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Indeed: the elephant in the room – or just the same old friendly puppy?

IndeedGo to any animal shelter and you will usually see pets that simply got too big for their owners – hulking St. Bernards, twelve-foot pythons, walking catfish, and so on. It’s easy in hindsight to blame the owners. But the owners weren’t thinking about how big the animal would one day become; they were focused on how much they wanted it.

Since roughly 2005, job boards have lived with aggregators such as Indeed and SimplyHired. As discussed in a previous post, the coexistence has had its positives for job boards (lots of traffic) and negatives (competition for direct employers). But for most sites, the relationship has been positive – the aggregators have created more traffic and response than these sites could have obtained on their own. In fact, I’d argue that many boards became addicted to the aggregator traffic.

Over the past few months, however, Indeed has made a couple of moves that have folks in the industry talking:

  • No more ‘free posting’ sites: Sometime around January 2011, Indeed began ridding itself of job postings from ‘free to post’ sites. In conversations with those at the company, I was told that this was in direct response to ‘hundreds’ of complaints from job seekers about ‘fake’ postings – all of which were traced back to the ‘free posting’ sites. Thus, Indeed no longer accepts job feeds from such sites.
  • Job seekers can post resumes: In the past few weeks Indeed has quietly rolled out a new feature that allows job seekers to post their resumes – something which had never been offered before. When asked about the change by, CEO Paul Forster said, “I’m not aware of any feedback from job boards on this. We have always seen job boards as partners and don’t see that changing for any reason.”

What is a job boarder to think about the above? Well…

  1. The optimist: This is just the same old friendly puppy – no changes. Good riddance to the free sites, and who cares about the resumes.
  2. The nervous realist: Geez, when did that puppy get so gosh-darned big? And eating all the time, too! First the free sites went, then….  And resumes – they comprise 30% of my revenue stream. It’s kinda warm in here.
  3. The cynical survivor: I told you we should have killed the puppy in 2005! That’s not a puppy, it’s a #$%* elephant! They’ve got enough direct employers to start dumping those job boards that aren’t profitable for them. And of course they’re adding resumes – that’s what the direct employers want.

The real answer? Only Indeed (and its competitors) knows. They are a for-profit company, so they will do what they deem best to stay profitable and grow. The online recruitment industry is changing rapidly, and they are no doubt reacting to that change.

Lest we forget: it’s always prudent to know the difference between an elephant and a puppy.

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Nice, pointed analysis, Jeff! Thanks for bringing it to light for those of us who don’t pay much attention to the boards.

    “The real answer? Only Indeed (and its competitors) knows.” My guess is that the real answer lies with job hunters and employers… and they’re all getting tired of the fact that job boards have never evolved from selling database searches to actually helping match people with real jobs.

    Consider the problem: Indeed and SimplyHired are scaling upwards, rather than going honing down to specifics. Every resume and every job all in one place. If you’re a database junkie, that’s the proverbial nail for your hammer — and everything looks like a nail. But employers are crying that they don’t want every resume in the world in their recruiting pipe, and job hunters are tired of scanning jobs that don’t work for them.

    The puppy and the elephant share one fate that has perhaps been inevitable: The database grinder is turning them both into cheap hamburger meat. The job boards have become irrelevant. The tasty meals are elsewhere. That’s why the aggregators are changing their model: Nothing is working for them.

    Next up: Maybe TheLadders will buy HomeDepot and really shift its model.

  2. Guys – you are little bit behind in terms of developments in this space.

    Simplyhired has been offering DIRECT pay per job posting for almost 4 months now.

    So perhaps you should write a new post to explore how this is hurting their relationship with job boards and if the direct posting is a successful boost to their revenues..

  3. Consider how well or how poorly your resume is protected and who’s looking and this might tell you something about the integrity of the job board. Not all databases are viable marketplaces for all candidates. Great article and as far as the timeliness goes, just about right. SimplyHired may be ahead in going to market, but its more about the viability of the product than it is about who’s first.

  4. Kevin – you are confusing the issues here.

    The blog post was about INDEED launching a resume database and the follow up comment was that Simplyhired launching direct job postings.

    Those are 2 separate product lines 1) JOB POSTINGS 2) RESUME DB – both are encroaching on the turf of the traditional job boards.

  5. Chan,
    Please read my comment again and consider the phrase “integrity of the job board.” I wasn’t making a direct comparison but pointing to the larger issue that the article brings up.

    I realize my example is about one aspect of the job boards and the article specifically cites Indeed, but my point is that not all arenas for job-seekers are equal, no matter what the product or how much ahead of the competition it’s offered.

    Let’s think bigger picture here. People go where they find good opportunities and good content. Companies go where they find good traffic and can get the most bang for their buck.


    I am not sure what your mumbo jumbo about integrity of the job board pertains to.Way off topic.

    Has the elephant become a puppy ?? that’s the question here.

  7. This is definitely big news for job board owners. This is how I see the history and future of the Job Boards relationship with Indeed and SH:

    Past: Friend.
    Current: Frenemy.
    Future: Enemy.

    One thing you haven’t mentioned that could also have huge implications is a little bullet point on the Indeed Resume page:

    Coming soon: Apply to jobs with one click.

    If Indeed is creating a 1 size fits all resume application for the ATS systems, (a la ResumePal by Job Fox, which has not been adapted at all) and a job seeker doesn’t have to re-create the wheel to apply for jobs at multiple companies that use various ATS systems….Why on earth would a job seeker use any other job board.

    Most jobs on job boards (would love to know the percentage) re-direct you to the posting on a Corporate Career site anyway, so my Monster resume doesn’t really help me apply to most jobs already. This could turn the elephant in the room into a Wooly Mammoth.

  8. Like any good intentioned idea we start off by being nice to everyone around us, we get everyone on board, we make everyone happy by presenting gifts (traffic). Then one day your business mind goes into overdrive and you start eliminating the people around you that made you who you are. It happens all the time!

    At the moment I love Indeed, I get loads of FREE traffic to one of our websites. When their strategy is implemented I will have to weigh up if paying for their featured listings will be worth it. At the end of the day this will become a problem as spending money is always a problem.

  9. Chan, I think it is you that is missing the point. You seem a bit bitter, are you a job seeker?

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