The next generation of online job search: Indeed.com

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.com

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.

8 comments on “The next generation of online job search: Indeed.com

  1. I give the folks at Indeed credit for building a great service, and also for being first out of the gate among the 3 most notable job search services launched in the past year (the others being our own SimplyHired, and the just-acquired WorkZoo). Paul & Rony are obviously smart guys with good industry experience, and when they debuted last November they set the bar the rest of us aimed for. As I’ve said previously, it’s great to have good competitors… it keeps you focused & working hard πŸ˜‰
    That said, in the past 4 months since SimplyHired.com launched in March, we feel quite confident we’ve been able to match and lately *surpass* the feature set Indeed offers. This has been validated by many of our users who initially started with Indeed, but later switched to using SimplyHired. In fact, we invite anyone to “take the Pepsi challenge” and compare the experience on SimplyHired against Indeed — we think they’ll find our site simply tastes _better_.
    Specifically, here’s a few reasons we’re different, and we think better:
    * our partnership with LinkedIn provides the unique capability for job seekers to use “who do i know” lookups to find insider contacts at companies they want to work for — we were the first multi-site ‘mashup’ to combine job listing & company data with social networking data in this way
    * our Netflix-style Job Ratings enable job seekers to rank & bookmark the jobs they’re interested in for later review, and our MyJobs feature allows you to post Flickr-like “sticky notes” on every job you’re tracking anywhere on the web
    * our SimplyForums message boards offer job seekers an active content community to share tips, advice, stories, & experiences with their peers on how to find a better job (and how to avoid crappy ones)
    * last but not least, we make great user experience & fun site messaging our secret weapons: job search is already a pain in the butt — why not enjoy the ride while you’re spending time searching?
    While we may differ with Indeed on who has the most jobs and more data sources — in fact we believe *we* are the world’s largest job search engine with over 3.5 million jobs — regardless, we think there’s no question we have the best candidate user experience & the coolest set of tools available for online job seekers.
    Still, it’s good to have smart geeks & entrepreneurs over at Indeed pushing us to keep delivering new & innovative features for our users. I’m sure we’ll be competing hard with them in the coming months ahead, and we wish them luck — they’re gonna need it πŸ˜‰
    – Dave McClure
    http://www.SimplyHired.com
    less crap. more jobs.

  2. Dave – I think your linkedin in function is cool, but it’s long term viability as a true value added to Simplyhired.com is going to be determined by how linkedin evolves, will they start charging users for their service, how long is their commitment to SH, is it exclusive and for how long. etc. etc. Cool, yes for sure. But let’s remember that Simplyhired is Simplyhired and Linkedin is Linkedin. You want the key merits of your product to be a part of your company, not dependant on a third party!!
    In reagrds to Jobratings, Myjobs, notes, yada, yada, yada, half an engineer and a goat could put those features out in a week. I’m not convinced of their value and the high importance you put on them.
    Message forums? gimme a break. Some might remark that a vbulletin / Jelsoft forum is oh so WEB 1.0!! and it seems a little slow in picking up momentum (even though you guys have a full time ex Ebayer on the job) hello investors is that good use of funds πŸ™‚
    Search Relevancy, Search Functionality, True User empowerment. This is the value. I think you give too much importance to your “fluff” features.
    I mean Simplyhired.com does not even have an “ADVANCED SEARCH” FUNCTION yet – hello? search engine or what?

  3. Hi Frankie,
    Thanks for your comments on the message boards. I do need, however, to clarify a couple of issues you point out.
    1. I am actually a part-time employee with the company.
    2. Are you basing the slowness in the forums simply on registration numbers? If so, you are actually missing what is probably more important: lurkers. Registrants are simply people that *choose* to interact in the forums. While probably not entirely accurate, Alexa does show that the forums actually have gone past our blog relative to traffic(in just a few short weeks). I would probably say that the most popular blogs are not reflective of how many people actually read the information if you were to simply base it off of “number of comments” left by people.
    3. Message boards are another contact point for us to interact with our users. My personal opinion, while it may be very “Web 1.0”, is that forums are generally more interactive than blogs. We’ve already received a great deal of feedback on the service through inbound emails & message board interaction.
    Note: I like blogs as much as anyone. I just don’t see the harm in having as many contact points with your customers as possible (some folks prefer message boards, whereas some folks prefer blogs). Should we not have both?
    4. The forums have been active for less than a month. A community, whether you view it as a blog or forum, does not come into being over the course of a month.
    5. One of the key issues I will be working on over the next few months is content. I want our customers to pick up tips on helping them with their job search. I would admit to not being a specialist in the field of job search & hiring – so I will be working on these areas over the next several months (perhaps bringing in guests to give tips & pointers,etc.).
    “Search Relevancy, Search Functionality, True User empowerment.”
    Agreed. However, the ways to make these things happen is through user feedback. This feedback comes to us in many ways (inbound email, blog, and forums). It is important to have as many “touch” areas as possible to allow us to get the feedback on *how* to make the service even better.
    “I mean Simplyhired.com does not even have an “ADVANCED SEARCH” FUNCTION yet – hello? search engine or what?”
    These are exactly the things we are working on (as a reminder, the site is still very much in “Beta” mode). We have a whole bunch of things up our sleeves that should be rolling out over the coming months.
    P.S. Dave and I are not ganging up on you;). I just happened to read your comments several moments ago (I check Dave Taylor’s blog on a regular basis).

  4. Frankie –
    i’ll have you know the handicapped engineer & his goat who worked on our MyJobs features would like to keep that relationship private, thank you. we are an equal opportunity employer, and aside from the Dating in the Workplace issue there we prefer not to ‘out’ any of our team’s lifestyle preferences.
    your valid criticism aside, the fact remains that we’ve got ’em, and so far no one else has matched us yet.
    our position is: let them get their own goat…
    – dave mcclure
    SimplyHired.com
    less goats. more jobs.
    ps – look for advanced search features in a few weeks.

  5. Dave – I was pleased to bump into you as well.
    Thanks for the opportunity. We really appreciated the chance to talk about our offering and what makes Indeed such a great tool for job seekers.

  6. Does anybody know how indeed.com make thier money…they function like a “google” but for jobs, How do they make their money?

  7. My only thought about the partnership or relation between Simply Hired and LinkedIn reminds me of a story a consultant told me one time about two fleas that were sitting at the bottom of a hill…The one flea said to the other, “Do you want to climb this hill or take a dog?” Frankie has a point about the long term viability of LinkedIn, but assuming it stays around 2-3 years and takes a nose dive like MySpace, Simply Hired has had just that much more time to establish themselves and develop more features. Based on what I am seeing in the marketplace, the folks at LinkedIn may be around awhile…

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