“I Had Two Choices: Give Up — Or Fight” How Entrepreneur Andrew Hunter Grew His Company While Beating Stage 4 Cancer

In Interviews, Staffing Suppliers by Caitlin Delohery0 Comments

Adzuna is a job search engine based in the UK that aggregates jobs from sixteen countries, pulling from over four million active job listings. Founded by marketing gurus Andrew Hunter and Doug Munro in 2011, Adzuna has been consistently named one of the best start-ups over the years.

And a lot of this hard work and magic is because of Andrew, whose story is a bit different from other founders: he went through a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis during the thick of his work at Adzuna.

Read on to see how this diagnosis — and his friendship with co-founder Doug — turned Adzuna into the powerhouse it is today.

What inspired you to found Adzuna?

We knew job searches could be better. The existing sites that were aggregating job ads just weren’t very innovative.

Through our experience at Gumtree (the Craigslist of Europe), Zoopla (the Zillow of Europe), and Yelp, we were deeply involved in the online ad market. As social networks and big data matured, we spotted an opportunity to create a next-generation search engine to help people find jobs.

You have an amazing personal story that seems formative for you and for Adzuna. Can you tell us about your battle with cancer?

Yeah! Just weeks after getting married at the end of 2015, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. You can read a summary of my fight here

In late 2016, my doctors agreed that my only chance of survival was a donor stem cell transplant. This meant, essentially, taking out my immune system and replacing it with someone else’s. We started searching the globe for my perfect DNA match.

My brothers stepped up to the plate to be my donor, but were only partial matches — so they were ruled out. After scouring the world, we found just one perfect match — a 26-year-old chap in Germany.

After a grueling transplant and a very tough recovery period, in June 2017 (on my wife Emily’s birthday!), I was declared cancer-free and remain fit and healthy to this day.

All this time, my wonderful business partner Doug led the Adzuna charge and grew the business in my absence. It’s awesome to be working alongside him and the wider team once again.

 

How did being an entrepreneur help you when you were in treatment?

In our world of tech start-ups, we call it “the struggle” – the early years where everyone says no, things go wrong, where one day you think your business is going to be huge and the next day you have your head in your hands.

This gave me the thick skin and resilience to push through my cancer battle. I had two choices: give up — or fight. That never-say-die attitude I got from starting a company and being an entrepreneur helped me enormously.

How has the way you worked changed since your diagnosis?

I work 3 days a week, so fewer hours with a better work/life balance. I’m focused and passionate about growing our business and making job searches better, so that hasn’t changed.

Going through cancer, of course, makes you prioritize things, and look at work and life in a completely different way. The small things that used to annoy me — they just don’t bother me anymore and I cherish the friendships I’ve built through my job.   

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the staffing and recruiting industry today? And how do you think the industry could better serve job seekers?

In my view, the biggest challenge facing the recruitment industry is matching candidates to their perfect job. There are some wonderful young technology companies around the world working on this problem, but nobody has really nailed it yet.

Intelligent matching and leveraging the power of data to help people find their dream job is at the forefront of Adzuna’s product effort. We won’t rest until we are the go-to search engine for providing jobseekers around the world with the best possible experience and what we call “magic matches.”  

How do you see the job search changing in the next 5 years? What changes are you most excited about?

When we first started Adzuna, about 25% of our traffic was on mobile devices. This number is now greater than 70% in most of our markets. Mobile phones are now the go-to starting point for job seekers. 79% of millennials now use their phones to apply for jobs, and I can see huge amounts of innovation in this space over the next 5 years.

I also think we’ll start to see more automation and clever, intelligent tools in the form of chatbots, ATS, intelligent interviews, candidate screening, and candidate matching. It wouldn’t surprise me if candidates in some companies don’t meet an actual human until the final stage of the interview process. I’m not sure if I’m excited or terrified by this prospect!

There will also be huge swathes of innovation on the employer side. I really hope we see the end of the pay-to-post model and that we see employers getting more bang for their buck through CPC/CPA advertising and smart, programmatic spending.

What does the future hold for Adzuna?

Growth. We’re now in 16 countries around the world. We have tens of millions of users and we’re making our mark on the global recruitment space.

That said, I sometimes feel like our journey has only just begun. As we grow, we plan to double down efforts to innovate and provide genuinely useful tools to employers and candidates within this space.

Expect more smart tools — all free — to help job seekers, along with a greater depth of data/intelligence for jobseekers make the best possible career decision. And some fun stuff too!  

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