Indeed’s Master Plan- Alex Murphy, CEO on Chad & Cheese

September 5, 2019– Think you know what Indeed is up to? Well, we have someone on who might definitely know in Alex Murphy. Grab your tinfoil hat and enjoy.


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James Ellis: Hey, this is James Ellis from the Talent Cast Podcast, and you’re listening to the Chad and Cheese Podcast. So perhaps treat this message like an intervention. Why are you doing this to yourself? You have so much to live for. Why would you waste your time here, of all places?

Announcer: Hide your kids, lock the doors. You’re listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion, and loads of snark. Buckle up, boys and girls, it’s time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.

Joel: Let’s get ready to podcast. What’s up, kids? I’m Joel Cheesman of the Chad and Cheese Podcast, joined today by my cohort, Chad Sowash.

Joel: Special guest today. I can’t believe it’s taken this long to get him on the show. Alex Murphy, CEO of JobSync. Man, welcome to the show. How are you?

Alex: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

Joel: Sounding great, Alex. So we brought you on today to talk about one of the most important issues in humanity, pane view for job sites. What is it and why does it matter?

Alex: Well, I think it’s probably the second coming of the Messiah, I guess, in terms of the size and importance on humanity, as you put it.

Chad: Right below climate change and right above … I don’t know.

Alex: 40 miles to my east is an orange dude that I think is a bigger issue than pane view, but we’re not going to talk about that.

Chad: Yeah, so there was actually an Appcast survey. Chris Foreman wrote up an article around what they’ve seen since Indeed’s pane view came into place, and it’s double prices for clients and, instead of them actually getting the traffic to their career sites, that just pretty much is all blown away. So they get about half the amount of traffic and they’re paying twice as much. Because when an individual clicks on an actual job on indeed, it doesn’t take … That used to take them, much like Google, it used to take them to the corporate career site. But now Google doesn’t even do that, for God’s sakes, right? Google is even in pane view with Google for jobs. So why is this a good thing for jobs? Why is this a good thing for the industry overall?

Alex: Well, I think first and foremost it’s about the candidate experience. And just kind of taking that phrase that is used probably too often to justify all sorts of different initiatives, it’s probably really important to talk about what candidate experience is not. And a really pretty corporate job site experience does not translate into a better candidate experience. A better candidate experience is ease of navigation, speed, don’t make me answer questions, the same question over and over and over again. And you know, pane view is one component which really … Just to take a step back, the pane view concept is really a user experience on a job site where you see the search results on the left and the job over on the right. It’s a layout that’s really good for a large monitor desktop. It doesn’t impact mobile. Pane view as not a function on mobile devices.

Alex: The Appcast data in Chris’s article related to desktop traffic, but it does not include mobile traffic. I got that confirmed this week. And it only includes the performance of the ATS apply path, meaning this is only measuring the performance of your sponsored spend when a person leaves the job site and goes to the company’s page, be it an ATS or a corporate career site, and then applies on the ATS. It does not include anything like a native apply experience, like what you get if you use Indeed apply, Zip apply. Glassdoor has a native apply experience, Stack has a native apply experience. Facebook’s entire platform, with a few exceptions, is all native apply experience. So it’s important to understand what it is and isn’t. If you go back 20 years ago, every job board hosted the application. And these applications were sent out by email and to the recruiter, and ATSs started to become in vogue, and so then job seekers started to leave the job sites, the aggregators removed the job description step so as to reduce friction.

Alex: But at this point it’s so disruptive to take the candidate off of the job platform and over to this ATS path, where they’re asked too many questions. They have a disruptive experience. Often that experience is very slow to load. It’s a disaster on mobile in most cases. And so all of these things roll up into what’s legitimately a real issue for anybody that’s a job platform operator, needs to figure out how to deliver the goods of what they’re selling. And the goods are high quality applicants, and enough applicants to to meet the needs of the advertiser.

Chad: So an employer is actually paying for … I mean, in the olden days before pane view, getting that job seeker to their corporate career site. So if they do go through the application process, they’re at least paying for that branding experience. That’s not happening now. So if you click on the actual job and it displays the description in Indeed, you get charged for a click, right? Where before it would take you to the website. So why isn’t Indeed saying “Okay, hey, we want to do the best for job seekers, and pane view definitely has a much quicker, much faster, easier way to go through and browse through job descriptions,” but why are they paying on that click instead of the click when an individual clicks on the apply? Why wouldn’t they just go that route? Because that’s what the actual employer’s paying for. They’re paying for that person to come into their experience.

Alex: It’s a fair question. Well, if you think about it from just the perspective of Indeed, and I think most job boards will follow this path, Indeed is solving for a larger problem, which is to move and migrate more employers to their native apply experience, which is Indeed apply. This is the search result or the jobs where you see the little “easy apply” designation inside of the search results. It’s the experience where, when they open the job, they see an orange “apply now” button as opposed to the blue “apply on company website” button. Those jobs that use Indeed apply get much more visibility within the platform. And Indeed’s data says that if you use Indeed apply, you get up to eight times more applicants.

Chad: Isn’t that because they actually show them higher in the search engine results?

Alex: It’s a combination of things. So number one, there’s no question that they’re getting more visibility within the platform. Number two, they’re reusing the candidates’ data that they’ve already entered on indeed. Number three, they’re not sending them off to a different website, so in the inner web, so to speak, there’s all sorts of data flow and caching of browser pages and style sheets and so forth that make for a much faster experience when you’re viewing the fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth page on a website. When somebody goes to a new ATS, they have to load all of that data in the browser. If you’re on a slow mobile connection, it’s a disaster. If you are on a mobile device as a job seeker and you end up on one of these applicant tracking systems that’s not optimized, as most of them, at least most of them in the context of the jobs managed, then you’re often blocked from even being able to complete the action.

Alex: And so there are maybe five or six different points in that funnel where job seekers fall off and don’t complete the apply. So 18, 20 years ago, conversion rates from a job view to an application submitted were upper double digits. So %50, 60%, 70% application rates, because you could reuse the profile information and there weren’t 80 questions asking for everything that was highly inappropriate to ask for at this stage in the application process. And with the ATS there are way too many instances of companies inserting too many questions and ultimately driving up the amount of friction so the job seekers don’t convert.

Joel: You mentioned mobile earlier, and I don’t know the most current numbers, but I know that a lot of job seeking, applying happens on mobile devices now. Is this two-pane talk a lot of much ado about nothing because most of the stuff that’s going on is going on a handheld device anyway?

Alex: The part that’s relevant for both is that it’s really about viewing a job description on the job site. In this case we could talk about it from the context of being Glassdoor or Monster or Indeed. They’ve had very different paths to get to where they are today, but now the user experience is very similar. In the case of aggregators like Indeed, they had exactly the experience that Chad was talking about, where you go from search results directly off to the corporate career site to view the job. Rewind eight, nine years ago, they went to job boards first and then they had to go through the reg path hell on job boards, which, in full disclosure, I built a lot of those bad reg paths. And so I understand that perspective very well.

Alex: So Indeed has constantly, from very early days, focused on a quality experience for the users. And they’re looking at the data and they can see, especially when they’re held against or compared against other services like Hired, where the entire experience on Hired takes place on Hired. And if you’re trying to compare your money spent on Indeed and you’re being compared against Hired, and Indeed, their performance is dictated by whether or not they generate enough applicants that turn into starts, and the major friction in that process was the apply on the ATS, Indeed’s kind of looking at this saying “That’s not quite fair, is it?” So Indeed is morphing to look more like what job boards have looked like historically, with the job description in full on Indeed. And even going further back in time, like I was saying before, to actually host the entire applicant experience on Indeed. And that’s what most everybody is moving towards.

Speaker 6: It’s commercial time.

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Speaker 6: It’s show time.

Joel: Yeah. I can remember 10 years ago iPhone came out and apps were starting to be developed. And Indeed at the time had the entire job description of everyone they were aggregating, which at the time was pretty nuts, right? You think about, imagine if Google, if you clicked on a search result, just showed you the page within Google that you were going to. There were actually laws against that, but I had a conversation with CareerBuilder and said “Look, why are you guys letting Indeed do this? They’re basically taking you out of the entire equation.” I think the answer I got was “Well, we want people to have as much access to our jobs as possible, yada, yada, yada.” And certainly what we’ve seen 10 years hence, the job board is more irrelevant probably than ever because of the sort of job search platforms like an Indeed. If you’re a job board right now, are you helpless to do anything about this? Are you happy about it? Are you fine with it? What is their perspective in all this?

Alex: Well, I think it’s interesting that you characterize Indeed as not a job board. And this whole discussion about, are job boards dying, or when will they die, or whatever, I think that the proper way to frame this is, job boards are an analog to what portals were, like Lycos and Yahoo. And there’s a rise right now of, really, job platforms, where the entire experience will stay 100% on the job platform. So Stack is moving very much in this direction entirely. Hired is there, Indeed is moving there. Facebook’s coming into the business this way. If you look at what the Google experience is, it’s not a search and click off, it’s a search and then you’re looking at the portal and you can start to digest and gather information. They’re aggregating all the review data and company data, trying to build like one page that does a great job of helping you understand as a job seeker, is this a good job for me to apply to or not? And then giving them the methodology to determine, or the choice to determine where they want to go apply for the job.

Alex: And so they’ve got four or five choices, and that’s how they’re kind of positioning themselves in a stack. If I’m a mid-size job board, I’m trying to think about the exact same stuff as it’s related to, where is the market headed. And you had a show, I don’t know, probably three or five weeks ago, and you had Andy Katz on, and you guys were talking about the apply experience, right? And somebody out there needs to create the ability to deliver the application directly into the ATS. And it’s that type of integration that is what’s needed in the space. And you know, there are service providers like ours and JobSync that do that. We deliver Indeed apply applications directly from Indeed directly into the ATS, and we support legacy ATSs. There are ATSs that have direct integrations, like Workable.

Alex: And that integration layer, we are years behind in our space. Go figure, we’re always years behind, right? But we’re years behind making those types of integrations normal. But if you look into other verticals like travel, shopping, and others, it’s common for these integrations to happen. If you go to United and you buy a flight to Sweden to go visit Tengai, you can in the same transaction add your rental car. Although you probably wouldn’t get a rental car there, but you can add your hotel, you could have bought the entire package on Kayak or Expedia. If you go to Amazon you can buy stuff that’s sold by Amazon or 3,000 other retailers that are selling directly through Amazon. And so this whole kind of evolution is really the Amazon-ification of job boards.

Chad: And it sounds like Indeed’s forcing ownership of the apply, they want to own the apply. In your opinion, will Indeed make that mandatory, that you have to use Indeed apply to be able to be on our platform?

Alex: I don’t think that they will “make it mandatory.” What they will do is they will make it something where you are compelled to do it because your performance will force you to. So right now if you go on Indeed and you run a search for any company that has like locations or lots of stores and that kind of thing, so take any kind of restaurant. If that restaurant’s using an ATS, it’s not integrated, that means that the only experience they have is one where they can put their jobs in, and the user has to click and leave Indeed to go to the ATS to apply. And in some cases that experience is just a complete joke, right? So I’ve gone through ATSs in the last week where for a dishwasher job I have to create an account with a super-secret password, and it gets difficult for me in the business designing products to even get through their password creation function.

Alex: It’s just laughable. But what you’ll find in there is you’ll find cases where a company that has many locations and restaurants will have instances of jobs that are labeled as easy apply. What’s happening there is the people in the field are not getting the applicants that they need in order to fill the jobs that are open. And they drive back and forth to work listening to the radio, they hear 45 times a day, “Go post a job for free on Indeed, get started on ZipRecruiter for free,” and they’re taking matters into their own hands and they’re going to Indeed and they’re posting jobs. They end up sponsoring those jobs, they spend $10, $20, $30 a day. They are getting these applicants in their email rather than in the ATS, but they’re making their hires.

Alex: It’s an experiment that’s being run, not on purpose. It just

happens to … It’s happening. And the corporate TA organization is seeing this happen, and they’re seeing the difference in outcomes. And it’s not just on Indeed, right? It’s any of these companies, any job platform that has a native apply experience is seeing material difference in performance in terms of application generation if they retain the application experience, versus sending the user off to an unknown process.

Joel: We talk a lot about chatbots on the show. And one of the fascinating things I think about chatbots is, they’re essentially made to make the mobile apply process easier, right? So instead of clicking a link to upload or connect through LinkedIn or apply through whatever, you’re having a conversation like you would a messaging experience. And in that messaging experience you’re applying for a job even though you may not even know it while you’re doing it. So the fact that you brought up the ZipRecruiter and the email thing was interesting to me. And I’m wondering your thoughts on, at what point does apply get replaced by “chat with us” or “connect with us,” and it becomes a chat experience as opposed to an upload your resume experience?

Chad: Which is a better experience, right?

Alex: Well, I think the better answer is it’s all of the above. So before my time at Beyond, I was in an e-commerce business, and we put our phone number in like six or seven different places on the homepage. And the way that we got to that point, we didn’t start that way. We had our phone number in one place and we had people sending us emails through the “contact us” link saying “I can’t find your phone number,” even though it’s right there on the top of the screen. So we’re like, okay, that’s kind of weird. So we put it in another place and then another place, and then we just saw our call volume go up. And I bring up that story because different people look in different places. If you’ve ever looked at a heat map of where people look on the website, there’s the whole reverse C thing, and different patterns people follow. And I think that if you are looking to solve for conversion optimization, then you should probably have a chatbot. You should probably have a link that says “apply now.” You should probably have an email box.

Alex: And all those things on your corporate career site, you should do all of them. You should make the flow easy. You know, one of the early wins in any engagement that I do in the consulting work that I do, if we’re doing user acquisition, is to look at what their form looks like and to reduce the number of fields on each screen, even if that means making the number of screens way more. So just to be gross in the example, if you have 20 fields that you need to collect, you could literally expand that out to 20 screens, which is essentially what a chatbot is doing. It’s asking for the data points one at a time. And that’s the remarkable invention, is it feels personable even though people really feel like they know it’s a bot, and it’s asking the right question. This question right now, and I can answer that question. I don’t have to think very deeply about it.

Alex: And thus conversion rates go up. But you could literally do that in a form. You could have 20 screens in a form, so long as it was fluid and easy and it didn’t require a four-second page reload on the next one. Tim Sackett was on, he’s talking about this story that he tells over and over again about, your 10-year-old knows how to go find a lost dog. They know that they have to put posters in the grocery store and the post office and on the telephone pole. And that that’s what works because you’re going to put the posters where everybody is that may have seen your lost dog. And what you wouldn’t do is, you wouldn’t just put the poster of your lost dog on your front door. Because nobody comes by your front door. And the moral of the story is, you’ve got to put your marketing message where the people are and you have to make it really easy for them to connect.

Joel: That’s great, but that’s expensive to do. And so what do you tell the company/job site/ATS that’s spending more and more money to get that traffic and having their cost per applicant go up? And by the way, you mentioned advertising on things like Facebook, Instagram, etc. If people aren’t going to your site, you can’t retarget them from going to your site, and then they leave and then go to social media, which I think is a problem as well. It’s great to think it’s a better user experience, but I as the advertiser am not able to get my message, retarget that message to people on other sites. So what are your thoughts on, I guess, that question of more expense and more cost, as well as not being able to do things like retarget or build your brand through that mechanism?

Alex: First and foremost, your cost per applicant is a moving target. And so it requires essentially constant attention. And if you have a sourcing strategy for your job advertising campaigns that includes delivering the candidate directly into your applicant tracking system rather than having the candidate go through extra steps, you actually will see a massive reduction in your cost per applicant. And so that’s the net net, right? And so if you go back to the ERE article, this is specifically talking about this flow, where people are going through the ATS and going to apply on a desktop. This is becoming more and more expensive, and that’s not a new thing. That has been a long-time reality, because the candidates are leaving a job site and %90+ are not converting.

Alex: If 90% don’t convert, then you’re probably wasting a lot of money on that retargeting campaign, because retargeting somebody to come back to a broken application flow isn’t going to result in new applications. It’s going to result in wasted money on retargeting. And so the point of the “find my dog” example is, if you can get that application data dropped right into the workflow of your recruiter in real time, now you’re really accelerating your time to hire, you’re reducing what your cost per candidate is remarkably, and your cost per hire will go down. And so holistically it’s just a much, much better experience. So that’s where I would land on it.

Joel: Yeah. Excellent. Well, Alex, man, we thank you for your time, dude. For our listeners who want to know more about you, where would you send them?

Alex: is where you can learn more about what we do to help facilitate this integration solution for companies, and hit me up on LinkedIn any time, and I’d love to connect. Thank you.

Joel: Thanks, man. We’ll see you in Austin.

Alex: Sounds great. Thanks guys.

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