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I used to say Indeed was Google for jobs.

Now, Google is Google for jobs.

This week, I’ve been poking around in the Google Jobs beta (we have a chosen one on our team who was deemed worthy enough for the initial rollout). It’s clean. It’s simple. It’s smart.

Is it life-altering? For active job seekers, maybe. For some technology vendors, probably. We don’t yet know enough to share anything but speculation and perspectives. I’m more interested in what’s brewing next.

 

Giving the People What They Want – and Need

I’ve seen this kind of disruption before: almost a decade ago when Indeed rethought the job advertising model and quickly left the CareerBuilders and Monsters of the world in the dust. Now, Google is (finally) doing what Indeed did to other job boards – the difference is that Google has much more data, much more expertise in search-based algorithms and much smarter machine learning capabilities.

Perhaps more importantly, Google owns the power to tweak their algorithms when they see fit, thus affecting what millions of people find and consume every day. Remember 2015’s Mobilegeddon? Google updated its algorithm to give greater authority and higher search rankings to mobile-friendly sites. And what Google shows first, we click … literally. Only 8.5% of web traffic makes it beyond the first page of Google results, meaning 91.5% of all clicks happen on the first page only (and more than 30% of people click that first organic search result).

What I admire most about Google’s consistent changes and updates is that they don’t simply reflect what people are searching for, they shape what people consume and want to consume. Google knows that more than 50% of all searches happen on mobile and that 40% of people only search on a smartphone, so if they highly ranked optimized sites, Google’s experience and value increases to these users.

Look at Google Flights. When you search for “Boston to Denver flights,” the first organic result is a Google Flights widget that you can work from at the point of search. That box beats Kayak, Orbitz and Expedia. Currently, 1 in 10 flyers use Google Flights to start airfare shopping. But that doubles for people 18 to 32 years old, in which 21% start their travel search process on Google Flights. When the same information is presented with less barriers, adoption is natural, especially as “digital generations” make up more of the addressable market.

 

Google Jobs Beta: Take a Look

And we are fully in a digital generation when it comes to talent acquisition.

Now, when a person searches for “project manager jobs,” they’ll see a Google Jobs widget ahead of Indeed, Monster, etc. results:

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Clicking in, the job seeker will find an entire list of jobs that match their search, scraped from tons of sources across the web: Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, local job boards and employers’ career sites. Of course, it’s simple and consolidated: a slate of job openings in one place that saves the job seeker time.

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The true power, though, will depend on how Google will use machine learning to better suggest the right jobs based on keyword association, search history, commute time and more. We’ll see.

Right now, while other job boards look like an endless list of sponsored ads and old-school listings, Google has succeeded in making their experience more enjoyable – an adjective not typically associated with job searching and applying.

 

The Implications for What’s Next

The clear benefit of Google Jobs is that it will remove barriers between job seekers and employers. As a CEO of a software company in this industry that’s sought to remove barriers for a decade, I applaud this. I also welcome Google into the talent acquisition space: it means more disruption and a little fear – which means more technologies upping their game to stay cutting edge. (A little fear never hurt anyone!)

But there are a lot of implications that aren’t yet clear (because as much as we all search for information, Google never lets people into their future strategies).

Yes, Google Jobs will enable people to find jobs across sources more easily, with less interruptions and fewer clunky interfaces. But those people typing “project manager jobs” into Google are job seekers ­– and they’re only 12% of the addressable talent market. The other 88% are waiting for the right job or right employer or right purpose to find them.

I challenge us all to consider:

  • How can we optimize our employer brands and content to find the people not searching for open jobs?
  • Will Google’s algorithms eventually reward shorter, more seamless application processes?
  • How can personalized content and talent network forms positively affect search rankings?
  • How can we diversify our spend and channel investment to be found by Google across more sources?
  • How can we move from reactive to proactive when it comes to creating better experiences, not being forced by Google making a change?

Long-term, jobs need to find candidates, not the other way around. But job titles don’t sway the 88%: they’re open to a better opportunity, a more flexible vacation policy or a more purpose-driven role. Organizations need to build recruitment marketing strategies that lead with their employer brand first and their jobs second, nurturing the right people with the right message at the right time across the channels they use every day.

So while Google Jobs will definitely help people get to the right jobs, we still need to work on how jobs – and brands – will get to the right people.

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