On The Shoulders Of Giants

A wise man once said, “If I have seen further than others, it was only by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” A common way of reading this is that great outcomes are never achieved in isolation and they are often built upon large bodies of work that have gone before us. Simply put, in modern day terms, innovation. In this article, we share the success of SEEK, RMIT University and The University of Melbourne in securing a major grant to fund research into better understanding candidate and hirer search journeys.

Innovation in Search

The roots of modern day search systems can be traced back to several key developments on ranking algorithms and evaluation which took place in the 1960s. Over the years, these techniques have been built upon and improved, with many more being invented, either independently or through joint efforts in universities and private research labs worldwide. Many if not all of the search engine giants today owe the technology underpinning their product offerings to these roots.

The decisions makers in these businesses are aware that their future growth and survival depend on continuously building upon outcomes from new research work. For this reason, they continue to maintain and invest on a strong research base to foster innovation, often through university collaboration and the hiring of the best minds from these institutions. This is particularly true in the US where according to Ken Boal, the VP of Cisco of Australia and New Zealand, 70% of researchers in the US are in the industry. The research scene in Australia is the opposite [1].

SEEK Innovating with the Best Minds from Universities

Closer to home, SEEK has been working with RMIT University and The University of Melbourne, who are international leaders in the area of search, since 2014. However, the history of our collaboration goes way back with several SEEK employees in the Search team having, in the past, worked with these researchers. We have a strong relationship on various levels with these institutions. Some of the activities that SEEK participated in include student project and conference sponsorship, and hosting of researchers onsite for R&D work. Some of the brightest PhD graduates joined SEEK after their studies.

ARC Linkage Grant Success

Towards the end of last year, SEEK, RMIT University and The University of Melbourne put forward a grant proposal to the Australian Research Council (ARC) for project funding. In the second week of July 2015, the Education and Training Minister Christopher Pyne announced a total of $86.9 million funding for 252 projects, with a 35% success rate, through the Linkage Projects scheme. The joint proposal between SEEK and the two Universities was one of the few successful ones.

The proposal we put forward was awarded $394,000 in research funding by the ARC. Together with the contribution from SEEK, the R&D funds exceed $0.5 million. These will be used to improve our understanding of job seeking, vacancy filling and talent sourcing journeys through our search products. SEEK, which was recently listed as the 14th most innovative growth company globally by Forbes, constantly pushes the boundary of knowledge to offer the best search and matching products to both candidates and hirers.

The new knowledge generated by this project will allow SEEK to contribute to the wider search community’s understanding of complex search scenarios. More importantly, the innovations that come out of this project will equip SEEK with the ability to customise the search experience to better connect candidates to hirers and vice versa based on their needs, preferences and circumstances.

ARC Linkage Project Aligning with SEEK’s Purpose

The ARC Linkage Projects scheme was set up to support and encourage R&D collaboration between higher education researchers and the private sector or government agency. In his media release, Mr Pyne’s view was that “Australian universities and research institutes undertake a large amount of excellent research, but Australia does far less well than most similar countries in connecting industry with this research and turning it into practical goods and services improving peoples’ lives.”. He added that “This type of collaborative research connecting industry with university researchers is vital to Australia’s prosperity and the jobs of the future.” [2].

SEEK, which is largest global employment marketplace, is extremely pleased that its project with RMIT University and The University of Melbourne was one of the few funded ones. Considering SEEK’s role in the employment space, we regard this as an excellent opportunity to work with the best minds in the field towards helping people live more fulfilling and productive working lives and organisations succeed [3].


Research and development activities are crucial to the survival of modern day businesses. Innovation allows us to offer new products to plug unmet needs in the market or to introduce step-change to our existing products to better serve our customers and further differentiate ourselves from competition.

There are many ways to go about innovating but only a few make sense. SEEK opted for synergy with the best minds in RMIT University and The University of Melbourne, a trait synonymous with innovative growth companies. We find the idea of contributing back to science and being seen as ‘giants’ that future innovators can stand upon as appealing. More importantly, research and innovation offer us the means to continuously improve our search products to better connect candidates to the right jobs and hirers to the right talent.

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