ATS Executives Sound Off on Google Hire

Aside from Indeed, most job boards seem to be pretty giddy about Google for Jobs and the free traffic they receive from the world’s most popular search engine. Snagajob has said it has seen a 17 percent increase, and even itty-bitty YourMembership is touting a 12 percent bump. I think the joy will be short-lived, but that’s a different post.

Now comes Google’s own applicant tracking solution, Hire, and it’s hard to see why any ATS would embrace this new reality. Unlike the love job boards are showing Google for Jobs, there doesn’t seem to be any residual benefit in what is direct competition.

But, I wanted to go right to the source and ask some of the industry’s executives what they thought about Google Hire and having a new competitor with inevitably much deeper pockets. Here’s what they said.

  • Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite: “Google’s entry into the space validates how important recruiting is to growing companies and how it continues to evolve. Recruiting is difficult, and building great recruiting software is hard! It takes years to build a product that addresses every stage of the recruiting funnel. Google says it is focused on smaller companies, which makes sense given the strength of Gmail and G Suite. We’re interested to see how their product develops.”
  • Susan Vitale, CMO at iCIMS: “Google Hire is exciting. Their entry into our space with the Hire product as well as Google for Jobs gives more attention of our multi-billion dollar space to the consumer market. It especially makes sense after Microsoft’s move with LinkedIn and Google’s need for big recruitment-related data sets for machine learning to apply to Google for Jobs. What it means for ATS providers varies on the breadth of their product and their customer base. Some of the startups that brand themselves as new and fresh will suffer. I don’t know how they wouldn’t. That said, most of those companies will probably give sound bites that they work with larger employers and are therefore protected from Google’s entrance to the market. However, we’ve seen how long it takes companies in our space to truly move up- or down-market so I do see Google as a threat to the companies who came onto the scene in the last three years or so. For companies that truly focus on larger employers and who do more than core ATS I don’t see this as something that will dramatically impact their business in the short-term. Providers like iCIMS who a) have built a “generational” business have outlasted threats like this before, b) we have a deep focus in talent acquisition that extends beyond ATS, but also beyond CRM and onboarding into the full ecosystem and c) have a large customer base (3,500+ employers) of large employers fall into that category. I can speak for iCIMS that we are already partnering with Google in other ways. I’d categorize Google’s move into the space as a business development opportunity for iCIMS vs. a threat to our business.”
  • Leela Srinivasan, CMO at Lever: “Google’s entry into the Jobs and ATS market represents strong validation of the recruiting software market and larger hiring industry. Talent acquisition should be a strategic priority at every company; it’s about time our category received more love. The entry of any large player into a market is always interesting. For Lever, it’s a less significant development than for other competitors that have less differentiation and a tighter focus on smaller segments. Our goal since the early days has been building a hybrid ATS-CRM, through which companies can seamlessly combine proactive sourcing and applicant management, all in one end-to-end platform. With our $30 million series C funding, we’re excited to continue doubling down on innovation, with a particular emphasis on meeting the talent acquisition needs of highly complex, global organizations more seamlessly and intuitively — whatever their tech stack.”
  • Martin Snyder, president at Main Sequence Technology, Inc. (makers of PC Recruiter): “It’s too soon to tell how sustained or in-depth Google’s desire to serve the ATS market will be, but the potential for major change is there. As with other big changes, this will be both a challenge and an opportunity for existing players, but it will likely chill investment and discourage new competitors, at least in the short term. At Main Sequence, we are planning on a computing world dominated by four core platforms: Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft. There should be ample spaces within those four value chains to make money and provide quality services to the recruiting industry.”

I’ve bolded the things I find most interesting.

Granted, this is a small segment, but a few things are becoming part of the narrative. First, Google getting into the recruiting software business is validation that there’s opportunity. Google doesn’t go somewhere unless there’s money to be made. Second, there’s a sense that Google may know search, but there’s no evidence they can build a suite of recruiting software solutions that will really connect with the consumer.

Lastly, this move by Google is essentially going to dry up funds going into anyone building an ATS and that it’ll keep startups from forming. Unless you’re already big, well-known, and handling the needs of big employers, you’re screwed. I tend to agree with this sentiment. I also think the added competition will force everyone to up their game and that the real winners will be consumers. Hallelujah, capitalism.

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I also still contend that Google’s ultimate goal here is to compete against LinkedIn and its directory of professional profiles. Profits are in people, not posting jobs and managing data. Google Hire is merely a piece of the puzzle for Google that culminates in an episode of Clash of the Titans, starring Google, Microsoft/LinkedIn, Facebook, and (eventually) Amazon.

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.