Is video worth a thousand job postings? – Job Board Doctor
In this episode of JobBoardGeek, we talk to Brian Forrester of Lumina.co about how his company turns text job ads into videos – at scale. With job ads often running to 300 words or (much) more, candidate engagement can be difficult. Jeff Dickey-Chasins of JobBoardDoctor and Steven Rothberg of College Recruiter discover how Lumina turns those ads into videos that can increase engagement – and applications. Jeff also puzzles over JobIndex’s complaint against Google for Jobs in Europe, and Steven (as always) has answers.
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0:00:36.6 JD: Hello everyone, and welcome to JobBoardGeek. It’s the podcast about the business of connecting candidates and employers. I’m Jeff Dickey-Chasins, the JobBoardDoctor. I am your host, and I have with me the bubbly, Steven Rothberg of College Recruiter. He’s the co-host. Hey Steven, how are you doing?
0:00:55.9 Steven Rothberg: I don’t know if anybody’s ever called me bubbly before, so I guess I’m gonna take that as a compliment. Burp.
0:01:01.9 JD: Yeah, you’re like the champagne of co-hosts, you know? So, [laughter] that’s… I had some other adjectives that honestly I did not think were appropriate for the PG level of this podcast, so I’ll stick with bubbly.
0:01:14.0 SR: Aww.
0:01:15.5 JD: But anyway, [chuckle] today we have as our guest, Brian Forrester of Lumina. Lumina is not a job board, but I think you’re gonna be pretty interested to find out what Lumina is and does. We’ll get to him in a second, but first of all, Steven, I just wanted to talk about an article that came out a couple of weeks ago from our friends at the AIM group, they announced that Jobindex has actually filed a formal complaint to the EU Commission requesting that a case be initiated against Google for abusing its dominant position. And they talked to Jobindex Founder and CEO, Kaare Danielson. And he said that he expects the commission to act according to the precedent that it set in a previous case involving Google shopping that cost the company $2.5 billion.
0:02:01.5 JD: And in fact, Google has already been fined more than $8.5 billion for various anti-trust breaches in the EU. Now, I think this was kind of interesting, because Danielson’s position and Jobindex, I should say, is a Danish job board. It’s one of the very first aggregators, possibly the first aggregator out there. Been around since the mid ’90s. Their position is that Jobindex has lost a significant amount of traffic once Google For Jobs was introduced in Denmark. And I found this kind of interesting, because in my experience with the vast majority of my clients, no matter where they’re located, when Google For Jobs rolls in, if the job board participates by changing their jobs to the Google schema, they typically see a lift in traffic, and it can be anywhere from 15% to 30% lift.
0:02:53.7 JD: I think what’s happening here is that these companies are regaining traffic that they lost to large aggregators like Indeed. Well, in that sense, what Jobindex is doing makes sense, ’cause they are an aggregator, they’re essentially acting like Indeed in the Danish market, and so of course it would make sense, they’re losing traffic, the little guys are gaining traffic. But anyway, I think that Kaare is probably right. They’re probably… That Google is probably gonna get fined again just because the EU just doesn’t like this sort of stuff, but I don’t know. What do you think, Steven?
0:03:26.3 SR: Well, the fines that Google has had is kind of like pocket change that you or I might find in our couch. [laughter] I really don’t think anybody there looks at the fines that they’ve had from the EU as anything more than just a pretty insignificant cost of doing business. It’s a rounding error. If the EU is really intent on making Google change its business practices, the fines are gonna have to be exponentially larger. Personally, I don’t see that happening.
0:03:54.6 JD: Well, don’t forget though Steven that a lot of people speculated that Google killed Google Hire their ATS in reaction to the fines and legal actions in the EU. And I think that the fine is just a signal, because the EU can levy more and more fines if they still find Google in breach, so.
0:04:14.9 SR: Yeah. Yeah, no, absolutely. And Google has a long history of rolling out products, seeing if they stick. If they don’t stick, they allow them to fail fast and they move out. I mean, every social media platform that Google has ever launched, and there are like 187 of them or something. [chuckle] I mean, they’ve been around for a couple of years to great fanfare, people love them. And then they’re killed. When I look at the Jobindex thing, and I know that some companies like StepStone were pretty active in some previous complaints about this, it seems to me that these companies have been real fans of Google when Google has been a fan of theirs.
0:04:57.3 JD: Right.
0:04:57.9 SR: But when Google is no longer a fan of theirs, that all of a sudden Google’s the bad guy. So you know, if you’re gonna play with Google, and I think you should, then play with them, don’t try to put that Black Hat SEO hat on, you know, where you’re trying to trick Google. If you make your site content, your page setup, your navigation, the schema that Google has published, if all of that is set up so that it is beneficial to the user, then Google is gonna like you. If Jobindex is not set up to be as beneficial to the user as some of the smaller sites in Denmark, then, I don’t know about you, but I’m not gonna lose any sleep over it. It’s not that I dislike Jobindex, not at all, they do a lot of really great things, but so do some other sites. And if some of the other sites are being more innovative and being more candidate-friendly, I think they should be rewarded.
0:05:56.7 JD: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. And again, I would say in North America and some of the other markets that I work in, the sites that have benefited from this have been niche sites, not generalist sites, and…
0:06:07.6 SR: Yeah.
0:06:08.6 JD: You can argue… I would argue that niche sites often serve candidates better than generalist sites, just by design.
0:06:16.8 SR: We get about 5% to 10% of our traffic from Google For Jobs, and that’s up almost 100% from before Google For Jobs. So it’s not insignificant to us, but it’s also not at all make it or break it. Or, “Wow, did we ever have a ton of traffic, and boy, is this gonna be a fantastic month for us because of Google For Jobs.” So we don’t wanna lose it, but I don’t know of any site out there that’s dependent on it.
0:06:46.9 JD: No.
0:06:47.7 SR: There were some that were dependent like Indeed, and I guess Jobindex on the pre Google For Jobs, where they were dependent on that free traffic. And now I guess the playing field is starting to level a little bit more and when the playing field is leveling, that’s hurting some of these older players.
0:07:09.2 JD: Yeah. Well, good point. Not that anyone at the EU or Google is listening to us, so we’ll just see what happens. Anyway, today we have on JobBoardGeek, Brian Forrester of Lumina. Brian, welcome to the pod.
0:07:20.4 Brian Forrester: Hey, thank you for having me. I appreciate it. I’m excited to be here.
0:07:23.2 JD: Yeah, we’re happy to have you here too. To start out, I was wondering if you could just tell us a little bit about Lumina; what it is, who it’s targeting, and also a little bit about your background, how you happened to get into the recruitment marketing industry.
0:07:37.2 BF: Absolutely. Those are two of my favorite subjects, myself and my business. [laughter] You tell me when to quiet down but Lumina is… To my benefit, I think Lumina is a very easy thing for most people to understand. I often say in the same way that televisions evolved from black and white TV to color TV, we really see ourselves as playing a similar kind of bridge-like role in the job board and recruitment industry, except what we’re doing is we’re using technology to convert vast numbers of text-only job postings and converting them into multi-sensory video job postings. And we’re doing it in a way that doesn’t require cameras and filming and make-up and a sound person and editing. We’re doing it all through technology that we’ve developed in-house and we’ve made it… The secret to our success has been scalability. And so in a nutshell, we’re making job postings a little bit more exciting to the candidate. We’re telling the story of the job a little bit better, and we’re our main recruiters and recruitment marketers with more than just a text only job post. And so, we see ourselves as being really complementary to the traditional job posting, but allowing those job descriptions to really penetrate through social media and really engage at a higher-level.
0:08:58.7 BF: So fundamentally, I probably say this about three times a week, I always say, “We’re not a marketing company, we’re not a videography studio, we’re really software people at the heart of it.” And what we’ve done is built a platform that is really intended to fulfill our mission, which is make video accessible and affordable for talent acquisition teams, and we really think we’re making good strides on doing that.
0:09:21.3 JD: Since we are on a podcast and we don’t have the ability to look at a computer screen to see what you guys do, could you kinda give us a verbal walk-through of what a typical Lumina job ad would look like?
0:09:32.6 BF: Absolutely, yeah. No, I love talking about video on a podcast. I think really what we’re doing, and it’s interesting because when I tell people about it verbally, they always begin to develop some sort of idea of what they think it is, and then when they see it, I see this invisible light bulb go off above their head and they’re like, “Oh, I get it.” And so what we’re doing is, people think of video often as someone standing in front of a camera and they’re talking at you, and it’s usually at least a couple of minutes long. And so what we’ve done at Lumina, and there are examples on Lumina.co, that’s our home page, what we’ve done is we really take the key elements of the role; the job title, the location, and of course the brand of the company, and we’re building individualized, almost like a micro-commercial, and these are about 30-second videos, very concise, highlighting the key elements of the job in a way that’s compelling.
0:10:26.5 BF: So you might see the beginning of the video, we’ll come in and it’ll say “We’re hiring,” and then it’ll say… The job title will come in in a very tasteful animated way. We’ll show a picture of someone who is in that field, so we’re kind of building up that imagery and building that brand awareness and that positive feeling. And there’s usually music to the videos, a little bit of background music. And then we’ll dive in and we’ll show a picture, a lot of our organizations are recruiting people across states, and so we’ll show an image of either the work environment or the geography, and then we’ll highlight; what are the key elements? I often, as we’re onboarding new customers, I often say, “Just imagine you had two floors, you’re going up two floors with a candidate, that’s all the time you’ve got on an elevator, what are the things you say?” And that’s really what we’re doing with our videos, is we are boiling it down. I’m often taking a 500-word job description, which is what most people do, it’s like asking someone to read a New York Times article, really.
0:11:26.7 JD: Right.
0:11:27.5 BF: And I’m boiling that 500 words down to about 50, and we’re making it into a little 30-second video. And I can talk more about the benefits of that and how people are using that, but in a nutshell, we’re highlighting things like; job title, location, mission statement of the organization. But we do customize them. So when we sit down with a new customer, we say, “What’s important to you and what’s important to the candidates that you’re targeting? Of all the things you could mention, what are the couple of things that are really most captivating and the most important?” And then we’ll tailor the videos around that.
0:11:58.1 SR: At College Recruiter, we talk about three stages of marketing; attraction, engagement, activation. And when I’ve looked at your videos, this seems to be very squarely in the attraction. It’s taking somebody who might not know anything about the role, might not know anything about the employer, and basically saying, “This is something you might wanna look into.” It’s not getting into the 17 bullet point job requirements and you have to have a bachelor of science degree in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s a step before that, so very cool. Question for you, I noticed on, I think it was on your LinkedIn, your company’s LinkedIn page, it says that you’re in all 50 states and Switzerland. So my question to you is, are we about to make Switzerland the 51st state? And is that why you’re there, or are you looking for tax deductible trips to Switzerland so that we can basically be underwriting your vacations or what’s going on?
0:12:58.8 BF: It is pure coincidence. And I think I probably wrote that about a year ago, and I haven’t looked at it again, but I think we’re maybe in at least a dozen countries by now, but Switzerland was a cologne… So we started off in the healthcare space, actually, ’cause that’s where my background was, was a lot of hospitals and health systems, and so I can happily talk more about that, but even today about 70% of our customers are in healthcare of some sort, whether it’s senior living or hospitals, but I remember the company in Switzerland was our first kind of inbound, they were like, “Hey, could you do this for us?” And we looked into what they did, and it was they design flavors and they design sense, and it’s just… “We’re like, Absolutely, we will help you find the next Willy Wonka.”
0:13:47.1 SR: And if we have to spend a week in Geneva figuring this out, well, we won’t argue.
0:13:54.1 JD: Well, so what you’ve described obviously makes a lot of sense for a job board to wanna have on their platform because it’s gonna increase engagement, increase candidate likelihood for actually applying for a job, interviewing for a job, how do you work with job boards, can you describe how that tends to work both logistically and financially?
0:14:17.0 BF: Absolutely, and it’s a good question. And some of these lessons are very hard earned, as a start-up, we have done things the wrong way before, and you learn from it, right, so it’s all about getting as many cycles of learning and as many iterations as you can early on, so that by the time a larger job board sits down with you, you can say it with confidence. Right, so we were very lucky to have some early partners, one of our early partners was a job board called Healthy Careers, and they’ve been around for several decades, and they were really our first big job board partner, and they helped us work through… We iterated on a few different models and essentially the logic that you outlined, so if I’m a job board, why am I interested in video job postings? The number one point is a differentiation, how do we stand out? The second point to that very closely related is how do we stay relevant, times are changing quickly, how do we not try to catch up to the curve, but stay slightly ahead of it, and then the other component really is an additional way to generate revenue, if you can say, it’s what I often call it, and a lot of people call it this, but the would you like fries with that model?
0:15:27.4 JD: Right.
0:15:27.5 BF: But if someone is already posting text job descriptions to your board, asking them, “Hey, would you like to upgrade or add on video job postings?” You don’t have to do anything other than click a box, it’s a really great way to add value, get their interest and add additional revenue streams to your business, so we use what we call a… We call it Powered by Lumina, and that’s kind of the umbrella term for our partnerships, and we really see… In the beginning, a lot of folks thought, Oh, are you gonna evolve this into a job board, or you’re gonna build out a consumer candidate-facing virtual real estate and try to get all that traffic and I thought, Well, that sounds incredibly difficult and very risky, and there are already lots of people who have for decades been doing this, so let’s be the software partner under this Powered by Lumina model and just shake hands and plug and play.
0:16:18.4 BF: And so that’s really what we’ve been doing, typically, we’ll do a revenue share, and that’s kind of… We have some standardized models for that, but it’s pretty simple, and then we have some customers in terms of job boards who have decided that they actually want to be our customer, and they just say, You know what? We’ll pay for it, and as a result of us paying for it, we’re gonna get more customers, we’re gonna get more applicants coming through our site, we’re gonna make our existing customers happier, that I think is an interesting approach. We’re a young company, so I don’t have enough data to really look at the two or three different blueprint models we have for job board partners and say, “Oh, well, of the 50 that we’ve done this and this model is the best.” But we are starting to see some patterns and trends in what people are interested in and what’s really effective, and I do tend to think that simple is always best.
0:17:08.6 JD: Yeah, I would tend to agree. I have a lot of vendors that have contacted me over the years that wanna work with job boards, and I’ve also talked with a lot of job boards about working with various vendors, inevitably it falls apart because of complexity, because the one party or the other is trying to cover every single possible thing that could happen, so I think keeping the model as simple as possible, as straightforward, as transparent as possible is a good way to go. So I’m curious in terms of… Because this podcast has an audience that’s all over the world, we have a lot of listeners, South America, in the EU, in the UK, Southeast Asia, can you give us an idea of what languages or what areas that you have worked a lot in other than in North America?
0:17:55.2 BF: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s an area where we’re growing a lot too, and we just recently landed a customer who we are starting to work with called Syneos health S-Y-N-E-O-S, and they are a global company, and so we’ve done, I would say probably 30 different languages so far, just independently with a variety of customers, and we’ve probably done maybe a dozen countries, the first actual video job posting I ever sold in my life… I was on the phone at 4 AM with someone in South Africa, and she was the head of HR for DHL South Africa. And I fumbled through my pitch and I was like, Well, here’s what it is, and I was trying to describe it. And she said, “Well, how much is it?” And I wasn’t prepared for that question. So I said $45. [laughter]
0:18:39.1 BF: You know, I just made up a number out of the air and I thought, “Well, it’s my first customer ever. I’ll figure it out.” And then as I was putting that very first video together and this is 2019, way before, you know, before the pandemic. And as I was putting the video together, I realized, “Well, I don’t actually know what people in South Africa look like.” Like I don’t know the makeup of South Africa. And so that’s continued to be something that we’ve prioritized as a business is any time we’re doing… Even within the continental US, it’s being really thoughtful about the visuals that we’re using, the imagery that we’re using. Not only does it need to be appropriate for the industry and the job itself, but it needs to be really keeping in mind reflecting the audience that it’s targeting the eyeballs that are gonna see it. So that’s been something we’ve really been conscientious about as well.
0:19:28.7 JD: We’re running out of time. But I have one final question to ask for you. It’s very predictable, but I’m always curious to hear how guests answer it, which is what’s next? What’s the next big thing you guys are gonna be doing?
0:19:39.8 BF: Oh, I love that question. Well, we are in the last… We’ve just hired a chief revenue officer. I don’t know if I can announce who it is yet, but I’ll probably end up doing a press release. And we did that after between January and July we had multiple inbound acquisition offers, which for a startup is very exciting, all of which we declined because we wanna keep growing this thing and we love working with our customers. We love securing new partnerships and partnering with job boards, applicant tracking systems. So for us, it’s really about scalability. We’ll be making our first appearance in September at HR Tech, we’ll be in the Startup Pavilion and we’ll see if they let us pitch.
0:20:21.8 BF: That will be fun. And so for us, it’s really kind of coming into this next chapter of growth where we’ve gotten past the initial stage of validating the concept and getting to your first couple of 100 customers and saying, Okay, well, that’s a good start, but how do you get all the way up here? And so for us, it really is a question of scalability and how do we make our existing platform something that anyone and everyone can access? And I will say that’s where we’ve put a lot of our energy in the last several months has been we launched a feature about five days ago that allows anyone anywhere to go to our website, Lumina.co, hit the signup button in the top right, and within 90 seconds you can be inside our product, looking at it, clicking around, browsing, and you can actually request a video job posting from us for any sort of job that you have open today.
0:21:10.8 BF: And we will generate that video for you for free and get it back to you within usually 12 hours. And then you’ll be able to use that to say, “Oh, so this is what a video job posting from my company might look like.” You can share it around internally and because we just got tired of explaining it to people and then saying, “Well, let us show you, and like instead of let us show you,” it’s like, “Well, how about you just play with it? And then if you have questions, you’ll let us know.” And it’s been so rewarding to watch people on this journey from reading a blog post or hopefully listening to this podcast and just saying, “Oh, that’s interesting. Let me instead of reading a PDF about it or calling Brian and setting up a meeting, let me just go play with it.” And if it makes sense, then we’ll have a conversation internally. And so for me, I’m very excited about kind of opening the floodgates. And I think letting people just play with your product and build a relationship with it is the key to kinda getting to that scalability. So I’m excited for the next chapter very much.
0:22:07.2 JD: Well, I think he should be and hopefully some of the people listening to this podcast are gonna be some of the people that help you scale up as well, ’cause I think job boards could play a big role in terms of expanding the reach of Lumina, so. Well, listen, Brian, it’s been great having you on the show. If our listeners want to get a hold of you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
0:22:26.3 BF: I’m a big fan of LinkedIn, so Brian Forrester, Lumina, Google any of those things and the LinkedIn will pop up, also Lumina.co is our website and you can reach me by email at email@example.com and yeah, happy to get back to anyone. And really partnerships is key to our growth strategy. So we’re looking to build those relationships, you know, first and foremost, so happy to reach out to anyone or speak with anyone who just wants to learn more. Thank you both very much for having me. It was great to be here. Great to have such interesting conversation. You guys are a lot of fun. I hope I get invited back in a couple of years. [chuckle]
0:23:02.3 JD: Well, Steven, if people want to get a hold of you, what do they need to do?
0:23:05.9 SR: Yeah, they can email me firstname.lastname@example.org. But I just wanna pick up on something that Brian said coming back in a couple of years. So here’s my prediction. In a couple of years, people will be able to go into Lumina.co and create the video all by themselves. And you won’t actually have humans that are gonna be looking at the job title, the job description, figuring out what the visuals are, that will be AI. Then you can get a feed, whether it’s from a College Recruiter or a Job Index of here’s 100,000 jobs. And we get a feed right back, here are the video job postings for every single one of them. When that happens, game changer. And then I think you’ll probably be more willing to have those acquisition conversations too.
0:23:51.9 BF: Yeah. Yeah, I could be convinced.
0:23:56.1 JD: Yeah. Well, that sounds like a sunny future, so. Well, that’s it for today’s episode of JobBoardGeek. I encourage folks to subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify or whatever other subscription platform you prefer. My name is Jeff Dickey-Chasins the JobBoardDoctor, and you’ve been listening to the only podcast that focuses about the business of connecting candidates and employers. That’s it for now. We’ll see you again next time.