. There’s still a shock in your heart.” Zhao Peng also felt quite embarrassed.

“There will always be controversy, the most fearful is to call out both no one to support and no one to oppose.” In fact, it’s not only Zhao Peng, for online recruitment, which has the characteristics of immediate need and low frequency, especially in the peak season of job hunting and recruitment, it has become almost a standard to make advertising and marketing efforts.

In 2003, Wise Recruitment cooperated with CCTV to launch “Absolute Challenge”; in 2006, when the advertising war was most fierce, both China Talent and Wise Recruitment spent hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing in the subway and on TV. That year, MileagePlus also incurred advertising expenditures of up to 200 million yuan ……

The overwhelming advertising has brought many users to these recruitment platforms, and online recruitment is considered a good business.

According to the prospectus, BOSS is expected to issue 48 million ADS shares at a price range of $17-19, raising about $1 billion and valuing the company at $8 billion, which is more than the sum of Mileage Plus + Wisdom Plus.

Even so, BOSS Direct Recruitment will still face many challenges.

“Bosses are very busy, which has so much time to chat with job seekers?” Zhao Peng around such doubts are not many. And MileagePlus, which became the first major shareholder of LAGO, is still the biggest divider of the market cake. Moreover, the online recruitment industry involves personal privacy and other issues are also extremely vulnerable to social concerns ……

It is foreseeable that the “war” in the online recruitment jungle is still going on.

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