Online recruiting is still under attack since I wrote this article a year ago. The system is breaking down and becoming rife with tech-savvy scammers. Job aggregators are ruining the job candidate experience and in many cases preventing job applications from reaching recruiters’ applicant tracking systems. Google has implemented changes this month to reduce the practices of bad acting job aggregators. It will be interesting to see if it has any effect.
Job aggregators have been liked because they promote job postings on the internet, but now some are besting recruiters mainly using Google for Jobs. Job aggregators scrape job postings from job boards and make them available on their “job aggregator” websites to their recruiter clients, often for a pay-per-click business model. They can also advertise a job, like a Google ad, being paid on a pay-per-click business model by their clients. Job boards, such as Indeed, are websites where employers post jobs directly to the board, thereby preventing the vast majority of scamming.
There are increasing stories, however, of job aggregators distorting the job posting, not digitally forwarding the candidate’s applications to the job board, or, when contracted directly with the recruiter, not forwarding the job application directly to the recruiter’s applicant tracking system.
Worse yet, some job aggregators are high-jacking the job posting and selling the job applicants to competitive job postings. Some recruiters report that their identities are being copied from social media as part of scams that seek to bilk cash from unsuspecting job candidates. Many recruiters are unaware that job candidates have applied to their jobs and their applications are not being forwarded to them.
And, if all of this is not bad enough, the job postings may stay open on job aggregators long after the job has been filled, confusing job applicants on where to spend their time to apply for truly open jobs.
Some job aggregators, known as “Blasters” charge candidates to “blast” their resume to every company possible. Job candidates need to understand that it is not necessary to pay anyone on the internet to circulate their resumes.
In many cases, job applicants are unaware that their application has not been forwarded for consideration to the company. Some causes of theft are also reported, when job candidates, mostly in developing countries, are being asked for their personal bank account information in a swindle to withdraw money from their accounts after being falsely told that they have a remote working job. The company wants to forward $1000 to them to purchase a computer.
Alex Murphy, CEO of JobSync, a software platform that works in the background to improve the data transfer from job boards to company career sites to applicant tracking systems, says that “job posting scams go back to the 1800s.” Smiling, Alex says, “The first job posting was for seaman. The second job posting was a scam. In the 1980s, job posting scams were in the 200-character box ads in the newspaper’s classified section.” Today, he argues, the digital marketing world believes that $8 billion in losses occurs to organized crime posting ads. Recruiting ads are also targeted in this crime.
“High volume recruiters such as Walmart or McDonalds are easy targets for these scams. Their job candidates are too,” Alex says. “It is important to distinguish from good and bad with job boards and job aggregators and who is scamming. Indeed is a good job board and has good controls to prevent bad actors. Job aggregators that don’t have tight controls are more susceptible to these scams.”
VPOS (Virtual Point of Sale platforms) see scams a lot,” says Graham Thornton, Co-Founder of Change State, a recruitment marketing agency and host of a weekly podcast, The Changing State of Talent Acquisition. Graham is familiar with scams and tells the story of a friend who bought a “$150 trail running backpack on a website for only $60. The website that would only accept PayPal. It was a fraud.” Graham says, “They have his $60 and he doesn’t have a backpack. Now online recruiters are targets.”
“Google for Jobs has made it easier for job boards to get visibility by indexing jobs from hundreds of job aggregators on Google,” Graham explains. “Before, job boards (like Monster and Indeed) sold directly to companies. But Google for Jobs and programmatic recruitment has made it advantageous for unscrupulous job boards to send as many company jobs as they can to Google.
Update made on Oct. 20, 2021:Google has changed its Jobs Search function to improve the experience of job searching and reduce the abuse by bad acting job aggregators. Google’s requirement for new editorial content will require job posters to clean up the language of their job postings. Google now requires recruiters to remove spammy job posts (that don’t lead to a real job) and remove expired job posts. Google requires accurate job post information on the job’s location, salary, working hours, and employment type. It will be interesting to see if these changes reduce bad-acting job aggregators and improve the job search experience. Learn more from my article on Google’s changes.
“High volume recruiters also have adopted programmatic recruitment,” Graham says. Programmatic recruitment is like buying Google PPC [pay-per-click] ads, but for attracting candidates. Recruiters pay the job aggregator — often through a third-party software — a certain cost per each click on their job job postings.
“The problem with programmatic recruiting,” continues Graham, “is that you could be getting clicks on a bogus job posting that doesn’t send you any job applicants, and you may never know it. It is hard to detect bad actors. You need to have measures and track your data beyond the click.” Graham recommends use of metrics like clicks-to-application, costs-per-interview, or clicks-to-hire to verify that you are getting quality job candidates.
Graham walked me through a job posting for a sales associate in Seattle for Urban Outfitters. The posting was found on Geebo. When he applied for a job, he was taken to a different web posting on Monster, where the job is listed. When he applied on Monster, the job went to America’s Job Exchange for a split second and transferred to the Tapestry Career Site, where the job link died. Through all these transfers, the end result is that the job candidate cannot apply for the job at Urban Outfitters. Were all of these job aggregators charging Urban Outfitters for clicks? I do not know, but it is possible.
Graham has provided another example of this from his weekly podcast video. It is incredible to watch how all this take place in seconds. Click here to watch the one minute example.
“Indeed works hard at providing its clients and the job candidates a good experience,” says Graham. “Not every job board has had these controls.” TechCrunch reports that CareerBuilder, Monster, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Facebook, Care.com, and other services have partnered with Google. However, it’s important to note that one site that does not currently partner with Google for Jobs is Indeed.com. Glassdoor recently tightened up its criteria after being acquired by Indeed’s parent, Recruit Holdings.
This situation raises an interesting question. Could Google put more controls on Google for Jobs, following Indeed’s example, and prevent many of these issues and scams? Some believe Google could do more. Others, such as Alex Murphy are not so sure. “Google can’t control all of this and is doing a lot now to prevent it.”
Graham and Alex Murphy advise recruiters to play the role of the job candidate and apply for their jobs where you find them on the internet and see if their application makes it to your Applicant Tracking System.
“I never know this was a thing,” says Amber Brown, Senior Manager of Recruiting Strategy and Marketing at TaskUs, a tech-enabled BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) company. Amber was recruiting for job candidates who would work remotely for a company based in Tijuana, Mexico. She posted jobs on various websites, including CompuTrabajo, the leading job board in Mexico and most of Latin America. “My client called and asked, ‘why were clients applying from other countries and how the jobs were posted in Europe on Jobatic.com?’ I mean places like The Netherlands and Turkey. How did this occur?” Amber went online and found the posting on Jobatic.com. “They had an ‘email us’ button. I wrote them, saying it is not an authorized post, and please remove it in 24 hours. I did not receive a receipt for my email. All I got you got was a window that said, ‘thanks for your email’. Something was up.”
Amber contacted Graham Thornton at Change State, whom TaskUs hired to manage their programmatic recruitment strategies. Graham had never heard of jobatic.com previously and did some digital forensics. He found their parent company and had the posts stopped in two days. Graham explained to Amber that Tijuana’s job “got blasted” because it was a remote work job, unknowingly scraped from their ATS. BPO work from home jobs scams are not uncommon.
Amber experienced another issue caused by job aggregators. Her former employee at Teleperformance called her one and one-half years after Amber left the company and asked Amber if she advertised helping Teleperformance recruit. Amber answered, no. It turns out a job candidate called the local offices of Teleperformance and asked to speak with Amber Brown because, according to the angry caller, “She told me I had a job and then took my money.”
A week later, Amber received a call from another Teleperformance employee about a job candidate who had been scammed. Amber discovered that her name and image from social media were being used to post bogus remote work call-center jobs at Teleperformance. Amber told me, “The candidates were told that they had a job and that the company would provide them money to buy a computer. The candidates were asked to provide their bank account information to send them money to buy a computer and begin work. The candidates were never really interviewed. It was all by chat,” Amber explains. “They took my image and name and the name and photo of other former Teleperformance recruiters. Kudos to Teleperformance for solving the scam quickly.”
As Amber Brown says, Job aggregator abuse “is a thing.” Whether your company has high volume recruiting, like Walmart, or you use job aggregators while recruiting in third world countries or because they are inexpensive, recruiters need to take precautions.
Here are three tips:
- Walk the job candidate experience. Alex Murphy and Graham Thornton have recommended going through the experience of your job candidates. Create a new Gmail email and apply for your jobs online and see where the journey takes you and if your application arrives in your applicant tracking system and from what source. If you aren’t receiving any applications, contact the job board or job aggregator. If you don’t like their customer service or it doesn’t improve, it is time to move on.
- Use outcome-based recruiting measures. Use recruiting measures such as costs-per-click, source-to-interview, or source-to-hire to measure your recruiting sources effectiveness, whether they are Indeed, Glassdoor, your career site, or employee referrals. Don’t just use the number of clicks from social media, job boards, or job aggregators. Learn more about the most effective recruiting metrics to increase your return on investment for recruiting in Chapter 8 of my book, Hack Recruiting: The Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization.
- Stick with Ethical Job Boards. Both Alex Murphy and Graham Thornton have described Indeed as an ethical Job Board that has good controls to prevent bad actors. Glassdoor has recently put in better controls.
Finally, Indeed provides excellent advice to help job seekers recognize and avoid fraudulent tactics while looking for a job.
None of us can imagine recruiting without the use of digital recruiting. The level of scams with the advent of Google for Jobs appears to be on the increase and all recruiters need to take steps to assure their digital sources are providing them job candidates and are not ruining the experience of their job candidates or their employer brands.
Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting, managing partner of InnovationOne, and Sales Advisor to MeBeBot. He works with companies to transform HR, implement remote work, recruit executives, and develop extraordinary leaders, teams, and innovation cultures. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Hack Recruiting: the Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. Subscribe to his weekly blogs at www.VictorHRConsultant.com.