Paid Job Ads arrest decline against Job Aggregators

Posted by Dr Glyn Brokensha | August - 20 - 2017 | 0 Comment

In researching some current data from our database of more than 3 million job applications, we came across some interesting trends regarding Job Aggregators and where applicants find the jobs they are applying for (Applicant Source).  We report our findings here.

Most readers would be aware of the profound disruption of the paid job board market by the entry of the Job Aggregators (e.g. Indeed, Adzuna, Glassdoor etc).  These “Google for Jobs” sites function by scanning the whole web for jobs and then “indexing” them, just as Google scans for web pages [1].  Jobs then become searchable, just as web pages become searchable with Google (or Bing).  Searches can be progressively refined by location, salary range and other important criteria, making the traditional paid job ad model as redundant now as the newspaper classifieds have become.

So dramatic has the impact of the free Job Aggregators been that we have seen applications from them rise tenfold since their inception from a mere 6% in 2013 to nearly 60%.  Their success has been mainly at the expense of the paid job board providers, whose “applicant share” has halved from 40% to 20%

Here are the trends in Applicant Sources over the past four years…

The origin of 4% of applicants is unknown, three other Applicant Sources yield 1%[2] and all the remainder are negligible.

Note that 70% of job applications are from entirely free sources.

We have dealt with the myth that the Job Aggregators provide disproportionate numbers of low quality applicants (here).. Our data across all our customers refutes this.

Apart from  the obvious and massive disruption of the paid job ad model, two things struck us about these data.

Fall in applications from customer’s own websites.

We were a little surprised to see this result, as our “widget” has made it the work of only a few minutes for customers to publish an always-up-to-date list of jobs on their own websites  (e.g.  Our view, since the decline so closely mirrors the decline in paid job board success, is that this source too is affected by the Job Aggregators as applicants increasingly choose a single place to look for jobs, rather than keeping an eye on preferred company websites.

Nonetheless the company website, properly maintained, provides a solid 9% to 11% of free applicants across all our customers.

Stabilisation of Paid Job Ads vs Job Aggregators

We we were again surprised that the growth of the Job Aggregators has stalled and the decline of paid Job Board has stabilised.

We explored the view, expressed by some customers that as the reach of the paid job boards has declined, recruiters were having to place more job ads in order to fill their needs…  i.e. paid job ads being less effective need to be repeated and or refreshed more often.

We developed a measure of the percentage of paid job ads that had to be placed more than once.  We found that this has been stable at between 27% and 33% over the study period, with a near horizontal trend line, making this hypothesis unlikely.[3]


A 50% drop in applications via Paid Job Boards is mirrored by a tenfold rise in applications via Job Aggregators.  We attribute this to the disruption of the paid ad model by the free aggregator model.

That this trend seems suddenly to have reached a plateau is unexplained by the data.  We speculate that this may be due to greatly increased marketing efforts as the Paid Job Ad providers seek to protect their rapidly-dwindling market share.

Perhaps this unexplained part of the bigger trend will become clearer as time progresses.

Please feel free to share any comparable data or to offer alternative explanation in our comments section.



1.  Expr3ss! sends a high-quality XML feed to these sites, ensuring accuracy, rapid publication and prompt removal when the job is filled 

2.  Adzuna, Indeed Promoted (paid), LinkedIn

3.  Since the current year is far from complete, we re-examined our figures using only the months January 1 to August 16 in earlier years, finding comparable results.