Still, Hernando Betita III, Seek Asia’s senior regional marketing manager, has handled the move enthusiastically for the “product.” After joining the company in 2020, he readily led the “Jobs that Matter” campaign, armed with its moving message of hope for jobseekers and aid for employers to find passionate talent amidst a pandemic.
Put marketing and promotion to one side, and jobs are still at the forefront of the economy and society as a whole. In this exclusive interview, Betita tells the Chief of Staff Asia that he sees himself as one of those front-liners for economic recovery, guided by improving lives through better careers. He also delves into questions of Seek Asia’s employer brand evolution, using technology in hiring, and the latest HR trends that have emerged in the ongoing pandemic.
Creating job markets, while also seeking talent
COS Asia: Seek Asia has been growing throughout Southeast Asia, with several acquisitions over the last few years. What is your broad mission across the region?
Betita: Our mission is to help improve the lives of 500 million job seekers through better careers and to help five million organisations in Asia succeed. We aim to be the ultimate career and talent partner for that scale of job seekers and employers in this region.
COS Asia: What do you look for in professional talent? And what are the key skills or professions that you hire for your organisation?
Betita: As well as technology, we have sales, customer care, key account managers, HR, accounting, and finance departments. Not all of them need to have deep tech expertise. But in our product development and marketing departments, we focus on people with digital marketing expertise, tech programmers, and developers so that they can adapt more quickly.
COS Asia: How is the search for that talent going so far?
Betita: It can be difficult. Seek Asia is not that well known yet as a brand. People don’t know that Jobstreet and JobsDB are part of this one group, (and it is now) one of the biggest in the world. We’re still working on improving our employer branding.
COS Asia: What is the specific employer brand of Seek Asia, or what do you hope it to become?
Betita: The employer branding for Seek Asia is still in its infancy. There’s legacy employer branding for Jobstreet and JobsDB. In 2019, we did an in-depth study to define our employer branding by comparing perceptions to define our employer value proposition.
Three things emerged: First was “supportive culture” — we care for employees over the long term. The second was that we have “an inspiring purpose,” which is something that needs to run in the veins of every “Seeker.” Lastly, “build and grow together.” That means investing in cutting-edge technologies, and opportunities for the company, and for people to grow.
The close ties between HR and Marketing
The platform’s regional marketing manager explains the close connections he has with the HR team.
COS Asia: Where do you see Seek Asia five years from now, considering all these changes that we see in the ongoing pandemic?
Betita: The goal is to become one of the top five tech employer brands in Asia over the next five years. The 500 million people are the potential labour force we aim to serve. The five million companies are those that we have to reach out to.
To do that, we need to ensure we have the most jobs and the most talent. We’ve invested in a lot of new technology that scans the web for jobs and aggregates them onto our platform. We see how we can further scale up our technology platforms so that we have the best artificial intelligence to provide job recommendations and the most seamless user experiences.
Another goal is to revitalise the brands, from old-world brands to brands that have become emotionally resonant, innovative, and to be truly loved.
COS Asia: How will you describe Seek Asia’s employer culture? What character traits fit most within that?
Betita: One of the things we’re very proud of is the culture of care, and this was demonstrated during the pandemic. The company stopped hiring. But we did not cut a single person from our permanent staff because we think for the long term. There is also a culture of care among employees. We reach out to anyone at any time. And we like to have fun — that’s embedded in our values. We do karaoke, bingo events, trivia nights, and the like.
COS Asia: Do you work closely with your HR team?
Betita: There is close collaboration in developing campaigns for employer branding and on the brand architecture. The marketing team thinks like HR. We sell our job ads and HR products, so there is HR expertise embedded in the marketing team.
We also do a lot of research in the HR space. We produce regular content on the trends and what attracts job seekers. There is an alignment of insights in our research and marketing and what our HR can do to attract people.
COS Asia: What is the main focus of your corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in Seek Asia?
Betita: Everything we invest in is to help job seekers, and we also see it as CSR. Our purpose is to help people succeed, and we do it all for free. There is a substantial amount of investment so that job seekers get the right advice.
Strictly speaking, our CSR program is around fair hiring. We want to be a champion of fair hiring practices by ensuring there is no discrimination in the hiring process and at work. We partner with the World Economic Forum to ensure transparency from employers and that accountability and checks and balances are in place. We constantly review our policies and the hirers that work with us to ensure that they also agree to fair hiring practices.
The new hiring marketplace of 2022
Betita delves into the new trends he’s seeing among both job seekers and hiring managers. He also explains what has been holding back some job seekers and why that might be about to change in 2022.
COS Asia: Have you seen any new trends among job seekers or hirers in 2021 and heading into the new year? How do these changes impact your strategies?
Betita: There have been many changes. One of the biggest is fear and hesitancy to change work. The layoffs and unemployment rates have risen, but we don’t see an increase in job-seeking behaviour because of fear. Job security concerns have increased, but job-seeking behaviour has been suppressed.
It has affected our marketing strategy, forcing us to over-index on motivational content, so the campaign that we’re running now focuses on motivating and inspiring people to persevere and be the “heroes” of their journey. We’re working with influencers, celebrities, leaders, and motivational speakers, to provide this motivational content so that people will not be afraid to pursue their dreams. One of the trends we’re seeing is the focus of companies on tech-savviness and being digital-first, working in remote environments.
COS Asia: What does the HR profession mean to you and your brand? Are you looking to promote or celebrate the profession within your products and platforms?
Betita: It’s a staple to always feature top employers. We implemented the “Thank You” campaign to celebrate hirers who continued to provide jobs during the pandemic. We also ran surveys to determine the top employers, made advertising materials that featured hirers, gathered testimonials from hiring managers, and featured them on our social media platforms.
I led a campaign called Jobs that Matter which won several marketing awards. This campaign was the first such promotion in 25 years. We revamped the website, the user experience, our logo, and our brand colours. We call it a “brand evolution.”
We have also invested in career upskilling through our partner, FutureLearn, which has so far provided more than 100 free courses for people whose careers had been displaced during the pandemic.
COS Asia: You have been with Seek Asia for only a few years; and spent much of your earlier career in the fast-moving consumer goods industry. Which is more challenging, making campaigns for products, or people’s careers?
Betita: I would say that there are a lot of similarities. Where it gets slightly more complicated is the constant shift in the category in the marketplace. That means there will be some industries and specialisations that become more important for a particular time and will have a talent deficit. We need to give extra focus to connecting both the supply and the demand. That constantly fluctuates and that makes it difficult because we’re always trying to match supply and demand and run micro-campaigns to fill those gaps. Whereas, a typical consumer product is more static. Innovations and changes to the product only happen so often.