Last week, Google announced the launch of their jobs search engine called "Google for jobs" in the US. Let's ignore the fact that Google for Jobs is a somewhat confusing name ("Did you try Google for Jobs?" "Yeah… I Googled it") and focus on what this means for job sites and recruiters.
Google has a tendency to disrupt industries and existing models with what feels like a pretty good success rate. Back in 2013, they launched Google Flights in the UK which had a big impact on the travel industry. Airlines and ticket comparison sites who were going after lucrative “flights to…” Google searches had reason to adjust their expectations.
When Google for Jobs hits the UK we can expect it to have a pretty big impact on jobs sites.
How Will It Work?
When users search Google for a job the results will highlight jobs which match the user's query as well as traditional web results. The user will then be able to filter by location, title, date posted etc. without leaving Google. Techcrunch reports that users will also be able to see additional data such as commute times based on their location.
Google will use machine learning to better understand the terminology that people searching use and to match this to job listings. Nobody is better than Google at understanding and interpreting what users are searching for, even if it's not immediately clear from their search terms. It seems likely that Google for Jobs' search functionality will surpass that of most traditional job sites.
At their Developers Conference last week, Google's CEO Sundar Pichai hinted that Google for Jobs will have a one-click apply system. This conflicts slightly with reports that users will be directed to third party sites in order to complete the application process there.
What Will Happen?
For years, job sites have benefited from free visits from Google users. When a user types in "digital marketing jobs in Exeter" and clicks on a Google result (excluding the ads which we'll come on to) the site gets the visit and potentially makes money from the visitor. This is what we call organic traffic – it drives a big percentage of visits to the main job sites and yet Google makes no money from it. They didn't become the largest company in the world by missing opportunities to make money.
As well as the organic results there are pay per click (PPC) Ads in Google which direct people towards jobs sites. Each time someone clicks on these ads Google makes money – hence the name “pay per click”. While this is beneficial to Google, they know that selling a visit for the cost of a click isn't using their capabilities to the full. Next time around the user may go directly to the job site, but Google would rather keep the user on their product. If Google can provide the job site with more qualified traffic (because of their understanding on the user and their behaviour) they can justify charging more.
What Impact Will It Have?
When Google for Jobs launches in the US, Google will be partnering with LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster, CareerBuilder and Facebook. Jobs from these sites will no doubt be shown in the organic search results and will probably push these unpaid results down below the section of the search results page which is immediately visible. The Google Flights results (E.G. when you search for "flights to Copenhagen") are displayed between the PPC ads at the top and the organic results below.
The job sites which are not partnered with Google can expect to get fewer organic visits as their potential traffic is eaten up by Google. Sites which are overly reliant on organic traffic will be hit hardest. As a result, job sites who cannot become a Google for Jobs partner may need to invest more in Google Ads to maintain traffic levels. This will be difficult for small to medium businesses who don't have the might of a substantial marketing budget behind them.
What Should You Do?
So, what should recruiters and marketers working for job sites do to protect themselves from a potentially significant drop in traffic? A well-considered marketing strategy which isn't overly reliant on organic traffic is a must. Here are some potential areas to investigate:
- Social advertising. If you work for a recruitment agency you'll know that passive recruitment is at least as important (if not more so) as targeting those who are actively job seeking. In fact, 84 percent of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job. Therefore you need to focus on getting in front of those who aren't yet at the stage of searching in Google.
One of the main benefits of Social Advertising is the ability to target people with very accurate demographic and interest targeting, including current job or industry sector. Using this system, you can tempt the right people away from their current role.
- Headhunting. LinkedIn in particular is a useful tool for actively pursuing passive candidates. This isn't a new technique by any means but if you're seeing a drop in organic traffic then it's one you shouldn't ignore. A recruiter who has had in-depth LinkedIn training can find and engage with candidates before they realise they're candidates.
- Informational Content. Users typing in "jobs in Exeter" may be whisked away by Google for Jobs, but you can also target people who are higher up the conversion funnel. For example by creating a piece of content to help people who are searching for "how to know when to leave your job" (70 searches per month) or "how to resign from a job" (480 searches per month). When we worked with Reed Global our Content Marketing approach worked really well. It continues to drive well-qualified traffic to the site.
- Email Marketing. A good job site or recruitment company will handle candidates multiple times within their career helping them move from one job to the next. A cheeky recruiter will also poach staff and then try to help the company recruit their replacement.
This means that you'll potentially have a wealth of information about companies and candidates, hopefully organized in a way which means you can make the most of it. Email marketing is very easy to do badly but with a little thought and some good quality data it can be the best converting channel. Get the right jobs in front of the right candidates and the right candidates in front of the right HR people and you'll be well on your way.
Google for Jobs is expected to roll out in the US in the next few weeks, as yet no date has been set for a UK release.