A friend who was a MD with a major UK recruitment advertising agency told me how, about eight years ago, his firm began to sell their expertise in Google AdWords to clients. They employed one person to do this and she was so good at her job that Google headhunted her to come to work for them. As he recalled, the feeling at that time was “if Google gets into job ads then we’re all in deep trouble” (he may have used a different last word though).
Fast forward to today, and while recruiters have been distracted (to put it politely) by the impending need to be GDPR compliant, in the background has been a nagging little worry: what’s happening with Google for Jobs (GFJ) and what do we need to do about it?
Disruption V Compliance
In many ways, this is a more important issue than GDPR. The latter will be resolved as test cases determine its parameters and everyone learns whether what they have done is sufficient to pass muster (or not). Google for Jobs on the other hand will disrupt the existing ways of advertising jobs to candidates and may well change the way in which recruitment works.
Like others, I have read what’s happened in the USA and how GFJ has already begun to make an impact on the recruitment market there. Search for a job on Google in the US and a nice little tab will appear with the word “Jobs” on it. You can then narrow your search in the normal way by using a string with the words “jobs near me” or “software jobs in New York” etc. You can also request job alerts or specify a particular company.
It’s as smart as you would expect any Google product to be, with the added advantage that it sits just where almost every search for a job begins – on Google. However you search, Google uses its amazing search engine algorithms to pull in well-matched jobs from a wide range of sources, principally existing job-boards at present, while removing all duplication. To make this happen, Google has used machine learning to create a map of over 250,000 job titles and ensure they are recognised as such. It has then partnered with some of the biggest job-boards to get up and running and provide users with the best, most relevant jobs.
However, unlike what happens just now on a UK jobs SERP, Google gives the job title more prominence than the job-board. That said, the job-seeker is then directed to the original posting, whether on a job-board or a company site, and applies from there. This obviously cements the relationship between Google and those job-boards with which it is currently in partnership but does nothing for those which are not so favoured – most notably of all Indeed, the largest job-board in the world and therefore a major competitor for GFJ. It’s here I expect to see a battle develop over the next few years – of which more below.
In the States, GFJ’s job-board partners include CareerBuilder, Monster, LinkedIn, Facebook and Glassdoor. I’ve seen articles saying that some or all of these will be partners in the UK but other articles deny this (it seems unlikely they would want to partner with CareerBuilder as it has never established itself here and the same could perhaps be said of Glassdoor). However, many job-boards in the UK are built on the Madgex platform and we do know Madgex is one of Google’s principal partners.
Google launched Google for Jobs in Canada and India in April this year and a launch date is imminent here in the UK. In the meantime, it’s clear that Google has been testing the UK market. Contacts in London have seen Google for Jobs appearing on screens in March and April and there are articles appearing online that explain how you can search from an American location and see just how GFJ works.
For any recruiter, whether a consultancy like Be-IT or a direct employer, GFJ also means that it’s essential to make it as easy as possible for Google to find your jobs. There are some basic things that need to be done, and while companies like ours are already all over this, many direct employers will, I am certain, be way behind the curve. If you suspect that’s you, this blog from Firefish is a good place to start learning what you need to do.
Ready for the Challenge
The job-boards are all gearing up for the challenge too. They want your jobs to be found via their sites and will do try to do what’s required to ensure that this happens and you keep advertising with them. For example, Reed, TotalJobs and Jobsite have changed their search algorithms and the latter has removed the option to post one job to multiple locations. Most job-boards are becoming more selective in how they allow advertisers to post, requiring more targeted job titles to increase their chances of appearing in GFJ searches.
For the aggregators and those who spend money on job-related AdWords the challenge is perhaps more daunting. This article from London-based digital recruitment marketing specialist TalentNexus explains how job-boards and aggregators will probably have to react, and notes that the cost of both aggregators and AdWords for recruitment is likely to increase substantially, as has happened in the USA.
The article also includes the comment that “The long-term goal for Google is likely to become the primary aggregator for recruitment,” while an Onrec article from August last year quotes Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichal, as saying: “The challenge of connecting job seekers to better information on job availability is like many search challenges we’ve solved in the past,” while also noting that “Ultimately, Google is determined to crack the code on matching available jobs with the right candidates.”
As recruiters, we know that these ‘right’ people are very often those passive candidates who are not keying in job searches to Google. You can be sure that like those ‘search challenges’ they’ve solved in the past, Google will be working on a way to connect passive candidates to jobs, and I would be amazed if that does not include a paid-for advertising service to reach them.
What Happens Next?
By the time you read this, Google for Jobs may well have begun in the UK. Expect lots more manoeuvring in the next 12-18 months from everyone who has a vested interest in recruitment marketing. In particular, Indeed will have been seeking a way to counter GFJ or join the party (if it is allowed to do so), as has been amply demonstrated by the recent (9th May) announcement that their parent company is paying $1.2bn for Glassdoor.
On paper, that looks like a good blend but we’ll have to wait and see how it all pans out. Smaller job-boards may not be so lucky. The key, in my opinion, is not to think only in the short-term – how can I make best use of GFJ once it’s launched – but to think how it’s likely to develop over the next few years and create strategies to deal with a range of likely outcomes. For example, suppose most of your advertising is on one job-board and it goes bust because it’s not a GFJ partner – what are you going to do then?
Let’s not beat about the bush. We know that back in the day when the job-boards began, many (including the job-board execs) initially hoped that they would control the market to such an extent that recruitment agencies would no longer have a large part to play. That has not happened, but Google is in a different league. I have seen it suggested that the initial deal for free traffic for the job-boards which have partnered with GFJ will only last for up to two years, but of course deals can be extended or cancelled.
Google Not Losing Any Sleep
Indeed offers a case study here. Indeed sought relationships with the job-boards and other publishers so that their jobs would show up in searches, but when one of Be-IT’s marketing team met a senior US Indeed exec a few years ago in London and asked “when will you turn off the job-boards?” he was met with the answer, “when they are not of any use to us any more.” And as we all know, Indeed has indeed (sorry!) turned off the job-boards. I would not be surprised if the same happens to Google for Jobs. This could create a serious problem for a lot of recruitment agencies and recruitment tech offerings.
Did Google lose any sleep over the fate of the newspapers whose previous business model, where recruitment was the cash cow for almost every single title, has all but gone? What do you think? Do I think that Google will lose any sleep if the recruitment agency world went the way of newspaper recruitment advertising? Of course they won’t. As a sagacious friend cynically once remarked, “companies such as LinkedIn and Google don’t regard world domination as an option – they think it’s their right.” It’s going to be interesting.