FIRING SQUAD: Jobsync's Alex Murphy
Alex Murphy is a gnarly veteran of the recruitment technology industry. Will his Jobsync.io pitch have what it takes to win big applause or a shove in front of The Chad & Cheese's FIRING SQUAD?
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Announcer: Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to put the recruiting industry's bravest, ballsiest, and baddest startups through the gauntlet to see if they've got what it takes to make it out alive. Dig a foxhole and duck for cover, kids. The Chad and Cheese podcast is taking it to a whole other level.
Chad: Whole other level.
Joel: Ah, yeah. Dude, Firing Squad in December seems a little awkward.
Joel: Because it's the holiday season, it should be full of cheer. So I feel like you have a disadvantage, or actually an advantage, by doing a December Firing Squad.
Chad: No, I think this is one of the reasons why you bring on a gnarly veteran of the industry, so that hopefully we don't have to shoot his ass up.
Joel: A grizzled veteran, we'll get to this as well, but a winner of the Unleash Worlds startup competition, so ...
Chad: That sounds fancy.
Joel: This is his to lose, basically. Let's welcome to the Firing Squad Alex Murphy. Alex, what's up, man?
Alex: Hey guys, thanks. I don't' think that I've ever been described as gnarly, so I appreciate that intro.
Joel: You're gnarly, dude.
Chad: You're welcome. Rad, gnarly.
Joel: Chad veers into Spicoli country every so often. Alex, you're searching with a lot of companies, I feel like. But we're here to talk about JobSync. Do you call it JobSync IO or just JobSync? What do you prefer?
Alex: Just JobSync.
Joel: Just JobSync, okay.
Chad: How hard is it to find domain these days?
Alex: You know, it's interesting. I guess if you put IO on the end or any of the other extensions, it's a whole lot easier than the .coms.
Joel: That was one from the no shit files, Alex, thanks for that. It's a lot easier than a .com, kids. Okay.
Alex: No doubt. So you see a lot of people just putting "the." So thejobsync.com, I guess, could probably be there.
Joel: The resumator.
Alex: The resumator, the monster board.
Chad: The monster board.
Alex: The Chad and Cheese.
Joel: No, we aren't that smart, so we just went with chadcheese.com.
Alex: That's good.
Joel: Keep it simple, stupid. All right, Alex, for those who don't know you personally, give us a little elevator pitch, and then we'll get into the Firing Squad and talk about JobSync.
Alex: Sure. So almost 20 years in the space, I was a cofounder at job.com back in 2001. I was at Beyond before they became Nexxt with two X's. I was there for eight years, ran traffic and user acquisition and business development, went out on my own in 2016 and started a handful of companies, and do a lot of consulting and advising for other companies as well.
Joel: And I'll throw in that you're an unapologetically lover of Indeed. Can I throw that in there as well?
Alex: Sure. Yeah.
Joel: Okay, good.
Alex: I think Indeed is ... I would say that my love of Indeed, if you will, is really just mad respect. I think what Ronnie and Paul did in the early years in terms of focus is a real lesson for anybody who wants to start a company. Stay very, very focused on a simple value proposition and just keep executing. And what are they, 15 years on now and worth billions of dollars? I just think that what they've done is really, really respectable.
Joel: That is one big pile of shit.
Chad: Discipline means something. And then after you've sucked everybody in, then you just fuck them all.
Joel: Fuck them and fuck them, right, Chad?
Chad: That sounds like the Indeed way.
Joel: And on that note, maybe we should get to the rules of the Firing Squad.
Chad: So Murph, here's what's going to happen. You have two minutes to pitch JobSync. At the end of two minutes you're going to hear the bell. Thank you, Joel. Then Joel and I are going to hit you with rapid fire Q&A. If your answers start rambling, they get boring, or what have you, you're going to get hit with the cricket. At the end of Q&A you will receive one of three grades. First being big applause, means we love your shit. It's awesome. You should do more of it. Number two, the golf clap. You can definitely do better, okay?
Joel: Or as Murphy calls it, the crapper clap, because it sounds like you're in a bathroom. That's good.
Chad: Or last but not least, the firing squad. Ouch. That's when you need to pack up your shit and go home, that's all there is to it. So that's Firing Squad. Are you ready, Murph?
Joel: All right, in three, two.
Alex: So just to set expectations, JobSync is not about AI, machine learning, or big data. Instead, what we are about is fixing the friction in your job advertising campaigns that result in far fewer applicants than you should be getting. Appcast, the large programmatic job ad platform used by many agencies and thousands of companies, did a study of over 93 million apply clicks last year and found that only 5.5% of those clicks resulted in an actual application. And on some ATS apply paths, it's actually much worse. This is because the process for candidates leaving career sites like Indeed takes them to an ATS where they have to reread the job description, get through the CRM signup form, and then figure out how to get past a login request, create an account, and then go through a really long apply process that often ends up in a black hole.
Alex: All this friction is in fact avoidable by simply using the native apply solutions offered by many leading career sites. Many people know this as an easy apply or a quick apply. Ultimately these just end up in an email inbox and gives the recruiter just a name and a resume, rather than a full and complete application.
Alex: So what we do is we create a deeper integration, an integration that includes screening questions, compliance questions, EEO, e-signatures, and delivers that application directly into the ATS. In short, we mirror the application process that would take place on the ATS but have it take place on the job board instead. This results up to an 8X increase in applications. We work with ATS's such as Success Factors, Taleo, Connects, and Brass Ring, with large job boards like Indeed and Facebook, and we're integrated into programmatic solutions.
Joel: Thank you, Alex. And for those who want to know more, you can find out more where?
Alex: On jobsync.io.
Joel: Very good. All right, I'm going to start the Q&A. Alex, you are a longtime veteran, as you mentioned in your opening. What was it about this idea that really made you say, "Oh yeah, we got to do this shit"?
Alex: So you mentioned the Unleashed competition. And Matt Charney was one of the judges in the talent acquisition one, and he asked, "Has this really not been done?" And the answer is, it's not been done because it's actually really difficult to connect large enterprise ATS's into job boards and get the Q&A to work out properly. In terms of why to do it, the conversion rates have just been declining year over year for the last 15 years since ATS's became much more important. And the value for job boards has been diminishing because of it. So from our perspective, when we got started on this, it really centered around focusing on end outcomes for customers trying to generate enough applicants, and they otherwise weren't able to.
Joel: So you're doing it for the job boards.
Alex: I think we're doing it, actually, because there are three different winners, if you will, in terms of stakeholders in this. The process of applying on an ATS is terrible for a candidate. They don't get responses back, and it takes an awful long time. Employers don't get enough candidates that are highly qualified that are a match for that job. And job boards, they're not getting the credit that they deserve when they actually generate applications. And the reason, or we should say, when they generate interest from candidates, because they're sending those candidates to an ATS that ultimately don't end up applying for a whole variety of reasons. So I think there really are three different constituents, if you will, that all win by having a tightly integrated solution.
Joel: Fair enough.
Chad: I've heard from talent acquisition professionals for years that they use Indeed because they need candidates, but Indeed blasts a shit ton of unqualified candidates at companies. And making this process easier will make it even more unmanageable than what it is today. So how does this actually fix the problem of candidates actually going into a black hole, versus being able to actually get more qualified candidates into the funnel?
Alex: Yeah. So there are a couple of different questions there. So Indeed blasting lots of candidates, and many of which are not qualified. So the candidates that make it through an ATS apply path, they get to that CRM form, they figure out how to get past the login, they go through the 30-minute, 40-minute signup or application process. Those candidates are professional job seekers.
Chad: In most cases. They don't have a job right now, so they have time to actually make it through that shitty apply process.
Alex: They end up on one of these ATS's that says, "Log in," and they understand that there's actually a little tiny link in eight-point font that says, "If you're not registered, click here." They've got all the answers to questions in a file where they can copy and paste it in. The opposite of that is the person who's relatively on the fence about whether or not to even start to apply to a job. They're gainfully employed, they're busy, they are actually what the employer's really trying to engage and find, is that person that they want to move over. That person, A, doesn't know where to go, and B, is not going to spend 30 minutes getting through an application process. So in an effort to try to find more qualified candidates, making the process easier has the greatest impact on, actually, the most qualified candidates, because those are the least likely to get through your existing flow.
Alex: That's part one. Part two is, there are a lot of people that have figured out, "Oh, if I go use the easy apply function and just take it in by email, then I can get everybody." But the problem is that the candidate doesn't remember applying to your job. They haven't answered any of the screening questions that actually help you filter. And basic screening questions. "Do you have experience in this field? Are you licensed? Do you have a certificate that's necessary to do it?" Like in truck driving land, "Do you have a CDL or not?" is a really important question to be answered that takes about one second to answer. That's not contributing to the 40-minute problem. So if you get these easy applies, they more often than not just bombard recruiters' email inbox. The company doesn't know what they're actually getting, and that problem is not better. Better is actually ending up in the ATS, a couple screening questions done, properly handled compliance, EEO, etc., so that you actually make sure you're adhering to the rules that you've set forth when somebody applies through your ATS. But you're getting them in and they're actually going into a formed recruiter workflow.
Chad: So why is the QA/QC off for integration on this? Why is it so hard? You would think that applicant tracking systems would want to ensure that their clients are getting more qualified candidates. And they're not because of this shitty apply path. Do the applicant tracking systems not care? Or do the job boards or the job sites need to really apply more resources to this? And this is your version of, you don't need more resources, you just need JobSync. Is that what you're trying to make happen?
Alex: Yes, is the simple answer to your question.
Alex: So on the ATS side, the reason why it's difficult is that every customer implements their applicant tracking system in their own way. So that can get down all the way to the point of, field names can be changed in some applicant tracking systems inside the actual data structure. So there's literally a custom implementation done for every single customer. That's part one. And then the way that they implement it. Let's just take EEO questions. Some customers put EEO questions up front at the beginning of this screening process. Some put it on the back end. Some sprinkle them in between. And that can happen in one way with one customer on Taleo Enterprise and in a completely different way with a different customer that also uses Enterprise. And then Success Factors is different, and then Brass Ring is different.
Alex: And even in a more standardized ATS like Greenhouse, you have customers that have different workflows that they want to apply, and they have different communications that they want to send. And so when you try to do a one size fits all, it makes it very, very difficult once you get into mid-market and certainly into enterprise-sized customers.
Chad: So the big problem here is the client. The client's the one who's mucking this whole thing up, is what I'm hearing.
Alex: Yeah, so it's funny. Three or four years ago I would have said, "I don't understand why there's so many different applicant tracking systems."
Chad: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Alex: And the reason there's so many different applicant tracking systems is because of the client. But it's because different companies have different needs, because different companies have different people that have their own point of view on how they want to compete for talent, how they want to compete with their product, and so they implement their own process. And those applicant tracking systems are point solutions. They often start as a single point solution for one customer, and then they get other companies that look like their original customer, and then that all of a sudden becomes an ATS for healthcare or for sales or for trucking. You get very, very specialized solutions, but yes, it is because clients have different needs, but I don't think that it's necessarily a bad thing. It's what makes the process of engaging, for a candidate, they're going to find themselves happy working at this company because of that interaction. And the technologies ... Thanks, Joel.
Joel: Alex, I'm curious about employer branding. And companies, as you know, spend a lot of money on their main site, social media presence, online video, etc. And it seems to me like the one-click apply process, even though it does have some layers to it, is sort of hurting companies that want to get their employer brand out there and get people to their own website, maybe retarget them in advertising. What is your sense on companies in the future with this? Because I do believe this will become more standard, the one-click apply, but I do think it does hurt the employer brand process. Agree or disagree? And what does the future look like for employment branding with solutions like yours?
Alex: So I think that place to start is, one-click apply definitely doesn't engender any kind of awareness of the brand themselves. You need to have a little bit further to go, answer a few questions, etc. In terms of the investment that companies make into their brand with career sites and video and so forth, those are good things. Candidates often go to a company's career site to do research. They go to Glassdoor, they go Google, they go look at Yelp if they're in the restaurant business, or other review sites. People do research. But in terms of actually capturing the lead, which is what an application is, you want to recruit and capture that lead where the person is. Indeed, Neuvoo, Facebook. These platforms are catering to what people expect from a platform experience, which is to interact with the forms and to apply inside the platform rather than having to leave.
Alex: So it is a way to capture more candidates that are interested and then to start a communication stream where you build that brand. So more of the branding elements become downstream CRM function to continuously nurture that candidate, rather than up front, thinking that you're going to send them to a career page where they're going to end up getting lost and then not converting. You've misused, if you will, the tools.
Joel: And I assume you agree that it increases the importance of branding within the job description, right?
Alex: Very much so. And I think that if you look forward two years from now, there are a lot of companies doing things that are really interesting with making the job descriptions much more interactive, the introduction of video and so forth. Putting all of those assets onto the job board, kind of like what Monster Studios is trying to do, I think really brings it all back to, make the experience really great where the person is, rather than trying to bring them back to your corporate site experience.
Chad: So what's the difference between JobSync and Rethink? What's the partnership? How do you guys work together?
Alex: So Rethink Data does a lot of the deep integrations into ATS's. We're leveraging the years of those integrations coming together. JobSync is dealing with the job distribution component part. So the way that this works with an Indeed, with a Facebook, with Neuvoo, is the application requirements go along with the job so the entire apply process can take place on the job site, within the framework of the job site's tool. Rethink Data and the smart form works as a widget that hosts the apply form and works on behalf of the job board, essentially in real time. So it's just different solutions depending upon what the job board wants to implement, ultimately.
Chad: So more on the distribution side of the house, is that what I'm hearing? Rethink's more on the intake and you're on the distribution?
Alex: So we use Rethink for the ATS and the application delivery portion of the integration.
Chad: Right, so intake, right?
Alex: It's more like delivery of the application, call it fulfillment, I would say.
Alex: On the job management side, it just depends on how the job board is going to set up. So Rethink has, as an example, CV-Library is a large client. There's a smart form widget that sits on the Indeed apply process that delivers the candidate from CV-Library. Whereas within Indeed they don't use a form, they don't allow for the form. The actual application experience takes place natively inside of Indeed using their native apply solution, which is Indeed Apply.
Joel: Curious about data, Alex. What are you seeing from clients in regards to more applies, quality of applies improving where you've implemented this solution. What are some data points around success?
Alex: We had a trucking client come online in November, and it increased their ROI by 3X, the number of applications in their campaigns by more than 3X. We had a restaurant company come on, and they went from zero to hundreds of applications a day in Facebook. The data shows, depending upon the job site, you can get up to an 8X increase in applications. That's in part because, for example Indeed, Indeed looks at, with their quality search team, what the application process is for an external link. And so if you have a cumbersome application process, or one that doesn't work on mobile, for example, you're just going to get far fewer applications than you otherwise would if you used their Indeed Apply tool. So enabling that just simply is, really for a lot of jobs, it's the difference between having visibility and not having visibility.
Joel: And talk to me about integration challenges. You've mentioned Neuvoo, now talent.com, as well as Indeed. Are there certain sites that you'll never be able to integrate with? I'm thinking, obviously, about Google For Jobs. Will we see at some point a one-click apply within the Google For Jobs system? Will LinkedIn play with your solution at some point?
Alex: So Google For Jobs, will they do a one-click? I could see that. I try to think about, in terms of where they're going to go, what are they doing in other verticals? Because I think Google For Jobs mirrors a lot of the things that they've done with respect to, say, travel and real estate and other verticals. I haven't seen them do lead gen or form submittals. The closest to that, I guess, was Hire, and they tried that for a little while, got a couple thousand clients, and said that wasn't good enough. So I don't know where they'll go.
Alex: With respect to LinkedIn and their easy apply solution, I think that we'll end up working with virtually any job board that does an application process on their site, and then work with that customer to add steps if they need additional information. So in LinkedIn and pretty much anybody else, because we work on behalf of the customer, we're going to help the customer get a higher return in terms of applies per dollar spent on their advertising campaign than they currently get.
Chad: Excellent. What kind of analytics do you actually provide back to the client today?
Alex: I like to think of our solution as being a login-free solution. In the HR tech space, the average person that's working within talent acquisition is logging into more than 10 different systems. They don't have to log into our system ever, so we're not providing a specific analytics solution for them, if you will. However, what we do for them is we make sure that the attribution, in terms of source of candidate, is 100% accurate. Rather than relying on cookies and pixels, we actually take the data that comes out of the job site, whether it's from Facebook or whomever, and we can, with 100% certainty, assign that candidate as having come from the source that they came from. So they know with precision where their candidates are coming from, and ultimately then where their hires are coming from, and then ultimately what the return on investment is with their various job ad campaigns. So I guess, in a simplistic way, we make their analytics much more reliable.
Joel: Let's talk about pricing and endgame for you. You want to be acquired, you want to go public as a nice little lifestyle business? Have you taken money? Do you plan on getting some investment dollars?
Alex: So we've bootstrapped it the whole way. We're probably not going to take any outside investment capital. I think we'll continue to bootstrap it. It is a nice business from a lifestyle perspective, because it's got a very strong recurring model with respect to customers. They sign up and they don't have a real need to leave. From a pricing perspective, we start out at just $200 a month, it covers their first 100 jobs, and then we have a utility pricing model behind that, which is a cost per job. Companies that are hiring for thousands and thousands of positions are spending a few thousand dollars per month. They see on a cost per application basis that we can drop ... We have one client, for example, where the cost per apply by using our service is 90% less than than they get in a CPA market. So they don't have any incentive to leave, if that makes sense.
Joel: It does.
Alex: Ultimately, endgame, we'd like to continue to deliver value for customers. And if that happens on a continual basis, we'll get more referrals. And either we continue to run it for years or we get rolled up in an acquisition. I could see that happening for sure.
Joel: Right on. And on that warm and fuzzy note, Alex, it is time to face the firing squad. Are you ready?
Alex: I am ready.
Joel: Chad, you got him.
Chad: You got it. So Alex, I have to say, this is going to be short and sweet. This is a problem that we've had since, it seems like, the dawn of Internet recruiting time. And to be able to see, obviously, somebody from the space who understands some of the biggest problems, and this, I believe, is one of the biggest problems, and taking that on along with Rethink, just makes a hell of a lot of sense. It's a "keep it simple, stupid" kind of platform, login free, pricing is easy. So from my standpoint, I don't know, unless you screw this up immensely, I don't know how you can't get acquired. You get big applause.
Joel: All right, congratulations, Alex. Okay, now it's my turn. I'm going to echo everything that my baldheaded colleague just said. And we'll add that I've been talking about one-click apply being a huge deal for a long time. I think that it plays really well into the mobile apply problem, which we've had for a long time. When Google came out with Hire, I sort of opined a lot that Google will have a one-click apply everywhere. You'll have a Google resume or profile that you'll be able to use to apply to everywhere. Well, they've shut that down. So I think it leaves the door really open for solutions like yours to come in and really take away the friction that currently exists in a lot of the apply processes.
Joel: I will add that chatbots are trying to solve some of these problems. So I could see a day where the one-click apply takes on a chat now kind of solution, where you go through and apply with a chatbot as opposed to uploading a resume. So it'll be interesting to see how that plays out. But I think the one-click apply is in a very good position to be the go-to for most companies. We see Indeed really fall in love with it. LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, I believe, as well. So this is a trend that you're getting on really well. I agree with Chad that you'd really have to fuck this up to not be acquired at some point. The fact that you've bootstrapped it is fantastic. It gives you leverage to do whatever the hell you want. If you want it to be a lifestyle business for the next 10 years or so, I think you can do that. So for me, it's not just the holiday season, I'm not just feeling warm and fuzzy. This is a big applause from me. Good job, Alex, and good luck in the future with this as you roll it out.
Alex: Awesome. Thanks, guys. I appreciate it.
Joel: You bet. So again, for our listeners who want to know more about you guys, or if there's a special deal for chadcheese listeners, you can throw that in as well. Where would they go?
Alex: jobsync.io. Look forward to everybody getting in touch.
Joel: Fantastic. We out.
Chad: We out.
Alex: Thanks, guys.
Announcer: This has been the firing squad. Be sure to subscribe to the Chad and Cheese podcast so you don't miss an episode. And if you're a startup who wants to face the Firing Squad, contact the boys at chadcheese.com today. That's www.C-H-A-D-C-H-E-E-S-E.com.