Coming After You.
How Jooble, a Ukrainian Company, Conquers the World
Jooble Head of Marketing Sviatoslav Stepanenko explains competition and revolution in the world of recruiting


Coming After You.
How Jooble, a Ukrainian Company, Conquers the World
Jooble Head of Marketing Sviatoslav Stepanenko explains competition and revolution in the world of recruiting
Jooble was created in 2006 by two Ukrainian students without any external investment. Today, this is the second largest job search engine in the world. Jooble works in 71 countries and continues to expand — the company has recently acquired a new office space in Podil business district in Kyiv that is linked to their existing office through a glass overpass.

Adsider talked to Sviatoslav Stepanenko, Jooble Head of Marketing, about strategy, automatization, and the new product that the company will present in Ukraine.
Jooble is now in top three job search services, right after Indeed.com. How do you position yourself?

To the question "What does your Dad do?" the daughter of our founder answers "Helps people find a job." That's what the mission of the company is. Every decision Jooble makes is related to this mission, and we are even ready to sacrifice income for it.

What helped you succeed?

I really like this phrase, "vision without execution is hallucination." We're not trying to put ourselves in the rigid framework of a long-term strategy, but move forward in tactical steps, try a lot of new things, and do a lot of self-improvement work. This is what allows us to keep up with the trends of the market and reach our goals. And of course, there is no company without people. Our jooblers are the stars.

You have very diversified markets.

71 country.

Which regions are a priority?

The neighboring countries, CIS, and we don't forget the Europe either. We exhibit good growth in the countries where there is no terrible competition. It is harder in the US, Great Britain, France, and Germany, where the market is oversaturated almost in every business category.
You monetization channels: how do you make money?

At the global level, our main source of income is working with job boards, meaning selling traffic. Speaking in simpler terms, we have wholesale — job boards and retail — employers. Our task in Ukraine now is to move to retail; in the other countries we continue to work in wholesale. In addition to that, we have income from advertising networks and from banners, gradually decreasing their number.

What are Jooble's main problems today?

I wouldn't call them problems, I would say they were challenges: we are launching a new product for employers to the Ukrainian market.

Jooble as an aggregator used to focus solely on job boards. Ukraine is one of the few exceptions where we started communicating with the client — the employer — directly. The difference in economics between an aggregator, a job board, and a final employer client can be very dramatic: tens or even hundreds of times, and if we want to considerably grow in the nearest future, we need to work with employers directly. This is the challenge: jump to working with a different client, while remaining an aggregator.

What is your algorithm for working with job boards?

At first, we find out that a certain job board exists and have the first contact. The second stage is them testing our product, the third — paying for our services. The fourth and final stage is when the job board starts working with us on permanent basis, an iterative continuation of interaction happens.

How is interaction with employers different from your usual approach?

When we work with B2B job boards our main target audience are marketologists who need to buy traffic of job seekers. Employers are smaller than job boards by the number of job openings, but at the same time there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands more of them themselves. Also, employers bring much more income per one job opening. And since our payment system is based not on placement, but is a more advanced PPC one — where we take payment for user attention, we earn much more.

The main challenge here is to retune the market where everybody is used to working the old way. Any market evolves — in the past, they used to pay for banner placements or displays, then came the clicks, then the transactions. The same revolution is now happening in the world of recruiting. The companies are abandoning the classic payment for placement and transferring to PPC.

Are you testing your product for employers only in Ukraine?

The cost of failure is the lowest here. To say more, it's not like the employers are used to the standard model of job boards. They just didn't have a choice, because all job boards offer the 'payment for placement' model that is beneficial for them. I'll walk you through the logic: according to our data, when a person posts a job offer, they close it on average in 12-14 days, and the placement is paid for a calendar month. During the remaining time, the employer is wasting their money.

With our model that is based on payment for user attention the employer can stop the system as soon as they close the vacancy, and not pay extra.
Lowering the price you win because you gain new clients?

We do. There is a very cool example of indeed.com. It just squeezed out the typical placement on the markets where it introduced its model, because at some point the employer started thinking: "Why pay more?"

How do you interact with the traditional job search websites?

Most job boards within Ukraine stopped working with us when we started competing for the end client. We plan to work with them in the framework of healthy competition. We are equally honest with our partners and with our competitors.

Do you let them know you are 'coming after them?'

We do. It doesn't help them anyway.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter — social networks also entered the market of hiring. Are they a threat for you or not?

We work almost with everyone who introduced the possibility to place job offers: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google. Facebook are our partners in the advertising network. We may soon become partners also in placing job offers.

What does it mean to be a 'partner of LinkedIn' or 'partner of Google?' This is complete interaction. The employer doesn't need to pay other resources for placement: they publish their vacancy on Jooble, and it immediately appears on the social networks and on Google.

Your product for the employers: what promotion channels are you going to use?

All instruments of paid advertising, organic advertising, mailing lists. Text messages, email, Viber, WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram.
To the question "What does your Dad do?" the daughter of our founder answers "Helps people find a job."
What about offline?

We may enter the offline this year. We haven't done it yet, because the economics of an aggregator is much lower than that of a job bard, and it is hard for us to compete with them within this surplus of money.

Who are Jooble marketing team?

We have 18 people currently on the team. They are teamed up in smaller groups with different KPIs. They have also recently been joined by PR and event managers.

There are also remote employees: those who specialize in buying paid traffic, analytics, designers, SEO specialists. That's if we don't include the link builders — we have 40 or 50 of them in the office, and over a 100 more work out of office.

Do you work with contractors or do you prefer to move it in-house?

We try to bring almost all the competencies in-house, but we are also responsible about our money. If there are types of tasks when a person doesn't have to be in the office the entire time, we assign them to contractors.

A CMO — who is this person and what do they do in the company?

I can tell you about the things that I do myself. It's classic — taking part in all the processes that are related to marketing inside and outside the company. Be involved in all the interesting things that are related to advertising and communication with the user. Help build teams. Be a mentor and a professional. And of course, you need horizontal knowledge in almost every marketing sphere and day-to-day learning.
How do you top up your knowledge? Where do you learn? What would you advise to read?

I constantly watch YouTube channels on marketing, read about new instruments, and think how to apply interesting solutions from other business categories. I read books on marketing, business, team management, corporate culture development. Our partners Google and Facebook also help us learn, and we constantly exchange experience with other companies.

Here is the list of books that I have recently read:
How are you building Jooble's brand?

We are a performance story, not an investment one, and this defines our approach. Our main metrics are classic ROI, ROMI, ROAS, and LTV. Brand awareness is not a performance metric, it's rather 'marketing magic' that cannot be expressed through numbers. We used not to play in that field, but in Ukraine this is where we are moving now.

How do you retain your clients?

With results. Our product is very similar to GoogleAds: every job board has their profile page that they manage and where they see internal metrics. A lot depends on how the job board uses their opportunities: the frequency of job offer updates and their quality. We are primarily job seeker-oriented and want to bring the main value to job seekers.
We'll let go of the project that publishes bad job offers even if it's willing to pay
How do you teach job boards to use their personal profile page?

We have a filter of sorts. Bad job offers and low quality content are not displayed in the top part of the search results, and job boards have no choice but to improve the quality of their content. Also, our day-to-day quality team constantly monitors for fraudulent job offers and turns them off. We are ready to close a project that publishes low quality job offers, even if they are ready to pay.

How does your paid advertising perform?

We have over 1,500 accounts on Google Ads. This is a considerable number: you can place only 5 million elements within 1 account. And now imagine the scope of what we do. This is me boasting now.

Paid advertising works in positive return on investment mode and ensures one third and up to over a half of traffic in some of the countries.
Several pieces of advice for a market specialist?

My first advice would be to look at everything from helicopter view. Our rather small team manages an enormous amount of paid accounts and the largest Jooble tank in the sphere of global marketing. To cope with this task, we learned not to dig into details — a separate account or a landing page, but to look from a bird's-eye view, on metrics.

The second advice I received myself from Jooble co-owner Roman Prokofiev: start every day with 15-30 minutes of looking for problems in the project, even if at first sight everything seems to be ok. Try to find the things that make you feel unease and think what could be changed. This needs to be done it the morning, while you still have fresh thinking.

The third advice is reflection on results. You can't be too perfect. Did you launch an advertising campaign or some creative content? Take a look at it from the side and think: what could have been done better?
Jooble has over 200,000 resources in its database that update daily
You called Jooble a tank, and you really have an enormous database. How difficult is it to update?

An aggregator is not an easy thing. Many think that it is not hard to write an aggregator that will collect information from other resources: you just need a couple of programmers, a couple of scripts, and that's it. However, we have over 200,000 resources in our database that update daily. Last year, we met a company that asked over six figures a month in dollars to update the same number of websites as we do, but not once a day, but once a week.

How do you do A/B tests inside marketing?

When we test a new advertising instrument, bid algorithm or changing titles in SEO, we break the traffic down in 4 groups — A, B, C, and D, two of them control groups and two — test groups. We also use additional health metrics. When we connect the test we observe the difference between test and control groups.

What systems of analytics do you use?

Classic Google Analytics. We don't have Adobe Analytics. Of course, we use analytics from external services, Facebook Analytics and so on, our internal database, and data visualization instruments — Power BI and Tableau.

Which marketing metrics do you check every day?

Number of users, income, and ROI.
Jooble has 50 linkbilders in the office, and over a 100 more work out of office
Automatization on Jooble. In marketing, what do you still do manually and what is fully automated?

Our A/B tests, creation of advertising campaigns, internal bidding on instruments, and reporting. We try to automate all repetitive tasks, even the making of creative content.

Tell us about how creative content is automated.

One of the types of creative content that we use on Facebook is a picture of the city that has an external frame with a button 'reply' or 'go to website.' When a user opens a post, a picture of the city where they live pulls up, even if this is a small town or a village under one hundred people. The user thinks: "Wow, this is my city, I know this building, I could click here." These pictures proved to be better than video, motion formation, or gifs. We collect images, a frame is automatically laid on them, a button is placed, everything is cut, adjusted by size and given to market specialists.

This saves a lot of energy, because there may be 100,000 localities in just one country. And this makes for 100,000 pictures that need to be uploaded either manually, or though our automatization instrument.

What are your KPI?

We a have an annual goal and quarterly goals inside the company. Every team makes its suggestions on achieving the annual goal and offers breaking down into quarters. That's how we do planning.
You support horizontal networking inside the company. What are the ways for, let's say, junior developer to influence Jooble corporate culture though?

Every employee — and I truly believe that — has an equal amount of influence on the internal culture of the company. We take pride in this.

Depict a typical joobler.

The main values of the company could describe a typical joobler. Those values were created for a reason, and not because the owner or the team lead said so. They were created by the backbone of Jooble team that started the company.

A person is not born with a ready set of values. And if one of our values is not distinctive in a candidate, this doesn't mean that they are not a good match for us. If they are a good person, they will develop this value in themselves.

Our values are the internal locus of control, orientation on development, openness to people, passion about what you do, and business owner mindset.

Taking responsibility for your actions?

And the responsibility for the end result. Every employee should think like the company owner: if something is misplaced, they won't steal it, but will help to fix it.

Internal locus of control means not shifting the responsibility for your actions on outside factors.

Openness to people is to what extent an employee can put themselves in the shoes of the other person and understand their thoughts and actions.

Being passionate about what you do — a person should have passion about their job. And we are very proud that jooblers are like that.

And the fifth value — orientation on development, aspiration to constantly improve your knowledge. When you ask a question "what did you learn in the past year?", and a person can calmly answer what they read and which conferences they visited.
Note: The interview with Sviatoslav Stepanenko was recorded before quarantine measures were introduced in Kyiv, Ukraine. Jooble now works in remote mode.
Interview by Julia Danylenko

Photos by Marichka Bohun
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