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JobBoardGeek: Reaching disabled job seekers and changing their lives, one at a time

JobBoardGeek PodcastIn this episode of JobBoardGeek, we talk to Mike Corso of disabledperson, a pioneering site for disabled job seekers. Mike talks about how the site morphed from an online magazine to a job board – and why it is set up as a non-profit. Jeff Dickey-Chasins of JobBoardDoctor and Steven Rothberg of College Recruiter learn how SEO has made the site so successful – and get a good SEO referral to boot! Jeff ponders why a staffing firm would call itself a gig site, and – as usual – Steven comes up with a logical answer.

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Transcript:

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  0:01

Hello everyone and welcome to JobBoardGeek. It’s the podcast about the business of connecting candidates and employers. I’m Jeff Dickey-Chasins the job board doctor, I am your host, and straight out of Winnipeg, the funky Stephen Rothberg of college recruiter is also here with me. Hey, Steven, how you doing?

 

Steven Rothberg

Well, you don’t want to hear me sing Funkytown so I’m just gonna say that I’m doing pretty well. Yeah, I you know, I don’t know, if any rappers actually out of Winnipeg, there probably are some you know, we’ll just say that it has a bad rap.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

OH, your poor wife, your poor wife. Well, listen, today, we’re lucky to have Mike Corso of disabled person here with us. I’ve known Mike for quite a while we met at a conference, I don’t know how many years ago. And he’s got a really interesting story to tell and including T runs a site that’s really quite different on a financial standpoint than anyone else we’ve talked to. So that I think that’ll be fun to get into. But um, first of all, Steven, I just want to talk a little bit about a news item that came out about a week ago or so it’s about a company called intelycare. intelli care, I don’t know how you pronounce it to be quite honest. And they say that they’re a gig platform for nurses in long term care. And they just landed $115 million in funding. And that brings them up to 170 million, which puts them at a value of 1.1 billion. Now, the curious thing about these guys, and you see this, both in their press releases and on their site, as they really sort of pitch themselves as a marketplace, a gig platform, they talk a lot about their app, et cetera, et cetera. When they’re talking in the section where they talk about their business operations and their services to employers. They’re continually talking about AI, and matching and modernity and all this sort of stuff. But as both you and I know what they are is a staffing firm. Yeah. So I’m curious to hear what you think about them, Stephen, in terms of the way they talk about themselves? Is all of this stuff about being giggy and marketplace? And AI? Is that all just to raise money? Or is it also something they’re doing to try to differentiate themselves from all the other staffing firms out there?

 

Steven Rothberg

Yeah, you know, when you brought this to my attention, and I was kind of looking at that and say, Okay, where is the job board? Where is the marketplace, right, like, Jeff’s got to be seeing something here that I’m not. And then I went to their site, I pretended I was a nurse, I actually went part of the way through the process. By the way, if you’re going to be getting like any IV drugs, um, anytime soon, in a clinic, I might be the person administering them. But you know, the expression if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a duck. They neither walk like a duck nor talk like a duck. There is no job board, there is no marketplace. It is us. It’s a skin on a staffing company. Now. That’s not to say that it’s not a good business. It’s not to say that they don’t have great people working for them that they don’t provide a great service to their customers. That may all be the case. But this is not a job board. This is not a marketplace. It reminds me of so many organizations that have used the buzzwords like web 2.0 and blockchain and AI and machine learning. And sometimes there’s some truth to that, right. Like we talked with Aaron Stewart from jobs, calm. And when I first started to hear that coming out of job.com. I was skeptical. The more I learned, the more I was convinced it actually was true. But there’s some other major players in our industry that it’s aI this and AI that and AI this and it’s a guy behind the curtain, they have a very nice skin. I think they’ve got a good business model. But I think they probably saw that the valuations for gig platforms were probably well, depending upon who you talk to four times revenue and staffing companies one times revenue, and so they can quadruple their valuation by using a different word. And if that’s what they’re doing, then basically they’re lying to the investment community. And maybe rather than watching the rest of the dropout, mini series, maybe I’ll be watching a miniseries about these guys in a year. You know, that’s, that’s an interesting, that’s like an interesting little twist at the end, Steven, you know, the little knife where you twist it, and then you pull it up.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  4:28

You know, it reminded me of a company that we both know called hire.com. And hire.com looks like a job board and in some very loose ways, it acts like a job board, but what it really is, is a recruiting cup. Once you once the candidate gets through the application process, they’re treated just like anyone else that we’d be working with, with a direct recruiter. And I always thought that was intriguing because they really sort of pitch that as something that other than what it really was.

 

You know, they were always talking about, you know, our matching capabilities. They love to use AI as well. And I think, you know, companies get into these situations where they, they try to make themselves sound like whatever, like you said, whatever is the grooviest thing out there, that’s gonna get them the most money at that particular time. I didn’t use the word groovy. But yeah, well, I’m an old guy, I reserve the right to be able to say that. So I might even say far out later on. So anyway, today we have Mike Corso of disabled person with us, Mike, welcome to Job Board Gi. Hi, how are you?

 

Mike Corso  5:38

Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. I’m great. And I hope you are too.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  5:42

Hopefully, this will be a pleasant experience for you and not make you never want to talk to us again. But you know, let’s see what happens.

 

Mike Corso  5:51

I’m all yours.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  5:52

Okay. Well, so Mike, why don’t you just start out by telling us how you got into the recruiting side of the business? And why you want to start disabled person? Because I believe he started it back in 9999.

 

Mike Corso  6:05

Yeah. So prior to disabled person, I was a, I was a chiropractor and practice. And before that, physician assistant, and I still have the license for that, I still carry the license. And I became disabled. I couldn’t, I had to leave practice. And we were sitting around my wife and I one day and I said, you know, do something like, you know, this internet thing looks pretty promising.

 

Let’s put up a site. Well, what do we call it? I said, Well, I’m a disabled person, let’s call it disabled person, and the URL is there. And we started out as a online magazine for people with disabilities, but they just kept emailing and emailing, help us find work, help us find work, help us find work. So we decided at that point to try and do become a job board, whatever that was, at that point, right back then. And we put up some, you know, some semblance of a job board, and, you know, little traction, we weren’t charging to post jobs or whatever. And we became a nonprofit in 2002. And then 2008, we got a grant from the power company here in San Diego, and it was enough to really make a job board. By that time, it was, you know, the the industry was flushed, a little bit flushed out. And we had an API bill. It’s kind of like how we got catapulted into into being a real job board.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  7:32

So you said you became a nonprofit. And you know, I alluded to this earlier, you’re the first job board that we’ve talked to, I mean, you guys are more than job board, or we wouldn’t be talking to you. That is a nonprofit, why? Why did you do that?

 

Mike Corso  7:46

Well, the industry, it doesn’t work. If you’re for profit and a disability community, because to work in the disability community and get to where you need to get to, you have to work with a lot of state agencies, and federal agencies and community organizations and this government agencies, the state, the local, state, and federal, they don’t work with with for profit entities. So like, we’re partnered with certain, you know, with entities, we’re partners with the department of rehab in the state of California, for instance, we’ve been a partner with them for years, 1516 years, you can’t do that. You can’t have those letter letters, memorandums of understanding, if you’re for profit, so we had a nonprofit to do what we want to do and accomplish the mission we want to accomplish.

 

Steven Rothberg  8:30

That’s really interesting. And Jeff, you know, from some of the consulting work that that you’ve done for, for college recruiter that there, there have definitely been years where we’ve been nonprofit, but not for profit, not for profit as it is, is a different, slightly different issue. And unfortunately, those those days are behind us. But one of the things that I one of the many things that that I really loved about learning more about disabled persons was the transparency on on your site, where you just you just lay it all out there, you know, here are the good things we do. Here are some of the struggles that we’ve had. One of the struggles that I thought would be really interesting for a lot of our readers was you talked it in some detail about your SEO issues from a couple of years ago. And you referenced goop that Google came up with a new algorithm. You didn’t quite say it this way. But basically you lost like 90% of your traffic overnight. It looks like you brought in a consultant who righted the ship who got you sailing again. Maybe you can talk about that experience maybe not so much the Google algorithm change because I think we all kind of have lived through some of those but how did you go about selecting that consultant? What were some of the changes that that he made lessons learned that type of thing?

 

Mike Corso  9:48

Yeah, real that’s a really interesting topic. It’s a topic of my heart basically right because as you know, any job or you have to do SEO, so I, I researched and research

 

and found that, in my opinion, the number one Number One SEO marketer in the world is Neil Patel. And if you ever heard of Neil Patel, so I took I took a course for Neil Patel’s like an eight module course. And then I did more stuff learning from Neil Patel. But I found that I just didn’t have time to do SEO plus run the job board plus do the programs that we run as a nonprofit. So Neil Patel and so I called Neil Patel. And I said, Hey, like, what do you like? Do you guys have any nonprofit stuff, and they didn’t at the time, like the minimum engagement was like $10,000 a month, and that we just couldn’t afford that. And it wasn’t because of me that they did this. But then they created an offshoot called Neil Patel Excel, and Neil Patel. Excel works with small business much more palatable, right. So it’s like $1,200 a month, rather than 10,000 a month. So we engaged them for about 1415 months, they come in a technical audits, they did, you know, they changed this, they helped us with, with all this technical stuff, they wrote a couple of blog posts. And now the Google algorithm came around, and we shut up. And that’s, you know, so we’ve been able to kind of maintained, we’re not contracted with them anymore. Because we’re kind of at a point, I’m not saying I won’t go back to him. But at this point, as a nonprofit, you have to watch every penny that you spent. So right now we’re kind of smooth sailing. So that’s what we were out with that, but highly recommend for any job board out there, they, they caught something, we had an unstructured data, we had a, I believe it was a colon rest rather than a semicolon. And we changed that. And the traffic just started going up. Don’t ask me why. But you know, their technical guys said, Hey, you got to change that. Okay. And fortunately, we have my son who works, who works with us. He, when he came, he came out of college have a master’s in organizational leadership, and I just kind of like, come and work with us come and work with us. So he did. And then when he came, I said, you need to learn how to code because we can’t, we can’t keep going out and paying people to do stuff. So he did. He’s now like, he’s like, a senior coder now is like, you know, seven, eight years, he’s doing it. So and that really helps. Because when we get those kinds of things, you know, suggestions, whatever, then he just goes in makes the, you know, makes the adjustment. I don’t have to because we don’t hire somebody to do that. We’re not big enough to do that.

 

Steven Rothberg  12:29

And is your son dissatisfied with his job? And if so, what’s his mobile number and email address? Just kidding.

 

Mike Corso  12:37

He is satisfied yet he actually has a he actually has a side business, you know, he has a side business. Or he has a diversity network, like 16 job boards and stuff, because he knows he knows the business side and he can coat he’s a rare bird in our industry. You know, he’s, he’s like a, like an Andrew Vanover. Job Target, you know, who’s a coder who had the idea and knows the business? And so yeah, it helps a lot. That’s interesting.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  13:04

Well, Mike, I was kind of curious, I asked this a lot of time of a lot of guests, because I think it’s really interesting. Everyone seems to have some things that they do to find candidates that are similar from site to site, and then sometimes they do stuff that is not common across a lot of sites. I was just curious, what’s your approach on getting candidates to the site? I mean, is it totally rely on SEO? Are there other things that you need?

 

Mike Corso  13:29

So we have SEO, we have we’ve been around long enough, we have links pretty, you know, everywhere in disability world, right. And we also get, um, direct traffic from like a lot of State Workforce Development Boards, they come in, they scrape jobs, you know, for this state for people with disabilities. You know, we have things like that happen. Some people come and scrape by jobs because they serve people with disabilities, and they’re not in that field. So they come and scrape odd jobs and put it up. So we get that referral traffic as well. So we have five or six different sources of traffic, the best was when we added a clear blue sky about two and a half years ago, three years ago, LinkedIn started scraping our jobs. Tons and tons of traffic, I mean, tons, but I knew that you know, the way it came in and would go out one day, somebody would say, what are we doing and sure enough when they woke up and it all went away, and that’s why you have to have multiple sources can’t rely on one source like everybody else, you know, you have the fluctuation the peaks in the valleys, and we just try and you know, keep them as level as possible.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  14:35

Now, did you have the same big drop off that so many of my clients had when the pandemic hit and and then if you did, did it come back after a certain amount of time?

 

Mike Corso  14:45

Yeah, we did. But not so we average about 130,000 people a month and at the beginning of the pandemic, we went down to about 50. And then we we climbed back up,

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  14:58

How long was that was that? Did that happen?

 

pretty quickly, like within a couple of months of the first hit, or did it take longer?

 

Mike Corso  15:04

I would say, but in April of 20, we, you know, we started getting like we had that decline. And we came back up, like somewhere around July, August. But there was a couple of months there that that was, you know, hairy. That’s a trend from the 70s. Right. Pretty hairy.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  15:22

Yeah, I think I think there was a lot of coffee consumed during that time period and in the job board world. So yeah, I think so. So one thing that that you guys offer, or I think you offer that almost no other job board that I’ve talked to, or clients I work with have is that you you offer OFCCP compliance. Can you talk to me about how that how that works?

 

Mike Corso  15:47

Sure. So so the metrics on our sites on all three of our sites are set up for the for the six metric points of OFCCP, we became OFCCP OFCCP. Board, basically, if you want to call it that, in 2014, the Obama administration, their their Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, instituted new rules for federal contractors, and one of them was that you need to hire people with disabilities, 6% of your workforce needs to be people with disabilities, it wasn’t a mandate, but if you didn’t comply, it opens you up to a large audit, like bigger audit, and then they had the protected veterans at that point was 7%. This year, it’s 5%. And we kind of became the default site, because we were working with California, you know, state agencies and federal agencies, whatever. And then we kind of became that site where people like, Okay, we need that compliance. And now we have a, like a relationship with them. We’re a resource on the OFCCP resource page, if you’re a federal contractor, and you want to like check those boxes, I hate to use that term, but we’re kind of the the game in town.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  16:57

That makes sense. Yeah.

 

Steven Rothberg  16:58

And if I may just interject for the listeners outside of the US. OFCCP is in my definitely, you’re gonna be able to characterize this or phrases better than me. But it’s basically a federal non discrimination laws that if you’re, if you’re a large enterprise, if you’re a contractor, even if you have like 12 employees, but you have a contract with the federal government to provide services or products or whatever you have to, there’s certain things that you have to comply with within your labor practices. If you run a corner grocery shop, and it’s you and you know, your nephew, that’s not something that you have to worry about. But basically, any organization of any size is it needs to comply with these laws in the US.

 

Mike Corso  17:41

Yeah, they have to the contract needs to be more than $50,000 a year and that there is a limit on the employees, the number of employees, I think it’s 50, or sent to 50 or 100, something like that. But yeah, they have to do it. And we’ve, you know, we’ve actually gotten referrals from OFCCP, that, you know, they say, Hey, work with this work with this company type of thing. And we write letters all the time for, you know, for clients and stuff, and supporting them.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  18:08

Interesting. I remember, Ted vet Jobs was always talking about OFCCP compliance. Conferences.

 

Mike Corso  18:16

Yeah, that was fun. He was a personality wondering. Yeah.

 

Steven Rothberg  18:22

He would usually see would usually have the word or the acronym OFCCP. And then the phrase nanny state in the same sentence.Or we can say in the podcast, so we could but we don’t want that explicit rating.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  18:37

Yeah, we don’t we don’t need Chad and she’s ready. Well, well, Mike, it’s been great to have you on if people want to get in touch with you and talk to you about any of your various adventures. I suspect you’ll have a few people reaching out to ask you about SEO. How do they get a hold of you?

 

Mike Corso  18:54

Yeah, make it disabled person.com. It’s pretty simple. You can call me at 760-420-1269 Happy to talk. I don’t need just call it pick up the phone and not doing anything I’ll talk you know, and we don’t need a formal, let’s call it you know, three weeks from Tuesday, I find that one of the funniest things in business. It’s like, people will call and say, Hey, I’d like to set up an appointment with you. I’m here now what do you got to say? Let’s talk.

 

Steven Rothberg  19:24

I only get five minutes your time. Can we can we do that three weeks from now? Yeah, exactly.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  19:29

Well, Mike, I will say then you’ve also apart from being the first nonprofit, you’re also the first guest that’s given their phone number on the show. So you’re just you’re breaking barriers right and left. So congratulations.

 

Mike Corso  19:42

You know what, it’s when you’re a nonprofit, there’s nothing to hide, because if you’re hiding anything you could be in a lot of trouble is

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  19:49

so naked to the world transparencies is the thing. So well, thanks. Thanks for coming on the show. It’s been it’s been great.

 

Mike Corso  19:56

Yeah, same here. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  19:59

Steven, if people want to get a hold of you, how do they do that?

 

Steven Rothberg  20:02

Well, fortunately for them, I’m not naked to the world. But they can email me at Steven at college recruiter.com It has been a real pleasure, Mike, you’re one of the real gems of the industry.

 

Mike Corso  20:15

Oh, thank you. It’s been my pleasure. My pleasure. You guys. Have a great day. Thanks for having me.

 

Jeff Dickey-Chasins  20:20

Yeah, you bet it was. It was our pleasure. And I guess that’s it for today’s episode of Job Board Geek. Be sure to subscribe however you like to a lot of people use Spotify. A lot of people use apple. Make sure if you do that, that if you so feel the urge to give us a review. Thumbs up for Jeff thumbs down for Steven. Steven. I’m sorry. That’s just the way it is. My name is Jeff Dickey-Chasins, the JobBoardDoctor, and you’ve been listening to the only podcast about the business of connecting candidates and employers. That’s all for now. We’ll see you again next time.

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