Employers are struggling with a very thin talent market, and their recruiting efforts depend in large part on a handful of big players in charge of popular job boards.
Enter Google for Jobs, which established a job aggregator using the company's ubiquitous search algorithm and created a simple yet comprehensive way to find openings.
Recruiters are focused on making it into Google's top search results, and competing job boards are at various stages of cooperating with the newest market entry.
For recruiters, today's talent market feels like a tight squeeze. On one hand, the U.S. unemployment rate has recently dipped to lows not seen in nearly a half-century. That means more people are getting and keeping jobs, but it has also resulted in fiercer competition for truly skilled talent. Employers are struggling to fill thousands upon thousands of openings.
The challenge has left recruiters looking for ways to innovate on multiple fronts, both in the way they interact with candidates and in the way candidates interact with them. Yet one of the biggest innovations in recruiting in the past two years occurred within the context of one of its oldest components: the job board. And right in the middle of it all, a new market presence barged into a space few expected it to enter: Google, with its simplistically named Google for Jobs.
Hidden in plain sight
Simple is actually an apt term for Google for Jobs, a program with a user experience so like that of the company's ubiquitous search function. Indeed, the transition from Google Search feels a lot like the way you'd search for travel tips, MLB scores or new shoes.
Input "jobs near me," for example, and the user gets an immediate listing of three jobs. What employers may not know is that employers are vying to put their listings on this very short list, according Venkat Janapareddy, CEO of Jobiak, a firm that specializes in helping recruiters move higher up Google's results.
"What employers are trying to figure out is, how do I get to the first three?" Janapareddy told HR Dive in an interview. "Writing a good description and just posting won't do it."
Employers aren't posting directly to Google for Jobs, he said. Jobiak estimates that almost 80% of jobs appearing there come from sites like Indeed and LinkedIn, but posts from other third-party sites are fair game as are those on company career pages. The artificial intelligence systems deployed by Google take into account certain specs in order to rank job search results, namely: keywords in job descriptions, salary information and job title. Google also requires certain "metatags" on posts in order for them to be displayed, Janapareddy said.
Regardless of the method employers choose in order to appear on the platform, many are already seeing positive results from Google for Jobs, despite its English-exclusive availability and Google's own lack of advertising for the product. "Employers realize that they can get significant traffic," Janapareddy said, at times a 30% to 40% increase in the number of applications. "The quality of candidates they're getting is better than most job boards."
Part of the reason behind that may also be the candidate experience put together by Google. Janapareddy called its search filters one of its biggest strengths. Standard ones like location, title, date and distance appear, but candidates can get even more granular after selecting industry and/or employer. Jobs can be saved for later and candidates can also use the program to set alerts and even an hourly pay comparison to other local employers provided by third parties like PayScale. In short, everything's in one place.
The stage is set
Google's technical capabilities alone could set it further apart in the job board space, but it's going to be even more difficult for other job boards to keep up given how little there's left to consolidate. Google, in providing much of the features of competing boards do, is making a bet similar to the one made by Indeed when it launched.
A strong economy has translated to solid growth for the online job board industry, David Francis, research manager at Staffing Industry Analysts, told HR Dive in an interview. But the majority of that growth has only benefited its biggest players.
"The traditional pay-for-posting model has essentially become commoditized. A lot of the companies that have been playing in that space have been struggling pretty significantly," Francis said. "So even though the overall market is growing, it's primarily driven by LinkedIn and Recruit [and] some international job boards."
What's more, those same big firms are driving much of the acquisition in the space, buying up smaller yet increasingly essential fish, like Recruit's purchase of Glassdoor and Indeed's buyout of Interviewed.
"Indeed's kind of won because if you get all the candidates going to your website, then you essentially own that audience and if you have all the jobs they'll keep coming back to your website," Francis said. "Why would you need to go to any of these thousands of niche players if all the jobs that those people are posting are on their website anyway? It's made it more challenging for the incumbents."
It's the same case for Google. Combined with the rise of Facebook's job search feature, which caters to a more blue-collar audience, "job boards are taking a hit," Janapareddy said. Though Google has struck up partnerships with players like Monster, CareerBuilder, WayUp and Snagajob, Indeed has notably not joined the train.