Make yourself comfortable, boys and girls, because it's story time. On this episode, the boys bring Tim Dineen, co-founder, and chief innovation officer at Recruitics on the show. For those who don't know Tim, he was also the search engine optimization brains at Indeed back in the 00s. It's fair to say Indeed wouldn't be Indeed without Tim, which is why we rev-up the "way back machine" and pull back the covers on the early days of Indeed, as well as what the future may hold. For those who aren't students of history, don't worry, we spend plenty of time talking about the current state of recruitment tech and the future.
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Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman 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.
All yeah. You know what time it is everybody. It's your favorite guilty pleasure AKA the Chad and Cheese podcast. I am your co-host Joel Cheeseman joined as always the Starski to my Hutch, Chad Sowash and today we welcome Tim Dineen, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Recruitics and also Indeed's Search Engine Optimization Expert in the mid two thousands. We had to twist a lot of arms to get Tim on the show. Tim, welcome to the podcast.
Yeah, thanks for having me. I'm usually not in a miced up kind of role, but
They don't let you outta the basement. Do they Tim?
Not exactly. No.
Mad scientist behind the curtain. Yeah, no, we know you're the wizard.
Joel (1m 3s):
It's the Goonies over at Recruitics. So for those that don't know, you, Tim, give us a little Twitter bio about you.
Tim (1m 9s):
Yeah. I've been in this industry for a while, but in technology in general for, it was about 30 years at this point, internet consulting very early on. I was a web developer, ran a small agency of my own for about seven years and eventually able to eventually focus on SEO when that became a true thing. Joined Indeed back in 2007, so that was my first entry into the job space and after a few years left there and ultimately founded a company that was more focused on the employer than the job seeker. So that's the quick version.
Chad (1m 41s):
The quick version, AKA Recruitics. Okay. No, that's cool. So let's talk about the journey to this space. Cause you, you said you didn't start off in this space. How in the hell did you land here?
Tim (1m 52s):
I was lucky enough to graduate college at around the time that the internet was becoming the future.
Joel (1m 57s):
Tim (1m 59s):
I was interested in public relations, journalism, little bit of politics in there, and basically wanted to get involved with it. So got my degree from UCONN and ultimately trained myself to do something totally different than my degrees, HTML and programming and databases and so forth with, you know, over the next couple years.
Joel (2m 16s):
Did Indeed find you, did you apply to a job? Like how did that connection happen?
Tim (2m 20s):
I applied for a job on Indeed, but I was working at a web development agency. I used the word Indeed a lot. Somebody started calling me Indeed Dineen. The letters actually match up very closely. You could, you could rearrange the letters. And I actually did that at one point and made my last name out of their logo. No, I just, somebody said the word Indeed back to me one time. So I typed it in, I wonder who has this domain name? Found a job search engine and a couple months later I used it to look for a job and I found out that they were themselves hiring and they were local to me, local enough and were hiring for exactly what I wanted to do.
Joel (2m 52s):
Are you kidding me? Yeah.
Chad (2m 53s):
Yeah. How big were they at that time?
Tim (2m 55s):
They were very small when I joined, I was probably the 20th employee at there, at least the 20th active employee. There were 12 people in Stanford, Connecticut, and I think it was eight in Austin, Texas.
Chad (3m 7s):
Gotcha. So what did they hire you in for initially? And what did that actually turn into?
Tim (3m 12s):
Yeah. The job title was Online Marketing Manager and that actually stayed my job title for the duration while I was there. Initially they wanted me to focus on search engine marketing, pay per click, you know, AdWords being in Yahoo at the time as well. So I had to focus at least for a few months on just getting better performance out of the online marketing that they had already started with AdWords and so forth. So I did that for a while and as time went on, wherever I could, I inserted, Hey, we gotta do this in SEO. We gotta do that in SEO. And, eventually that they allowed me to do more and more.
Joel (3m 42s):
And for the kids out there, at the time, SEO, Google, search engines were the only real other option aside from shitty banner ads or traditional marketing. And I assume that you knew that going in. Did they have a strategy when you joined? Did you introduce the strategy or just sort of take the ball that they were running with and take it to the next level?
Tim (4m 3s):
No, it's fair to say that they had a ball and they were running with it. They did have SEM up and running. They were spending a significant amount on pay per click advertising. Indeed was built by search engineers who understood search engines and including Google. So they had concepts and a backbone to start out with. <inaudible>
Joel (4m 20s):
So what, in your perspective, did Google mean to the growth of Indeed? Does Indeed become Indeed without Google?
Tim (4m 26s):
I would say no.
Chad (4m 28s):
That's an emphatic no, Tim.
Joel (4m 29s):
He went way out on the limb on that one.
Chad (4m 31s):
That was an emphatic. No, there's no way in hell Indeed exists today without the SEO structure that they, I mean, literally just killed it with.
Tim (4m 41s):
Today as well, but back then even more so like people were aware of brands like CareerBuilder and Monster from Super Bowl ads, but they still would go to Google to search for a job. And if they ended up at Monster, CareerBuilder, great. And sometimes they would start there. Sometimes they'd start at Craigslist, but people still, and, you know, then and today start their job search by searching. And so without Google and the other search engines Indeed would not have grown, you know, they didn't have name recognition or anything to grow upon. So it was necessary.
Chad (5m 10s):
One of the things that we tried and I don't remember. Were you still with Indeed when direct employers went with the full-on frontal assault with the.jobs domains? I think it was in 2009.
Tim (5m 24s):
I think that was around the time that I left. But yeah, that domain names as a SEO strategy was to me, not a solid one.
Chad (5m 34s):
And it obviously wasn't.
Tim (5m 38s):
Yeah. Early on in the 2000s sure, it was. And, we did talk about what if we had a different name other than in Indeed.com as a domain name, but I don't think that would've helped.
Joel (5m 48s):
One of the things that really struck me about Indeed early on was how, I mean, we say Trojan horse quite a bit, but you guys were doing backfill for a lot of job sites and other boards. And one of the things that I always recognized and just loved and hated at the same time, cuz I worked with some of them, was that every backfill company you had, you know, jobs by Indeed and jobs was obviously hotlinked back to Indeed.com and anyone that knows SEO at the time knew that that anchor text and that back link from these really good sites was like helping you kill them in the search results. Like, was that your strategy?
Joel (6m 29s):
How'd that go down?
Tim (6m 30s):
I don't know if that was my strategy personally, we had conversations about, you know, anchor text and anchor, you know, what links to use constantly every day. But there were some things that existed well before I joined like the widgets that they had, the backfill partnerships, they had their salary tools and trending tools that all contributed to great SEO and links, especially.
Chad (6m 53s):
So what was the biggest difference between Indeed and SimplyHired? I was able to experience both because I partnered with both leadership teams. But from your standpoint, what was the difference between SimplyHired and Indeed, because from most taking a look from the outside in, they look pretty much the same other than colors and logos.
Tim (7m 13s):
Yeah. I guess I would say, you know, one observation after my Indeed days is I kinda looking back at it. I recognized that SimplyHired really was focused on partnerships. So they had, I think it was MySpace and even Facebook and some others like that back in the day.
Joel (7m 31s):
Tim (7m 32s):
Yep. And Indeed was focused on and you know, you hear this all the time, they're focused on building the right thing for the job seeker and you know, building internally good SEO, good internal linking, external links and so forth that, that ultimately built the brand up. Whereas those partnerships, even though Indeed had some, they easily could go away quickly.
Chad (7m 51s):
I think it's funny that you put SimplyHired and focus in the same sentence because that did not exist. There was no focus from SimplyHired. They were like five times the size staff wise that Indeed was, they were working on a million different things. And then you go to Connecticut and meet with Indeed team. And there was just, no, I mean, it was stark, there weren't as many people, but they were all focused on staying in their lane.
Joel (8m 22s):
Chad (8m 22s):
That's, that's just from, from my experience, what I saw.
Joel (8m 25s):
Yeah. And talk about this too, Tim, because Chad and I talk every week about companies getting tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars. You guys, the only investment I remember Indeed taking was like $10 million from the New York Times. Talk about how spoiled companies today are and how you guys sort of managed with such little funding and just stayed lean and mean and focused.
Tim (8m 47s):
Well, I think it might have even been a lower amount than that, that came from the New York Times. But I think they took that on for the partnership and for the, you know, the board and the advice as well as there was another investor as well. But I think, you know, when I joined Indeed, of course they'd been up and running for maybe a couple years and, you know, built the tech already and were very close to profitability. So I think, you know, even when spending, you know, for my department spending on AdWords and Yahoo, pay per click and Bing and so forth, every dollar that we spent, we wanted to break even on. So, yes, we're driving traffic.
Tim (9m 28s):
We're spending a lot of money, but we would track everything and make sure that it broke even so that that could give opportunity for the rest of the company and to bring in more, more dollars and not have it all go out the door.
Chad (9m 40s):
Yeah. I have to say that once again, Indeed's focus and let's just say their ability to Trojan horse was better than anybody else, but right now we also have to, I would say, and tell me what you think about this, Tim, there was not even close to as much noise in the market back then, as there is right now. So everybody getting the money, is there really a need for that much money? Probably not. The valuations are crazily, bloated all that other happy horse shit. But back then, there really weren't that many players in the space so there wasn't that much noise that you had to fight through right?
Joel (10m 23s):
It was only Jobster.
Tim (10m 24s):
There wasn't, I don't recall it anyway, a ton of investor dollars flying around, but what Indeed was up against was looking at something that was totally new compared to like the old school job boards that had been around for a long time. So, you know, Indeed was the anti Super Bowl ad company and, you know, growing something organically.
Joel (10m 42s):
Do you get a chuckle every time you see an Indeed ad on TV now?
Tim (10m 47s):
Very much so. Yeah. It's odd. In the early days we would laugh at Super Bowl ads and that's something we would never do. Yeah. Everything had to have a trackable, measurable ROI against it. And if it didn't, it wasn't something we would do.
Chad (11m 3s):
That's when Paul ran shit. I mean, that's an entirely different leadership mode, I think, than what you're seeing today.
Joel (11m 11s):
Were you there when Google base launched Tim or was that after you joined or before you joined?
Tim (11m 16s):
That was around the time. Yeah, we, I think we did some work there very briefly.
Joel (11m 21s):
Was Google on your mind at the time, were you sort of scared that they would, you know, take over the search rankings like they have now? And I guess my next add-on is like, are you surprised that they did it? And are you, are you sort of impressed with the way that they rolled it out or have they totally fucked it up?
Tim (11m 37s):
That's a good question. I think there was some concern that Google would attempt to be a search engine for everything. And well, I mean, that's what they are, but to be a pure job search engine, there was some concern when I would go to go to search conferences, I would report out on, you know, what I, I heard between the lines or, or what the rumblings were to Indeed. But I think they, you know, the feeling was always we'll focus again, that word focus, if they focus on doing the best job for job seekers, then no one could beat them.
Chad (12m 13s):
Yeah. Did you have Matt Cutts on speed dial?
Tim (12m 16s):
I did have eventually meet Matt at one point, but no, we didn't really talk. I just bumped into him at a conference. We played cards.
Joel (12m 23s):
He was too busy hiding his boner to have a conversation.
Chad (12m 28s):
Ffor the listeners out there Matt Cutts used to be like a God in SEO land. So everybody would be waiting for the next Matt Cutts video or blog post or some shit like that.
Joel (12m 40s):
Yeah. Yeah. Here's another threat for you Tim. In 2006, I think it was actually at the direct employers conference. I remember Jason Goldberg from Jobster coming up to me and telling me that Craigslist had banned or, you know, blocked Jobster crawlers from getting their job postings and also sent you guys the same letter. Was there fear at some point or any point that, okay, Craigslist, shut us off. Monster's gonna be next, CareerBuilder's gonna be next. What the hell do we do? And were you surprised that they didn't shut you down?
Tim (13m 12s):
You know, personally? Yeah, I was, I think it was disappointing to some folks that Craigslist had blocked Indeed. That happened just before I joined the company. So I don't recall any conversations, but the goal was to have all jobs, you know, remember their initial slogan was 'one search, all jobs' and to not be able to have all jobs was a disappointment for sure. I think, you know, if some of the other larger job boards would've done the same, it certainly would've changed the ability to reach that slogan, reach that goal.
Joel (13m 41s):
It might've hurt the business too.
Tim (13m 43s):
Chad (13m 43s):
Yeah. Maybe a little bit. So let's talk about broadening up a little bit and going into today. Right. So in Indeed trying to focus on the search, get all the jobs, but there are big players that are out there now who really control the flow and access of jobs around programmatic job distribution. So can you talk about obviously maybe the start of, or founding of Recruitics? Getting into programmatic? What was that like? Why did you do it?
Tim (14m 11s):
Yeah, so, you know, it was the opposite side of the coin, if Indeed was focused on the job seeker, who's gonna focus on the employer, not that, you know, Recruitics invented employment advertising or, you know, job advertising or anything like that. But if you guys remember Indeed's dashboard for employers at the time was very basic. It stayed very basic for many years. And so in order to really do the things that that we wanted to do on behalf of employers, we had to work around that, which led us to programmatic and all the things that we do now with Recruitics.
Chad (14m 43s):
That in itself, I think I find pretty amazing. But do you see, well, you saw Indeed buy a programmatic company, ClickIQ create Indeed IQ, but that seems to kind of like, I don't know, we haven't seen anything from it, it's become, it seems like more of an internal system than external. Do you see that perspectively for programmatic vendors as a threat long term? Or do you think it's just gonna be really just focused on managing Indeed.
Tim (15m 11s):
We don't see it as a threat at Recruitics. It's, I think it, you know, it makes sense for Indeed to participate there so that they can, you know, speak to clients and say, we've got, you know, we understand that there's a lot of other traffic out there in the world and we can help achieve that. You know, whether it's the job seeker coming directly to Indeed or any of these other sites that exist out there. We all know that there's, you know, hundreds and hundreds of other, if not well, thousands and thousands of other job resources out there and job seekers will find their way to them. So having a programmatic play within Indeed just makes sense. Just very similar to the early days when, you know, blog partners and social media partners were important.
Joel (15m 53s):
It sounds like Recruitics was born primarily out of the experience at Indeed of saying like, we're so focused on the job seeker, who's gonna help the employer? Is that how the company was born? Like what led you to the path of starting Recruitics
Tim (16m 7s):
That did feel that way. Like, so if, you know, Indeed didn't have a way to post a job to get onto their job search engine. So how could a small employer or small company get their job on Indeed? Back then it still had to be, well, you had to post on Monster or CareerBuilder, etcetera, and then maybe Indeed would scrape that job. Initially, what Recruitics wanted to do was to build a small platform for, you know, small employers to be able to compete at the same level that others who were spending money on Monster could do so that, you know, our, the initial version of Recruitics, besides that we were building programmatic in the background was an ability to get jobs into a platform that didn't cost a lot of money, that would give you access to part programmatically in a job search engine.
Chad (16m 54s):
What about Europe? Europe seems to be a little slow in the uptake with regard to traction on programmatic, you know, on the performance side of the house, what are you seeing in Europe and what kind of growth have you experienced through the pandemic? I we're hearing a lot more of different types of traction, more traction gained and adoption gained because of the pandemic. What have you seen and experienced throughout the landscape?
Tim (17m 20s):
In terms of Europe that said a whole different market. Recruitics is still working on what our expansion international plans are going be. We do have a foothold in the UK and a small presence there. We acquired a business out there, reversed out to that operates career sites. And we have a team out there, but every country is different. So we're, you know, we're looking at what our expansion plans will be. But in terms of COVID and the last couple years changes everywhere every minute of the day, it seems like so job seekers disappeared for a couple months and then all the jobs came back. But the job seekers didn't as quickly, everything, all the cost is up.
Tim (18m 1s):
You know, for those companies that are hiring, which most are the competitiveness is through the roof. At this point, costs are up conversion rates are down. The number of available employees that are seeking jobs is way down. So I think that's the biggest change that we're dealing with right now is that there's a lot more jobs than people willing to take them.
Joel (18m 24s):
Do you see 2008 happening again, or at least some of the things that you're seeing rhyming with what happened in 2008 with the downturn?
Tim (18m 31s):
That's hard for me to say. So I was still at Indeed in 2008, Indeed was growing rapidly regardless of the recession that occurred back then. So it's hard for me to compare.
Joel (18m 42s):
You would probably agree that the recession in 2008 made Indeed right, because it helped kill Monster and CareerBuilder. I mean, I don't ask that sarcastically. I think that, you know, tragedies when meteorites hit, you know, some dinosaurs die and the mammals come succeed, I think Indeed was the mammal in that case. No?
Tim (18m 60s):
It's possible. I haven't really looked at it that, or thought of it that way. I think the market was prime for an Indeed to come forward, whether it was a recession or not. Job seekers were looking for a better way to find what they were looking for.
Chad (19m 13s):
Well, and all of us were just sitting back and waiting to see how long it was gonna take for Indeed to siphon off traffic from all of those big names while they just sat and watched. It was, literally, it was like the heroin dealer, the first hit's for free, the rest of 'em you gotta pay.
Tim (19m 32s):
Yeah. And I think, you know, a lot of people saw the writing on the wall that, you know, once things started happening, so one search all jobs became, okay, not job boards anymore, not staffing companies anymore. And that's, you know, led us to today where everything is, in a way rightly so, you know, managing spam so that the job seeker has a clean experience. It's understandable, but at Recruitics, we have to manage to that. And sometimes it's challenging.
Joel (19m 58s):
So let's come into the future here. What recruiting trends are you seeing? Are you watching most closely? What are Recruitics customers sort of asking for? Where's the putt going in your view?
Tim (20m 11s):
So, you know, as everything's super competitive right now, programmatic, you know, many of the things that we've been building over the last 10 years, Recruitics just had its senior anniversary, by the way.
Joel (20m 20s):
Tim (20m 20s):
Thank you. So, you know, many of the we've got products and you know, a great platform to allow our clients to take the best advantage of at least what they need to be competitive right now. So our analytics package, our programmatic offerings and our agency, you know, that brings the strategy to go along with that, you know, all these things that we've built up over the last 10 years, it's prime for any client to come in the door and be able to take advantage of it right now.
Chad (20m 48s):
So outside of programmatic, what are you excited about?
Tim (20m 50s):
I still, to this day, I keep my focus on the programmatic side. I'm looking at data every day and trying to mix and match how we can make use of it, whether it's a specific client issue or, you know, how we can, you know, calculate our numbers differently to understand what's going on the market better? Recruitics in general is growing in many different ways. We're spreading out into employment branding and creative services and social media and everything. So understanding how to bring in these, you know, not new, but new to Recruitics functions while being true to our data as the epicenter, is an interesting challenge. Like how do you have analytics? How do you compare performance across some things that are not even digital?
Tim (21m 32s):
If we can't track them the same way, how do we compare them? So those are some of the things I look at.
Chad (21m 37s):
So Joel, what I'm not hearing is Recruitics is not creating a competitor to CareerBuilder's Pokemon for jobs app/ I'm not hearing that. Okay.
Joel (21m 46s):
I was gonna say, you can, you can take Tim out of Indeed, but you can't take Indeed outta Tim cause he still sounds really focused. He's the Chief Innovation Officer and he is talking about analytics and focus and giving the customers what they want. So I do appreciate that. Yeah, no VR, no virtual reality in Recruitics future is what I'm hearing Tim.
Tim (22m 8s):
No. And, you won't hear me use a ton of catch phrases, you know, AI ML, you know, none of that stuff. We've been building algorithms since '09, which is actually predating Recruitics a little bit. And to us, it's all about the data, shaping it, collecting cost, understanding it and comparing it and doing the best for our client. We iterate all the time. We're working on, you know, new things. I wouldn't have this job if we weren't, but I see innovation as very iterative we're working on problems that can be solved, problems that can be recognized and, you know, doing the best thing we can for our clients.
Joel (22m 43s):
I'm curious, I know you pretty well on a lot of members of the team, you guys have built a really solid impressive team over at Recruitics. What tips would you give startups out there of building a team? Because it is really tough with so many competitors out there and some of the many other options. What's been your secret sauce to retain and recruit really good talent at Recruitics?
Tim (23m 3s):
Yeah. There's no perfect science that we have here, but we're, you know, we have doubled in size in the last couple years, we're up to 250 people now. I think it's just, you know, a lot of people talk about internal transparency, you know, how's Recruitics doing? Our culture and you know, so forth. I just think that, you know, hiring good people that that can work well together that there's no secret sauce there.
Chad (23m 26s):
No secret sauce, but it was very much a secret to try to get you on this show for God's sakes. Jesus Christ Tim. Thanks so much for joining us. It's Tim Dineen, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Recruitics. Tim, if people wanna find out more about you? Connect with you on LinkedIn or I don't know, maybe check out this Recruitics thing and keep talking about, where should they go?
Tim (23m 48s):
So Recruitics.com is, is, you know, easy where, where you can find that's R E C R U I T I C S.com recruitment and analytics is where that name came from. LinkedIn just searched my name. That's much better than trying to find me on email, which, but so LinkedIn, and thank you guys. I know your tagline is favorite guilty pleasure for many, many years, that's been exactly what you've been for me watching, you know, from the days that Indeed, you know, reading Joel's blog and, and all the comments. And.
sfx (24m 20s):
What did you say?
Tim (24m 22s):
And the bashing of Jobster and so forth through today. I appreciate you guys.
Joel (24m 26s):
Go on, Tim.
Chad (24m 27s):
Stop it. You're making me cry. I'm tearing up over here.
Joel (24m 29s):
Tim, this was fun, man. Chad and I always love a little, little walk down memory lane with the old timers. Let's not wait five years to do it again and hopefully we'll see you face to face at some point, at a conference coming soon. Otherwise, Chad, that's another one in the can. Lots of fun.
Chad and Cheese (24m 49s):
And we out. We out.
OUTRO (24m 52s):
Thank you for listening to, what's it called? The podcast with Chad, the Cheese. Brilliant. They talk about recruiting. They talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Just a lot of Shout Outs of people, you don't even know and yet you're listening. It's incredible. And not one word about cheese, not one cheddar, blue, nacho, pepper jack, Swiss. So many cheeses and not one word. So weird. Any hoo be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts, that way you won't miss an episode.
OUTRO (25m 38s):
And while you're at it, visit www.chadcheese.com just don't expect to find any recipes for grilled cheese. Is so weird. We out.