Indeed Dominates External Sources of Hire, Survey Finds

The job site delivers 2.5 times as many hires as all other top external sources combined

By Roy Maurer May 2, 2016
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Austin, Texas-based job search engine Indeed continues to reign over external candidate sourcing for talent acquisition, providing more than six times as many interviews as the next largest external source—and nearly two and half times as many hires as all the other top-branded job sites combined.

Indeed claimed a 52 percent share of the source of external interviews and a 43 percent share of the source of external hires in 2015, according to the annual Top Sources of Hire report released by talent management software company SilkRoad.

The report analyzed data from more than 13 million applications, 600,000 interviews and 300,000 hires from 1,200 companies.

Indeed’s dominance is not entirely surprising, according to experts. “Indeed attracts a large pool of talent, claiming 180 million visitors a month from over 50 countries,” said Amber Hyatt, director of product marketing for SilkRoad.

“Indeed is a juggernaut in online recruiting,” said Chris Russell, a job board consultant with, based in Trumbull, Conn. “They dominate traffic flow to both job boards and employer careers sites.”

Indeed is actually a different animal than many of its competitors in the job board space. As an aggregator, its crawling technology has removed the burden of companies having to post jobs manually, Russell said.

“Their mission is to provide a good candidate user experience, so they pull jobs from everywhere, including corporate sites, regardless if someone is spending money with them or not,” said Neil Costa, recruiting expert and CEO of HireClix, a digital recruitment advertising agency based in the Boston area. “They have the most content on the Internet, whereas the traditional job boards only have paid job ads. Because of that, it helps them with their Google organic ranking. Any job search you do on Google is going to give you two to five Indeed results on the first page.”

Indeed charges the job posters when job seekers click on ads. “This pay-for-performance model resonates well with those who pay them,” Russell said.

After Indeed, the next largest external source for interviews is CareerBuilder (8 percent), followed by recruiting agencies (5 percent), Craigslist (5 percent), LinkedIn (5 percent), campus recruiting (3 percent) and Monster (2 percent).

The most productive external sources for hires after Indeed are recruiting agencies (9 percent), CareerBuilder (8 percent), campus recruiting efforts (7 percent) and Craigslist (5 percent).

Candidates Are Online

The survey found that external online sources such as job search engines, job boards and social media sites produce substantially greater recruitment results than external offline sources like recruiting agencies, campus events, job fairs and walk-ins.

“Online sources produced an impressive 88 percent of interviews and a hefty 78 percent of hires among external sources,” Hyatt said.

Of all online recruitment sources, employee referrals ranked highest for hires (28 percent), followed by Indeed (24 percent). Indeed was the top online source for interviews (35 percent), delivering nearly twice as many interviews as employee referrals (19 percent) and three times as many as career sites (12 percent). SilkRoad categorized referrals as online sources for the first time this year, because they are now mostly submitted via software, rather than word of mouth or on paper, according to the report.

In general, external sources—whether online or offline—delivered the majority of interviews (58 percent), compared to internal sources such as careers sites, in-house recruiters and employee referrals (42 percent). “Yet, once resumes are narrowed down and the initial pool of interviewees advances through the screening process, internal sources provide more hires,” Hyatt said. Internal sources ultimately produced 58 percent of hires, compared to 42 percent from external sources, according to the report.

Referrals Rule Internal Sources of Hire

Employee referrals dominate recruiting among internal sources, producing 40 percent of interviews and 37 percent of hires, while also being the strongest source of hire overall.

“Employers often perceive that employees clearly understand the company culture and organization, so referred candidates are seen as best fit and are hired more rapidly,” Hyatt said. “Referred candidates might also hear quickly from colleagues when jobs open, so they are interviewed earlier.”

After referrals, the top internal sources for interviews are careers sites (19 percent), current employees applying for new roles (19 percent) and in-house recruiters (18 percent). The top internal sources for hires after referrals are careers sites (26 percent), current employees (18 percent) and recruiters (9 percent).  

Using internal sources for recruitment marketing efforts has the potential to pay big dividends, as the majority of hires (54 percent) came from one of the four top internal sources (referrals, careers sites, current staff and in-house recruiters).

“Current employees are a common source of hires and an essential part of the talent pool,” Hyatt said. Companies may hire internally to reduce their cost-of-hire, increase time-to-productivity and decrease employee turnover, she added.

Job Search Engines vs. Job Boards

For years, industry experts have sounded the death knell for job boards. Job boards generally provide a database of resumes and searchable job postings with links to apply, whereas job search engines like Indeed aggregate postings from multiple online sources, including job boards.

The pricing structure is another differentiator. Job boards charge employers for posting open positions, whereas job search engines list jobs for free and charge employers when job seekers click on their ad. In addition, most applicant tracking systems automatically post open positions to job search engines, guaranteeing that the most up-to-date openings are reaching candidates.

The SilkRoad report showed that job search engines greatly outperform job boards among external online sources. The two top job search engines—Indeed and Simply Hired—accounted for 62 percent of interviews and 59 percent of hires from external online recruiting activity, even with the inclusion of more than a thousand job boards in the survey.

Job boards comprised approximately 22 percent of all sources in the study, and delivered 18 percent of interviews and 12 percent of hires.

But despite questions about their relevance, “job boards still rank as an important source of both interviews and hires,” Hyatt said.

“To me it’s a factor of quantity versus quality,” Russell said. “Yes, the job search engines can send you lots of traffic, but how much of that is considered quality? For many employers the click-to-apply ratio is about 1 in 10, meaning for every 10 clicks they pay for, only 1 results in a completed application. They have made it so easy to find jobs that job seekers keep clicking even if they aren’t qualified.”

The vast majority of job boards are niche players that typically have a more-focused community of candidates, Russell said. Specialized job boards can be an effective way to source for certain industries, such as technology and science.

“Job board postings may be a particularly effective way for organizations to snag candidates in high-demand industries, or to help ensure that companies meet their compliance goals regarding diverse candidates and veterans,” Hyatt said.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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