Far from being remembered as the Year of Google for Jobs, 2017 is more likely to be characterized as the Year of the Retail Apocalypse, where the online experience of buying consumer and household goods finally prevailed over the shopworn in-store experience. But behind all the dead malls, vacant storefronts, and liquidation sales lie some major changes in how business gets done online, including the business of getting a job.
The fundamental takeaway from the Retail Apocalypse is that buyers are spending a lot more time participating in the retail market online, and the really big players (e.g., Amazon, Walmart) are repositioning themselves to own as much of the digital shopping experience as possible.
People are also spending a lot more time participating in the job market online. Job searches typically take longer, and the hiring process is slower following the Great Recession. Yet regardless of whether people are looking for a job or are satisfied with the one they have, they are increasingly finding themselves constantly in jobseeker mode.
As demonstrated by Microsoft’s $26 billion purchase of LinkedIn in December 2016, jobseeking activity now represents big money to big tech players.
Like their retail counterparts wanting to own the online space where people spend their money, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are now aggressively trying to own the online space where people make their money, that is, the online job search experience.
Product focus: Google for Jobs
Google believes that the early stage job search is the most critical event in the jobseeking cycle and is betting on capturing users at the point where they start typing in the jobs they want into Google’s search bar. Perhaps due to the failure of Google Base, a similar product launched in 2005, Google seems to be proceeding cautiously, staggering its releases of complementary products, including Cloud Jobs API and Google Hire.
Google for Jobs offers many benefits to jobseekers, by its potential to make the job search more efficient, particularly by serving up similar roles but with different job titles, which jobseekers could easily overlook on a conventional job board. Google’s algorithms are also designed to eliminate redundant and expired job posts, a major source of irritation for jobseekers. Over time it might also suppress job scams, pyramid schemes, and other deceptive job advertising, much in the way Gmail is so effective at filtering SPAM.
More generally, Google for Jobs can expand the job search beyond the jobseeker’s filter bubble. Thanks to Google’s ability to make recommendations based on a user’s past search behavior and on a wide range of search tags/filters that Google can even suggest (such as ‘company type’, ‘employer’, ‘date posted’, etc.), jobseekers can discover opportunities for which they may better pre-screen as a “good fit.”
Furthermore, thanks to integration with previously developed Google Alerts functionality, jobseekers can also choose to receive automatic email notifications regarding new job that aligns with their job search.
For employers wanting to be seen in Google for Jobs, perhaps the best advice is to think like a marketer. That is, the perspective needs to shift from qualifying pre-candidates to funneling them. Engagement needs to begin at the point of search on the jobseeker side, using the actual search terms they are using to find jobs like yours. Google offers quite a bit of guidance for job posting in their environment, much of which applies to effective posting on job boards in general.
Speaking of job boards…is this the beginning of the end?
The short answer is not likely. Yet some disruption should be expected, particularly if Google gains enough influence to dictate the rules of job board posting.
Google is historically an organizer of online content rather than a creator of it. Therefore, it is unlikely that Google will want to start assuming the substantial costs of creating job post content, particularly when thousands of job boards are more than willing to shoulder that burden. What is more likely is consolidation within the job board industry, along with a revaluation of what a job post is truly worth. Ideally, posting costs would decrease as Google for Jobs brings some market discipline to the 40,000+ job boards already out there.
But the greater influence Google is likely to exert is on the rules for job board content development and publishing, which might include standardization as well as limits on opportunistic SEO behaviors. That would be a boon for recruitment marketing firms, such as MightyRecruiter, who could provide such expertise to recruiters and hiring organizations as part of their talent management solutions.
Making the online job search as engaging as online shopping
Ultimately, the real test for Google for Jobs and all the major tech platforms is whether they can improve the job search experience, whether for jobseekers, recruiters, or the online recruitment industry.
Skepticism is abundant, and the retail industry for all its turmoil has set a very high bar for online user experiences. Yet online traffic around jobseeking and career management is now lucrative enough to attract the attention of the tech leviathans, along with their first-string development teams. And frankly, the online job search experience has no place to go but up. Even small improvements have the potential to have big effects for millions in the workforce spending more and more time online, searching for their next job.