As someone quite interested in how modern technologies are reinventing common business processes, including the job search, I was pleased to bump into David Parmet from Indeed.com, who arranged for the following exclusive interview with Indeed.com CEO and co-founder Paul Forster. My intent was to try and understand how Indeed.com saw themselves competing against other ‘third generation’ job search sites like Simply Hired, but we got rather further afield. The result is very interesting reading, I hope!
First off, some background: Indeed.com was founded by Paul Forster and Rony Kahan. Paul and Rony previously founded and managed Jobsinthemoney, the leading jobsite dedicated to finance professionals. Jobsinthemoney was acquired in September 2003 by Financial News, a leading publisher for the investment banking, fund management and securities industries.
Indeed was founded in 2004. The site went live in November 2004 and out of beta in March 2005. Indeed is based in Stamford, CT.
Q: There seem to be a lot of different job search sites on the net. Why is this such a popular category?
Job search naturally lends itself to the Internet. Searching for jobs using a search engine like Indeed is far more efficient than any other way of looking for jobs. Because they are searching across the entire Internet, job seekers are finding jobs they otherwise would never have found. Also, with search engines like Indeed, job seekers have more options to save their searches by email alert or RSS.
Q: How does Indeed differentiate itself from the other job search Web sites online?
Indeed gives job seekers the most powerful job search experience available in terms of comprehensiveness of coverage and relevance of the search results. Indeed is including jobs from over 1,000 sources – more than any other service. Indeed is adding over 100,000 jobs per day to its index – also more than any other service. Indeed also offers superior advanced search and refine functionality.
Q: From an employers perspective, does Indeed help separate the wheat from the chaff, the legit, qualified candidates from the thousands of people who believe that sending out their resume to any remotely matching position is a good search strategy?
Yes. Because Indeed has the most comprehensive jobs index available on the Web and a very powerful search engine, job seekers are easily able to drill down to a set of jobs that are an excellent fit for them. In turn, this leads to a more targeted stream of candidates to companies. In other words, when job seekers apply to the top ranked jobs in their Indeed search results, the match between candidates and jobs is a lot better than it is for any other service.
Q: You pride yourself on relevance of search results. How do you accomplish this, and, for that matter, can you explain exactly what you mean?
Relevance is achieved by combining the most comprehensive index of jobs with our powerful proprietary search technology. We are including all the jobs from over 1,000 unique sources, comprising the major job boards – Monster, Careerbuilder, Hotjobs, Craigslist – as well as hundreds of newspapers, associations, and company websites. We have combined our extensive domain knowledge of the online recruitment industry with the latest generalist search techniques to provide job seekers with the most relevant results for any query. We also have a de-duplication process whereby duplicate jobs are collapsed under a single search result, further improving the relevance of the search results.
Q: How sophisticated is your search system? Can I search for ‘HR jobs with high tech startups within 10 miles of downtown Kansas City’, for example?
While our main search interface is simple, we also have an Advanced Job Search. You can try your example by entering the following into our Advanced Search page:
exact phrase: human resources
at least one of these words: technology startup
location: within 15 miles of Kansas city
Here are the results
Q: Saving your job search as an RSS feed is very cool. What kind of adoption are you seeing in your user community, and when you look at the stats, are people using this feature for very, very specific searches, or general searches that produce lots of matches?
We’ve seen a lot of uptake of saved RSS searches right from the start after our beta-launch in November last year. Many of our early adopters have been technically savvy users who are at home with RSS. As RSS moves into the mainstream, however, we’re seeing a broadening of that user base. Right now we are processing hundreds of thousands of RSS searches per day, which run the gamut from very broad to quite complex, detailed queries.
Q: Do you have permission to scrape other job sites for your database? I’m unclear why a site like Yahoo Jobs would allow you to do that since they want people going to their site, not an aggregator site.
We receive job data in one of two ways: direct feeds from job publishers and indexing publicly available job data on the Web. When you click on a search result on Indeed, you are taken out of Indeed.com to the job listing on the jobsite. Most jobsites are paying third parties for this kind of traffic, but we are providing it for free.
Q: Recently the folks at Yahoo! Jobs came out and said that they intend to be a one-stop search engine for job searches. Do you think they have any special advantages and are you concerned about them focusing more attention on this space?
Our overriding principle is to put the job seeker first, and because of this we rank all our jobs strictly by relevance. Hotjobs has started to include web-sourced jobs, but these are just used as back-fill and ranked beneath its paid listings. Other advantages we have compared with our competitors include superior aggregation and search technologies:
1. Aggregation: We are dedicated to the accuracy and comprehensiveness of inclusion of jobs in our index. We are including jobs from over 1000 unique sources and add more sites every day. We receive new jobs at least once per day from each and every one of our sources and our priority is to include every job from every source.
2. Search: We have blended our deep knowledge of job search behavior with the latest techniques in search engine design to custom-develop a uniquely powerful job search algorithm. Indeed’s simple interface makes job searching as easy as possible. Searches can be saved seamlessly from any search as email alerts or RSS feeds. We also have advanced search features, such as the the ability to find jobs with specific companies or to narrow results by radius around a location.
Fascinating stuff. If you’re looking for a job, give Indeed.com a whirl and come back to report your results. If nothing else, the RSS feed of your custom job search should be darn popular with anyone seeking a new position or career opportunity. My thanks to the team at Indeed.com for their cooperation with this interview.