“I'm 64 years old and I don't think this generation fully appreciates how simple finding a job is today. When I got out of school, I searched through classified ads in the newspaper, printed out my resume, wrote a cover letter, mailed all that in an envelope with a stamp I'd have to lick, and then waited three to four weeks for a letter back or a phone call. It makes me laugh when people complain today about how hard it is to find a job.”
—Employee who knows things could be worse
Over the past eight years, job search technology has gone through a revolution, but only a handful of sites have the necessary scale, dollars to invest, and engineering talent to build modern solutions. Let's go through the features you should care about.
Feature 1: Has All the Jobs in One Place
The first disruptive change to the job category happened back in 2008 when the aggregators appeared. Unlike traditional job boards that would only display jobs employers paid to post, aggregators scoured the web to find all the jobs from every site, and made them searchable in one place. Aggregators had millions of jobs while old school job boards only had a few hundred thousand. Obviously this greatly expedited job search.
Today there are a handful of sites including ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, Monster, and Indeed that use the aggregation approach. Each company uses different technology to find the jobs that are out there, so there is some variation in what jobs you'll find on each site. (For example, Indeed excludes the millions of jobs directly posted on ZipRecruiter from their search engine.)
When it comes to job search, any site that doesn't have all the jobs in one place is forcing you to use multiple sites. Who's got time for that!
Feature 2: Enables You to Apply to Jobs with One Click
One of the most frustrating realities of modern job search is that many employers require job boards to send you offsite to the company's corporate job page in order to submit an application. These corporate job pages are not only difficult to navigate on your mobile device, they also often require you to go through a full site registration before you can apply. These experiences are so onerous that very few of the potential applicants who are sent off to a corporate job site from a job board complete an application! No one wants to spend 15 minutes figuring out how to apply to a single job. Fortunately you don't have to.
The best job sites will have done a technical integration with all of the vendors that power these corporate job sites. That means you'll be able to one-click apply to many jobs without ever leaving your primary job site interface. This is a tremendous time saver and makes rejection, should it happen, sting a little less.
If you don't see a “one-click” or “one-tap” apply option on your current job site, or if you find yourself being sent to other sites to apply over and over again, it's time to switch to one of the big modern job boards.
Feature 3: Picks Jobs Just for You
On average, aggregators like ZipRecruiter have north of 6 million open jobs at any one time, with millions of new jobs cycling through every month.1 Searching through all those jobs once can be a daunting challenge, let alone trying to monitor for new opportunities on an ongoing basis. The task is beyond most job seekers. Surprisingly, until recently it was also beyond the capability of all job sites.
One of the most shocking things I discovered about the job board industry back in 2010 when we launched ZipRecruiter is that the majority of job sites were terrible at notifying job seekers about new jobs. Many of them didn't even try to do it. No daily email alerts. No suggested jobs. And the idea of highlighting a single job for which the job seeker was especially qualified—a fantasy. It literally didn't exist.
And then in the early 2010s, everything changed overnight. Technological advances made it possible for companies to build smart software. Everyone calls this “artificial intelligence” (AI).
AI has now been deployed to give you better job recommendations. When AI helps you pick jobs for which you are best suited, employer satisfaction with applicants dramatically improves. On ZipRecruiter, employers give applications a thumbs-up if they want to shortlist them, and a thumbs-down if they want to reject them. When we introduced AI, we saw the thumbs-up rate climb from 15% to 35%2 over the next three years. These algorithms get smarter the more information you feed them.
Thanks to the emergence of AI, you now live in a golden age where AI can pick “just right” jobs for you as soon as they are posted. ZipRecruiter is at the forefront of this innovation, but others are experimenting with it as well.
Feature 4: Shows You What the Robots See
All job sites use robots to try to extract who you are from your resume. However, most of those sites won't show you the output, and the unfortunate truth is that most of these robots aren't very good at it. The average resume parser is only about 60% accurate in interpreting resumes.3 To have any hope of getting the right job recommendations, you need to be able to review what the robot extracted, and make corrections if the robot got it wrong.
Look for sites that turn your resume into an online profile that you can edit. Whatever is in the online profile is what the robot extracted. If your resume looks great, but the profile is a mess it's definitely worth taking the time to correct the profile information.
The best sites let you correct, and also enrich the information in your profile. Some will ask you for links to your personal website, awards, license numbers if you're in a field that requires certification, or even additional skills that aren't currently included in the resume you provided. Provide as much information as possible because the modern algorithms are able to use every bit to show you better matches. (And you're helping them get smarter over time!)
Key insight: Only use job sites that turn your resume into an online profile you can edit.
Feature 5: Alerts You to a Job Match as Soon as the Job Goes Live
Do you know the absolute 100% best time to apply to a job? One second after the recruiter pushes the “post job” button. You want your resume in their virtual inbox before they get up from their desk. You want their mind to still be on the job and curious about who just applied. The best robots are fast.
More than 25% of jobs are filled with candidates who applied within the first two days of a posting. Speed matters so much that 50% of hires tend to be people who applied within the first week.4 The more advanced a job search site's tech, the faster the algorithm can process new postings and notify you if you're a fit. Speed rules. Don't waste your time on sites that aren't giving you instant notifications of new job postings. You're giving up a critical advantage.
Feature 6: Enables Feedback on Individual Job Suggestions
Does the job search site you're using enable feedback when it suggests a job to you? Look for the option to give a thumbs up or down on a delivered suggestion or maybe a happy/sad face rating. Sites that have these signals are feeding them back to the algorithm so that future recommendations get better. With this feedback, the algorithm can infer things like salary range, geography, and company size that you prefer so your delight keeps increasing over time.
FIGURE 5.1 Use sites that ask you for feedback on the matches they give you.
Feature 7: Shows You How Good a Match You Are for Every Job
The second most common complaint from job seekers after not getting a response to an application is not knowing which jobs to apply to. Job search companies that are really using AI now have the processing horsepower to show you how good a match you are for all of the millions of open jobs in the country. That means as you browse search results, or review job alert emails, or any other part of the search experience, the site will explicitly call out whether applying makes sense!
Feature 8: Keeps Track of Your Applications
Have you ever applied to a job and been unable to find it again? This happens all the time. When an employer closes a job posting it is no longer discoverable through search. Employers close jobs when they have enough candidates to start interviewing, but haven't yet filled the position.
Make sure to use a service that keeps a record of the jobs you've applied to so you can easily find them again. This is particularly important if the employer contacts you after you've applied. You want to be able to review the details of the position before speaking with them.
FIGURE 5.2 Use sites that show how good a match you are for every job.
Feature 9: Lets You Know Your Application Status
Here's a funny story for you. Almost a decade ago, when we first interviewed job seekers to figure out what a better job seeker experience looked like at ZipRecruiter, the focus groups would calmly describe the problems they had during the job search process—until they got to what happens after they apply. Then they would explode.
I apply to jobs, but never hear anything back. I don't know if my resume was received. I don't know if I was reviewed and rejected. I don't know if the job is still open. I don't even know if the job was real! I just feel helpless!!
I still remember the focus group moderator telling me, “Yeah. These people are pissed.”
Faced with this clear, top priority problem, the team put our heads together to find a solution. It was during this brainstorming session that one of the engineers said “What if I just have the system send applicants emails when the employer is reading their resume?” Good enough, we all agreed. The feature was launched the same day.
And nothing was ever the same again.
Little did we know that our 15-minute discussion, followed by less than one hour of actual software development, would change the trajectory of ZipRecruiter forever. The results were instantaneous and shocking. Job seekers loved these messages. Our app review ratings skyrocketed.
From that day forward, our mission at ZipRecruiter has been to give job seekers as much visibility into their applications as possible. Did the employer read your resume? We tell you. Are they looking at it again? We tell you. Did the employer give you a positive rating? We tell you!
There are a few sites now that deliver a similar experience. Once you've had it, you'll never want to go back. This is a game-changing feature for your confidence and optimism during a job search. If you're not getting application status updates, I strongly encourage you to find a site that provides them and see the difference for yourself.
Feature 10: Helps You Get Recruited
Nobody likes applying to jobs, but everybody loves getting recruited.
Sure there is a small contingent of insanely in-demand talent like software engineers or data scientists who complain about “the annoying endless array of recruiters coming after me.” But for the rest of us average everyday working stiffs, getting recruited is a way better way to discover a new opportunity than actually trying to find one. Ask yourself, “What would it be like if the work found me?” Well, get ready. This is the future of job search and the future is already here.
Since “software that learns” has become a reality, the dawn of robot recruiting has begun. What employers really want—what they have always wanted—is three to five qualified candidates to interview. That's it. The rest of the process—posting a job, receiving 100+ applicants, reviewing the resumes, phone screening, and scheduling interviews—all that is work they have to do in order to get to the three to five candidates they talk to in person. Executing all these steps is so time-consuming that employers are literally willing to pay an outside recruiter 25% of a new hire's first year salary to get the recruiter to do it for them. 25%!
When employers post a job the AI presents you to the employer! If they like what they see, they'll invite you to apply. That's right—the employers go first. They recruit you! And employers love it when you accept that invitation, giving such candidates a thumbs-up rating almost 70% of the time.5 Employers are directly recruiting millions of job seekers per year on ZipRecruiter.6
It's fun to think about how this changes job search for you long term. The AI robots make it easy to always be prospecting even after you get hired for a new job. You don't lift a finger. Just sit back and let the opportunities flow in. This is the future of job search. You don't apply to jobs. Employers apply to you.
· There are powerful technologies that can help you find the right jobs fast; make sure you’re using a job site with these features.
· Feature 1: aggregates all jobs in one place.
· Feature 2: lets you apply to jobs with one click.
· Feature 3: shows you personalized lists of job postings that match your skills and location.
· Feature 4: parses your resume and enables you to edit and update your profile.
· Feature 5: alerts you as soon as the right jobs are posted.
· Feature 6: lets you provide feedback on the jobs it shares and learns your preferences.
· Feature 7: tells you how good a match you are for available job.
· Feature 8: keeps a record of the jobs to which you have applied so you can refer to them later.
· Feature 9: lets you know where you stand and updates you on the status of your application.
· Feature 10: enables employers to recruit you.
1. 1. ZipRecruiter, Inc. internal data.
2. 2. ZipRecruiter, Inc. internal data, January 2016 to December 2020.
3. 3. Sreshtha Das, “How Does a Resume Parser Work? What's the Role of AI?” AI in Recruitment, July 1, 2020, https://skillate.com/blog/resume-parser/.
4. 4. Chandlee Bryan, “The Early Bird Gets the Job,” StartWire, June 2, 2011, www.startwire.com/blog/6107618938.
5. 5. ZipRecruiter, Inc. internal data, July 2020 to December 2020.
6. 6. ZipRecruiter, Inc. internal data, January 2020 to December 2020.