Job Aggregator Sites and Job Search Engines: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly! 28 Comments


Even though job aggregator sites and  job search engines have been around for years now, they have a significant number of challenges that come along with the benefits.  The irony is… almost all claim to be the largest, the first, have the most jobs, etc.  We’d expect that, right?

What you might not expect is what you find when you take a closer look at what’s happening.

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The Good:

  • For candidates, you get to go to one site and search jobs that are online everywhere, from job boards and search firms, to corporate career sites.
  • For recruiters, there is an opportunity to beat out the competition with the bidding model (pay-per-click) which is fairly common.  In addition to that, you can typically send these sites a XML feed of your jobs so you don’t need to post them, saving you time.  You also get candidates directly to your site, bypassing the rest of the garbage (explained further below).

The Bad:

  • For candidates, there is a lot of duplication on these sites where the same job is posted from multiple sites and job boards.  If you find one through a job board (or any source other than from the employer directly), you may have to register on that site and some even have a price tag to join.  With these non direct sources, you also get to see a lot of spam and advertisements.
  • For recruiters, with a majority of the sites out there that fall into a search engine or aggregator, most accept postings, bids, and sponsorships from job boards too meaning you could be competing with yourself.  If you pay for a position posted on a board and you bid on an aggregator site, you could be bidding against a job boards with the same posting.  Their goal is to get traffic to their site and increase the number of candidates registered, in addition to charging you to post a job or search their database.  Some that claim to host jobs solely from employers even have partnerships or ads on their sites to the larger aggregators.

The Ugly:

  • The candidate experience.  Keep reading…
  • I entered a search on indeed.com, searching only the company name of Microsoft for jobs in the U.S.  The result = 4,043 jobs.  I searched all jobs on their career site with no parameters and came up with 616 openings.  Given that, I took a look at the various sites with Microsoft jobs posted on indeed.  The result = TheLadders.com, ColorsCareers, NewScientistJobs.com, LinkedIn, Advertising Age, CollegeRecruiter.com, EdAdvisor, ComputerJobs.com, Black Enterprise, Jobster.com, ExpatITjobs.com, Monster.com, SeattleRecruiter.com, Vitruva, SuperJobPost.com, JobServe USA, JobThread, HotJobs, CareerBuilder, IEEE, Dice, TalentZoo.com, HireDiversity, AILA, Gamasutra, LatPro, telecomcareers, 6figurejobs.com, job.com, and more…  You get the point (I hope).
  • I clicked on a few jobs not posted from Microsoft directly.  In almost all cases, you are told you need to register with that site.  The Ladders wants you to pay (which you can apply directly to Microsoft for free) on the same job I clicked on.  Snagajob.com even gave me a pop-up ad for my chance at $10 million (in case you don’t get the job I guess).

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  • Probably the ugliest example is a job that takes you from the aggregator to werkboard.com (spelled correctly), and jobcircle.com.  Guess what, when you try to get far enough in the application process the site tries selling you RezRocket where you can get your Resume blasted to over 18,000 recruiters.

Just so we’re clear, we’re all benefiting the aggregators financially and the other sites that require candidates to register (including the big job boards).  So, we have to pay to post to a board, pay an aggregator (for top exposure – bidding), and pay to access the resume database of job boards when we’re helping them populate them by the aggregator allowing our postings from the boards (which most require registration)? Huh?!

It seems as though aggregators are using brand names to create vast networks of SEO pages.  In turn, they are attempting to resell candidates on a pay-per-click model.  Again, this is based on the duplication of multiple jobs, and the high number of SEO landing pages created without you knowing.

If you are interested and concerned with the candidate experience, in addition to having your jobs directly come up in the search engines, getting candidates directly, and not engaging in the pass-the-bags-of-money charade between some job boards, resume databases, and aggregator sites, here are a few suggestions:

  • Work with the aggregator sites to get duplicate jobs removed. My experience with indeed.com has been positive in making this happen in the past.  Remember, they are in business for a reason too.  I would recommend sponsoring hard-to-fill type positions, and again have had some success with this in the past.
  • Do your own SEO for jobs, or partner with top vendors in this space. Be careful though, everyone is claiming to be a SEO expert these days.  If you want some ideas on this and what questions to ask, please contact me.
  • Do not allow job boards (or any online service) to re-advertise your jobs beyond their website. Work with your procurement or legal team and append your contract with specific language stating that your jobs will not be re-advertised on any site other than the specific contracted site your are partnering with.  This could take care of part of the issue and puts the burden on a job board to monitor other sites stealing there postings and job content to promote their services downstream.  It would also keep the bids down when you partner with the aggregator sites.

Let me end this post by saying there could and likely will be a lot of finger pointing with some of the issues raised.  The accountability is beyond the aggregator sites and I think the value the aggregator sites offer candidates is amazing and has a lot of potential long-term.  Before more and more of these sites launch, I would like to think the industry can work together and take care of the problems and take a stance.

Before that can happen, aggregators and other sites need to iron out some kinks in their business model and answer the big question:  “Who are we in business for?”  The model would likely change if the answer was either for the candidate, a company, a recruiter, or job boards.

About Jason Buss

Talent HQ’s creator and editor is Recruiting & Diversity Leader, Jason Buss. Talent HQ is a premier online news and information channel for the Recruiting and Human Resources community.

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  • Posted on: Sunday, May 3rd, 2009
  • This Post Has 28 Comments

    1. [...] Promote Job Aggregator Sites and Job Search Engines: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly! Posted on May 3, 2009 by Jason from Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on HR topics.Even though job aggregator sites and  job search engines have been around for years now, they have a significant number of challenges that come along with the benefits.  The irony is… almost all claim to be the largest, the first, have the most jobs, etc.  We’d expect that, right? What you might not expect is what [...] Read More… [...]

    2. Brian Peddle says:

      For jobseekers one way to avoid the maze of redirects is to not click on the apply button.

      A good process I have found is search for your jobs on the aggregator site (I actually follow this process on the Big 3 as well). Note the company name, google it and then visit the site directly. This will solve and help with a few items.

      1. You know you are going directly into their applicant tracking system. Many times you have to 1st register at some site and then get redirected. Avoid it, go to the source.

      2. You get to check out the company. Do you even want to work there? Learn a little bit before you apply. You should be doing this regardless.

      3. By visiting the company site you may actually find other positions that interest you more.

      Go to the source! Happy Career Hunting.

    3. GL HOFFMAN says:

      LinkUp (www.linkup.com) is the only ‘pure” job search engine out there. We only have jobs that are ONLY on a company’s own website. The basic issue with other aggregators is garbage in-garbage out. One of the big aggregators asks job seekers to TELL THEM when they run across spam or scam jobs. We do that up front, FOR the job seeker.

    4. Dee Wallace says:

      I have to tell you, all of the above is absolutely accurate. I’ve been a faithful user of Indeed.com and found many jobs are duplicates. However, it’s a good source of what companies are actually looking to hire. Also, if they are a reputable company, I would prefer to go directly to their website to apply as most companies actually use their database “first” to fill positions.

      I would recommend that no one pay for a service to find employment; e.g.. resumeblast, resumerabbit, etc. Unemployed people are looking for employment not ways to spend their unemployment dollars on anything other than the necessities of life. Get real! I am appalled at those sites and/or professionals that advertise their services for a fee. Ugh! They may mean well, but as you say, they are a business.

      Instead try this…Help a sincere person land a position and then keep that network source open as a means to help others. For example, as a Human Resources Manager, assisting me in the employment process will go a long way “when” I land a position. I will then be a source to help you find other potential candidates as my HR resources would be unlimited. How’s that for a win-win?

    5. Jason,
      Great post!

      I have to add a couple of other points.

      First, in the Good column for job seekers!
      * If aggregators are providing a good service for job seekers, their site visitor numbers will continue to go up.

      I think they are a valuable resource to job seekers. Indeed and many other are adding more job seekers consistently. So, what is the job seeker market saying… It’s working.

      Can this be said about every aggregator? No, but neither can you say the same for every job board. Most job boards require registration in the application process. Why should aggregators be any different? Just because one of the leading aggregators (Indeed) doesn’t do this, does this mean that other aggregators shouldn’t?

      I would agree that there needs to be some jobs removed from sites. Most aggregators are doing this on a daily basis. There are over 15 aggregators that I work with on a regular basis, and most all of them check and manage the job postings, and provide great customer service regarding duplicates, etc. when asked. This is an ongoing issue for any job board or aggregator. As an owner, we get comments from our clients and job seekers and act on these on a daily basis. SimplyHired announced a plan regarding this 2 weeks ago as well.

      In the Employer Good colum.
      * Aggregators are GREAT for employers! Aggregators are showing incredible ROIs for both job boards and employers.

      The only failures that I have heard of regarding aggregators is more due to expectations, rather than ROI. For instance the big issue that I hear usually comes in the form of…

      “I posted 1-5 jobs with a budget of $100 and got no hires!”
      (The numbers can be off a little but this is just an example.)

      I’m not sure how and what expectations were set, but this is like posting a single job on a single cheap or free job board and expecting to get a hire! It’s not realistic.

      The employers that are going to get the most out of PPC and aggregators are firms that have 20+ openings and a minimum monthly budget of $500. (It is possible to get results for less than the minimums, but this is about what your should expect). Also, these minimums are for one or two aggregator sites, if you are going to work with them individually. (SimplyHired just announced a minimum budget of $500 per client).

      Employers with $5,000 per month and over 100 openings can utilize multiple aggregators, test campaigns on multiple sites, track these results, and realize candidate acquisition costs and ROIs that were previously unheard of. This IS the future of Internet Recruiting. The employers that embrace this, learn the ROI, and learn to use these and other tools will have massive competitive advantages as the economy turns around.

      The math is really simple, if the job boards are buying traffic from these sources, chances are employers should follow them.

      I don’t think it’s really all that much of a shock to anyone to know that the basic job board busines model is this…
      Acquire job seeker traffic for X.
      Sell job seeker traffic for Y.
      Profit = Y – X

      Depending on the niche and position, in many cases employers are outbidding job boards. If the bidding gets too expensive the job boards will leave and go to other less expensive sources. If the cost of candidate acquisition is good, and the job boards can make a profit on what they charge clients, the job boards will continue buying ads.

      Most job boards, who us aggregators in their marketing, already know their cost per candidate acquisition. Meanwhile, most employers don’t know this number, and therefore are at a major disadvantage.

      This of course can be tracked and managed through 3rd party vendors, such as Career Site Optimization firms (SEO companies).

      In the blog post, you mentioned SEO firms, so I thought I should open a big can of worms on this one…
      * SEO is only 1 aspect of any Search Engine Marketing campaign.
      * The truth about SEO for recruiting is this… Unless you have the budget for a $100,000 SEO campaign, SEO by itself is NOT going to be very effective at driving candidates to your corporate website.

      Sure some SEO firms will sell you on SEO, and get you Page 3 or worse rankings on terms never searched by job seekers. Does this drive candidate traffic to your website? Does it drive your brand if no one sees your branding? NO! NO! NO!

      On the other hand is it possible to get Top 10 rankings for primary keywords that drive job seeker traffic? Yes, but again, you have to compete against the job boards, and this too will cost money, but the branding is very beneficial in this case.

      * The truth is that any good Career site SEO firm will recommend a combination of SEO and SEM / PPC/ syndicating the jobs to multiple aggregators to drive traffic to the jobs. To be successful with SEM and SEO you need an integrated marketing campaign, SEO is just 1 of the tools in the toolbox.

      * Again, I’ll say it again, because no one else has, unless you have a big budget, SEO, by itself is NOT going to be a major driver of traffic to your career site.

      In fact, one of the biggest advantages to a Career Site Optimization firm is their ability to syndicate the job content, to multiple sites, and track all the clicks from each of the aggregators, including tracking both organic (free) clicks versus paid PPC clicks.

      I think most would agree that aggregators are providing the best ROI from job postings. The problem is managing each of the sites, and the job postings on each of the sites.

      Internally managing and tracking free feeds and/or advertising campaigns on all of these sites is beyond the realm of most job boards, let alone employers.
      This is where an SEO/ SEM firm comes in.

      A good Recruiting SEO/ SEM firm should be able to provide the following services:
      * manage their postings for both free and paid campaigns.
      * manage the relationships across all aggregators.
      * manage/ eliminate duplicate postings from other job boards.
      * manage the tracking across all sites, including Free and Paid feeds.
      * Most importantly, manage the budget per job aggregator, per feed

      Employers using these services can realize a huge competitive advantages over most job boards and most competitors.

      What is fascinating is this, larger employers, with bigger budgets, can duplicate this model… but almost none are. In my mind that means massive opportunity for the employers who “get it”.

      For transparency sake, I own both http://www.gojobs.com, a job aggregation site, and http://www.seo4jobs.com, a Career Site Optimization firm.

    6. Dina Medeiros says:

      Great article and some great food for thought, thank you Jason….

      Additional Benefit to employers:

      No left over inventory (post and pray)
      No annual contracts
      Control over your buy (turn up monthly spend/or TURN it down if hiring freeze or position is put on hold)
      Link directly to employer site thus protecting the brand, and allowing candidate to apply directly (less clicks)
      If a companies site is not optimized, indeed and simply hired have helped get companies exposure on Google (not ideal but step in right direction), easy kill 2 birds with one stone.

    7. Jason says:

      Dina,

      Thanks for the additional insights!

      Jason

    8. Jason says:

      Jonathan,

      Thanks for the additional info, you raise some key points.

      Jason

    9. Jason says:

      Hi Dee,

      Thanks for stopping by, and adding your comments. It can be a very unfortunate experience! There is a group on twitter called @jobangels that is doing exactly what you describe, i.e. a grassroots effort.

      Jason

    10. Jason says:

      GL,

      You make a great point about leveraging sites that only accept jobs and feeds directly from an employer.

      Thanks!
      Jason

    11. Jason says:

      Brian,

      Thanks for the comments, all are very helpful to job seekers. Hopefully, there will be enough noise raised where we can fix the issues!

      Take care,
      Jason

    12. eric shannon says:

      very interesting topic Jason! I believe it’s much more relevant than the new next-gen job ventures that the press love to write about… I keep a list of job search engines here http://www.internetinc.com/job-search-engines including top 10 list with links to traffic comparisons…

      I just added you to my blog reader:)

      would you like to become a member of http://www.toprecruitingblogs.com/ ?

      — Eric

    13. [...] has a nice article describing the good, bad, and the ugly about job board aggregators. The bottom line is that you should use caution when searching online. [...]

    14. [...] used to leverage traffic using duplicative content, extract job seeker information and create many other issues not intended in the free flow of job [...]

    15. So to be effective, in an executive job search, you have to determine what role you want to play, what industries and organizations would support that role and what you’re geographical preferences and limitations are. The task here is not to look for open positions, but to look for the decision makers in organizations that would have the role that you are seeking to fill. Remember 30% of organizations are going to need someone, so it’s your job to initiate the introduction and chemistry match. I tell this to people that I am working with all the time and they come back and say, “How will I know if they have an open position?” You won’t but, if you talk to 100 companies you will have interviewed for 10 positions. The other comment I hear, is “The economy is bad and unemployment is over 9.5%, no one is hiring.” This is completely wrong! Unemployment is high for the worker bee population but the top ten people in an organization are the last to be let go. The company has to go under before the top management lose their jobs. Have you ever seen a company without a CEO, CFO, COO, VP Sales, etc.? There are companies closing divisions and contracting various business functions or outsourcing but this is a small percentage of the overall executive job market.

    16. Rhonie says:

      I get very upset when I go to these search engines looking, find a some potential employer, apply for the posititions and there is absolutely no response what-so-ever even with staffing firms. I am currently unemployed. I have been doing this on a daily basis since May 2009. Within a week I will send out 150-180 resumes, and I may get one response and that is “Right now, we’re reviewing your background and skills with the requirements of this position. One of our staffing professionals will contact you directly if your experience and skills are a match for this or any other relevant position”. WHAT IS THE POINT? I am at my wits end with all of these links, and advertisements. I might as well turn to the newspaper. Time is growing short, I have lost my car, my phone, and it is starting to effect my house. If I don’t find anything soon I will be on the streets.

    17. Matt Shelly says:

      My name is Matt Shelly, and I am the client services manager for JobCircle.com. You made comments regarding JobCircle.com, and I wanted to respond personally to the comments in your article above:

      “Probably the ugliest example is a job that takes you from the aggregator to werkboard.com (spelled correctly), and jobcircle.com. Guess what, when you try to get far enough in the application process the site tries selling you RezRocket where you can get your Resume blasted to over 18,000 recruiters. ”

      We have no affiliation with werkboard.com. We distribute our job postings to over 40 different web sites so that we can maximize our exposure to jobseekers and ensure that employers get good applicant flow to their positions. Werkboard is one of those sites.

      Just to be clear, all of our job board services are 100% free to jobseekers. We have one premium service, called RezRocket, which allows you to email your resume to up to 18,000 employers who have opted in to receive free resumes through this service. We’ve been in business over 10 years and all of the recruiters are opt-in. We charge for this service because it costs us bandwidth to send out resumes to that volume of recruiters. We have sold over 2000 RezRockets in the last 5 years and we have many jobseekers who are repeat purchasers because it works for most who try it.

      On JobCircle.com, you do not have to pay to submit a resume, apply for a job, search through jobs, attend our career fairs, attend our pink slip parties, participate in our career workshops. The ONLY product we charge for is RezRocket, and you do not need to make any purchase whatsoever to use any of the aforementioned products. The job apply process is one page, and it literally takes under 4 minutes to apply to a job. We present RezRocket as an option during the apply process, clearly state the price, and if you check off the box, we send you a quote with how many recruiters we can email for you within your geographic region. That’s it. It’s up to you to come back and purchase the product. It has no effect on your job application process at all. We process over 4000 job applications on our site every day, and approximately 4-6 people purchase Rezrocket so they can get additional coverage.

      We value our reputation. Our goal is to connect jobseekers with great employers, and we work very hard to accomplish that goal.

      If you have additional questions about JobCircle.com or the RezRocket Product, you can email me at matt@jobcircle.com, or reach out to our President and Co-Founder, Joe Stubblebine, at http://jobcircle.com/joe.

    18. Pat Johnson says:

      Jobsbridge is a fast growing I.T Job & Career Portal. Thousands of jobs are posted by technology staffing companies, recruiters and direct employers on a regular basis. Employers & Jobseekers will find this site very uncluttered and has some great feature set.

      Looking for a job, considering a career change or anything that is a major decision to our work-life experience sometimes leaves us clueless. Jobsbridge resources are intended to be a place for career experts to leave a few cents for rest of us to ponder on. Maybe, help us make right decision in our lives.

      Are you some kind of expert and can help others, well, don’t hold back and ask us to add you into our editors list. Once on it, you can share your thoughts whenever you want on this site.

      Apart from all the career help that you could get at Jobsbridge, it can help you connect with many opportunities real time. Don’t get stuck at your dead-end job, make a wish and let Jobsbridge help you find a right match.

      Jobseekers, give this site a spin! May be your next job is on us.

    19. Agro Job says:

      I strongly believe that job aggregators will soon make everybody realize that the only way to go search for real jobs is via specialized job boars, say, agriculture, computing, law, etc, etc.

      It is not about how smart programmers are but how good they can better address human interactions with the computer. Only those sites that do that well will prevail.

    20. Donna Svei says:

      I have my job search clients set up searches for openings on the aggregators and using Boolean searches on Google. We feed the results to a Google Alerts folder so it’s easy to compare the efficacy of both methods. Boolean searches on Google yield more openings than the aggregators do. Go figure.

    21. iJobdrone says:

      This is what i like for a site. You cannot just simply make a comment but also to learn from others in their postings. Job Search Websites can really be of great help to job seekers find their appropriate jobs available online.

    22. Donna Svei says:

      Here’s the how to on setting up a Google Alerts account: http://bit.ly/ddFkKY.

      Here’s the how to on setting up alerts for job openings: http://bit.ly/dxRmRj.

    23. WiseStep says:

      Good post and really good comments down the line. Some important points being made here. However there are some other websites like Wisestep ( http://www.wisestep.com ) which gives referral rewards for you when you refer to job to someone. Have you had any chance to look into their way ?. I would like to hear your feedback(+ve or -ve) on the website.

      Disclaimer: I work with them

    24. TipTopJob says:

      There are benefits of job boards that should be considered… Many offer free job posting which will give exposure on that job board and all its visitors but will further enhance the audience for your jobs by feeding through to the job search engines and aggregators. The fact that such job sites have a large database of registered jobseekers is also an added bonus..

    25. [...] company? Another site that stole the job content? I wrote a post almost 2 years ago titled  “Job Board Aggregator Sites and Job Search Engines:  The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly“.  There is still a lot of relevance nearly 24 months [...]

    26. cindy Aronson says:

      We worked with Indeed.com for years off and on. They are very difficult to work with. From what I know it is not a fun place to work. We both purchased clicks and submitted organic postings. One day without any explanation they terminated the organic. No one would tell us why, other than we were still eligible to buy premium clicks. It had a negative impact on our ability to acquire talent – it took us several months to mimic the volumes otherwise. So, the key takeaway here – Indeed.com terminated an element of a long-standing business relationship without a heads up (screwed up our business for a while), and thereafter would not provided an explanation as to why, but were real clear to us that they still were open to taking our money. Is this the kind of partner you would want?

    27. screenmates says:

      SimplyHired is the WORST of all. They take our application to include our feeds, send us an automated email confirming receipt and never come back or include jobs. If we send emails (dozens) they do not reply. In over 2 years of communicating with them dozens of times, we received just one response asking us to sign up for paid advertising costing $1000/month minimum for 3 months. They do not have any phone contacts – even the ones we found with difficulty, they do not return calls. EXTREMELY UNPROFESSIONAL.

      Indeed has so many contacts it is simply a treat to deal with Indeed.

    28. Kulka says:

      And what about jobbregator.com ? It is bad, it is good or it is ugly?
      I think, the latest… ;)

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