Indeed.com had to know this day would come.
After much speculation, Google for Jobs was officially announced last week. As rumored, Google will start serving job listings within the organic results of its popular search engine. Although it’s early, millions of job seekers who start their search at Google will find comfort staying there, just like they do for images and news, and as a result put vertical search engines like Indeed in a potentially fatal sleeper hold.
It’s tough to sugar coat what just happened to Indeed, a site that has climbed the top of the online job search mountain in less than a decade on the backs of former market leaders like CareerBuilder and Monster. It may take another 10 years for Indeed to be in the same boat as their forefathers and become an afterthought, but it’s fooling itself if it thinks this isn’t a DEFCON 1 moment.
But digging the grave at this point is a bit overzealous. Indeed has a ton of brand awareness, existing traffic, and mounds of data. America didn’t surrender when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, and I don’t expect Indeed to roll over, even for Google, the company all Internet businesses fear will one day step on their field of play.
Here are a few ideas I suspect Indeed is throwing around to make sure it’s still breathing a decade from now:
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- Mobile, mobile, mobile. Indeed already has arguably the most popular native app for job search on smartphones. It needs to be even better. Just as people bypass Google to find restaurant reviews on Yelp’s app, so it needs to be for Indeed. Indeed needs to equal jobs on the smart phone.
- Screw Google. Be more like Netflix and Amazon. When Indeed launched over 10 years ago, it branded itself “Google for jobs.” It worked well for the times, but times have changed. Today, people would rather have stuff they want served to them without them even knowing they want it. Perfectly matched jobs need to be served up on a silver platter, no search required, in order for them to win the long game and beat Google.
- Quit making non-job content a second-class citizen. Did you know Indeed has a competitive amount of anonymous employee reviews to Glassdoor? Did you know Indeed has some of the best jobs-trend data around? Did you know its salary data is badass as hell? Too few people do, and Indeed needs to change that. Give consumers more and more reasons to visit that aren’t about the job postings. By the way, this is proprietary stuff that Google can’t touch, if you don’t want it to.
- Go all-in as a technology solution for employers. Get all the brains in one room and figure out how to make the best applicant tracking, CRM, recruitment marketing, kitchen sink tool in the world for employers of all sizes, and give it away for free. The fact that Google Hire is coming and basically is going to be the industry’s Swiss Army knife, makes this move that much more crucial.
- Apply with Indeed. This button needs to be everywhere a job listing exists. Why? Because job seekers are going to see Apply with Google all over the place soon. The API is already getting a foothold, and the apply process will follow. If you have to pay popular ATS providers to make your button exclusive, do it.
- Shoot for the moon. Up to this point, Indeed has been successful by staying laser focused. Be bolder than that. Job Spotter is a good start, but go bigger while staying within employment. Google’s too busy chasing self-driving cars, colonizing Mars, and becoming SkyNet. In contrast, Indeed should be diving headfirst into virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, virtual and voice assistance, and whatever else has the opportunity to change the employment game. Ninety-nine out of 100 things will fail, but it might be that one thing puts Indeed in another stratosphere.
Sure, I’m spitballing here. I’m sure the folks at Indeed have a list of about 100 ideas to take its business forward and fend off all competition, not just Google. It’s just not going to publicize those ideas, so I’m happy to opine.
Ultimately, every vendor in this space is going to be challenged as Google, Facebook, and the two-headed monster that is Microsoft/LinkedIn get serious about solving the problems around jobs. And unlike the past, they all seem to be really serious about it. You can thank LinkedIn’s price tag of more than $26 billion for that.
As one job board owner recently told me, “More than 50 percent of our traffic still comes organically from Google.” He compared Google getting into Indeed’s wheelhouse to the sinking of the Titanic for all sites like his. For Indeed’s sake, I hope it’s doing more than shuffling the deck chairs.