A word from our founder for recruitment start-ups
I am an ex-recruiter/recruitment company owner who embarked on the journey you are now undertaking in your recruitment start-up.
I now provide recruitment websites, so here is some free advice on the subject, based on 17 years and counting of delivering recruitment websites to the largest and smallest recruitment firms on all continents of the world, in multiple languages and hundreds of niches, or niches of niches.
Lesson 1 – Lies, lies and damn statistics
You are going to be lied to – and lied to a lot. The lies will vary from claims about SEO to ATS vendors telling you they have API for website vendors to use which solves all ills. Here I will give you 17 years of experience in a few simple words, so you can avoid the pitfalls others like you wasted budgets, time and effort on.
The biggest bullshit will be about the price. Some vendors charge by the number of pages, some by the number of jobs on your site, some by the number of visitors your site gets, etc. And of course, the honey trap pricing for features – if you want A, B and C features, it’s ££.££ price, but to get features D to Z, it’s ££££££££.££!
This pricing strategy is pure bullshit, and I am blowing the whistle on it. The only thing that should or could dictate a need for a price difference on a website is this: is the page design you want from a template the website vendor already has, or does a new page need to be designed (bespoke page)? This is a one-time fee deal here, guys: to make this bespoke design page, with no ongoing costs associated with it.
My sites have all features as standard, and an unlimited number of pages, unlimited number of jobs, and unlimited number of visitors, because I know all of these things have no bearing on my cost to provide you the service. The only thing that changes my cost of delivery is: do you need a bespoke page, and will it need special support for its design in future updates by browser technologies to keep it working for you?
Lesson 2 – Websites and the ATS vendor
ATS website package: ATS vendors are data managers; recruitment website vendors are data attractors. The skills to achieve mastery in either discipline differ, so if you just want “a website”, use the ATS vendor’s own website offering. If you want a website that is an attraction tool, use an expert recruitment website builder tech.
ATS API (application programming interface): ATS vendors tell you they have an API, and web vendors can use that API to work with their site. This is true, but they leave out that the APIs come with some real problems.
Problem 1. If the website vendor has not made a connection, an expensive first integration has to be made.
Problem 2. Some ATS vendors let you structure the data the ATS sends to the website to suit how the website needs to do its best work, others don’t and so compromise how well a website can work for you.
Problem 3. Some vendors charge extra for their API, a complete rip-off if you ask me. Keep that in mind when budgeting for your tech spend.
ATS Vendor Job Pages: Some ATS vendors want to run your job pages for you; this is great in theory but shite in practice, because the jobs are often run on sub-domains owned by the ATS vendor, which are not helping your site gain SEO rankings for your jobs. Many of these pages fall woefully short of good optimisation for Google for Jobs, and so you lose out there also.
Most ATS integration problems are solved by job posting software: Finding the advice on connecting websites a bit of a minefield? Cool, because it is. Virtually all ATS vendors have integration with tools like Broadbean, Idibu, Logic Mellon, Wave, etc. Using one of these tools will solve all integration issues and more besides if you need to send jobs to job boards, social media channels and your website and track their response.
Integration warning: While it kills a lot of admin time to have a website take jobs from your ATS and send candidate applications and people who submit CVs back to your ATS, it does mean you get all data in almost all cases, not quality data. For example, if you get 100 applications for a job to your email, delete 80 of them, and send a sorry you can’t help message, no data storage harm no data storage foul. However, if you let the API take all 100 applications from your website, you now have 100 records in your ATS, 80 of which you did not want, and you now need to account for that data under GDPR.
ATS Conclusions: Clearly, you will work with the ATS every day, and you need to work with the one you are most comfortable with, so the website tail can’t and should not wag the ATS dog. But if the dog delivered you the website, expect it to be a bit of a dog’s dinner in the end. This dog’s dinner is the number one reason why start-ups who spoke to us and did not use us first time round come back to us for site number two.
Lesson 3 – Advisors to start-ups
Number 1 issue we find: I am constantly contacted by those who wish to advise start-up recruiters. None of them knows about IT, and all want a solution based on price, and the lowest price possible. None of them wants to know about server uptimes, the track record for bugs a vendor has, the track record for customer service wait time a vendor has, the track record for hacks a vendor has dealt with, etc. Just price.
Number 2 issue we find: Advisors recommend based on how a website looks, not the tech being fit for purpose. For example, if you ask 100 people for advice on websites, 99 will offer WordPress as the holy grail. They do this because the WordPress tech community has many resources to download lots of nice-looking site designs. Designs which, you guessed it, are cheap (you can buy WordPress themes for $5 to $50, but if you know it, you will know these themes come with £2000 to £3000 of bugs to fix and, yes, cybersecurity issues to fix).
What they don’t know and never consider is that WordPress is the most hacked software defended by the top cybersecurity firms globally, accounting for 70-90% of all the hacks they deal with.
60% of all hacks happen in the WordPress world because of WordPress plugins; a plugin is a piece of software invented by a WordPress community member to perform a specific task. So you would have a plugin to hold your design, a different plugin to provide you with a “contact us” form, an additional plugin to provide you with your job posting feature, a plugin to tell you how to do SEO parts the site can provide, and so on. A typical recruitment site could have 20-60 plugins, and here comes the killer part.
Most, if not all, of those plugins will be from a different plugin vendor source, so if your site has 20 plugins, your supplier is hiding the fact that they use 20 other people’s software to provide your site and rely on that software to be fit for purpose to deliver your site.
As these plugin vendors have no agreements with each other (current stats say there are over 50,000 plugin vendors, mostly one-person vendors), when one plugin needs an update, but the update is not available, it can hold up or get in the way of other plugins being updated, and this is how 60% of hacks end up happening, due to out-of-date/out-of-sync plugins. For many of which the hacker can Google ideas for how to exploit the plugin!
Plugins as a real-world example: now suppose your website was your mobile phone. Would you buy a phone where Vodafone provided the numerical keypad, EE provided the alpha keypad, BT provided the mic, Virgin provided the speakers, and the WordPress guy made the phone case look pretty? Of course not – but you do that blindly when you buy WordPress websites today.
But WordPress is not all bad.
WordPress is only as good as the vendor who provides it, the SLA they have, how much control they have over the plugins, and what your contract says about how hackers will be kept out and how plugins will be managed. So if you buy WordPress, your list of questions is: how many plugins do you use, how do you guarantee they are updated and how do you fix or work around their cyber issues, and can you provide specific insurance cover for these hacks/plugins?
Lesson 5 – Features
Waste of time and money features
Facts that 17 years of experience, and millions and millions and millions of candidate interactions with my recruitment websites, in all continents of the world, have proven to be true:
Candidates don’t want an account with your website.
Candidates don’t want to put jobs in baskets.
Candidates don’t want to send CV updates to your website.
Candidates don’t want to answer tons of questions to apply for jobs or submit CVs (ATS vendors: this means your forms).
Candidates care very little if you have a bespoke or template design. They care if you have the jobs they need with the frequency they need them.
Nameless testimonials add no value; they are a chocolate fireguard.
Features which will get you into trouble with users, GDPR and hackers:
Candidate portals provided by the website vendor and not the ATS suck – and also expose you to hacking. Like, ask yourself a simple question: if the hacker is the modern-day bank robber, which bank will they raid: the one with cash in the vault or the bank which is empty of any cash? Michael Caine won’t be briefing his men to “only blow the bloody doors” off a Recruiterweb site, as we don’t store any candidate data on our sites.
Features which candidates want and like:
Quality written jobs.
Easy use on a mobile.
Easy search jobs feature.
No obligation to set up job alerts.
Onsite salary advice.
Named employers on jobs or proof of who you work with.
Recruiter or recruiters can easily be identified and connected with via your site. (phone/email/LinkedIn/Skype/WhatsApp/voicemail).
A space for you to promote job seekers looking for work so they can see you are proactive for them.
Lesson 4 – SEO Search Engine Optimisation
Lie 1 – Our website has SEO, our website is SEO-friendly
Websites don’t have SEO. So there is the ugly truth: websites don’t have SEO. In the same way that a rugby player does not have sports, and a truck driver does not have logistics…
In short, what I am saying is SEO is not one thing, so by the very nature of linguistics, a website cannot have SEO. Now just let that sink in for a bit, and then consider: a salesperson visits your office or talks to you on the phone and tells you their website has SEO. SEO is, at its heart, about finding the right words to achieve a result, and these other salespeople cannot even get the basic terms to describe SEO right. Well, that is unless they are using the ‘snake oil’ salesperson bible, and then their claims are perfect!
So if a website does not have SEO, what does it have?
A website is obviously needed for SEO to occur, as you cannot rank a site that does not exist. However, genuine SEO experts will tell you that of the 200 to 400+ strategies published for what makes up SEO, about 10–20 of them are strictly related to your website and how it is made. But that websites since 2008 all have these needs met in their basic build.
The rest is about using on-page and off-page SEO methods to rank your site. However, it suits some companies to sell you ‘snake oil’ and to brush over with a quick yes to all your questions on SEO. Then they will introduce on-page and off-page SEO in 6–12 months when your site fails to rank.
Lie 2 – A website vendor’s tech will rank you for money-making terms.
Vendors rely on misdirection and naivety on your part, like they say their website is SEO friendly, and you hear you are going to get ranked for accounting jobs or teaching jobs or IT jobs or Data Science jobs (or whatever your niche is) because you are in the honeymoon period of your buying cycle. Hell, the salesperson is probably outstanding.
But have a reality check, do some basic searches for your recruitment niche, and see if any of the vendor’s websites come up and not Google for Jobs, Indeed, Reed, CV-Library, Total Jobs, etc., etc.
You see, the hard truth is SEO is hard work; if it were easy, I’d own 2000 recruitment firms and put 2000 websites online for 2000 niches and buy Necar Island from Branson.
So what can you expect to be found for because of your website tech?
Your job posts should be indexable, and so you could be found for specific searches job seekers make. These are called longtail searches in SEO geek speak. In recruitment speak, it means candidates search for things like the following:
“key stage 2 teaching jobs Durham”
“Vat accounting jobs banking, Canary Wharf”
But here is the rub: if you give these jobs to other websites like the job boards, you are growing their SEO as well as your own. Same if you give your job data to Indeed, Google for Jobs, etc. Ultimately, how your site will rank for searches made by employers and job seekers is dictated by your content + your website trust/authority status.
Every time you send a job to your website, you increase the chances of growing your website’s trust/authority status. Every time you send the same job somewhere else online, you increase the trust/authority status of the website where you send the job.
Now before you put your head in your hands, there is hope for your jobs, and there are ways to get them found and your website’s trust/authority status up, but the only bearing your website has on this process is: does it have your content, is the website up and running more with one vendor than another, does the vendor have super fast code/servers, etc.? This being some of the 10-20 SEO signals your website CAN provide.
Hope that helps – if you want any further free, no-obligation advice, DM me.
P.S. I am severely dyslexic, so if you find a bunch of typos/grammar issues… I passed this via Grammarly, Chrome spell check and LinkedIn spell check, and if they did not find it, I had no xxxxxxx chance ;).