For industries that need a constant stream of new job applicants, such as logistics, job recruitment campaigns involve posting hundreds of jobs to dozens of job boards. Sounds like quite the ongoing project, right? Well yes, but fortunately you can automate things using XML feeds.
XML feeds are commonly used by job-search websites, such as Indeed, Monster, and ZipRecruiter, to update many job listings at once. While some job boards accept XML feeds for free, others offer this service only to paid subscribers. Considering the efficiency you can achieve by importing job lists via XML feeds, it’s often worth it to pay for the service.
Once a job board receives an XML job listing, it then republishes it. This process is often imperfect, though, so it’s a good idea to go through your listings on any job board subsequently to ensure that the information they are relaying is accurate, that links work properly, and that all listings are formatted to be appealing and easy to read.
What Is XML?
In short, XML stand for Extensible Markup Language.
To start, markup language is essentially a set of code that allows documents or files to be embedded in a website in a way that is easy to read and understand. Think of it as a rulebook that tells you exactly how you need to do something, but doesn’t exactly give you the means to do it.
Extensible markup language, on the other hand, is a rulebook that tells you exactly how to do something, gives you all the necessary supplies to do it, and even tells you how it should look when it’s finished.
Creating XML Feeds
So let’s say you’re a company or business that wants to use XML feeds to advertise jobs.
The first step is to create an XML file, which looks a little something like this:
Since it is just text, an XML file can be created using any text editor.
What types of content can an XML feed include, you ask? Any text content can go into an XML document. Text content can include links to images or videos, but the feed itself will be text only.
If you want to use XML feeds to distribute content from a website you control, your developer can program the backend of your site to generate an XML file on a periodic basis. This file can then be automatically sent to job boards, which should be able to provide you with a destination URL for delivery.
One shortcoming of this process is that even though XML feeds pull information directly from your site, they never translate perfectly when they reach their destination since a lot depends on the receiving site and it’s ability to process your file. Often, important details go missing or things end up in the wrong place.
Because of this inevitable loss in translation, the next step when working with XML feeds is to visit your dashboard on the destination job sites to optimize.
Optimizing XML Feeds
While XML feeds are a great way to push out massive numbers of jobs at once, there are a few things about them that can be tricky.
Since XML feeds are text only, they have to follow a rigid and specific tag markup format similar to HTML if you want them to result in common formatting options like bold text and bullet-point lists, for example.
Each destination site will also have its own particular requirements. For example, job boards do not have standard fields. Some require a “job number” or “job URL” in the XML feeds they receive while others don’t.
Because of this, each XML feed needs to be customized to suit the requirements of the job board in question. For instance, when we list jobs with Indeed, we put together an Indeed-specific feed by pulling active jobs from a hiring site database and then outputting an XML feed formatted according to their specific requirements.
Moreover, XML feeds aren’t dynamic, which means that they must be manually optimized. Manually optimizing an XML feed involves checking that each job listing is feeding into a job board properly and that all information is being displayed correctly.
A good case study of how XML optimization works is the job site ZipRecruiter, which doesn’t take into account any formatting details from the XML feeds it receives.
After a job is posted to ZipRecruiter via XML, I then go in and do a few things to spruce it up, including:
- Manually adding in campaign tracking links
- Updating job titles to increase conversions
- Formatting text to be appealing and legible (e.g., changing font size, bolding or italicizing)
- Adding a location to each listing
- Filling out benefits and other custom fields
Like many other job sites, ZipRecruiter, publishes a guide that will teach you best practices for optimizing job listings on its site.
Parting Thoughts on XML Feeds
Although the optimization work sounds tedious, properly utilizing XML feeds is a great way to make your recruitment campaigns more efficient.
If you’ve already got a hiring website with individual job listings, enabling an XML feed will get you about 70–80% of the way there with any job board, which is a huge gain in efficiency when you’re looking to promote hundreds of jobs at a time.
For more information on how to put XML feeds to work for your online recruitment campaigns, please contact us.