Around a quarter of Americans change jobs each year.
For most, that job search happens online.
Job related websites are a multibillion-dollar business with plenty of competition. They have made finding and applying for jobs more accessible and easier. However, the process isn’t without issues. Job descriptions can be misleading, and the application process can be cumbersome.
To better understand the job searching user experience we conducted a retrospective benchmark on four of the most popular job posting websites:
Study and Participant Details
In June of 2019, we asked 213 participants who had used one of the four employment websites in the past year to reflect on their most recent experience with the website. In September of 2019, we followed up with 38 of these participants for more information regarding specific answers provided in the initial survey and to see whether they had found a job.
Participants in the study answered questions about their prior experience, and desktop website users answered the eight-item SUPR-Q and the Net Promoter Score. In particular, we were interested in visitors’ attitudes toward the site, problems they had with the site, and reasons they used the website.
Full details are available for purchase in the downloadable report. Here are the highlights.
Measuring the Job Searching Website UX: SUPR-Q
The SUPR-Q is a standardized measure of the quality of a website’s user experience and is a good way to gauge users’ attitudes. It’s based on a rolling database of around 150 websites across dozens of industries.
Scores are percentile ranks and tell you how a website experience ranks relative to the other websites. The SUPR-Q provides an overall score as well as detailed scores for subdimensions of trust, usability, appearance, and loyalty. Its ease item can also predict an accurate SUS equivalent score.
The scores for the four job searching websites (desktop versions) in the perception study are above average at the 55th percentile (scoring better than 55% of the websites in the database). SUPR-Q scores for this group ranged from the 39th percentile (ZipRecruiter) to the 70th percentile (Indeed).
Trust, Appearance, and Loyalty
Similar to our analysis of dating websites, we found that trust played an important role in people’s attitudes toward the user experience. As is often the case with attitudes, the effect on behavior is asymmetrical. In both dating and job searching, having high trust in the websites is expected for people to engage with this relatively personal aspect of their lives (see our analysis linking SUPR-Q with purchasing). If people don’t trust the website, it can be a major detriment toward usage and intent to recommend. (ZipRecruiter had the lowest NPS of the group at -26%.)
We found that the biggest issue ZipRecruiter had was distrust. It scored in the 29th percentile on the SUPR-Q trust component. Participants felt there were misleading job postings and employment scams on ZipRecruiter.com.
“Sometimes the jobs do not appear to be legitimate.”
“There are lots of scams on there, and relatively fewer genuinely great opportunities compared to Glassdoor, Indeed, or LinkedIn.”
Users also said they received spam after using the website, so it’s not surprising Trust was the lowest scoring category for this website.
“Not so much with the website, but the constant nagging emails sent automatically by the website reminding me to follow up or that I submitted a resume, etc.”
“I find ZipRecruiter irritating now due to the irrelevant emails and will not use it again.”
Participants on Monster.com also reported that they received spam after using the site. They said posting a resume or creating a profile could lead to annoying spam calls or emails.
“Also, if you sign up with the website, sometimes you get some spam emails from some sketchy looking companies.”
“If you post your resume publicly on the site, you get a lot of spam emails and calls.”
Participants did not appreciate the unwanted communication as a result of using the site.
Monster, however, scored about average in Trust (49th percentile). The top improvement area for Monster was Loyalty. Monster.com is not likely to be recommended by participants, with the second lowest NPS (-20%), behind ZipRecruiter (-26%).
While Indeed tended to score among the highest across SUPR-Q components, its appearance score stood out as its worst-performing attribute. Indeed has long had a “craigslist” type of appearance that has evolved somewhat over time but is clearly still associated with its brand (for better or worse).
Irrelevant Job Matches
Irrelevant search results and poor filters were top issues reported by participants on all four job searching websites. Participants said it was hard to search for the right job that fit their needs. More specifically, the search function and filters were not helpful in narrowing down the job postings on the websites.
“The filters don’t seem to work that well—I get offered a lot of jobs that do not really fit… I am shown all sorts of jobs in completely unrelated fields simply because the languages English and/or German are mentioned somewhere in the job description. Maybe with AI the site will eventually get better at recognizing what is relevant even if the key words don’t match exactly.” — Glassdoor user
“I dislike how hard it is to apply filters toward finding jobs that actually include all relevant jobs in the range.” — Indeed user
“Missing several filtering options that competitors like Glassdoor have (namely to filter by salary).” — Monster user
“The algorithm suggests absolutely nothing related to my field of work. I can’t filter out non-applicable jobs. It doesn’t work at all, the suggestions are absolutely worthless. Indeed is the only site that is actually helpful.” — ZipRecruiter user
The ability to find desired information was a significant key driver of the job searching user experience and explained 15% of the variance in SUPR-Q scores. Making it easier for users to find job postings that actually fit their skills and requirements would improve the experience on all four of these websites.
Some participants also complained that salary information was not listed for some jobs or that it was difficult to find. This was the top piece of information that users wanted to know about the jobs that were listed, and 6% of participants also reported checking salaries as the activity they do most often when they visit the job searching websites.
“As I said, salary information almost always lacking, and you get shown way too many jobs that aren’t related in the slightest to what you’re actually looking for.” — Glassdoor user
“Not enough info especially salary info.” — Monster user
Tracking Job Applications
Having a website that users trust may be necessary but it’s not enough to guarantee a high-quality experience. For example, the ability to effectively track current applications was found to be a significant key driver for the job searching experience, explaining about 9% of the variance in SUPR-Q scores. However, we found room for improvement across all platforms. Across the websites, around half (49%) of participants didn’t agree that it was easy to track their applications (Glassdoor was the worst performer of the group). But even the best performer, Indeed, still had almost the same percentage of participants who didn’t rate the experience as easy.
“It became difficult to keep track of all the applications and whether they had gotten back to me or not.” — Indeed user
When we followed up with participants about what made application tracking so challenging, we found participants had trouble finding the sections within the websites that displayed all current applications or application updates.
“It’s hard to see what you applied to and who responded. You also don’t know if your application has been looked at or rejected.” — Indeed user
Additionally, some participants noted that some postings would redirect them to an external employer website application portal rather than staying within the job searching website.
“Tracking my applications was challenging because many of the companies linked out to a self-owned website to apply, which wasn’t updated in Glassdoor.” — Glassdoor user
In these follow-ups, many participants suggested that these job searching websites encourage more transparent communication regarding application status, whether that be from the employers or an automated messaging system within these websites.
“Naturally an employer would contact a candidate if they were interested in that person, but it would be helpful if Indeed had a feature that sent some confirmation messages to applicants when employers have checked their applications and whether or not the employer made a decision.” — Indeed user
Task Success and Visit Intention
We asked participants if they accomplished their task on the last visit to the website. Mirroring SUPR-Q scores, ZipRecruiter has the lowest completion rate (66%), while Indeed had the highest (84%). We also asked participants what tasks they do most often on the job searching websites. Not surprisingly, 75% of participants reported they use the websites to browse for new jobs.
“I browse for jobs in my area, looking for positions that I can actually qualify for.” — Indeed user
Interestingly, 15% of participants reported they look at company reviews to learn about the company culture and any potential problems with working at the company.
“I look at the reviews from people who have worked in a particular company.” — Glassdoor user
“Read reviews from past employees to learn about office culture and learn about the interview process.” — Glassdoor user
“I like to go to the company reviews section and read the reviews on the companies that are hiring in my area.” — Indeed user
Other top tasks included sending applications (7%) and checking salaries (6%). Full details are available in the report.
We conducted a Key Drivers Analysis to understand what aspects have the biggest impact on the perception of the website user experience.
The key drivers are shown below and include brand attitude (26%), ease of locating desired information on the site (15%), responsiveness of the site (10%), ease of tracking applications (9%), and ease of learning what the website offers (8%). Taken together, these elements explain 67% of the user experience on these sites.
Update on the Job Search
One of the advantages of the longitudinal study approach we took in this analysis was we could track the job search journey over six weeks. Of the 38 job seekers we followed up with, about a fifth had found a job (21%) while the rest reported still looking.
An analysis of the user experience of four job searching websites found:
- Indeed leads, ZipRecruiter lags. Recent users of four job searching websites reported an average experience (SUPR-Q scores falling at the 55th percentile). Indeed had the highest relative scores at the 70th percentile, with ZipRecruiter scoring the lowest at the 39th. Indeed also had the highest NPS (29%) while ZipRecruiter had the lowest (-26%), again showing the connection between beliefs (usability and trust) and behavioral intentions (likelihood to recommend).
- Misleading job postings and spam degrade the experiences. The top improvement area for ZipRecruiter was Trust, with scores in the 29th percentile. Participants claimed there were misleading job postings and employment scams that could have impacted trust scores. Spam was also a problem for ZipRecruiter and Monster.com users. Participants said that signing up for services or creating a profile could lead to annoying spam calls and emails.
- Sites suffer from irrelevant job matches and poor filters. Irrelevant search results and poor filters were top issues reported by participants on all four job searching websites. Participants said it was hard to search for the right job and it was difficult to narrow down the job postings. The ability to find desired information was a significant key driver of the job searching user experience and explained 15% of the variance in SUPR-Q scores.
- It’s hard to keep track of applications. The ability to easily track current applications was found to be a significant key driver for the job searching experience, explaining about 9% of the variance in SUPR-Q scores. However, across the websites, around half (49%) of participants didn’t feel it was easy to track their applications. In particular, Glassdoor has the most room for improvement with only 32% of participants agreeing that the experience was easy.