Last week, we released the jobs report for October from LinkUp.com which showed that both new jobs and total jobs on the site rose by roughly 300,000 from September. (LinkUp aggregates and publishes jobs pulled directly from nearly 10,000 company web sites). Given the fact that the jobs are real and current (updated daily) and contain no duplicates (since they are pulled from a single source – the hiring company itself), we felt that the data was pretty reliable. But in light of the current economic meltdown and the nation’s rising unemployment, the magnitude of the increase from September was not only counterintuitive, it was, frankly, unbelievable. So we dug a little deeper into what might be inflating the numbers.
After some excellent sleuthing work by our team, we discovered that a relatively small number of companies (.4%) are assigning new unique URLs every day to all of the jobs they post on their own site. Our guess is that this allows the jobs to be ‘refreshed’ daily on other aggregating sites like Indeed and SimplyHired so that they appear higher in the search results. Our system for tracking new and unique jobs on LinkUp is tied to the unique URL for that specific job, so the new daily URLs that these companies assign to their jobs, even if it was on the site the day before, were counted in our system as brand new jobs. We hadn’t noticed this before because we deliver search results according to the quality of the match rather than by date of the post. We do this because all of the jobs on LinkUp are, by default, current, open, and available and we take them down immediately when the hiring company that posted the job on its own site removes that listing from its company site. So the ‘new daily URL, auto-refresh’ technique that distorts search results on SimplyHired and Indeed has no impact on LinkUp. This creates a better service for Job seekers using LinkUp, but clearly has an impact on our monthly report about the number of job listings by state and by industry. It also impacts others as well (see related points here and especially here).
By our estimate, the October report, for example, was inflated by 420,931 jobs. (Of course, September and all prior months were inflated by some large number as well for the same reason). The 38 companies we flagged for reassigning new URLs to their jobs each day posted a total of 40,430 actual unique jobs to their corporate sites during the month. But because of the fact that they constantly assigned new URLs to those openings, our systems counted that pool of jobs as 461,361 new and unique jobs. Needless to say, we’re both chagrined by the findings and pleased to have identified the culprit. And the fact remains that LinkUp published almost 1 million real jobs from real companies in a single, convenient site with the best search results of any job board on the web today.