Posted October 26, 2012 by

Number of Apply Clicks and Cost Per Click for Job Posting Ads

Job postings

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A commonly used cliche has the buyer of advertising stating that he knows that half of his advertising is working but he just wishes that he knew which half. That cliche pre-dates the Internet as today’s marketers should and sometimes do know which of their ads is working. But even then, how do you define “working?”

One of the interesting developments since CollegeRecruiter.com went live way back in 1996 is the increased attention employers are paying to metrics so they can better understand where their money is being well spent. For 16 years we’ve heard employers say that they use niche job boards such as ours because they care more about quality than quantity yet when it came time to decide whether to renew a job posting package our sales team would invariably hear yes or no based upon how many applications the employer received from our candidates. Those employers were saying they were basing their decisions on quality but actually were basing them on quantity.

It should be noted that employers should be able to easily track applications if the candidate applies on our site as the application we email to the employer has our branding on it. Employers who have candidates apply on our site typically are properly tracking their applications. The ones which aren’t properly tracking tend to require the candidate to apply on the employer site. More and more employers do so including virtually every Fortune 500 and federal government agency. In fact, about 90 percent of the jobs on our site today send the candidate to the employer site to apply. So what happens when the candidate clicks to the employer site to apply? Some employers do a remarkably good job of tracking that click from the source of hire (CollegeRecruiter.com) right to the point of hire and some even beyond that so they can link employer retention rates to source of hire. I applaud these employers whether their metrics show us positively or, ahem, as having a growth opportunity.

Unfortunately, some employers should hear more hisses than applause. Incredibly, some of the largest and most sophisticated employers still use the dreaded drop-down box which asks candidates to self-identify their sources. CollegeRecruiter.com and many of our fellow job board brethren are members of networks of career sites so the job may be posted to one site but the candidate may see it on another. Regardless of how much the candidate cares, it is impossible for them to accurately self-identify their source of hire. And even if the candidate found the job on the site to which the employer posted it, studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of candidates are unable to accurately self-identify their source.

There have been some studies which provide some useful benchmarks to employers who want to understand if their job postings are performing well. A Jobs2web study showed that its employer clients received an average of 219 applications per job opening while a National Association of Colleges and Employers study showed about 21 applications to internship and entry-level job postings on employer web sites. But neither study revealed how many applications were generated per posting on a job board, how many apply clicks a board generates per average posting, or the costs of those applications or apply clicks. I’m hoping that this blog article will add some transparency to this murky area.

I have no doubt that our numbers will show us to be better than some boards. Let’s be honest, I wouldn’t post them if I didn’t feel so. But I also have no doubt that our numbers will pale in comparison to some other boards. If so, that’s okay as we’ll know that we need to up our game and that will be good for us, the candidates, and the employers. In researching this blog article, I contacted a number of our advertising agency and job distribution company partners. Virtually all replied back with positive feedback for our numbers but one of the job distributors went a step further and told me that they posted to job boards 16.2 million postings last year and collectively those generated 44 million apply clicks for an average of 2.7 apply clicks per job posting. They didn’t tell me how much their clients paid for those postings so I’m unable to report how much the average apply click cost their employer clients. But I can tell you how our numbers compare.

CollegeRecruiter.com completed about a month ago some significant upgrades to our job posting system and network. In a nutshell, we can see anecdotally that jobs on our site are generating far more applications and apply clicks now than they were even just a couple of months ago. We won’t have good numbers until all of the jobs which were active before the changes have expired but in the meantime we can look at the jobs being run by employers who started with us after the changes as all of their jobs were activated after the changes so should be representative of how jobs are now performing on our site.

One of the clients of CollegeRecruiter.com is a well known, national retailer with relatively selective hiring practices. Their postings are probably pretty representative of the average postings on our site as they have fairly broad hiring criteria yet they’re far from hiring everyone who walks through the door. I pulled their stats and found that during the week of October 12th through 18th they posted 697 jobs which are still active, the views ranged from zero to 38 with an average of 3.8, and the apply clicks ranged from zero to 23 with an average of 1.2. Postings on our site like so many other job boards run for 30 days so if you extrapolate those numbers out over a 30 day period you’d expect to see views ranging from zero to 162.9 with an average of 16.3 and apply clicks ranging from zero to 98.6 with an average of 5.1.

If you compare our numbers with that of the job distributor, we clearly come out well ahead as they’re averaging 2.7 while we’re probably averaging something like 5.1 apply clicks per job per 30 days. That means that we generated 88.9 percent more apply clicks per posting than did the job distributor.

Yet the number of apply clicks, at best, tells only half the story. Just as relevant is the cost. If the job distributor’s cost per click is say five cents and our cost per click is say 20 cents then everything else being equal the employer would be better off buying from the job distributor than from CollegeRecruiter.com. Unfortunately, the job distributor did not disclose to me their average cost per posting or click but I’ll disclose in this blog what we charged our client. The retailer paid $3,000 for a package that allows them to post up to 1,000 jobs at any given time to our site for 365 days. During the week we generated for them 814 apply clicks so over the year that would be 42,328 apply clicks. At $3,000 for the posting package, their average cost will be 7.1 cents per click. We can’t compare that against the job distributor but we can compare that against sites which sell job postings on a pay-per-click basis.

Pay-per-click is the preferred business model of all of the large aggregators. There are dozens and perhaps hundreds of these sites. VetJobs.com has a good list but these sites include Beyond, Glassdoor, Indeed, Job Rapido, Jobs to Careers, Juju, SimplyHired, TopUSAJobs, and ZipRecruiter. Pricing varies site-to-site, employer-to-employer, and job-to-job but employers I’ve talked with say that the pay 10 cents per click on the low end and several dollars on the high end. I suspect that the average cost per click is about 15 cents. If so, our retailer client is essentially paying us 47.3 percent of that.

My hope is that our efforts at transparency will generate similar efforts by some of our industry brethren and that together we can work to help our employer clients place their job ads on the sites which perform the best for them. If so, those employers should receive higher quality applications at a lower average cost and the candidates who use our sites will be better served as their search results will return jobs which are far more relevant to their interests.

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