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'Google for Jobs' is a recruitment game-changer

Search engine giant unveils plan to match jobseekers with postings
Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during the annual Google I/O developers conference in San Jose, Calif., on May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

By Todd Humber

Brace yourself, human resources professionals. One of your core functions has caught the attention of Google.

It unveiled a plan to launch a job search engine in the United States, but you know it’s only a very short matter of time before it goes global. (Google doesn’t tend to wait long with these efforts.)

Called “Google for Jobs,” it was announced at the company’s developer conference – known as I/O – early this afternoon.

“The service will focus on all types of jobs — from entry-level and service industry positions to high-end professional jobs,” according to a story on TechCrunch. “It will also leverage Google technologies like machine learning and A.I. to better understand how jobs are classified and related, among other things.”

This has the potential to be a game-changer in the world of online job boards. We’ve already seen some significant erosion in recent years with many job boards. Sites like Workopolis and Monster, once behemoths, don’t carry the same weight. LinkedIn has been a massive disruptor, as have aggregators such as Indeed.

Interestingly, LinkedIn is a partner in this new initiative. As are Facebook, Monster, Glassdoor, Careerbuilder and others.

Indeed, on the outside looking in, quickly fired back at Google’s move, with this statement from president Chris Hyams, as reported in the New York Times: “We are happy to see that 13 years after Indeed launched, Google has woken up to the fact that searching for jobs is one of the most important searches in anyone’s life.”

Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, pointed out that nearly one-half of employers in the U.S. are facing talent shortages, according to TechCrunch.

“While jobseekers may be looking for openings right next door – there’s a big disconnect here,” he said. “We want to better connect employers and jobseekers through a new initiative, Google for Jobs.”

Applying for positions could also get the Google treatment. News reports indicate there will be a big blue “Apply” feature that will allow a one-click application to available openings.

This all sounds very cool, but what are the practical implications for HR? There are a couple of scenarios that aren’t difficult to imagine.

The death of the job board

Job boards may have a tough go staying in business. Google is very good at scraping the Internet for information. Just look at Google News – news sites, like Canadian HR Reporter, can sign up to have Google News scrape its website regularly and post stories to the news page.

Similarly, the careers page of any company could likely be registered (even that may not be necessary, as Google can probably figure out on its own what pages on your corporate site feature jobs). That means a simple posting of a job on your web page would put it in front of the world of jobseekers. No more posting fees.

Jobseekers won’t take long to figure out Google is a great source for gigs. After all, why bother clicking through to a job board when you can see every job available right from a search engine?

But don’t mourn the job boards too soon, especially niche ones. The knee-jerk reaction of any recruiter to this news won’t be positive – they’re already flooded with unqualified candidates, and the idea of making it even easier to find and apply for jobs could give them hives.

Job boards can still hold an advantage in delivering candidates who are a better match.

The death of the cover letter

The one-click apply feature, already a mainstay of most job boards, has meant the majority of resumés are coming through without a cover letter.

I’ve seen a drastic reduction in the number of cover letters over the years. I’m willing to bet most hiring managers would back that up. And even when a cover letter is attached, it is all too often a generic one that doesn’t address the unique skills and qualifications sought.

Time will tell

We don’t know all the ramifications from this still breaking announcement. But Google has been a massive disruptor in every industry it plays in, and we expect the same in the realm of recruitment.

Google has sophisticated algorithms that could quash fears of unqualified applicants – perhaps it would only serve up jobs a worker is truly qualified for. That may not be in version 1.0 of Google for Jobs, but expect it to get sophisticated, and fast.

It is Google, after all.

© Copyright Canadian HR Reporter, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Todd Humber

Todd Humber is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. Follow him on Twitter @ToddHumber
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