Recruiters: the machines are coming

Joseph Stubblebine (Talent Solutions, Inc., King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 12 October 2015



Stubblebine, J. (2015), "Recruiters: the machines are coming", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 14 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Recruiters: the machines are coming

Article Type: Strategic Commentary From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 14, Issue 5

Joseph Stubblebine

Joseph Stubblebine is the Vice President of Talent Solutions at Inc.,King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Companies spend an estimated $7 billion a year globally in recruitment advertising. It is a huge business, and employers have lots of options when it comes to spending money to attract talent.

Since June1836, when the French newspaper La Presse began offering paid advertisements, human resources professionals have had the difficult task of making job advertisement purchasing decisions in a vacuum. When print advertising was in full swing, companies would spend tens of thousands of dollars on full-color print advertisements, encouraging prospective employees to mail in a resume for consideration. No metrics, no tracking – advertisements were purchased based on gut instinct.

Fast forward to today: there are an estimated 40,000+ different sources of online advertising options available to recruiters. A variety of models including traditional job boards, niche sites, job aggregators and social platforms have made the recruiter’s job even more difficult – At least, until now.

Programmatic advertisement buying technologies automate the purchasing, placement and optimization of advertising, and have been used in the general marketing and advertising space for the past decade. In June 2015, the International Association of Employment Web Sites, a non-profit organization consisting of hundreds of career sites around the world, conducted the first-ever programmatic job advertisement buying summit in Chicago, IL.

It has been an evolution. First, there were pioneers like Monster and CareerBuilder, which disrupted the print recruitment industry. Then, in 2004, Indeed came on the scene with a never-before-seen model – pay-per-click. Employers pay only when a jobseeker clicks on their job posting. This new way to purchase recruitment advertising was a vertical play on Google’s Adwords model. When launched, it was met with initial skepticism as to whether human resources, which has long been perceived as a lagging industry, would adopt and embrace this method of buying. Today, Indeed has millions of open job listings and more unique monthly site visitors than any other online recruiting advertising site in the world.

The advent of performance-based recruitment advertising has been a catalyst for changing the way recruiters think about their recruitment advertising budget. While a large portion of companies still purchase traditional job slot packages or single advertisement postings, the notion of only paying for advertisements continues to push online job posting pricing downward and continues to accelerate the commoditization of job postings.

As recruiters came to learn, performance-based recruitment advertising is not without its own set of challenges. Recruiters must be extremely diligent in tracking clicks, views, applies, and hires, which can be cumbersome for companies using a clunky applicant tracking system (ATS) – or worse yet – nothing at all. And what happens when a low level job gets two thousand clicks but the hard-to-fill job gets no clicks at all? Managing click campaigns and establishing caps to avoid rampant spending on clicks can quickly become a full-time job.

The machines are coming. In fact, they are already here and have seen rapid adoption by employers within the past 12 months. Programmatic recruitment advertising purchasing and analytics tools are gaining strong traction with companies. They help companies define a set of rules and goals, and these platforms handle all of the buying, measurement and placement of job postings. These new platforms can allow employers to go granular – even defining spend on an individual job level – so employers can decide how much to spend on each job or job group. This new buying method can save employers substantial amounts of recruitment advertising budget by load balancing spend in a specific and automatic way.

Traditional recruitment advertising agencies like Findly, TMP and Bayard have jumped on the programmatic bandwagon to stay current, and they now offer programmatic advertisement buying solutions to their clients that are either developed in-house or through a third party.

Recruiters purchase recruitment advertising for one reason: to hire. Programmatic job advertisement platforms make it simple for a company to define how many, and how much, they are willing to spend on their jobs; and they provide a deeper level of detail into the recruiting advertising spend (i.e. views, clicks and apply conversions) that did not exist before.

Programmatic job advertisement buying is disrupting the traditional online career sites that exist today. It forces these job advertising outlets to shift focus from brand to performance, while also still keeping applicant quality, conversion metrics and performance-based product offerings on the table. If a career site is not driving clicks that convert into completed job applications, the machine, not the recruiter, will automatically steer budget away from that publisher.

So, what is next? Could these machines begin to make smart decisions without the need of human oversight? Could they become so intelligent in the placement of job advertising that a company could post a job in the morning, generate ten perfect applicants in the afternoon and help a company make a zero-day hire? Perhaps.

The evolution continues.

About the author

Joseph Stubblebine is the Vice President of Talent Solutions at Inc. Joseph Stubblebine can be contacted at:

Related articles