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May 3, 2010 / Toby Dayton

Flaws In Job Board Aggregator Model Coming To Light

As the recruitment advertising industry continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid clip and job search engines such as LinkUp and job aggregators such as Indeed and Simplyhired continue to grab market share away from the mega job boards such as Monster and Careerbuilder, the underlying details of these newer business models are beginning to be better understood. Three excellent blog posts in the past few weeks highlight some important considerations that employers and job seekers should keep in mind when evaluating job search engines and job aggregators.

As a point of clarification, I’d first like to define these two very different business models. A job board aggregator such as Indeed or Simplyhired is a site that aggregates job listings from thousands of job boards around the web. They might also include jobs from newspaper websites and company websites, but the vast, vast majority of jobs on Indeed and Simplyhired are aggregated from job boards (hence the name ‘aggregator’). These aggregated job listings contain links to the original job board, where job seekers must then sign up on that particular job board in order to apply to the job (if it even is a real job and it’s still available). Indeed and Simplyhired generate their revenue from their job board customers who pay the aggregators by the click for every job seeker that clicks on a job board listing.

In the case of Indeed and Simplyhired, the gigantic database of job board listings will undoubtedly contain duplicate listings for the same job because many employers advertise their openings on multiple job boards. Equally as problematic, the job feeds that Indeed and Simplyhired aggregate also contain old, outdated jobs that have already been filled, and even worse, garbage jobs that pollute job boards such as work-at-home scams, phishing jobs, scam jobs, and ‘money mule’ scams. But because Indeed and Simplyhired are being paid by the job boards for any clicks on these jobs, there is no incentive for them to remove these duplicate and garbage listings.

On the other hand, a job search engine is a site that actively scours the web for job listings that are only found on company websites and indexes those jobs into a giant search engine. Indexing is done with ’spiders’ that crawl other websites rather than collecting a data feed supplied by someone else. And if the company doing the indexing is a considerate and responsible one (like LinkUp), that indexing is done in an open and transparent manner in the middle of the night when site traffic on the employer’s corporate career portal is low. The difference is worth repeating – LinkUp only lists job listings from company websites. We index jobs listed on career portals from over 22,000 company websites and update the search engine every day. We do not list any jobs from other job boards. Period. And as a result, LinkUp’s job listings are always current, often unadvertised anywhere else on the web, and never fake.

In any event, 3 recent posts on some very highly regarded blogs further illuminated the problems surrounding job board aggregators such as Indeed and Simplyhired.

• On The Talent Buzz, Jason Buss strongly advises job seekers to stay away from aggregators like Indeed and Simplyhired and go direct to the company’s website. On an aggregator site with listings from other job boards, the job seeker clicking on a job can never be sure where exactly he or she is going to end up, and they may be taken down the ‘job jacker’ rabbit hole only to end up end up on a lead-gen site for online degrees where their resume will NEVER get to the employer. In the example cited by Jason, a click on Indeed’s website on an Ameriprise job (that was not authorized to be listed on Indeed) took Jason to a financial job board run by Beyond.com where the contact information is used to push online degrees. This is a significant issue not only for job seekers, but also for employers whose job content is being used way beyond the realm of candidate sourcing.

• On Recruitingblogs.com, Jeff Dickey-Chasins published a post entitled ‘The Problem of Duplicate Job Listings.’ As I mentioned previously, Indeed and Simpolyhired and other aggregators that aggregate jobs from multiple job boards list duplicate jobs simply due to the fact that employers post jobs on multiple sites throughout the web. But because aggregators are paid by job boards for clicks to those thousands of sites, there is no incentive for them to remove duplicate listings. Duplicate listings are a massively frustrating phenomena for job seekers, and present a major problem for employers who receive the brunt the ill-will felt by job seekers. But it is a problem that aggregators like Indeed and Simplyhired will never fix because it is an inherent component (or flaw) in their business model of serving their job board customers.

• And finally, on Fistful of Talent, Jessica Lee talks about 2 other prominent job jackers – The Ladders and Doostang.

The recruitment advertising industry is undergoing massive change, and for good reason. The woefully inadequate, traditional pay-to-post model is becoming increasingly antiquated and obsolete and will likely die in even less time than it took for the daily newspaper classifieds to disappear. But with every positive innovation and productive new start-up that emerges, there will be others that unscrupulously seek to take advantage of the chaos and disruption. It is imperative that job seekers and employers alike take the time to understand exactly how various sites operate, where candidate information is going, and how those sites generate revenue.

One Comment

  1. AlexPaterson / May 3 2010 6:22 pm

    Possibly the most pointless and out dated article I have read for a while on job search engines!

    Did pick a new all American buzz word though ‘ Job Jacker ‘

    PS type IT Manager into Linkup – I loved the fact that I was given a TOP listing for a registered nurse!!!!!!!

    Now compare the results to a REAL search engine such as check4jobs or Indeed

    Linkup.com should be ****up.com

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