Hey Google, Your Job Board Needs a Lot of Work

Google for Jobs was launched to much fanfare. I lost track of the number of commentators saying … ”This is the moment Indeed has dreaded blah blah blah” and “Indeed is dead in the water yada yada yada.”

Really? Not from our stats, it’s not. In fact our clients are getting more applications from Indeed than ever before (we make no comment on the quality, simply the volume). Yes they’re coming from Google for Jobs, also which is great for recruiters, but not at the expense of Indeed.

People seem to think that everything Google touches will turn to gold. Every time it chooses to enter a marketplace, it will automatically dominate it by squashing the competition.

Sorry, but it just doesn’t work like. Google has shown on many occasions that trying to enter a new market with established players is not easy, regardless of how in your face you make the product. Step forward Google Hire … that didn’t end well. Google+ … anyone ever used it after the first week? Nope, me neither, but still using Facebook though. In fact it’s a very, very long list of tools it has launched and then quickly killed because they made no real headway. ​

Are we sure that Google Jobs won’t go the same way? I certainly hope not, but ​Margrethe Vestager, EU competition commissioner, has shown herself willing and able to punish Google. Another investigation into Google’s alleged anti-competitive practices has just been launched in relation to its new job search product.

But what strikes me about the Google for Jobs platform is that it has made a number of obvious mistakes, and they all relate to user experience. They are making the same mistakes a lot of job boards made, but Indeed wisely has not.

First up, agency listings. Indeed no longer allows these unless the agency pays for it. That’s smart in two ways. One, it’s a source of revenue for Indeed. Two, it creates a much, much better user experience. Do a search on Indeed as a job seeker would and you see exactly what a job seeker wants, which is page after page of employer-listed jobs. Yes sometimes they come via a third party like a job board, but crucially what they are avoiding is what I call job spam — page after page of either made up or poorly worded jobs from agencies.

Indeed is a much nicer user experience for a job seeker. Seekers don’t want to apply to an agency. They want to see jobs from the direct employer. Google would be wise to massively cut down on the number of agency listings on its site exactly as Indeed has. If you want job seekers to use your tool, start with the customer and work backward (nod to Jeff Bezos).

Second, Google’s board doesn’t seem to have even the most basic Boolean search capability. For example I ran this basic boolean search on indeed.co.uk:

Article Continues Below

Product Manager and (FMCG or beauty or cosmetic or health).

Indeed correctly found 17,621 jobs. Google, six.

Third, where Indeed allows candidates to store profiles with it, which can then be sent with a couple of clicks to the ATS the client is using, Google has nothing. Job boards are increasingly moving to the model where the candidate clicks on “apply,” essentially logs in to that job board, and confirms they want their details sent to the client. They never actually go to the client site. This is done purely because so many people now search for jobs via mobile and few people will store their CV/resume on a mobile. Our clients saw a 40 percent jump in applications when this easy-apply technology was rolled out with Indeed.

Now to be fair to Google, it is acting purely as a search engine, driving traffic to the employer/job board. It’s currently not in the business of storing candidate data. But if it is serious about making it a great user experience (for the candidate) it needs to go down this route. If you’re a candidate which site would you rather search on? The one that lets you store your profile online with it so you can apply to any job with a couple of clicks, or the one that takes you to the job board/employer site to apply, only for you to stop because you don’t have a copy of your resume/CV on your phone? Google will probably go down this route. After all, it said it wants to index all the world’s information and that would presumably include career profiles.

It’s a decent first attempt from Google. But the product needs a lot of work before we think it will seriously challenge Indeed. As we have seen many times before, if a product doesn’t make serious headway quickly, Google won’t hesitate from shutting it down in a heartbeat. I think everyone in the recruitment space apart from their competitors would not want Google to do this. For markets to operate efficiently it’s not healthy for one player to have too much power so we trust that Google for Jobs will stick around for the long term. But to make sure it does, it needs to play catch up, and fast.

Nick Leigh-Morgan is the CEO and founder of iKrut, the world's first free enterprise-level applicant tracking system. He has more than 18 years experience in the recruiting industry, covering staffing firms, direct employers, and now web-based recruitment software. You can view iKrut at www.ikrut.com.

Topics