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Indeed Gets Ready for the Long Game

Indeed's President, Chris Hyams, explains how his company plans to remain vital despite a direct challenge from Google.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
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Having conquered the world of search, Google is now training its sights on the recruitment market. The Mountain View, Calif.-based software behemoth has recently released Google for Jobs -- which lets candidates search for jobs directly from Google's home page -- and Google Hire, a service designed to help recruiters at small and mid-sized organizations distribute jobs, customize their hiring process, screen candidates and build talent pools. Given its near-limitless resources, Google seems well-positioned to become a dominant player in the recruitment market and take business away from the likes of Austin, Tex.-based Indeed, which became the dominant player in the job-search arena by aggregating job listings from thousands of job boards. However, Indeed is hardly standing still. The company, which operates in more than 60 countries and is owned by Tokyo-based Recruit Holdings Co., recently purchased Interviewed, a San Francisco-based tech firm founded in 2015 that offers a platform for screening candidates via tools such as job simulations, personality assessments and language tests. It's also doubling down on the recruiting services it offers beyond search, making it easier for jobseekers to, for example, apply to jobs with just one click and expanding into new areas such as Indeed Prime. I spoke with Indeed's president, Chris Hyams, to get a better sense of the company's plan for the future.


Some say that with Google's new service, it's undercut's reason for being. How do you respond to that?

We've been around for 12 and a half years and we've thrived with a simple idea: being a search engine for jobs, which was a radical concept when we first started. We came up with this idea of including all the jobs on all the websites all around the world, building a simple and relevant search engine and putting all the jobs in one place for jobseekers and making them easy to find. And for employers, the job board is same business model as classified ads, so we built a pay-for-performance business model in which we don't charge employers to put jobs on our site and employers that would like to see more candidates than they're getting for free can choose to sponsor their jobs. They tell us what they're willing to pay total and willing to spend for each click and we show they jobs when they're a match for a relevant search, and they pay only if someone clicks on their job and lands on their site. So it's pay for performance, and it's unlike anything else out there. Over the last 12 years, through this combination has made us the No. 1 jobsite in the world, in more than 60 countries.

How do you plan to differentiate Indeed's services from Google's?

Frankly we're a little surprised it's taken Google such a long time to do this. They've been testing their service for several years. Indeed has always fought against bigger and better-funded entrants into the space. Google entering it right now is sort of a no brainer for them, this is what they do in every industry – they look where people spend lot of time searching and where there's value and try to see what they can do, and it's rational they trying to help they users. However, if you look at what they've tried to do in multiple different industries -- travel, restaurant bookings -- they certainly have not radically disrupted those industries. Most of what Google serves up consists of web pages, map data and images -- essentially, facts that are permanent. But there's a big difference between general search and job search. Jobs are transient: Something gets posted and then it comes back down, and managing that is quite different from serving up facts that are permanent. Google may be good at search but they've got a lot of catching up to do when it comes to providing a service that's of use to jobseekers. Now, if we at Indeed stopped investing and innovating here, it would be a very different story, but as we continued we're putting more efforts into innovating in this space and growing beyond job search. For example, Indeed Resume lets jobseekers get discovered directly by employers and, more importantly, with one resume a jobseeker can apply to a job on Indeed with one click. Most importantly, if you're on a mobile device and you don't have a resume, you can't apply to a job. Sixty percent of all searches today on Indeed are from a mobile device, and that's grown astronomically in the last five years. Obviously, when we first started out, we benefited greatly from being easy to find on Google and we thank Google for having directed lot of job-search traffic our way. However, people are increasingly coming directly to via job alerts and our mobile app, which has been downloaded by more than 100 million people. We've also started to move into completely new areas such as Indeed Prime, which gives top employers easy access to a small, curated list of elite software developers, designers, product managers and other specialized talent. We've also launched Job Spotter, which is based on the idea that there are millions of jobs out there that aren't listed online – "help wanted" signs in store windows, for example -- and Job Spotter lets anyone with a mobile device take a photo of a Help Wanted sign and post that to Indeed with a single tap. We can then extract the location information and match that to the name and address of the business. We've had more than 150,000 people post more than a million new jobs to Indeed that way. And we have more than three million businesses around the world that use us directly to post their jobs and manage their entire hiring experience. So we're very confident in our ability to be the No. 1 source for jobseekers to get hired and for employers to find hires.

In your opinion, how does the current hiring marketplace fail to properly serve both candidates and recruiters, or how can it better serve those two constituencies?

The way we look at is our approach is, we started as a search engine, and we've been working on essentially getting closer and closer to the hiring process itself. The more integrated that we can be, the easier it is for employers to not have to jump around from one place to another. But what really matters is getting all of the data from job seekers and job searches to help directly match jobseekers and employers to jobs and candidates that are a perfect fit, and help jobseekers discover jobs they may not know are out there and help employers discover candidates they may not have known are out there. The on-demand economy is creating millions of new types of jobs that pay well and offer flexibility but most people don’t know they're out there. We're spending a lot of time and energy to help them discover these opportunities.

Let's look ahead several years out: Do you care to predict what the hiring marketplace will look like vis-a-vis Indeed, Google and the traditional job boards such as CareerBuilder and Monster?

If you look at the traditional players, we think it's very clear from both the share of the jobseeker market we have and from the growth in our client base that the search model is a far better fit for actually helping people find jobs than the job board has been, and I think the shift for both jobseekers and companies toward our model has proved itself out. And a lot of the job boards, even Monster, made the shift toward job search and now you see LinkedIn and Glassdoor doing the same, because they realize it's the right paradigm. Look, Google has a great business and they've continued to expand into lots of different markets, but if you look at the other markets we're in, we don't expect Google will become a significant player in job search because again, what really matters in matching people to jobs are all these other areas I've mentioned beyond job search itself. Hiring online requires a lot of support and HR functions are  not, in most cases, the most technologically advanced, so we dedicate a lot of resources helping them optimize their sponsorship campaigns and find the best people for the job. We have close to 5,000 people at Indeed who do nothing but spend all their day helping people get jobs. It's what we do all day.  



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