Why I’m Not Betting on Google For Jobs to Change Recruiting

Last week Google announced they are officially entering the job board space with their newest product, Google for Jobs. Recruiters already rely on Google Adwords to help target job candidates who increasingly look to Google and other search engines to search for job openings that fit their skills, experiences, location and other essential requirements Maybe Google realized that increasingly candidates are looking to search engines as well as job aggregators to find work. More likely they realized the business opportunity that lay before them. Recruiting and people are big business, and in order to compete again Facebook and Microsoft, Google for Jobs is the logical next step.

What is Google for Jobs?

Ideally, Google’s new Google for Jobs product will index and understand jobs better. Ideally, the algorithm will analyze, understand and match candidates to specific jobs. Job candidates search results will be more targeted ensuring that the most qualified and best candidates can reach employer openings. The new Google for Jobs search interface will be cleaner, sleeker and easier to navigate for the job seeker while on the back end the Google search algorithm will search, identify and rank important keywords and terms allowing for a higher quality match. Additionally, the job seeker will see more relevant job postings based on their specific requirements as well as more recent and active job postings. The Android Police website is already reporting that many of the Google for Jobs search features are already available to a small number of Android phone users. I’ve included some screenshots below.

The challenge with indexing and prioritizing job postings is nothing new. Google’s search engine does a poor job of identifying and indexing job postings high in the search rankings. This happens for a number of reasons but mostly because search engines view web links that are new as less relevant and valuable. Google and other search engines determine a website and link’s importance by the age of the site and link and number of high-quality sites. Search engines normally penalize websites that have duplicate content on them. For example, if you are hiring for 230 cashiers at all 230 of your retail stores and have individual job postings for each opening, Google’s algorithm views these job postings as duplicate content because you are using the same job description and text over and over again. The algorithm views your postings as less important because the content is duplicated and will push your job openings lower in the search results meaning that job candidates can’t find your postings when they go to Google to search.

Job boards, as well as company career sites, and staffing agencies have been impacted by search engines ranking duplicate content as less important. When you, as a corporate recruiter publish a job posting on a single job board, typically traffic is driven to the posting the following ways: 1) publishing the same job postings on other job board sites, 2) email blasts or 3) affiliate incentives to job board partners. The publishing of duplicate content on sister and partner job boards has been effective at driving candidates to paid job listings. This is why you often see a job posting on another site that isn’t the job board you originally posted on. Job boards typically pay their partners per click or applicant.

Job boards experience the same search engine algorithm challenges that employers do with their own job postings and career sites. However, job boards have found ways to work around the algorithm restrictions by sharing and promoting partner job sites and listings in order to drive revenue and through the creation of job aggregator sites like Indeed. Job aggregators have risen to prominence and yet with their success candidate quality for recruiters remains an issue while job seekers continue to be frustrated because they can’t find relevant job postings. There are billions of jobs and thousands of aggregators whose job postings have not solved the problem of matching the best quality job seekers to their perfect job posting.

Google for Jobs Isn’t Solving the Real Problem with Recruiting and Hiring

This algorithm problem is real. It’s the reason I receive insurance sales job postings via email and why I’m often recommended for computer program roles too.  As our reliance on the internet and technology to live our daily lives grows, this issue only compounds. Our need to find relevant and targeted information as a job seeker is happening because of our expectations as consumers. Why can’t jobs be served up to us like a Facebook ad for outdoor lighting or like the Gigi New York ad that keeps following me around Instagram?

The problem with Google for Jobs is it doesn’t really solve the larger problem and it doesn’t align with our move as employers to be a more open, accessible and more human business and employer brand. Yes, searching for jobs will be easier, but the hiring process is no different. It still involves the middle man.  It’s time for the stuffy old job board space to be scared, to be terrified and to be disrupted. Both Google Cloud API and Google for Jobs are focused on job boards instead of helping to remove the barrier between candidate and recruiter. If the two biggest frustrations by job seekers are 1) not finding qualified jobs and 2) the black hole, Google for Jobs should focus on the bottom of the funnel which is the employer. Instead, Google for Jobs is focusing their efforts on indexing job boards instead of a company’s career site and job listings. They are not increasing the search rank importance of landing pages that come from an ATS.

With Google for Jobs, candidates will still need to engage the middle man, the job board and because of this employers will too. In 1996, Google was created is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful and with their newest product Google for Jobs, they are missing the mark. Google for Jobs is a band aid to a broken and dysfunctional hiring process. It’s not the cure that I was hoping for. Like a greedy pharmaceutical company, they are putting profits before patients. Their views are short term. Google has an opportunity to transform the recruiting and hiring process. My fear is they are so far removed from the actual candidate job search or even a realistic hiring and recruiting process they can’t see the opportunity that’s right in front of them. But then again, I’m not sure I want Google to transform anything related to hiring or recruiting especially in light of their resistance to provide reports and documentation to the Department of Labor regarding an audit looking into discrimination of female workers and pay disparity.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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