Today, online marketplaces like Uber, GrubHub and Thumbtack represent a segment of the workforce that is rapidly growing and completely disrupting the way we think about work and retail.
It’s true that many consider the idea of being able to download an app to their smartphone and have instant access to a service or a new source of revenue appealing. But, marketplaces didn’t get to where they are today based on word of mouth alone.
Marketplaces, as we’ll discuss in this piece, are contingent on their ability to consistently bring in new talent and grow their capacity for providing services--often in new markets, and quickly. Their success in this respect is largely thanks to job aggregators like Indeed and Jobs2Careers who make it possible for marketplaces to reach qualified job seekers.
That said, due to how different marketplaces and their needs are from traditional employers and staffing agencies--the types of companies job aggregators were built for--these marketplaces do face some unique challenges in maximizing the ROI from their online job advertisements.
In this post, we’ll take a look at marketplaces: what they are, how they acquire workers and the obstacles today’s online recruitment model present to them.
What are marketplaces?
As we’ll discuss in the following section, marketplaces don’t have a set definition as far as the online recruitment space is concerned. However, despite the lack of an industry-standardized definition, it’s not as if marketplaces are impossible to characterize.
If you were to search Google for a definition, chances are you’d stumble across the following from Wikipedia:
An online marketplace (or online e-commerce marketplace) is a type of e-commerce site where product or service information is provided by multiple third parties, whereas transactions are processed by the marketplace operator.
To put that definition in context, consider a marketplace like GrubHub. GrubHub is an app that you download on your smartphone which gives you the same two options as a user that most marketplaces provide: to utilize a service or to provide a service. In this example, GrubHub is a food delivery app, so users can either order delivery or they can sign up to pick up and deliver goods as a service provider.
At the end of the day, GrubHub is simply facilitating the transactions and ensuring that services are delivered and service providers are compensated.
Although this model--which is in part responsible for sparking what’s known as the Gig Economy--is convenient and has been widely adopted by both consumers and job seekers alike, it’s not without its flaws. You can read more about the Gig Economy in our recent post here, but in the meantime, let’s discuss how this model presents unique challenges for marketplaces.
Why marketplaces face obstacles in online job advertising
Online recruitment today is a game of traffic. If you’re unable to receive enough quality job seeker traffic to your job listings, then it will be challenging to receive enough qualified applicants, and it will be nearly impossible for you to make the hires you need to sustain or grow your business.
To satisfy this traffic need, online recruitment has evolved over the years to primarily be supported by job aggregators. We discussed what job aggregators are and why they're important in a recent post, but to quickly refresh your memory, job aggregators are like search engines for jobs. Indeed and Jobs2Careers are just two quick examples of job aggregators that you might be familiar with.
The problem that marketplaces are facing today is that job aggregators (many of which have existed for the better part of the last decade, if not longer) didn’t initially develop their platforms with marketplaces in mind.
Rather, most job aggregators have served three main types of clients over the years:
- Employers: Companies of all sizes that are hiring for positions internally
- Staffing Agencies: Businesses that are hiring for positions at other companies
- Other Job Boards: Websites that promote jobs to specific audiences
Job aggregators promote and host thousands, if not millions, of jobs at a single time and have therefore developed advanced algorithms to govern what job content is shown at a given time and place. This, in turn, has helped them provide job seekers with the most streamlined and relevant experience possible. Essentially, job aggregators have built their systems for employers, staffing agencies and other job boards, and now marketplaces have found a need for their services, as well.
And while job aggregators are a large part of why marketplaces have been able to grow so quickly in today’s economy, this disconnect has also created a bit of a round peg, square hole scenario.
Three main challenges that marketplaces face in online job advertising, and how to solve for them
Marketplaces need to advertise their jobs on job aggregators just as much as any other employer or staffing company but, as we just discussed, job aggregators weren’t originally built with marketplaces like Lyft, Care.com and Thumbtack in mind. As a result, the recruitment campaigns of marketplaces on job aggregators face obstacles that employers, staffing agencies and job boards do not typically face.
Here, let’s take a look at three of the main obstacles marketplaces face with advertising their jobs online, and why:
It’s important to remember that, while job aggregators and other job search engines are trying to meet their clients’ needs, they’re first and foremost creating a positive candidate experience specifically for job seekers. In order to provide the best experience possible, these sites have put safeguards in place to filter out “bad” or “fake” job ads. One of the most common filters you’ll see an aggregator employ is commonly referred to as “deduping,” the goal of which is to identify duplicate job posts and delete them. For context, the idea here is that duplication is a sign of a bad or fake job (though many talent acquisition professionals and sophisticated recruitment marketers know that this is not always the case).
Deduping has presented difficulties for marketplaces because often times marketplaces only recruit one, niche type of worker. For instance, consider Munchery, a farm-to-table food delivery service. Munchery’s recruitment goal is to sign up more delivery persons, because delivery persons provide Munchery with a greater capacity to provide services (meals) and, therefore, grow their business. Chances are, many of Munchery’s job ads look identical, not because they are bad or fake, but simply because they have a narrowly defined recruitment need (many delivery bikers, for example, all in the same locations).
Of course, the easiest way to avoid being subject to an aggregator deduping efforts is to ensure that you’re not posting “duplicate” job advertisements in the first place. Areas of your job advertisements that should be considered when creating unique content include (but are not limited to): the job title, location, job ID or reference number, the URL and job description. For more information on creating content for you job ads, consider the following blogs:
Limited Geo-targeting Capabilities
Head to any major job aggregator and search for a job. Once you’ve hit search, the aggregator will often add default “advanced search” settings to your query such as salary range and, more importantly, location! On most aggregators, that location setting by default is set to about 25 miles, meaning that for a particular query the aggregator will populate results for jobs up to a 25-mile radius from the location you entered into your search.
This can create problems for marketplaces based on their very specific recruitment needs. If, for example, you’re looking for a job as a copywriter in Manhattan, a job search for jobs in your area might also show opportunities in Brooklyn, Queens, etc. This might not be a problem for a copywriter at a traditional business or staffing agency, but for marketplaces it could generate a number of unqualified candidates. For example, consider Wag, a new marketplace focused on connecting dog walkers with dog owners. A dog walker in Los Angeles might not want to take a job walking dogs in a neighboring town because they don’t know where to walk dogs in that area. Similarly, a driver in Stamford, CT might not want to take a job in New York City because they don’t know the area.
On the flip side, default location settings can have the opposite effect on the talent they’re trying to attract. For instance, if you live in the suburbs of a major city, you might want to drive for a ride-sharing service inside the city and in the suburbs because of the greater volume of work available. However, you might not be able to find these opportunities easily through an aggregator when radius limitations are at play.
In either instance, marketplaces don’t want to hire contractors who aren’t comfortable with where they’re working because it can negatively affect the quality of their services. However, since aggregators don’t allow the level of location targeting needed, it makes these jobs harder to fill for marketplaces.
Here, you’re really facing two separate challenges: 1) Not casting a wide-enough net and 2) casting too wide of a net. Therefore, the solution to this challenge is two fold.
If you’re struggling to pull in qualified candidates because you’re not casting a wide enough net, you’ll want to consider what’s called “location expansion.” Location expansion is accomplished by creating unique job ads for each of the locations in a given radius that you’re trying to target. For example, if you’re looking for drivers in and around Atlanta, you’ll want to create job ads for “Driver Job in Atlanta,” “Driver Job in Marietta,” “Driver Job in Roswell” and so forth. With that in mind, this can be difficult to accomplish because of the deputing challenge we just discussed. Therefore, if you’re planning on executing a location expansion strategy, you’ll need to make sure you’re job ads are unique.
Conversely, if you’ve noticed that the net your casting is too wide and you need focus on a more limited target, then the best solution is to include this information within your job description. By explaining that the job requires “expert knowledge” of a specific area, or that the potential hire will be required to work within a specific location on a daily basis, you give job seekers the power to self-select which jobs they’re a good or bad fit for. This should help you improve the quality of the applicant's you’re bringing in, in regards to location.
Lack of Organic Traffic
As we discussed in a past post on the importance of job aggregators in your recruitment marketing strategy, these job search engines are a top resource for job seekers today. Understanding this, these aggregators have been working extremely hard over the years to provide a better experience for job seekers, focusing their efforts on providing the best search results possible.
However,, this has sometimes had a negative effect on the organic traffic for marketplaces (as well as for a number of high-volume posters like staffing agencies and job boards).
As we discussed earlier in this post, job aggregators use algorithms to determine which jobs are “good” versus those that are “bad” or “fake.” Duplicate jobs, as we explained, are flagged as “bad” or “fake” by algorithms because they can make search results look spammy and because the platform is unable to identify it as unique. High-volume posters also set off red flags, because the poster might be accidentally identified as a bot by the algorithm.
At the end of the day, these job aggregators are just trying to show job seekers with relevant, real and unique jobs, and therefore, they err on the side of caution, often by limiting or totally eliminating organic traffic to marketplace jobs.
If you think the solution to a lack of organic traffic is pretty obvious, then you’re right--the solution is to advertise! As a marketplace, you’ll need to advertise your jobs to get your ads the visibility they need to create a pipeline of qualified candidates.
If you’re only posting your jobs organically and not supporting them with an adequate advertising budget, then you can expect to see limited candidate traffic, if any at all.
Of course, advertising a high volume of jobs on one aggregator can be difficult to manage, but advertising a high volume of jobs across a wide range of aggregators, job boards and other employment websites can be nearly impossible to manage efficiently without the proper support. It’s one of the main reasons so many businesses today are investing in recruitment marketing analytics and automation platforms like Recruitics Action or passing off the heavy lifting altogether to leading recruitment marketing agencies.
How marketplaces can get the most out of their recruitment marketing strategy
Marketplaces today find themselves in uncharted waters. On one hand, they’ve created business models that are totally upending the industries they’ve entered. On the other hand, they’re operating within a supply and demand employment framework.
In order for marketplaces to be successful, not just in the short term but in the long term as well, they’ll need to optimize their recruitment marketing strategies to turn this segment of their business into a revenue generator.
The only way this can truly be accomplished is by ensuring you have the analytics in place to properly manage your talent acquisition efforts, and by implementing the technology available to automate the heavy lifting so you can properly execute against your goals.
Learn more about how Recruitics can help you lower the cost and time needed to optimize your recruitment marketing ROI by signing up for a demo today.
Posted by Sal Trifilio