ATSs Are Jumping Into Bed with Google for Jobs and Job Boards Should Be Nervous

When Indeed launched a little over 10 years ago, job board content monopolized its search results. Scraping content from places like Monster and CareerBuilder was convenient, because Indeed could grab a lot of jobs with minimal challenges. Indeed could bang out about a dozen sites and have itself a robust index for consumers.

In contrast, grabbing content from applicant tracking systems was difficult. The market was fragmented, systems changed frequently, and getting to the actual content wasn’t always easy. There was a day, not so long ago, when SEO was an afterthought in the employment space. Job boards wanted their content to be found by spiders. Applicant tracking systems didn’t really care, because clients didn’t particularly care, or even know they should care.

A lot has changed since then, as we’ll explore in this post, but Google getting job sites to jump aboard its job search solution, dubbed Google for Jobs, is yet another strategy ripped from Indeed’s playbook. Companies playing nice with Google include names like CareerBuilder, Monster, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor. Minimal work with maximum results is the name of the game. Get the low-hanging fruit now, and worry about the tougher stuff later.

Early feedback has job boards feeling pretty good about themselves. Snagajob, for instance, talked about a 17 percent increase in traffic thanks to Google for Jobs. Another job board owner I talked to, who wanted to remain anonymous, talked about “the best couple of weeks we’ve ever had,” thanks to Google.

They should enjoy it while they can.

Unlike 10 years ago, almost everyone cares about being found by Google. Applicant tracking systems, in particular, are more like marketing engines today than they were 10 years ago. Back then, just allowing people to post jobs and manage candidates was enough. Now, corporate career sites are expected to be mobilized and optimized, distributed anywhere and everywhere. Every ATS that matters knows about Google for Jobs and is figuring out how to get their customers’ job content into Google’s database.

“All companies want their jobs to receive the exposure they deserve, so when tech innovators join forces in this capacity, iCIMS customers and job seekers both stand to benefit tremendously,” said iCIMS’ vice president of technology, Al Smith, last month. “The impact of Google for Jobs cannot be overstated and iCIMS’ focus on recruiting allows us to be nimble in embracing this technology where other organizations simply cannot.”

If you’re one of iCIMS’ customers, your job postings show up on Google for Jobs in real-time, which is nice. Competitors, of course, are paying attention. Announced this week, SmartRecruiters is on the Google for Jobs bandwagon too.

“As an industry disrupter, SmartRecruiters has made innovation for usability and simplification the core of its approach to customer success. The SmartRecruiters Talent Acquisition Suite is at the forefront of recruiting innovation,” said SmartRecruiters’ CEO and founder Jerome Ternynck. “The Google for Jobs initiative focuses on making the job search simpler, which aligns with our vision: connecting people to jobs at scale. There is no better way to source the best talent and, therefore, find the best hire than partnering with the world’s largest search engine to get jobs posted in SmartRecruiters into the hands of that talent.”

Two providers isn’t particularly earth shattering, but I expect a hockey-stick growth chart in the coming year. No ATS worth a damn is going to get left behind the Google for Jobs phenomenon. Doing so risks losing clients and failing to land new ones.

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Further, every ATS that gets on board poses a serious problem to every job board. Why? Because Google prefers showing searchers pages of original content. Duplicate content is a big no-no in their world, so sending users to a company page, powered by an ATS, is preferred to a job board, which is typically just an advertising medium for a posting, driving traffic back to an ATS.

The predication is pretty easy to make. As more ATS content becomes available to Google for Jobs, less and less job board content is going show up. Unless, of course, job boards pay for the exposure. Knowing how hooked they’ll be on the free traffic they’re getting now, paying for it tomorrow will be a foregone conclusion.

That laughing sound you hear is Google on its way to the bank.

Joel Cheesman

Joel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead. He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to Jobing.com. He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is married and the father of three children. He lives in Indianapolis.