It has not been a good year for CareerOne. Will a recent security stuff-up see more clients vacate the site?

The perennial bronze medalist of the job ad world, News’s CareerOne has long lagged behind rivals Seek and MyCareer. And the gap is getting bigger.

The job site has been leaking clients for months, according to Crikey’s industry sources, due largely to a planned revamp of the job board that has blown out by at least half a year.

And then came more tech-based strife. Thanks to a security glitch, thousands of clients and potential clients’ details were made public. As Fairfax papers reported dutifully on Monday:

News Digital Media’s CareerOne online employment website has launched an internal investigation into how confidential client information accidentally become publicly accessible on the internet.

The material is part of CareerOne’s customer relationship management database, described by the company as “old client information”.

The details include comments about clients made by CareerOne account executives, some of which are highly unflattering. In one case, a client is referred to as a “retard” and in another a client is called a “lazy good for nothing”.

Oops.

Not that this was news to many in the recruitment industry. According to Crikey’s sources, the job ad world had been abuzz with tales of a security breach with one of the major three job boards for months before Fairfax broke the story.

In fact, Crikey understands that some knew it was CareerOne and were circulating the URL (now blocked) to each other — not that anyone bothered to tell CareerOne. And why would they? A competitor’s embarrassment coupled with the chance to check out its customer relationship management database presumably proved an irresistible combination.

Privacy implications aside, it’s an enormous breach of client trust and care — “business suicide”, said one recruiter — and one that may not be forgiven lightly. At least one recruitment company Crikey spoke to says it will never use CareerOne again as a result.

Tempering the potential fallout is the fact that much of the database information was old. Nonetheless, with new competitors nipping at its heels, could the site’s long-term future be doomed?

Not likely, believes Brett Iredale, managing director of Now Hiring, a company that develops web solutions for the employment sector. For starters, while CareerOne runs a distant third to Seek and MyCareer, it’s also a “very clear third”, sitting well ahead of any other wannabe recruitment sites.

And remember that the site’s ultimate backer is one Rupert Murdoch, who’s pretty committed to online media. So, once the new website is ready, they’ll shock the site back to life. “They’ll put on a million sales staff if they need to”, says Iredale. “If Rupert needs to write a cheque he will.

“Anyone else would’ve gone bust by now,” but CareerOne has “the resources to dig itself out”.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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