Performance vs. Flat Fee Overview


We have always believed that the best way to build our product is to be flexible. That belief is one of the primary reasons that we offer both performance-based and flat fee pricing to employers that want to sponsor their jobs with Upward. However, just because we offer both approaches doesn’t mean that you will have success regardless of which approach you chose. Based on your situation, there is a preferred approach.

The Ultimate Goal is Delivering Value

Regardless of which approach you choose, we know that we need to deliver applicants to you at a reasonable price. If Upward delivers applicant volume and quality at a cost that is in line with (or ideally better than) the market, we believe that you will continue to sponsor your jobs with Upward. In this sense, everything in our product is designed with this in mind – deliver value to you regardless of how it is priced and paid for.


Before we outline when to use a performance-based or flat fee pricing approach, let’s make sure we are all using the same definitions

  • Pay for Performance – a general term that means that you are only charged when an event occurs. For our purposes, the relevant events are that a job seeker clicks on your job title and views the job details or that a job seeker completes an application for employment.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC) – this is a performance-based pricing approach where you are charged when a job seeker clicks on your job title (usually from a search results page or in an email job alert) and views the job details. You could pay as little as $0.30-$0.35 or as much as $2.00+ CPC based on your job and where you want to rank on the search results page. This is just like advertising on Google.
  • Cost Per Applicant (CPA) – this is also a performance-based pricing approach where you are charged when a job seeker completes an online application (either on or on your ATS). Similar to CPC, prices vary a lot and are determined by size of the applicant pool, the length of the application, etc. You could pay as little as $4.00 CPA or as much as $100+CPA. To determine how much to pay there is more math involved – you need to consider the volume of applicants, the apply rate (what % of job seekers complete the application), your target cost per hire and other factors.
  • Duration-Based Flat Fee – this is traditionally how job postings are paid for where you are charged a flat fee (i.e. $75) and your job is posted on a website for a set time period (usually 30 days). A great example of this is Craigslist.

Upward Pricing Options

Although there are custom setups that we do for large employers, most choose one of two options:

  • CPC – Cost per Click (with a Target CPA)
  • Flat Fee Performance Post

How It Works: CPC – Cost Per Click (with a Target CPA)

When you choose to sponsor jobs this way, you are charged every time a job seeker clicks on your job and views the job details. In order to get started, you need to decide the CPC you want to pay and the monthly budget. In order to set a Target CPA, we need to track applicant volume.

If the job application is hosted on the Upward platform, then the tracking is automatic. If the job application occurs on your company’s website (or in your ATS), then we need to set up a conversion data exchange with your website. There are two common options:

  1. We give you an image pixel to place on your application submission page
  2. We pass you a click id for every job seeker that comes from Upward. Your system stores this click id, as well as which click ids complete an application and then your system passes back to our system which clicks have submitted an application.

If you are getting the sense that this is a lot of work and sounds complicated. . . it is!

How It Works: Flat Fee Performance Post

When you choose to sponsor jobs this way, you pick an amount you want to spend to attract job seekers – think of it as an “initial budget.” Based on the amount you choose, we estimate the number of clicks you will receive before that initial budget runs out. Once you hit the maximum end of that range (or after 30 days), the job sponsorship ends. At this point, you can add more budget.

Behind the scenes, our system determines where to distribute your jobs across the Internet, as well as determines how to optimize prices (CPCs) so that you get the maximum number of qualified applicants.

Although it is a much simpler setup than a CPC campaign, there are scenarios when CPC is right for you. Read more on when to use CPC and when to use Flat Fee.

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