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JobBoardGeek podcast: How to make applying for a job less painful

applying for a jobJobBoardGeek dives into the murky and sometimes confounding world of candidate experience – applying for a job – when we interview Alex Murphy of  His company hopes to solve the challenge of making a job application not too hard or too easy, but just right – and improving the situation for both the job seeker and employer. Jeff also marvels at the year in job boards – as does Steven. Both are dumbfounded at the amount of money spent and deals done.

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0:00:01.4 Jeff Dickey-Chasins: Hello folks, this is JobBoardGeek, the podcast about connecting candidates and employers. I am Jeff Dickey-Chasins, the Job Board doctor. And today, I’m here with my co-host, Steven Rothberg of College Recruiter. Hey, Steven, how you doing?

0:00:17.0 Steven Rothberg: I am doing well, and I’m excited. We have plenty of snow falling here in Minneapolis, and by the time this is over, we’re gonna have maybe 15 inches.

0:00:26.6 JD: Yeah, that really makes me so excited, I could almost jump out of my seat. If listeners don’t already know, I’m a native Texan, and although I live in Iowa, after 25 years, I’ve still not adjusted to the concept of winter. But anyway, today we have a great guest, friend of both of ours, Alex Murphy of JobSync, who we’ll be talking to shortly, but first of all, I just kinda wanted to jump back to a blog post that I put out on Job Board Doctor earlier this week. I went and looked at what had been going on in 2021, and, I mean, it’s been an incredible year, and this was the year that we saw Stack Overflow getting sold for 1.8 billion dollars, we saw all these different companies raising money, Eightfold AI raised 220 million dollars. Beamery raised 138 million dollars.

0:01:20.0 JD: We saw these acquisitions, PandoLogic got acquired, DHI sold eFinancialCareers, and a bunch of companies, like a little old company called ZipRecruiter, decided to do an IPO and they made a lot of money. So, I was just… I’m used to writing about this stuff, but I thought 2021, particularly after the preceding year, was kind of wild. What was your take on it, Steven?

0:01:43.7 SR: Yeah, 100%. I was looking at this a little bit earlier, and Georges Laraque just wrote that 2019 was the year with the most investment money coming into TA tech. 5.3 billion, which in 2019, we all thought that was astronomical. We have three weeks to go in the year, and we’re at 17.5 billion. We’re gonna end up with probably four times the greatest total ever. That’s just amazing to me.

0:02:15.8 JD: And strangely enough, absolutely none of that money has ended up with Job Board Doctor LLC. I don’t know about College Recruiter, [chuckle] but it’s been one of those years, but I do get to work with some really cool people. So our guest today is someone that I’ve known for a long time, I had the pleasure of doing a presentation with him at a conference, also I had the pleasure of identifying him when I was doing a blind presentation over an Atlantic connection, where I couldn’t see the audience. And he asked me a question and I said, “Is that Alex Murphy?” And he said, “Yes, it is.” So, you know, this guest has a really distinctive voice, and so Alex of JobSync, welcome to Job Board Geek.

0:03:04.3 Alex Murphy: Thanks for having me. Much appreciated.

0:03:06.4 JD: Yeah, well, you can tell I’m excited. Just to get things started out, Alex, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and where you came from? Like your sorta Spider-Man origin story, and then also, how did you get involved in the Job Board industry? What have you been doing it in all these years?

0:03:26.4 AM: Well, I was originally bit by a spider about 20 years ago…


0:03:33.1 AM: And was one of the co-founders at, the first version of, before it was the cryptocurrency version that it is today. And I had the great honor of working with some pretty awesome people back then, one of which was Dad Price, who’s now the CEO at [0:03:48.5] ____, so a little job board business in the middle of Virginia… I was there for about five years, left the industry, went to an e-commerce business to do a turn around for a few years, and then came back, and was working with Beyond, which is now Next, from 2008-16. Did a handful of startups, just trying to find something that had a lot of interest from customers, mostly in circling the talent acquisition space between 2016 and 2019, and started JobSync along with my co-founder from Rethink Data, John Bell, in 2019 as a joint venture, and really went all in on JobSync at the beginning of last year, and we’re now about 33, 34 people, located in India, Argentina, and the US, working really hard to make the talent acquisition process a much more streamlined and improved experience for both candidates and recruiters.

0:04:54.2 JD: So I guess… Why don’t you explain for the listeners, who may not be familiar with JobSync, what exactly do you guys do? I mean, what’s your purpose for being… And how does this relate to job boards and recruiting sites?

0:05:08.2 AM: Sure. So in a nutshell, what JobSync is, is we do workflow automation for talent acquisition, and that really starts at the very top of the funnel, which tends to be job boards. So we partner with all of the various service providers in the recruiting stack, if you will, or the recruiting funnel, so going from job boards and social media sites at the beginning, to texting and engagement platforms, CRM solutions in the middle, to the systems of records that are the ATSs and so forth at the end. We are an integration platform, that sits in between those different solutions, to automate the flow of data, generally candidate data, as it goes down through the funnel, to accelerate what the experience is for both the candidate and the recruiter.

0:05:54.4 AM: So you imagine solutions like Indeed Apply, ZipApply at the very top. What we do is we connect the system of record to get the application requirements out of the ATS, and have those questions asked of the candidate wherever they are, rather than making the candidate leave the job board. We help the candidate, we have the job board control that experience, how the application happen on the job board, that increases conversion rates, that increases the return on ad spend for the employer, that makes the candidate experience tremendous, that removes a lot of manual processing work that recruiters would otherwise have to do. So we kind of think about it as like a win, win, win, win solution. Everybody’s winning. The recruiter is winning, the head of Talent Acquisition is winning, the job board is winning, the system provider in the middle is winning, the solution system of record at the end of the process is winning because there’s just more activity and more acceleration, more speed in the entire process.

0:06:52.7 JD: Sounds like an easy sale actually, right?

0:06:57.1 AM: Yeah, we don’t really actually sell right now. We have more inbound demand to explore and use our solution than we can actually handle right now. So we’re in the process of hiring. We got two new people starting on our team for implementations on Monday, and I don’t really see any kind of end in that over the future.

0:07:19.9 JD: Wow.

0:07:20.5 SR: So Alex, if I’m an employer, I can definitely see the use case, right? If I’m running an ad on ZipRecruiter, Indeed, some other place, it’s much more candidate-friendly for that candidate to be able to stay within that environment. They already have some level of trust with Zip. They have some level of trust with Indeed. They probably are already registered and rather than sending them over to my ATS to have to register and enter a whole bunch of data that they’ve already entered, they can just maybe answer just the few questions that I as an employer might have that say Indeed doesn’t already know, and so that’s gonna increase the number of applications that I get. It creates a much more seamless experience for the candidate.

0:08:07.0 SR: Talk with me about it from the perspective of the job board. You may know that College Recruiter, most of our businesses are a pay-per-click basis. We don’t get paid for the click unless the candidate goes to the ATS. If the candidate applies on College Recruiter to a job that’s been advertised with College Recruiter, then there is no click that ends up happening. How do you work with job boards? Are there certain kinds of job boards that you’re working with that work really well with this product and others that just don’t? Like what’s your ideal customer from the job board side?

0:08:44.7 AM: So we partner with job boards in a couple of different ways, one of which is to create that fully immersive native application experience. Think about it like meeting the expectations of the user, which is that I’m gonna have instant gratification, instant access, and I don’t have to have any delay. So think about it as the Amazon-ification of the world. Like I can buy Ibuprofen that’s delivered by Costco, but I buy it from Amazon. Now interestingly, Amazon is just a marketplace in that scenario. You can actually buy Costco ibuprofen from hundreds of different e-commerce providers, where they do something called EDI, which is they transmit the sale and the transaction to Costco with what’s referenced as a dropship order, which is to say this is the address of the customer. Send them the stuff. Check’s in the mail. Although the check isn’t in the mail. The funds are going through a wire transfer, and they’re probably already in your bank account.

0:09:51.0 AM: We’re just taking this concept of what happens in the world already in e-commerce, in travel. This started in travel back in the ’80s, where you could buy tickets through a travel agent. You could buy a ticket through United, but that would actually include a flight that might be Lufthansa taking you, so you buy the ticket to Berlin or not to Berlin but to Frankfurt, and then from Frankfurt to some place else, and you’re combining all these carriers. So same concept 35 years later applied to job searching. So that’s one. The second would be like what we call simply a connected apply, which is, it’s really not dissimilar from what your experience is today that your candidate on College Recruiter would have, but instead of sending them to an ATS where the experience is going to be I have to look at the job again. I click Apply, I’m then presented with this login form which if you haven’t seen this, it’s a really not awesome experience, I’d say. [laughter]

0:10:57.7 SR: That’s quite understated. It’s horrifyingly bad.

0:11:01.9 AM: Like well, I live outside of DC, so I have to put my spin to things. Anyway, this experience, you put your job seeker hat on. Like I’m on a subway, I see a job on College Recruiter, I click apply, I’m taken to another website that looks different now. So it took a while to load ’cause that’s what happens on the mobile web where most people are. Now it’s the same job detail that I just read. Okay, that’s frustrating. So I’m frustrated twice. I click apply again, and I’m taken to a log-in form. What am I supposed to do with this login form? What user name, password?

0:11:40.7 AM: Fine, I’m conditioned, it’s 2021. I click forgot password, put in my email address. It says, “You don’t have an account.” [laughter] What am I supposed to do here? Right, and unless I’m a professional job seeker, the professional job seeker knows, oh, you skip the login form and you go to this little link that says, “Don’t have an account yet?” That’s the thing you’re supposed to click, and people wonder why they spend so much money and have so many people drop off. In the aggregate, it’s 95% of people drop out. 19 out of 20 people don’t apply that start down this apply journey. 19 out of 20.

0:12:18.1 JD: I think you’re being really good at being aggravated as a job seeker. I mean, I can feel the aggravation coming out in your voice, and I know you’re trying to be emphatic about it, but I think… I hope the listeners realize that he’s hitting on something that is a total and absolute complete pain point. I worked with hundreds of sites, I’ve talked to hundreds of employers, I talked to hundreds of candidates, and this comes up over and over and over again.

0:12:46.6 AM: So think about the job board operator, right? Your job as a job board operator is to fulfill the need of the buyer, your customer, and the need of the customer is not clicks, it’s not job postings, it’s not impressions. It’s not even applications, the need of the customer is I need to hire people. That is the problem that they are seeking to solve. All the other stuff is how you transact, and it’s a good way to transact, doing a CPC is a good way to transact, you could modify your model a little bit and instead of charging for sending them off of your website, charge them for sending them from the search results to a job detail page. It’s effectively the same click.

0:13:26.1 AM: You still charge them per click in that situation, the application takes place on college recruiter, and then that way they actually get more applicants more quickly, which means that they’re more likely to hire people faster, reduce their time to hire, which is kind of the key metric that most of our customers anyway, that we’ve been exposed to, that seems to be the thing that matters the most for them, because at the end of the day, they are being held accountable for whether or not they actually got the hires that they needed to get for their hiring managers.

0:13:55.6 SR: And the best candidates just won’t put up with that crap.

0:14:00.2 AM: That’s exactly right.

0:14:01.7 SR: People will say, “Well, you’re making it too easy for people to apply.” Yeah, you’re gonna get some, let’s call them bad candidates, people who aren’t a good match. It’s just, it’s a little too easy for them, but the reality is, you also lose the best candidates, the people who just say, “I’m not gonna go through your 45-minute process, if I can apply for the same job at the company across the street in two minutes.” Why should they? They’d be stupid to.

0:14:21.5 AM: Leah Daniels joined us a few months ago, she’s our Chief Commercial Officer, and she has a wonderful way of characterizing this as the Goldilocks zone. So the 45-minute application is too long, too bad, too horrible, the easy, easy, easy apply, like the One Click apply, here’s my name, my email and my resume, when you phone them as a recruiter, they go, “Who are you? I didn’t apply to a job.” You actually need to have some level of screening questions to kinda get at, as David Bernstein on our team would put it, “I wanna find the people that are interesting, which means that I need to get enough information from them to discern who are the people I wanna contact versus the ones that I probably shouldn’t spend my time on.”

0:15:00.8 AM: And so that kind of Goldilocks zone has six screening questions, nine screening questions, doesn’t require a college essay, is something that can be answered and completed while they’re in the subway station for the 80 seconds and they are connected to the subway Wi-Fi, that doesn’t require emailing a link, and now I’ve gotta think about my dissertation for this application, which is one of 50 applications, which is a major thing most recruiters and employers don’t really conceptualize is they go through the process of applying, they go, functionally, it works, didn’t break, but they don’t go through the empathetic process of applying. What is this life like for this candidate?

0:15:38.5 AM: And to your point, Steven, the best ones drop out first. You’re gonna be left with only those that could endure going through this terrible process, as I put it, the professional job seeker, the one that knows which link and how to go through and apply quickly, has everything at the ready, which probably isn’t exactly the person that you’re hoping to be introduced to.

0:15:58.1 JD: Well, Alex, I think you make a really strong case. And I remember the preceding version of this when it was Rethink, thinking, “This is a solution that everyone in the industry has said we need to have, and it just hadn’t been around.” I think it’s, in some ways, it’s a great equalizer for job boards, in the sense that you talk about the large boards that have the One-Click applies with a JobSync as part of your ecosystem as a job board, you have essentially the same thing. But like you say, with a little bit of useful friction, which I think is really good. I’m kinda curious, apart from what you guys are working on right now, what do you see as… What are you willing to reveal as being sort of the next step on what’s going on with JobSync, what’s a logical next step for you guys?

0:16:47.6 AM: Yeah, so as you noted, so Rethink Data was a major jumping off point for what we were doing. The pivot, the primary pivot that we made was around who our customer was. So we were trying to sell, in Rethink Data kind of landscape, we were trying to sell to the job board. We were not effective at doing that. When we went to sell to the employer, instead, what we found was that we were unearthing a much, much larger problem around recruiting inefficiency, and what we were solving for was to address that head-on. How do we create efficiencies in your recruitment process, eliminate these manual steps, extra manual steps for the candidate, extra manual steps for the recruiter, so you kinda get this best of both worlds outcome.

0:17:38.1 AM: And so what’s next for us is just doing more automation within the workflow that we’re enabling for our customers, and so that’s just, that’s… What’s interesting about the way we approach the marketplace is that we understand that every company is different, the way they recruit is different, the way that they manage talent is different, and so what we’ve built in our platform is, while there’s a lot of commonality, and there’s a platform backbone to it, it creates a unique implementation for every one of our customers.

0:18:09.8 AM: So we aren’t trying to go in and force somebody to do something differently, we’re just trying to take what they do manually and allow the computer to do it, rather than the people. Our customers get back 10 hours per recruiter per week of time that was otherwise spent doing manual tasks to actually just spend that time getting back in touch with the candidates that they have coming in, which means that again, they can accelerate, etcetera, etcetera. So just doing more of the same, making that process more streamlined, making it so that we can implement new customers more quickly, implement the interaction or the integration into a job board more efficiently, just do more of that and accelerate.

0:18:49.0 JD: Wow. Well, so I’ll make a prediction. I’ll be a little bit Chad and Cheese-ish on this one. I will say that you guys are gonna be a target for acquisition sometime in the next couple of years, if you’re not already. ‘Cause this sort of… What do they call it? I’ve heard it called middleware before. This kind of middleware solution is so universal, and I see it in every market that I do consulting in, not just North America, it’s wherever there’s recruiting. So if that happens, I hope it’s a good experience for you. If it doesn’t happen, I hope you just get bigger and bigger. So Alex, it’s so good to have you on the show. And if someone wants to get a hold of you and find out more about your own checkered past or perhaps more about JobSync, how do they do that?

0:19:38.4 AM: So is our website. And then I’m pretty active on LinkedIn and Twitter, so LinkedIn, my handle is AMurphy59. And on Twitter, it’s Alex_Murphy, happy to have a chat.

0:19:51.4 JD: Yeah, well, thanks so much for coming on to JobBoardGeek. I really appreciate it.

0:19:54.2 AM: Thanks guys.

0:19:55.8 JD: You know, Steven, in case people for whatever reason wanna get in touch with you, how do they do that?

0:20:02.2 SR: Feel free to email me, Alex, thank you so much.

0:20:11.2 AM: Thanks, Steven.

0:20:13.0 JD: Yeah, yeah. Okay, well folks, it’s the end of another exciting JobBoardGeek podcast, I want to remind you to be sure to subscribe to JobBoardGeek, you can do that via our RSS feed, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Deezer, etcetera, etcetera. Yes, we are still working on getting Apple to sign us up. I think probably another week or so, we should be lucky on that. This is Jeff Dickey-Chasins, and you’ve been listening to JobBoardGeek, the podcast about connecting employers and candidates, and that’s all for this week. I’ll see you again later. Thanks, bye.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. I really like the comment about the downside of 1 click apply, and how a bit of interaction collects data and initiates a positive relationship (which is sorely needed in the application process).

    Good podcast filled with truth bombs about what is broken in talent acquisition.

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