The adage: "recruitment marketing is a lot like consumer marketing - only ten years behind", has some truth to it. While there's always a great deal of promise in bringing consumer-grade marketing approaches and technologies into the recruitment marketing space, it tends to lack progression.
That's why we were so excited to hear that JobTip was expanding into the US. The company has a history in the Nordics, and a solid founding team that has been thinking about recruitment marketing technologies and approaches for some time now. The US expansion brings in some new leaders and opportunities. One of those leaders, Jonathan Ralph, joined the company as its US director just as COVID-19 was making its appearance. We caught up with him recently to talk about that journey, and how they're attempting to bring retargeting to the job advertising industry.
[Editors note: the quality of the video is not perfect - working from home during this long pandemic occasionally drives technology hiccups - but we found the conversation too interesting not to share. There is a transcript directly below the video.]
Martin Burns 00:01
Hey everyone, Martin Burns here with RNN. And welcome back. I'm joined today by Jonathan Ralph, Managing Director slash CEO of JobTip, which is a really exciting ad solution for the industry that is scaling up right now. And wanted to catch up with what he's up to, who he is, and walk you through his journey, which I think is pretty interesting when considering when he started with the organization. And that happened just as COVID was rolling out. So Jonathan, could you give us a quick intro into your background, you what you do?
Jonathan Ralph 00:32
Definitely. Thanks, Martin. Thanks for having me on. Yeah, it's definitely been exciting. A little bit about my background. So I've been in the industry for nearly 20 years. Now, a large part - my long part - of my tenure has really been at one of the largest job boards, which is CareerBuilder, and many different different roles there. Everything at CareerBuilder, and the managed services division taught me a lot. That experience really helped us get to where we are today as an organization, understanding clients processes, understanding company's processes, and trying to find gaps and processes that haven't been identified to help companies actually be able to recruit smarter, recruit faster, and actually do it at a lower price point as well. Excited to talk to you today and sort of talk about what we're seeing in the industry as well, and sort of the journey we've been on.
Martin Burns 01:16
So my first question is, you joined JobTip in January of last year. So you go from I think it was 16 years at CareerBuilder, big organization, a lot of materials and a lot of resources. There's a nice thing about a company of that size, there's process, there's technology, there's money to do things. From there, to a scaling startup, which as I understand was based in Europe and moved to the US around the same time. And within a month or so COVID, hits, and really impacts everything. So I just thought when we first met up a few weeks ago, and we're chatting, that is really interesting. What's that like? To go through that and to try and build a business? And what are the benefits? What are the challenges as well. So can you talk a bit about that journey?
Jonathan Ralph 02:10
It's definitely a journey. That's, that's a great, great way to say it there. You know, back back with CareerBuilder, that stability was great, right, the company really is a fantastic company. And, you know, I could have never foresaw that we would have this issue with COVID coming in, when I was moving over to JobTip. But you know, as you said, the resources, everything else at CareerBuilder, were great. Move into a startup, there's a lot of unknowns, right, you've probably all seen the sort of end map of building a business where you have the starting point, the end point, and it's all these lines going everywhere. And it couldn't be more true, right? You sort of set your sight, and it pivots eighty six different times to get from point A to point B, where with CareerBuilder, you had so much more infrastructure to be able to really build it and go from point A to point B faster. But on startup, you also have the ability to adapt and move faster, I would say. And so that's been a big difference. COVID, in a way helped us develop what we're doing today, because we're actually able to pause and say instead of let's just take the solution that we had in in the Nordic Region within Europe, and take it to the US market, we're able to sort of reinvent our solution and make it scalable for the US market. And so we were able to pause our business and say, you know, this is going to work, we have a product that works and it'll work well. But is it scalable? Are there enough companies that can benefit from what we can do? And so we took a step backwards, and we're able to really define who we are as a company here in North America. And then from that, as well build out a brand new solution, build out brand new technology. And so even though it hurt many people, and it hurt us as well. I mean, it did, but I think when we look back on this in a year or two from now, we're gonna say, hey, that actually was a, I don't want to say a blessing in disguise. But it was an opportunity in disguise, that we actually were able to sort of hit the pause button, reset, take our resources and put them into our technology, and build and also identify and talk to companies and identify what were the gaps when they came out of this. And they have to hire quickly. How are they going to do this? How do we build something that the market needs? And that's sort of, you know, the journey, it's long but going from a very stable organization to something that is a startup, it's night and day. And being back at CareerBuilder you know, what, 17-18 years ago, you know, it felt like a startup at the time. It had that sort of wild west feeling. Let's go-go-go. I had a leader one time tell me "visualize yourself in this convertible driving down the road with your hair flying, going as fast as you can crazy, just getting to that end goal". And that's what it feels like right now at JobTip, that felt like 18 years ago. So it's sort of fun and revitalizing in that sense as well.
Martin Burns 04:44
So a bit of a flashback to, I don't want to say younger days, but "earlier days". So I think that's a good point about kind of rebuilding and the chance to retask and have the time to actually breathe and figure out your solution. And that's always the push pull with startups, in that you have limited resources in terms of time, personnel, money, investment, etc. And typically divide them among your marketing, sales, engineering, product management, etc. And then you try to figure what you can put in what bucket and still manage. It sounds like the opportunity for y'all was that you could take some of that time and investment out of sales and marketing and put it more into the technology. Is that correct? Or?
Jonathan Ralph 05:29
It is? Yeah, so absolutely. You know, our technology is still based out of Sweden, our CTO and our tech team are over there. And that was really the goal of “how do we develop this technology”? How do we do it quickly? And what resource? Do we need to do that? You know, what changes do we have to make here today to be able to benefit in the future? And really, it was that change of moving, the marketing, the sales sort of operations into the technology space for us, and then coming out of there we can we can rescale that part of our business.
Martin Burns 05:58
What kind of changes did scaling in the US entail, versus the Nordics?
Jonathan Ralph 06:04
I would say the biggest thing is volume, right? So a company in the Nordics that has maybe, you know, 1000 to 2000 jobs a year is a big opportunity, we're here in the US, our enterprise accounts have 1000 new reqs a week. So the scalability is huge. How do you scale to a company that has, you know, 10, 15, 20,000, open reqs at any given time? And how do you automate processes for them to make their life easier? And that's what we spent a lot of time on, instead of manually doing things, how do we automate processes and make that work for larger enterprise organizations, but also scalable down to companies that have 500 or less employees as well? So how do you make this work across, you know, essentially, every company in the US that has a need? I had to manually do this 10,000 times, I'm probably not going to sign up for this, right. But if I can automate and push one button, and everything works for me, that's something special. And, I don't want to get into what we do as a company, our full pitch there, but each time you'd have to do this manually would be 15 to 30 minutes, times x amount of reqs. Now, you can do this fully automated into a plug and play model. And so that's where we really had to scale is how do we make this easy? How do we make this if somebody doesn't have to log into a new platform and manage us on a daily basis? How do we fully automate a process for a client?
Martin Burns 07:20
Okay, that's helpful, that's really helpful. A couple of questions that kind of follow on to that, did that impact pricing?
Jonathan Ralph 07:27
It actually drove the pricing down. So yes, absolutely, and significantly, and I'll just, again, I don't wanna make this all about us...
Martin Burns 07:34
No you can - this is part of the talk. I know, I want to understand more about what you do. And I think the audience does, too. So please kind of walk me through it, that would be helpful.
Jonathan Ralph 07:42
So I'll give you, let's say, if we rewind backwards and look at what a campaign cost previously, a three week campaign was about $1500. And we'd run a social recruiting campaign. So we use social media to identify talent and target them, with our solution, now, you can actually publish 100% of your open reqs, we'll feed them into our automated platform, they essentially convert into social media campaigns, recruiting campaigns, and then either retarget, or target a targeted audience, an identified audience. And you can actually do that for all of your jobs for as little as $1300, where you had one req was $1500 before. So our price points down. Massive, right? And so we think we're much more scalable, to what businesses can afford, and what they need. There's no way you could have if you had 100 reqs - you're not going to pay $1500 per campaign, it just isn't in the budget. And so how do we make this work for companies and how to make it affordable for companies. And those are things that we've been very conscious about is, you know, we don't want to make this out of reach for anybody. We want to make a solution that's in reach and delivers a really high value. I mentioned retargeting. That's something we focus on a lot, and really trying to mirror what e-commerce companies are doing today, and taking that same marketing technology, same marketing strategies, and really implementing that into recruiting and talent acquisition today.
Martin Burns 09:00
So if you can walk us through it. Can you walk us through what retargeting means to you and how you see it apply to recruiting versus consumer? What the overlaps are, what techniques, maybe some of the challenges are too.
Jonathan Ralph 09:16
If you look at the consumer space, and it's really any online retailer, the stats will show you that about only 4% of somebody that visits the website for any product, the first time actually converts to a purchase, right? So that's a challenge because then you have to go really wide and find a really, really big audience if you're only converting 4% of your your people looking at products or viewers into sales. And so what online commerce does, what they're doing is retargeting those individuals. So they're advertising that product back to them, to get them to drive them back to that site to complete that purchase, ultimately seeing bigger conversion rates from that 4%. Well, in talent acquisition and recruiting, we have a very similar challenge. So of all of the views to a company's career site into their ATS, into the reqs, only about 6.5% actually convert to application. That's a challenge in itself, that there's a large number of individuals that aren't converting to applications that at some point, somewhere along their journey had expressed interest. They've landed on your requisition, they landed on your, you know, req 12345. And they disappeared. And through our surveys with job seekers, we found that it's not that they don't want to work for your organization, it's just a matter of timing - they're on their cell phone, they know it's a 15 plus minute process, and they'll come back into it later. But the reality is that they aren't coming back and doing it later, because they're looking at multiple jobs. So we now can take that same thing that ecommerce is doing, and retarget that opportunity back to that individual in a time when they have the opportunity to complete that application. So, you know, they're at home eight o'clock at night watching mindless reality TV, and they're surfing Facebook, on their phone. In their newsfeed, that opportunity shows up. Now I have time to go back and complete that that application. So you see those conversion rates go from six and a half, you know, upwards of 15%, which is huge. You don't have to go wider. You don't have to find a bigger audience of talent, you already have a really strong audience that's visiting your job today, let's re-invite them back and re-engage them. And so we've been doing a lot of data on a lot of surveys with job seekers on why aren't you completing applications. And we're finding that, like I said, it's not that they don't want to complete the job. It's timing, it's an opportunity. And so the opportunity is to get back in front of them in a different way, and re invite them back to complete that application. That's really what retargeting is: how do we re-invite those individuals that haven't converted, you know, and get them into your ATMs so that you can start to have those conversations with them?
Martin Burns 11:32
Which makes sense, and that is the challenge with some of the larger ATS's. I don't want to beat up Taleo, although I think it's safe to do that, because it's, well we all do that. But with Taleo, you're forced into a desktop apply, basically, their mobile apply is borderline non-existent. And you can do overlays via CRM etc, but still challenging. But you catch them as eyeballs on the phone in line at Starbucks.. Well, back in the "Old Times", when we were still in line at Starbucks on our phones... we'll get back there hope. But they're there on the phone, they see the job and can't apply. But this way, you can remind them while they're at the desktop, or where they can get to it. Question to that: are you looking into, and is it possible to tie in retargeting to the apply process? And by that, I mean someone's in the workflow, they've started applying and they lost track of the application, which happens a lot. And they abandon it. Could you possibly track them down to the ATS, and then remind them, like an ad pops up on Facebook? "Hey, reminder, you forgot that you were applying to Acme semiconductors? Come on back in", and then bring it back at that stage. Is that even possible yet? Is that technology there? Is that pie in the sky?
Jonathan Ralph 12:40
It is. No, it's not a pie in the sky. It's actually on our product roadmap. It takes a little curation? It takes more integration with the ATS specifically, right, to know where that person is. Also to have the data saved in there. So when they come back, they don't have to start from square one. That's important. Because when you go back and it's already auto populated, where you've already filled out, your conversion rates are higher if you have to start at square one. And I've already done this, I'm not doing this again. There's a lot of mentality there, you know, psychological pieces?
Martin Burns 12:44
I totally get that. I got my first COVID vaccine a couple days ago. And just registering for the stupid thing on my phone. I kept losing stuff. I'd go back and fill it out again. And again. It was maddening. But I would think that might be more on the ATS side where the ATS needs to make sure they retain that. So that's where you build a profile. I would hope you wouldn't own that part too. Because then you're looking at some data privacy issues, etc. That's interesting. And that's exciting to me. Because I think when it comes to abandonment, that's that's a huge problem. And if you could address that, that's significant. Who do you currently partner with? Do you have any integrations built yet?
Jonathan Ralph 13:49
We don't need a lot of integrations for our solution to work. So whether it be Taleo or iCIMS, or you know, JazzHR. You know, any of these ATSs, as long as that ATS is open and allows scripts, we can turn on retargeting for that client. So in most scenarios, we don't have an issue. There's a couple outliers that are more close, that are harder to install that script. But you know, it's as simple as us getting a job feed from the customer, whether it be XML, JSON, whatever it may be that feeds into our platform and tells us which jobs to publish for them. And then based on the scripts installed, we're actually creating different categories of job seekers. So let's just say, you know, you have finance and accounting you have, you know, pharmacy, whatever it may be, you're the different ones. we align media to each one of those. So as they come in, we let me just take a step back with the different categories. We bucket everybody in there. So if I'm looking at pharmacy jobs, I fall into my talent audience for pharmacists, right? So these are the people I can retarget and I can reach. We also have a media library that aligns each one of those categories. So as the job feeds into our platform, it converts to a social media campaign. it aligns with the relevant media. as well so it's going to serve me the ad for a pharmacist said with media that is for a pharmacist that's compelling right images and videos and so with the integration really as long as we can get that script installed to understand who is coming and what kind of jobs we're looking at fire that to Facebook and say do they have a social media account yes and then we put a second script on the post apply page because we don't want to target people that are already in the atms so there's something called we are pretty straightforward and and easy there the job for you that we haven't had one we couldn't integrate with yet so that's all in house integrations right there but no it's it's it's getting the media getting the script installed usually takes two minutes a couple day process and we're up and running so couple day process with maybe an hour and a half left for a client to install
Martin Burns 15:47
So next next question along the same lines. Is it possible to tag content on a career site. But that I mean someone comes to your site, maybe even the consumer side. But they're reading white papers on topics that relate to jobs you're looking to hire for. So let's say there were data scientists. So you've got white papers on data science on your corporate side, your main kind of marketing blog and whatnot. Could that be tagged so that if someone's hitting those papers a lot, someone external, it triggers the ATS to start serving up job ads based on what they're looking at? Is that too far?
Jonathan Ralph 16:29
No, it's not too far at all. So yes: we would have the ability - and it'd be unique per client right and how it's set up and where everything lives and and who we think is looking at that what kind of job families are they aligned to - but then we can actually serve those jobs to those people looking at at that type of content
Martin Burns 16:47
There's probably a service layer engagement there too, where you're looking at ontologies and taxonomies etc, and working through all that, or they have some folks internally who can do it for you. I think that is really... I've always looked at that and said "if we could do that, that'd be incredibly cool", because that's real engagement then.
Jonathan Ralph 17:08
Right it is, and I think that that will be definitely more in a custom offering that we'll have and building those out as we think of the long term game, and long term today is you know not the five year plan but maybe you know the 18 month plan, so our goal is to be the full service social recruiting model for any client. So whether it be Google, Facebook - whatever is hot you know Tick Tock - whatever is hot right then and there. Then with a push of a button they can advertise, and either target retarget to all those platforms so the jobs feed in, and all of a sudden here's your social play and we are putting we're literally pushing those opportunities out across all those channels. One of the things that I think is really cool is based on the data of who's coming to the company's career site today and looking at jobs, and I always use pharmacists. But they're looking at the pharmacy jobs. We actually take that data on those individuals, and create profiles for the company as well so not only can we retarget, we can define look alike audiences based on who's coming and looking for those jobs and help the client develop a brand new pipeline of talent as well to advertise to.
Martin Burns 18:12
That's important, especially with where we are with consumer marketing finally coming into recruitment. So a couple a couple a couple more questions for you. In terms of how you actually market and sell how to folks, are you reselling through ad agencies, direct sales - how are you actually marketing your product?
Jonathan Ralph 18:32
It's both, and actually we're in the process right now bringing in a new marketing specialist, a consumer marketing specialist. We work with most of the big agencies today and then we also have direct clients come directly to us as well. So we are "agency friendly" as we like to say. We understand the importance in the space of ad agencies. You can either work with your agency and we'll work friendly with them or you can come directly to JobTip.com to check us out, and you can work with with myself or one of our sales folks or our COO. We're very direct facing for everybody.
Martin Burns 19:05
That's the benefit of working with a smaller scaling startup. You get a lot of attention and connection to the folks who are doing product vision and roadmap. You mentioned you're looking for a marketing person. Have you hired them yet, are you still looking?
Jonathan Ralph 19:18
i will start that search actually on Monday
Martin Burns 19:20
So JobTip is looking for a marketing person. Once you have the req built up, share it with me I'll get it I'll get that out for you - happy to do that. That's growth and hiring and it's a good sign - we like that. I know you've got kind of a hard stop, just wanted to grab your time this morning for just a few minutes to talk about the solution. How do folks reach you by the way?
Jonathan Ralph 19:45
So the easiest way to get in touch and I am the easiest person to touch with because everything I do has my cell phone number on it, so it's super easy. If you go to JobTip.com, you check out our site, you say "schedule time" it actually goes to my calendar directly, or Jonathan dot Ralph at job tip comm. any of those ways and I'll make sure to respond.
Martin Burns 20:06
Very cool. So very fun stuff. This is one of my passions, this kind of an approach. So I'm excited to hear about it and share it with the audience. It was great catching up with you. Anything else you want to say before we before we wrap up?
Jonathan Ralph 20:21
Just thank you for your time. I really appreciate it. It's been great. I loved our conversations leading up to this, you know, we sort of both, I guess geek out on the tech space going on and and we could probably talk for hours upon hours about you know, different things with upskilling, everything else you had mentioned previously, like there's so much passion about what's going on in this industry right now. And I think that it's pivoting quickly. And you know, I'm also really, really excited to see the recovery here in the US and companies starting to hire up again. And I think it's going to be really interesting to see how that happens. And stay close to it.
Martin Burns 20:52
There's a lot coming up in the next six months can get really interesting. So listen, I will see you in person someday. Meantime, enjoy your time at Steamboat Springs, try to enjoy some of that vacation, and we'll talk soon.
Jonathan Ralph 21:06
Thank you very much.
Martin Burns 21:07
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