The recruitment industry has faced a variety of new trends over the last decade. The rise of social media and the economy of ideas has led to the market that is far more candidate driven. Due to sites such as LinkedIn and others, it is now much easier for candidates to approach the decision makers in small to mid-level companies directly. Even larger companies have begun posting jobs on third party websites in an effort to attract more diverse candidates.
Due to these trends, recruiters are finding it harder to identify positions that they can recruit for in time to suggest candidates. The same information on job roles is available for both candidates and recruiters on job aggregator sites like indeed.com, which means that the value to a candidate of a recruiter suggesting a role becomes more tenuous. As companies explore more and more avenues to gain solicitations from candidates, the ability for a recruiter to get in there quickly to suggest quality people lowers. In order to remain competitive, recruiters need to stay one step ahead of candidates by becoming more data driven.
Why the existing system isn’t working
Web data in recruitment has been dominated over the past few years by the rise of job aggregators. Job aggregators (Indeed, SimplyHired, Glassdoor, reed.co.uk, Jobster, etc) scrape jobs from both careers pages as well as recruitment agency portals and job boards. These aggregators have become so successful because they have mastered the art of search engine optimisation (SEO). Simply by containing many more links and keywords than other jobs sites, they make themselves an attractive source for candidates to use – which in turn has driven recruiters to use them too.
Unfortunately, as advertising revenue continues to drive the online job aggregator industry, having a large volume of jobs is more beneficial to attracting traffic than providing clean, structured information.
This has created a number of issues:
- Clutter – Job listings are often just copied from other sources so the aggregator sites are full of duplicate listings.
- Incompleteness – Most employers only post certain jobs to paid job boards, which means not all of their openings are listed on the aggregator sites.
- Expired listings – Most job aggregators don’t work directly with companies and so cannot know when a job has already been filled or should no longer be advertised.
- Lack of consistent structure – Job aggregators are often organized based purely on keywords, making searches difficult for recruiters/candidates who need to know all the different ways that employers class the same job title.
- Listings that link to other listings – Often job boards link to other job boards and listings creating a long chain of hyperlinks for a candidate to actually apply for a job.
- Front sites – Many aggregator sites have started parsing the jobs they copy into disciplines and then creating job boards for those. This then gives the illusion of scale and the linking to separate, specialised job boards when they were actually obtained from the same place.
In addition to having to sort through the onslaught of jobs (which may or may not be legitimate) on aggregator sites, recruiters also need to:
- Pay to post to a job board
- Pay an aggregator via PPC bidding to post listings
- Pay to access a resume database of candidates, only available in the first place because recruiters collectively provided them.
Bizarrely, if a recruitment company pays to list a position on a job board, and then bids on an aggregator site, it could be competing against itself directly.
Based on this evidence, it is clear that the recruitment industry is broken. If recruiters had better, more structured access to jobs data than candidates, they would have a distinct advantage in finding desirable open positions. Better information in this space would mean more valuable insight, more unique output and increased speed of execution.
Data is the answer
Existing job listings on the web are all over the place – duplicated, unclean, expired and the list goes on. There is no common language, no structure, and no way to learn about attributes and analyse them in a really meaningful, reliable manner.
Solutions need to focus on cleaning, de-duplicating and analysing the job postings available on the web. By treating these job postings as data, recruiters can start to build a better, more efficient system for generating leads. If we structure this data, it has the potential to radically change the recruitment industry.
Lean data in a regular, consistent format that includes job descriptions, employment types, job requirements, company descriptions, posted dates, min/max salaries is useful because it allows us to create a relational database. Relational databases can be easily filtered, analysed and searched to identify trends and find jobs within given parameters – thus solving the inconsistent labeling issue.
We can also use the data method to get around the duplication issue by becoming our own job aggregator. Using the same basic web scraping technology of sites like indeed, recruiters can access high quality job postings direct from the source – the company careers pages themselves. Companies tend not to keep expired job postings on their website because it slows their HR departments down and ultimately creates real costs from having to screen candidates applying for an irrelevant role. Thus, when a job listing is on a careers page, you can generally assume it was intended to be there, that it is timely and that the position is still open.
Data resources for recruiters
Recently, a few enterprising startups (such as data platform import.io) have begun providing recruiters with just such a solution. They create live APIs to company careers pages, which allows them to pull the job listings into a structured database in real time. These jobs are then indexed and placed into a comprehensive searchable database, which recruiters can subscribe to. The corresponding dashboard allows a recruiter to quickly track jobs from relevant companies. If the jobs are listed on the website, a recruiter can be notified within the hour and make that all-important sales call to kick off discussions.
In bigger picture terms, having a real time web feed of job listings allows analysts and recruiters to understand how a company strategy is evolving, live, and indeed how the nature of business works. For example, if a recruiter knows that a company has been recently hiring a lot of personal assistants, it may be a sign that they are in a time of additional cash. If the company has recently been looking for more senior managers you may be able to guess that there have been some senior departures, or that it’s are also looking to expand.
In summary, for a recruiter, having a clean, live, searchable database of job listings offers a value add well above a normal job aggregator. A structured web database contains structured, clean, deduplicated, unique information that can be analysed to derive useful insights to make that recruiting conversation that much more informed, and data driven.
Author: Dhruv Ghulati, Data Product Manager at import.io