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Friction: Is registering job seekers actually worth it?

Should you make a job seeker register on your site – or not? And if you do, how hard should it be?

Almost every client I’ve worked with has had to wrestle with the job seeker registration question. Why? Because as you already know, job seekers are the core audience of the job board – they are why your site exists. If they aren’t there, you certainly won’t have employer (or anyone else) willing to pay for your services. Making a job seeker register creates friction – in other words, you’ve just made it harder for the job seeker to do whatever it is they want to do on your site. Each time you introduce friction into your relationship with the job seeker, you will lose a few. Create enough friction, and you will lose a lot.

So why bother? Why not just let job seekers do whatever they want? Simple – as you know, job seekers are the primary reason employers work with you. Employers want to reach job seekers, and they’re using your recruiting site to do so. But if you don’t have the vaguest idea who is using your site, you may have a bit of a problem. That’s where registration comes in – it allows you to identify, qualify, and quantify your job seeker audience. Getting your job seekers to register means that you can continue to engage them even if they don’t visit the site again. It also means that you are building long term value for your employers via what some would call a ‘talent pool’.

But, as with many things in life, there are many ways of registering – and each has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look:

  • Simple registration: The fastest and easiest – email and password, or via Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook login. This type of registration creates some friction – but it’s so common across all services and sites (not just job boards) that it’s widely accepted by users.
  • Simple + registration: Just like the above, but with with 1-2 additional questions, usually in the form of drop-downs or radio buttons. Ideal for gathering key demographic or niche information without being intrusive. For example, a niche real estate site could display licensing achieved by the seeker, or a general site could ask for age and highest level of education achieved.
  • Complex registration: As its name implies, it goes far beyond email and password; it may ask for educational background, work status, location, etc. Can be useful in a super-niche site that is trying to screen out less qualified candidates. Often ends up being a multi-step process. Drop out from candidates can be significant – as high as 50-70%.
  • Prolonged registration: This is a compromise between simple and complex: initial registration is simple, but then the job seeker is prompted via email to provide additional information to ‘complete’ their registration. Think of it as getting the job seeker to build a profile by badgering them. LinkedIn is particularly good at this type of thing. Almost always includes some sort of bar graph that shows how close the job seeker is to being ‘fully registered’.

Next question: when do you make job seekers register? My preference is at the point of applying, or in the process of receiving something of value from your site (i.e., ability to store their resume, make resume visible to employers, get an ebook, etc.). I would not make job seekers register simply to see jobs. Why? Because there are plenty of sites where they can see jobs without registering. Unless your site has 100% unique jobs (and after all, who does anymore), you should think twice before you implement this.

Is registering job seekers worth it? I would say absolutely yes.  Job seekers are the fundamental building block of your business, so you need to know as much as possible about them, and engage them frequently. You can’t do that effectively unless they have given you something – their registration. So if you don’t currently make job seekers register, I would encourage you to try. I think you’ll find you’re much more profitable in the long run.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Jeff,
    Excellent post, once again!
    I’ve had problems visualizing this in the past.
    Seeing you lay out the different types of registrations paths is great.
    Now, I need to create different split tests, and track the results!

    Thanks again.
    Jonathan Duarte

  2. One of the best columns about job boards that I’ve seen — thanks for asking a tough question. But I wish you’d take it farther. Job boards need job seekers’ information — but why should a job seeker provide it unless they’ve gotten some demonstrable value from the job board? Just being able to scan job listings isn’t enough — because they can do that anywhere. Job listings are free and ubiquitous. What’s the job board giving, before it gets personal information? I think that equation is ignored in the job board space. Would love your insider thoughts on that.

  3. Nick – I touch on that above – a free ebook related to job seeking in their specific niche, maybe some industry research – I totally agree with you that an exchange of value is the best way to go. I think some job boards stumble on this – they view the exchange as more one-sided. Obviously, I don’t! – Jeff

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