The moment Indeed’s president learned not to dismiss ‘dumb’ ideas from young talent

Photo: iStock.

While large corporates enjoy a nice slice of the market share, innovation and creativity can often be compromised.

But for Indeed, the largest job search site in the world with sites in more than 60 countries, new hires and fresh young talent is the secret sauce behind its ability to innovate.

“As a business, we have a very simple mission which is that we help people get jobs,” Indeed president Chris Hyams told Business Insider.

“That is really the sort of simple concept that orients everything that we do… from when the company was really a small start-up 12 years ago to now the number one site for jobs in the world globally.

“At Indeed, the first innovation really was to take the search engine model to the employment space… the model is a pay per click pricing model which means that only if someone actually clicks on that job advertisement and goes to their site then the employer pays for that individual visit.

“These initial innovations are, we believe, the sort of linchpin to helping to basically bring job search into the 21st century.

“The spirit that got us to here was the spirit of entrepreneurialism and innovation. Now, as a company with more than 3,000 employees, we continue to hunger for discovering these new ideas.

This is where the company’s hiring strategy comes into play.

In July 2015, the company launched Indeed University: a 12-week summer program for new Indeed software engineers from all over the world.

“After a week of getting them on board, we basically turned to all of them and said, ‘Your job now is to launch new start-ups to help people find jobs’,” he said.

“We gave them complete and total autonomy.

Photo: LinkedIn.

“They brainstormed, they pitched their own ideas, they came to the executive team with those ideas but specifically we decided not to sit in judgment of which projects should be funded or which ones should be rejected.

“The only requirement for funding was that they had to convince two other members to work with them for the summer.”

Eleven new products were created that year, five of which ended up graduating into new products and now have entire teams focused on them.

“I think, one of the most exciting things that we have done in the last couple of years is a product called ‘Job Spotter’ that was developed by three of our new college grads,” says Hyams.

Basically, Job Spotter takes all the jobs not posted online – either in-house or listed on a window of a storefront – and allows people to access them.

“We just launched it here about five weeks ago – and it’s already one of the top 10 sources of job seekers on Indeed in Australia,” he said.

“From my perspective, that’s most exciting because when they pitched it I thought it was a dumb idea and I told them it wouldn’t work.

“And that is because we had a bunch of very smart people with MBAs who had done research over time, this was not a new idea, people had suggested it. We had basically conclusively proved that it couldn’t work. They said ‘thank you for sharing’ and went ahead and did it anyway.

“So the smartest thing, ultimately, that I did last summer was to not say no to these new ideas, that we built into the system the ability for people to take their own risks, take their own chances, take ownership of these ideas and they proved us all wrong.

“As we continue to grow we want to have this entrepreneurial spirit, we want to continue to innovate and the greatest enemy to innovation is certainty. And as companies get successful our biggest enemy would be to think that we have figured everything out. So we want to stay completely open minded to new ideas and give people the freedom to experiment and come up with new ideas.”

Currently, there are 16 million jobs from around the world on Indeed and the business has offices in 13 countries across the world.