The Job8 Summit Series – The Gerhard Kenk Interview

Gerhard Kenk has run the German job board and recruiting information portal Crosswater Job Guide for over 12 years and his site is a mine of information about the German recruitment sector. In addition, Gerhard runs a major annual job board survey, CrossPro Research, one of the best pieces of research I see in our sector.

Gerhard is a personal friend and I’m delighted to welcome him to the Jobg8 European Job Board Summit 2013. Before the event, he has shared with me some of his knowledge of the German Job Board and Recruitment Market.


Q – What is the current market like for job boards in Germany i.e. market conditions?

The business climate for job boards in Germany reflects to a large degree the current conditions on Germany’s labour market. A low level of unemployment (2.8 million people, 6.6% unemployment rate) combined with a booming economy in the export-oriented sector are the main drivers for demand of skilled labor.

At the end of the 3rd quarter of 2013 there were 868,000 openings which could not be filled. While young unemployed people from Southern Europe endeavor to seek jobs in Germany, the rate of part-time employment, demand for freelancers in IT and Engineering is growing.

On the other hand, integration of job seekers with a migration background remains a challenge for employers. The academic job market; however, is characterized by fix-term contracts: almost 20% of staff with an academic background is employed on a part-time basis.

Q – Could you share the research you undertake in Germany? Why do you do it and what are the key benefits for job boards, candidates and recruiters?

The research among job seekers, which started as an online survey in October 2008, is aimed to reduce the intransparency in the German job board industry by evaluating the usage of job boards and by indicating the degree of user’s satisfaction.

Almost 23,000 job seekers have to date documented their experience. Results are broken down by the three major types of job boards, e.g. generalists, niche-job boards / specialists and job aggregators.

The survey offers key benefits: candidates can find out which job board is the best related to their desired line of business or occupation group; recruiters obtain valuable data on the best job boards for placing job ads; and job boards themselves can analyse a large database to find out their own strengths and weaknesses relative to their competitors.
Q – Who are the “market leaders” (top 5)? i.e. generalist, IT, engineering, regional.

The leading generalists are:

1. StepStone
2. Jobware
5. Kalaydo

Job seekers wishing to work in specific sectors have rated these job boards as follows:

IT / Telecommunications

1. ICTjobs
2. IT-Treff
3. GULP / IT-Freelancer
4. Absolventa
5. Stepstone and T5 are the leading specialists for engineering, while is the top regional job board.

Q – Are German job boards different from the UK boards i.e. cost, approach to business, technology?

The German job boards are not really very different from the UK boards. The business approach is more dedicated to direct recruiting by employers rather than agencies. Technology used is similar to the one used in the UK.

The major force in social / business networks is XING, LinkedIn is lagging behind.

The costs of a standard job ad running 30 days in the top range are € 995 (,,, (published by the leading business newspaper) charges € 870, while charges € 795.- and € 725 respectively.

Q – Are German job seekers different i.e. how they use Job Boards, CV usage etc.?

Job seekers in Germany do not really want to miss out any career opportunity so they use more than one job board to find employment. A whopping 93% of the job seekers are using up to 6 job boards at the same time, indicating that none of the job boards have reached a strong USP.

CV databases are experiencing a renaissance driven by an increase of passive candidates.

Q – Is social media impacting on the German recruitment market?

A recent study by the Institute for Competitive Recruiting (ICR) indicated that 10% of openings are filled by means of social recruiting channels such as XING, LinkedIn, Facebook & co. It is expected that these figures will increase in the coming years.

Q – Is in-house recruiting growing?

Unlike the situation in the UK, staffing agencies do not play a major role in Germany’s recruiting market as traditionally employers have always used in-house recruiting.

Agencies are more active when it comes to temporary job openings, as these are subsidized by government programmes to bring unemployed people into the labour market.

Q – Gerhard’s top 5 observations on the German job board market.

#1: The job board market will continue to grow and more specialised niche boards will appear. A consolidation relating to the number of job board portals is not on the horizon; however, changes in job board ownership will change the picture somehow. The Axel Springer publishing house is keen to implement its strategic move towards a digitalisation of the online advertising business, as take-overs of Stepstone, MeineStadt or Totaljobs in the UK have shown. International job aggregators such as will enter the German market challenging the current market leaders Kimeta and iCjobs.

#2: Job seekers continue to use multiple job boards to find suitable career opportunities as not a single job board has yet reached a true and dominant market position.

#3: Social media recruiting channels are evolving and it remains to be seen how the market leader XING can maintain their competitive advantage relative to LinkedIn.

#4: Multiple recruiting channels evolve as web-based technologies grow more and more sophisticated. These recruiting channels co-exist alongside each other. Job seekers and recruiters are required to simultaneously use multiple channels, both stationary and mobile.

#5: Due to the continued lack of suitable and sufficient expert candidates employers are turning increasingly to Active Sourcing methods. However, recruiters with expertise in Active Sourcing are also in demand, leading to an outsourcing of Active Sourcing as a service. The classic recruiting approach using job boards (“Post and Pray”) will be supplemented by a “Search and Pay” method as Active Sourcing will be used more frequently.

Gerhard Kenk is Publisher of the Crosswater Job Guide and analyses the Job Board market in Germany since 2000.

Keith Robinson is a regular contributor to the Jobg8 blog, co-produces the Jobg8 Summits and works with a range of job boards advising on strategy, NPD, marketing and NBD across Europe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: