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JobBoardGeek: Everything you ever wanted to know about backfill and when to use it

JobBoardGeek PodcastIn this episode of JobBoardGeek, Jeff Dickey-Chasins of JobBoardDoctor and Steven Rothberg of College Recruiter talk about a key element of almost any job board or recruiting site – backfill. We discuss the 4 most common types of backfill, the pros and cons of each, and how backfill can help a newly hatched job board get off the ground (or out of its shell, as it were). We also dive into such esoterica as XML feeds, how many jobs you need to backfill, and much more.

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Transcript:

00:00.00

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Hello everyone and welcome to job board geek it’s the podcast about the business of connecting candidates and employers I’m Jeff Dicky-Chasins,  I’m your host I am the JobBoardDoctor and with me I have the co-host. Steven Rothberg of College Recruiter. Hey Steven how’s it going.

 

00:17.72

Steven Rothberg

It is going great Jeff with the weather is good and business is good. Um, mostly on good mostly and it’s and it’s kind of a.

 

00:27.90

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Mostly you’re good. Well, that’s probably as good as it gets right.

 

00:36.18

Steven Rothberg

It’s kind of a bad standard because most people would say that I’m not very good but but for me for my for my standards I’m doing pretty well. But.

 

00:43.74

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Ah, okay, okay, well today we’re gonna have a special discussion a you know what? what did they used to call that on the afternoon abc special moments or something.

 

00:55.79

Steven Rothberg

Oh like the after oh, they’d like the Abc afternoon special or something like this. Yeah, yeah for those of us have a certain age.

 

01:01.60

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Yeah, yeah, you know something about you know someone right? someone I have acne what do I do about myself. But anyway. So today we’re going to be talking about Backfill and both Steven and I have heard from numerous. People in the job board industry that when they get started in the industry. This is a topic that confuses them. So just for the sake of a description I’ll start us off here by saying that backfill refers to job postings that a job board gets from another source.

 

01:25.70

Steven Rothberg

Yeah.

 

01:38.43

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

And puts into their job board to increase the available ah job posting content for their candidates Now you can get that content that backfill from a variety of different sources. But the key thing here is that the job board wants those extra jobs in their site because. Jobs they get from their paying employers simply aren’t enough to satisfy what or at least they believe will not satisfy their candidate audience and it makes sense because if you’re a you know, even if you’re a fairly narrowly focused Niche Board. Let’s say you’re focused on Cat veterinarians.

 

02:15.69

Steven Rothberg

Yeah.

 

02:16.94

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

In North America well just because it’s a narrow focus doesn’t mean that if I’m a cat veterinarian and I’m in Southern California and I come looking on your site for a job and all you have are 50 jobs and they all seem to be in the New York metro area that’s not a satisfying experience for me as a candidate and so in that case, yes you want to backfill with as many of those veterinarian jobs as you can. So I’ll get into the 3 types of backfill in terms of the way I look at it and thenStevenwill jump in and tell me where I’m wrong.

 

02:53.28

Steven Rothberg

Ah, oh you’re so glass half empty.

 

02:54.31

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Ah, so I know I know I always have a positive outlook on things. Um, so when I talk to clients and I and I say you know you need to look at Backfill to get your job board started I’ll say there’s basically. 3 ways that you can do this So the first ways that you can go to a job Aggregator. So someone like an Ad Zuna or Juju or jobs to careers and you can take their job feed and they have those job feeds and they’re typically modeled in.

 

03:27.84

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

In large part on the original indeed feed because indeed used to provide job feeds to just about everyone. They don’t do that so much anymore. But it’s an Xml feed and most job board software platforms will accept an Xml feed of job postings. It allows you to. Exert some control over the types of jobs that come in so you so you can say you know I only want to look at technical jobs or only we’ll look at jobs in Montana or something like that and they’ll feed the jobs in so that’s one way to do it another way to do that is to use scraping.

 

04:02.51

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

So you can use a tool like a  web spider mount or a Propelum or you know I think our Rchili has this ah package that does the same thing and you essentially tell the scraper.

 

 

04:16.74

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Okay I want to get all the jobs from the career site of company a company c and company x and I want you to go there every night or maybe once a week and I want you to grab all the jobs that on the site or I want you to grab all the jobs with these 10 job titles and.

 

04:21.16

Steven Rothberg

Is it.

 

04:35.77

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

You pay the company to set it up and then you pay the company a monthly fee per site that they’re scraping based on usage and this has the advantage that you can very carefully set what’s showing up on your job site and that’s particularly important like if you’re the person that’s running this cat veterinarian site. You really do want to have a lot of control over the jobs and probably an aggregator or feed is not going to give you that level of control and then the third and final way and which is the way that most people that come to me and say oh I’m starting a job board.

 

05:09.79

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

And I’m going. Ah I’m going to do this. This is the way they think they’re going to get jobs is that that they go to employers directly and they say you can post all the jobs from your site on my site for free for six months and they they’re always surprised when I say this is probably going to be the least successful way.

 

05:27.93

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Dealing with this because most employers couldn’t care less because you’re not giving them any value. You know sometimes they take pity on you but in general that’s not a successful way. So what do you think Steven did I cover it or am I leaving anything out.

 

05:40.49

Steven Rothberg

I yeah no I think you nailed kind of the top 3 I would add a fourth to that and that would be just for people who have more time than money they can do this manually and I had a conversation with somebody just yesterday.

 

05:59.49

Steven Rothberg

Actually I referred to you as a potential client they’re looking to site to set up a micro niche site and without getting into specifics. It’s basically around like a passion for sport that they play. So let’s just say it’s basketball. They want to have a job board.

 

06:18.50

Steven Rothberg

That would be targeted to recreational basketball players. So the jobs would be people who maintain the courts you know, anything related to recreational basketball that would be ah, maybe volunteer certainly paid kinds of position.

 

06:35.57

Steven Rothberg

Not the players getting paid. But the people who were you know running the gyms maintaining the courts that type of thing their idea I believe is just to kind of go and run a bunch of Google searches and find those kinds of jobs and.

 

06:50.60

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Yep.

 

06:54.59

Steven Rothberg

Copy paste submit to build up their database at the end of the day I think you absolutely nailed it though. It’s about um, creating a positive candidate experience if a job seeker comes to your site and only finds 3 jobs of interest or none.

 

07:05.62

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Right.

 

07:14.53

Steven Rothberg

They’re never going to come back and they’re going to tell their friends never to go to your site on the other hand if they come and they find 48 jobs of interest they are going to come back. They probably will sign up for your job alerts or whatever you might do.

 

07:31.22

Steven Rothberg

It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing I think Jeff isn’t it. It’s the problem is you have a job board if you have no jobs. You’re not going to have candidates on the other hand if you have no candidates. You’re not going to have jobs. So do you get candidates first which you can do by buying traffic.

 

07:40.20

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Right? right.

 

07:47.95

Steven Rothberg

But you buy traffic and send people to a job board with no jobs. They’re never going to come back. So I do think the right strategy is first to get jobs then to get candidates. It’s really the question of like where do those jobs come from right.

 

07:55.20

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Right? right? and I think it’s a challenge I mean that’s the first challenge for people that have not been in the industry is they think well. The only way I can get jobs is to get employers to pay me and then. They’ll post their jobs and of course that makes no sense because there’s no product there. There’s no there there because there are no candidates until the jobs show up so in in some ways. It’s a very easy conversation for me to have with clients I say yes you need to have jobs on your site. It needs to be at a certain level. You know. In general in my experience if you’re a niche site and you probably need to have at least five hundred to a thousand jobs on your site depending on what the niche is it may need to be a lot more than that. But basically you have to have enough jobs where like you said when the candidate comes to the site. They have a good experience.

 

08:51.43

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

And the sense that they’re presented with some options Now you can get around some of this if you’re working in if you’re setting up a hub or if you’re running a hub and you’re adding a job board to because if you have a hub and when I say hub I mean a site that’s sort of focused on Community. On a particular professional or interest niche A good example that would be Stack Overflow you’ve got people coming to that site already to interact to answer questions to ask questions to get information and so you can have fewer jobs on the site if you want to because.

 

09:15.15

Steven Rothberg

Yes.

 

09:28.95

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

That’s not the primary reason they’re coming to the site but the reality is if you don’t have enough jobs even on that kind of a site candidates will never use the job board. They’ll just say ah I went over there. There was 6 jobs. They’re all from the same company screw it I’m not going there. So yeah, you have to always.

 

09:46.20

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

You know I always tell my clients you know, put on your candidate hat think like a candidate think about what would make you happy or unhappy and if you can’t make yourself happy with what you’re presenting then you need to work on what you’re doing and add something to it now. It’s something you said though, made me think. There has been a slight development that I’ve seen in terms of people setting up job boards with content and this is this is almost entirely in the text segment I’ve noticed over the last probably five six years there’s been a lot of.

 

10:19.66

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Ah, programmers that set up these job boards for certain very narrow technical niches. You know a particular language or a particular development platform or whatnot and essentially what they do is they build they write up a script that just goes out across the entire internet.

 

10:38.29

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

And grabs jobs from wherever they may be and pulls them in so they look like they’re on that job board. But then of course the minute you touch the job then you go to the original source. So it’s essentially kind of like scraping except you know I would say one step below scraping in terms of an experience.

 

10:47.83

Steven Rothberg

I see.

 

10:58.30

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

But it’s a good way of you know if you’re in a really narrow niche. It’s a good way of concentrating all the jobs in 1 place for convenience.

 

11:04.64

Steven Rothberg

Yeah, it kind of sounds to me like it is self-scraping rather than rather than paying a service to do that for you. They’re doing it for themselves years ago. It’s probably going back a decade now. Um.

 

11:09.76

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Yeah, yeah, pretty much.

 

11:22.69

Steven Rothberg

1 of our developers um, proposed that we do the scraping that we do that that that instead of outsourcing that and we use aspen tech labs um for that and their product web spider mount and we have for forever.

 

11:39.86

Steven Rothberg

Um, they’ve been a great partner but he kind of proposed that we do that scraping ourselves kind of pretty much as you’ve describing it like let’s go and grab all the internships. Let’s go and grab all the entry level jobs. You know, whatever it might be but we looked at the cost of it again time more. Do do we have more time or do we have more money you know and when you’re paying.

 

11:59.66

Steven Rothberg

Ah, developer um a bunch of money it just there is a cost there. There is the cost of labor if it’s just you and you’ve got a wordpress site or something like that and you’ve got the time to do it.

 

12:13.86

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Right.

 

12:17.65

Steven Rothberg

And you’ve got the technical expertise. Awesome you know, give it a shot see it see if it works but what we’ve done at college recruiter is when we enter new markets. Um, it is you might know like in the spring of 2021 we started to sell postings globally.

 

12:36.54

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Right.

 

12:36.76

Steven Rothberg

Rather than just in the US employers et Cetera now can post jobs to us anywhere in the world. Well we’re not going to get employers in the U K posting jobs to us if we don’t have any jobs in the U k.

 

12:51.79

Steven Rothberg

They’re going to come to our site. They’re going to see that it’s like a big vacant space kind of like that between my ears and they’re going to say no way. Do you know if nobody else is doing it. We aren’t either. So there’s this comfort in in being part of a crowd. Um a lot of these employers will feel so. Our strategy. We kind of borrowed or ripped off from what indeed did in the early days you get Backfill. We get feeds from other job boards, aggregators, etc to build up that critical mass and working with partners like you like you mentioned some.

 

13:29.50

Steven Rothberg

The adzunas of the world. The talent dot coms etc to give us that critical mass that will build help us build up the candidate numbers and then eventually maybe six months from now 2 years from now. The candidate traffic will come and then the employer traffic will also come the postings from the employers. But um, when you’re just starting out and you’ve got a clean slate It’s pretty hard.

 

14:04.94

Steven Rothberg

To get a feed from another job board where they’re going to pay you to take their feed right? And that’s another issue if you’ve got a stack overflow kind of site where you’ve got great content, great traffic and you’re adding a job board.

 

14:20.67

Steven Rothberg

You can probably go to a ziprecruiter and adZuna Talroo etc and say hey give me a fee of jobs and pay me per click and they probably be delighted to do that and they should because your traffic quality is probably going to be really high. But if you’ve never been in the job board industry and you’re just creating a site from scratch.

 

14:40.11

Steven Rothberg

There’s a really good chance that you’re going to have to pay for that content again. Whether it’s whether it’s in your time or whether it’s in your money I don’t know Jeff I don’t see that as being any different than if you open a restaurant and you know that on day one you’re not going to have any paying customers unless you invest in having.

 

14:41.57

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Right.

 

14:59.81

Steven Rothberg

Putting in tables and putting in the kitchen and buying a bunch of food that maybe or maybe not, you’ll be able to sell and buying some advertising you have to invest in driving that customer traffic through your door before you’ve earned dollar one and I don’t think the job board industry is any different. Do you.

 

15:12.90

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Right? No I mean I think um I encounter people you know I take a lot of calls from people that are starting job boards and a percentage of them become clients but a larger percent don’t but. I think they engage a percentage of them engage in what I call magical thinking. They just think Wow you know I saw where I can get this job board software for $200 I’m going to set it up and you know I know a lot about this and I know lot about that. So It’s going to be focused on you know, Bike mechanics.

In Montana and you know so tell me how to make the easy money and I just sort of laugh and I say well you know it’s not actually the way it works and then I have the kind of the conversation I you know very similar what you just said you know.

 

15:54.63

Steven Rothberg

Right. Yeah.

 

16:06.33

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

I Say you know if you had a shoe store Would you expect it to work that way if you had literally any business Would you expect it to work that way. It doesn’t it doesn’t you know it just doesn’t happen that way you have to put the time in and.

 

16:09.82

Steven Rothberg

Yeah.

 

16:19.59

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

My rule of thumb for most niche boards is that you probably are not going to go cash positive for 12 to 18 months from start. Um, you know if you’re doing everything right? and you’re willing to invest a certain minimum amount of money in the marketing and a certain minimum amount of time.

 

16:24.75

Steven Rothberg

Yeah.

 

16:36.58

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

You can probably go cash positive within 12 to 18 months but most people have like more like a two month horizon and you know unfortunately I’m the I’m the bringer of bad news. A lot of times I say well yeah, sorry.

 

16:41.40

Steven Rothberg

Yeah.

 

16:48.34

Steven Rothberg

Well yeah, it’s like so I mean your advice it sounds like is don’t a don’t quit your day job and b wouldn’t you rather have the bad news from me today before you’ve spent you know tens or maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars

 

16:55.58

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Right.

 

17:08.24

Steven Rothberg

Um, or you know would you rather get that bad news after you’ve spent the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars so you know we launched in 96 and what we did for content for the initially is we had an employment magazine with like display ads and we literally cut.

 

17:27.86

Steven Rothberg

The employment ads out of that magazine scanned them and uploaded that to our site and then we had hundreds of ads in basically 4 different regions of the country. Um, and um, we had a guy call us up.

 

17:46.86

Steven Rothberg

I think a couple of weeks after we went live in Texas financial services. It’s like hey I saw your job board. How do I run an ad on your site and the answer was like I have no idea like this is how we’re doing it. He’s like well where do these ads come from to explain to him the magazine. It’s like well how much do people pay to run an ad in your magazine. Like four hundred and eighty five dollars for three months and he said okay can I give you a credit card and so you know, kind of a business was born but it’s not like we had 12 of those calls a day after day after day after day and we had that call and then it was months before we sold another posting.

 

18:23.90

Steven Rothberg

Um, online and um it was It was clearly a very different era but you know when I’m talking to people about um, setting up a job board particularly if they don’t already have a site with has community and a lot of built in traffic to it. But if it’s starting from scratch like this guy who’s thinking about you know, creating a let’s call it a basketball site. You know I Love it. I Love the passion I Love the knowledge of the industry I Love the vision. Um, but those backfill feeds pick your partner.

 

 

19:00.50

Steven Rothberg

Carefully, it would be really fantastic to get a you know whether it’s a ziprecruiter whether it’s a talru whether it’s a talent whether it’s a adZuna whoever um and to get them to provide you with a feed that’s already curated.

19:18.83

Steven Rothberg

So if you only want jobs about basketball most of them are going to say sorry you’re out of Luck. You know you need to do that on your own but you might find 1 that will say oh no problem. We’ve got 4000000 jobs 17000 of them have something about basketball in them. We can send you just those if ah if I was looking to start that site up that would be amazing.

 

19:42.62

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

I think that’s ah I think you’re absolutely right? and I think I was thinking about telling the story my experience of coming into the job board industry was pretty dramatically different than yours dice was already making six seven million dollars a year and my problem was more.

 

20:01.64

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

How do I get the saddle on this horse because it was making all that money and they didn’t even really understand how they were making all that money but that’s and that’s a story for another time I think um I think we’ve brought us some interesting things I think it’s about time for me to shut this down though.

 

20:20.75

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

But um I think if you have more questions listeners if you have more questions about backfill. You can certainly get a hold of Steve Rothberg and Steven how would they do that if they had a question.

 

20:32.83

Steven Rothberg

Stephen at http://collegerecruiter.com. Um, and you know another way I mean clearly you’re gonna you’re gonna know a heck of a lot more about this than I would but also go to go to some of the jobboard conferences t a tech. Runs a number of them and you’ll be able to talk to those backfill partners the aggregators face- to face and most of the people are real straight shooters. They’re going to tell you all the goods and the bads. Um, and then louise Triance and Louise Grant in the Uk are having a job board conference in October. Of 2022 and that would be another one to go to if you’re in especially if you’re in Europe.

 

21:13.65

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

yeah I think that I think those are both good. Good advice I’m I’m sorry to say that the conference that I used to also enjoy that was in the us and the uk jobg8 is not around anymore. But I’m looking forward to seeing what the 2 louise is put together. So anyway.

 

21:31.87

Jeff Dickey-Chasins

Thanks Steven and that’s it for today’s episode of job war geek be sure to subscribe to us via Apple or stitcher or Google anything that floats your boat remember that if you like us thumbs up for me. Thumbs down for Stephen. This is Jeff Dickey chasten the job board doctor and you’ve been listening to the only podcast that focuses on the business of connecting candidates and employers. That’s all for today. We’ll see you again next time.

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