Tuesday the 17th of July was an exciting day for all of us here at iintegra. Not only was it World Emoji day but Google for jobs finally landed in the UK! ✈️
After months of anticipation, the day passed without a hiccup. Candidates still visited their favourite job boards and recruiters still posted and filled their roles online.
Three weeks on candidate sourcing has carried on in the same vein. But, could this just be the calm before the storm?
In this article we examine GfJ's immediate and future impact on the market and provide a glimpse into what's in store for job boards and recruiters.
In the three weeks since Google for Jobs arrival there has been thousands of posts from hundreds of recruiters discussing the impact on the UK job advertising market and how Google's entrance into this market will change the recruitment landscape.
There's been much discussion too about a lot of employers and ATS platforms not being GfJ ready. Whilst this may be true, we'd posit that they didn't need to be ready in order to benefit from the roll-out of GfJ although the benefits would be less so than a platform that is GfJ ready.
So, after the arrival of GfJ in the UK, what are the benefits to job seekers and recruiters?
Let's start with the job seekers...
Convenience. It's plain and simple. There's no bigger benefit to GfJ than how convenient it is. Let's be honest, the vast majority of us start our Internet searches on Google so why would a job seeker do anything different? In days gone by, Google would hand off that search traffic to the major job boards and well optimised career sites with high brand awareness, now however, not so much.
For the job seeker then, having all the jobs you could ever want in one place that enables them to more easily identify which job ads are actually the same job makes it easier for job seekers to wade through the noise that is the job ad market.
...Now onto the recruiters
The simplistic answer to how recruiters benefit from GfJ is that it's another free channel to advertise their jobs on and if their technology is GfJ ready, they have to do nothing for it to work.
Google is by far and away the highest traffic platform on the Internet so it's already got enough visitors to generate more than enough traffic to feed recruiters with applicants, it just comes down to the awareness of the job seeker that GfJ is there and they'll start using it.
The more complex answer is that recruiters may not benefit much at all in the long term unless they're willing to put some work in. We already know that without the judicious use of bid management on the job aggregator sites, the quality of applicants from them can be lower than that of the premium job boards. GfJ offsets this by giving job seekers a choice which potentially directs them to those premium boards regardless. The volume of job seekers delivered by GfJ is surely set to rise as job seekers become more aware of it as a service so managing yet more applications will only be achievable by an ATS platform that's built for extremely high volume recruiting, even for smaller organisations.
So, why didn't it matter if recruiters weren't GfJ ready?
Every major job board has its job listings on GfJ, most modern ATS vendors are providing GfJ ready platforms so it didn't matter because even those recruiters that weren't GfJ ready were posting their ads to at least one platform that was ready.
Whilst those wouldn't get direct applications to their recruitment platform, they would get applications driven to their job ad platform of choice.
How we're leveraging GfJ today
We've always provided clients with career sites featuring enhanced SEO to deliver great rankings on Google for job seeker related searches and they've always performed well. Adding in the JobPosting schema for GfJ support almost 18 months ago was a no-brainer for us and it paid off with applications to client branded listings on GfJ from day one of its launch in the UK.
We didn't stop there with our GfJ integration though, the Apply portal and ATS components of our Talent Acquisition Platform (TAP) also support GfJ directly. Even our clients without a GfJ ready career site can benefit from the extra advertising channel.
After two weeks, how is it really working?
Well, after two weeks, we'd have to say that GfJ is working well. It's not the market leader in terms of delivering high volume application levels (yet), but we can see that traffic from GfJ is steadily increasing to our clients' careers sites and direct applications into our TAP are performing well too. In fact, we've had applicants come into the ATS from GfJ directly and be qualified for Interview in under 24 hours.
What has Google for Jobs taught us
We're not sure GfJ has taught us anything just yet. It'll take some more time to work out exactly what's changed for the recruitment industry and how that impacts on us all before we know what we've learnt. What we can say though is that GfJ is exposing some of the weird and wonderful things job ad platforms do to increase job seeker traffic to their sites. You can much more easily see the first, second and third tier of job seeker feeder sites that get funnelled into the major job boards and ultimately deliver the applicant to your inbox (in whatever form that takes).
What does the future hold for job boards, recruiters, GFJ and others?
GfJ will experience increased brand awareness, increased traffic, increased application CTR's and increases in the numbers of GfJ ready technologies that will increase the number of jobs in the GfJ index. That's a lot of increases!
Bug fixes and accuracy improvements
With all these increases, Google will have to smooth out some of the rough edges that GfJ has right now. We've seen job listings at companies where GfJ links to magazine articles, Wiki pages or entirely the wrong company in the wrong country for the "Company Profile" because they share similar names instead of GfJ linking directly to the employers' own website. This is a major UX issue because it misdirects job seekers and it will need addressing sooner rather than later.
The de-duplication algorithms GfJ has which merge all the job ads back into one with multiple apply buttons will also need some fettling over the coming weeks and months because however good it is today, it's still not identifying all the job ads across all the sources as being the same job when it's easy for us mere humans to spot the same.
Job ad indexing lag
The removal of dead jobs is a problem for all aggregators including GfJ. Like all aggregators, there's a lag between GfJ indexing a source of jobs and those jobs appearing and disappearing from the GfJ search index.This particularly affects vacancies that are closed early.
Currently there's no way to tell most aggregators that the job has been closed other than removing it from the designated feed and waiting for the aggregator to catch up. In the case of some aggregators, this can be between four to six hours between each feed consumption.
For job seekers, the UX of clicking apply on a job that has been closed is frustrating so it's something we think Google will want to address in the future.
Whilst GfJ also suffers from this issue, in late June, they launched the Indexing API to address it. The Indexing API is currently only available for use with pages containing the JobPosting schema and allows a system to notify Google the very moment a vacancy is opened or closed thereby removing almost all lag in the aggregation system as Google still queues the notifications and then visits and indexes the job. This could be mere seconds rather than the traditional hours it takes for most aggregators.
Google continues to recommend that the old method of telling GfJ about the jobs a site has by using the sitemap.xml feed mechanism because it's tried and tested, but by adopting the new Indexing API, the responsiveness of Google's indexing technology will bring it in-line with job boards that use an immediate ad-hoc posting mechanism.
Given that the Indexing API is relatively new, it may take a while for job advertisers to adopt it.
Job seeker registration?
Finally for GfJ, we can see a time where Google has job seekers register and in doing so, they'll provide a "one-click" apply process which works in a similar way to Indeed's "Indeed Apply", TotalJobs' ATSi or the new Jobs on Facebook application technology which sends the applicant to the ATS platform direct with all the applicant data in a nice pre-formatted schema that the ATS can import, improving the efficiency of the application process and the accuracy of the applicant data.
War with Indeed?
Indeed is the elephant in the GfJ room that has no real presence on GfJ. It's by far the largest driver of applications in the industry, GfJ is marshalling all the sources of job ads it can find to deliver the number and variety of job ads to rival Indeed.
When Indeed started, it would aggregate and scrape jobs from any source that asked, or it could find including other job boards. Over time it evolved into using its own feed format and reduced its reliance on job boards, instead moving to direct relationships with recruiters and employers. GfJ is using the same tactics Indeed did in the early days to drive the growth of its market share.
It's likely then that Google will become a major competitor to Indeed in the coming months and years. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen, and we'll see the integration of AdWords technology to sponsor jobs on GfJ, just like Indeed introduced sponsorship and bid management to its platform.
Whilst GfJ is busy smoothing out the wrinkles in their platform, do recruiters need to be doing anything? Yes, yes they do. Recruiters need to up their game. They need to learn about Google's search algorithms, they need to learn about what makes an applicant choose their ad over another, and they need to make significant changes in how they write their job ad content.
The job ad is not and should not be the job description. The job ad is the worm on the hook, the bait that attracts the job seeker and makes them bite. With what is sure to be an ever increasing number of job ads to sift through, making your job ads stand out to both GfJ and the job seekers that use it will be paramount.
… and the job boards?
Right now, they're partnering with Google to help them take on the might of the job aggregators like Indeed. However, with GfJ technology being built into ATS platforms and employer career sites directly, when choosing who to give your data to as a job seeker, if the employer brand can be applied to directly why would a job seeker choose to do anything else? Combine this proposition with a one-click apply technology and it won't be too long before the job boards will be marginalised in favour of direct source job ads that can take applications directly from GfJ.
In order to compete, the job boards will need to provide a compelling service proposition that goes way beyond simply advertising jobs and driving applicants to employers.
The JobPosting schema that GfJ uses is an open source format defined on the schema.org website. In March, Microsoft announced that Bing would also be supporting the major schema's that are defined by Schema.org so don't be surprised if this technology finds its way into Bing and other MS products such as LinkedIn in the future where there's more focussed number of potential job seekers to advertise to.
There's one other concern for the future regarding GfJ that we've not seen anyone else raise as yet but we've alluded to already here. It's the fact that a search engine is essentially keeping more of the search traffic to itself in the first instance and there are some major job ad platforms that are notably not listed in GfJ search results.
This situation reminds us of the Microsoft V EU legal battles from the past where the EU perceived MS as being anti-competitive because MS shipped Media Player and Internet Explorer with their Windows OS. Sure, other software was available but why bother with it when software that's "Good Enough" comes with the OS?
Embedding the GfJ search results directly into Google's SERPs is surely similar?
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