Most of 2017 was buzzing about the impact of AI and predicting when robots will replace our jobs. I love tech innovation probably more than most, but something else has my attention lately: Google for Jobs.
While most new HR tech like AI is at the beginning of market adoption, Google for Jobs launched in the U.S. last summer and was used by the mass market instantly. In my view, it’s the biggest disruption to the job search since Mobile, but I think Google for Jobs will be more consequential because of the impact it will have on Recruitment Marketing strategy. For HR and TA leaders, the real opportunity presented by Google for Jobs isn’t about jobs – it’s about employer branding and candidate experience.
Rethinking Job Search and Discovery
If you ask HR and TA leaders what is their number one strategy for generating applicant flow, most will answer posting to job boards. Even social media and digital channels are primarily used to promote open jobs when it’s time to hire. This strategy is job-led and hinges on ensuring that our jobs can be found by the right candidates when they’re searching, so we tend to post everywhere to cover our bases. We all know the phrase: “Post and Pray.”
But wait. Google for Jobs just completely changed how candidates will search for and find available jobs, requiring HR and TA leaders to rethink how candidates will discover their job openings.
Google for Jobs is a dedicated job search engine that aggregates jobs from every source across the web, ranked by relevance based on everything Google knows about the job, about candidates personally and what they’re looking for. Candidates can filter by a growing number of options such as when the job was posted, type of company, full time or part time, and distance from their location. In addition to the job description, they can see salary ranges and employer ratings, and can turn on job alerts for their search query, just like Google Alerts for keywords. (Why will we need ATS job alerts in the future?)
Just publishing your open jobs to dozens of job boards will not make your job listings appear higher in Google for Jobs. Instead, Google gives candidates a choice of which site they’d like to use to apply for the job, including applying directly on your career site. I expect that choice will be based on the experience they have in applying for jobs as well as other value they may get from a site / service, such as careers content, industry networking, etc.
Action Item: If your career site still isn’t mobile responsive, it could start costing you dollars. Google ranks “mobile ready” websites higher in its search results, which means your “free to click to apply” career site could be listed below your “paid” job boards.
Adapting to Market Disruption
I’ve seen the impact of Google’s entry into a new market first-hand. 10 years ago I was EVP of Marketing at a mobile phone software company. When the first Android phone was launched, it rocked our world – everyone in the mobile value chain had to rethink their value proposition and their business model. Many good companies couldn’t adapt. (For example, just google (hehe) Symbian and RIM.) It’s because of this experience that I’m paying close attention to how Google for Jobs will change recruiting.
Google’s influence will push employers, job boards and HR tech providers to standardize job information so that Google’s search algorithms can find and display jobs with the simplicity and relevancy of an online consumer shopping experience. All the major job boards, ATS providers and recruitment marketing platforms are working to support Google’s job posting schema so that your jobs can appear in Google for Jobs search results, and certain providers are integrating with Google for Jobs directly (here’s a list).
Action Item: Ensure that your ATS and any platform you use to post to job boards supports Google for Jobs. More importantly, verify that job descriptions on your career site are adhering to Google’s job schema. Otherwise, your career site won’t be listed in Google for Jobs search results, and the candidate journey will take a detour away from your own careers content.
The good news is that HR tech providers seem to be adapting. But for some, Google is encroaching in their space, so the push probably feels like a punch. I’ve seen what happens when the Borg rolls into town: Resistance is futile.
Please don’t misunderstand me to think that I believe Google’s entry into HCM is bad for the market. I believe the complete opposite. Competition is good and it forces us to innovate. (10 years later in the mobile phone industry, who can say that low-cost smartphones for virtually everyone on the planet is a bad thing?) And please don’t think this market disruption only affects the job boards and HR tech companies. Google for Jobs is significant for everyone in HR and TA, especially practitioners.
I’d go as far to say that, as practitioners, if we don’t understand the impact and the potential of Google for Jobs, I fear we’re at risk for “Post and Pray 2.0.” What I mean by that is HR and TA leaders could see their jobs appear in Google for Jobs search results and think they’re covered, just like thinking posting to job boards is the only strategy needed to make quality applicants roll in. We all know how that turns out.
Ready for the New Candidate Journey
As the HR tech value chain adapts to Google for Jobs (and Google’s own ATS, Google Hire), we must adapt as practitioners too. The front end of the candidate journey will change. Candidate behavior will change. We need to anticipate what these changes will mean for our candidates and our companies, track what’s actually happening, and adapt quickly.
Action Item: For Recruitment Marketing, this will mean focusing on two areas:
- We must influence candidate awareness and perception before they start their job search. What will you do to ensure that your employer brand and people proposition reach candidates before they become job seekers? How will you share your company’s story and through what channels to reach your target candidates?
- We must influence candidate behavior and preference while they’re actively looking for their next opportunity. How will you influence candidates to choose your job / your company at the exact time when they’re searching? What will make a candidate click to apply to your job when the presentation of information will become standardized? What will make them return again in the future?
These are not recruiting challenges – they are marketing challenges – the same challenges that B2C marketers face every day. B2C marketers must build awareness for their brand, educate consumers on their benefits, differentiate from the competition, and – at the point of sale – leverage their brand’s strength and offer incentives to drive purchases.
This is why I believe the real opportunity with Google for Jobs isn’t about jobs. By making the front-end of the job search process easier and consistent for candidates, HR and TA leaders can (must) refocus their Recruitment Marketing strategy from leading with jobs to leading with their employer brand and candidate experience. As a result, Recruitment Marketing strategy will become a competitive differentiator. Having skills in branding, advocacy, social media, digital, content and conversion optimization will give you a tremendous opportunity to increase the value you bring to your organization in 2018 and beyond.
For several years, we’ve talked about how candidates are like consumers. Google for Jobs gets us closer to that reality than ever before. If we don’t step off the hamster wheel of reactive, job-led recruiting in 2018 — with everything we know that’s changing — when will we?
Action Item: Step up to lead your company through this major industry shift.