To Optimize or Not To Optimize

February 15

Whenever I sit down with a client to discuss their digital strategy, one of the first things I ask them is, "What is the largest job board today?" I see their eyebrows crunch just before the facial muscles open up and erupt into a big smile. If there are multiple clients, at least one raises their hand impatiently, most likely thinking, "oh that one is easy."

"Monster!" one replies; "CareerBuilder!" blasts another. It is at this point that I have to dash all their hopes for a perfect grade, as the answer to my question is (drum roll) Google. Yes, Google. That plain white web page with a few links, logo and a search box is now considered to be the world's largest job board (OK, we all know Google is a search engine but it is where a significant portion of job seekers begin their search.)

Why? Blame it on the shift in user behavior or blame it on the economy, but in the last two years, job boards have seen a decline in searches as users are opting to go directly to Google, Yahoo! and other search engines for their job search. With just a few keystrokes, users will enter their search terms (e.g., finance jobs New York City). This will pull up a wealth of jobs right within the search fields. Many of these are full searches (lists of jobs) from job aggregators like Indeed and SimplyHired. What that means is that the user did not have to navigate through a myriad of drop down lists and text fields by searching an applicant tracking system (ATS) or a job board. They didn't have to select state, then city. They just typed it in. Google can even recognize if you misspelled a word. Add it all together and you now get to the jobs you want, FAST. What once took 6 clicks to apply for a job can take as little as 2. How's that for efficiency?

It sounds wonderful, right? Well, it is, but with one caveat. Many jobs are not showing up on the search engines because the search engines simply can't see them, or they do not recognize them as a job. In fact, MOST jobs are better hidden than a needle in a haystack. In this case the camouflage is not a bale of hay, but your own ATS.

Let's talk a little about the ATS and how it recognizes jobs. An ATS is a complex database that is tracking multiple data (applied, hired, fired, referred). In order to track this data, the ATS searches through multiple lines of code. Every time a user clicks a page and selects from a drop down menu (country, city, state, job type), that selection is recorded as part of a search string. The product of all of this searching is a URL longer than any search engine can decipher. For example:^IkMe4aGoBmpQSqaVMidTgqEJWWIv_slp_ rhc_5fM1IRxg5hd9MZ6nO6hNMas01Y7V1AuPTh8csrLBpKBQR5f_C_R__L_F_6A6kNdaVsxaGqCFB_slp_rhc_ walXj1SZ3RuOro=&jobId=499284&type=search&JobReqLang=1&recordstart=1&JobSiteId=47&JobSiteInfo=499284_47&GQId=0

The string above is what Google, Yahoo! and other search engines look to when searching for keywords the user has entered. In the above example, the search engines would never know that behind that URL is a "project manager" position in "Atlanta, GA". Talk about camouflage!

What's the solution? Well, it's simply called Job Optimization. Job Optimization is the present and future of job posting, searching and sourcing and therefore a cornerstone of all of your sourcing needs. The idea is to bring your jobs out from behind the veil of your ATS, so that they can be seen and indexed by the search engines.

Let's take a closer look and explore an example. Review the following Job Optimized URL and tell me a little about the job behind it: I won't keep you in suspense, but you may have realized that this is the same job shown previously, only pulled out from behind the ATS by TMP's Job Optimization Solution called SEOSite. If you analyze the URL, you will notice the location is "Atlanta"; the area is "project management"; the job is "project manager". So when candidates located in or around Atlanta, GA search for any or all of the key phrases/keywords (project manager, management, Atlanta, etc.) they would get this job in their search results.

The solution used to optimize this job is TMP's SEOSite. It easily optimizes ALL of your jobs by pulling them from your ATS, via direct feed or a "job scrape." Not only are your jobs visible to the major search engines, but they are also branded to a web page, so that any job seeker who clicks on the job from a search engine is taken to a branded job posting. SEOSite brands ALL of your jobs. So any job in your ATS, from part-time sales to upper management, is displaying your brand. The SEOSite solution is also "socially-enabled" so users can share your jobs on multiple Social Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Job Optimization and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) have proven effective in lowering cost-per-application and cost-per-hire. In fact, you could compare this Job Optimization horizon to another time in history when something similar occurred - when the airwaves opened up to allow radio stations to broadcast to the masses. The theory is the same here — it's about the accessibility of your message. In this case, that message is your jobs.

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