Why Google Jobs API will fail

Every industry is aware of the impact the arrival of an Amazon, an Apple or a Google can have. But they don’t have an unwavering midas touch; just witness Apple’s MobileMe and Ping or Amazon’s Fire Phone.

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Google has its own list of products that failed in the heat of the market and were withdrawn. Those like Google Wave and Google Plus impressed with their technology but failed to understand how people operate, providing overly complicated functionality and interfaces.

The data hurdle
While Google’s general search engine is fed by generic HTML pages, Google requires job ads to be in a new Google-specific format to be accepted.

Google Jobs API needs more specific information than the industry is used to providing and has set a high hurdle for recruiters. Google goes beyond a HTML job ad and, instead, requires exact details about each job.

Let’s look at a few of those details
The name of the employer is required for all postings. This bars many recruiters from participating as they don’t publish their client's details for reasons already discussed (Candidate Charter #1).

The office address of the job including a street address and zip/postcode is required. It enables Google Search to filter jobs to those within a job seeker’s commutable distance. However, publish the address and a recruiter risks their client being poached by the less scrupulous end of the industry (Candidate Charter #2).

A job title free from hoopla (no “Fabulous Bonuses!” or “Relocation paid”). This is Google wanting clean data for its engine. Thing is, ads aren’t simply clean data - job ads sell a company, the role, the culture. Will Google be able to marry these two goals or simply provide a cold, dry experience for job seekers? Will it miss the personal in its quest to deliver on its technical vision for recruitment?

All tech and no soul?
Google Jobs API is setup to appeal to companies wishing to advertise directly and this may, in time, cut out a lot of recruiters. But those recruiters work hard, find candidates away from the search engines and do a lot of interviewing and filtering of job seekers. They also play the part of candidate advocate; convincing companies to broaden their outlook when shortlisting.

Might Google Jobs API be getting the tech right but failing to understand how job seekers, recruitment agencies and companies are motivated and how they operate? If enough recruiters ignore Google's new system it may fail to reach the critical mass that a behemoth, such as Google, requires.

We at Midnight 30, hope Google's new system has a positive impact on our industry. That It raises the bar and give job seekers an improved experience moving us all closer to delivering on our Candidates' Charter.

Cheat sheet for Google Jobs API

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The problem Google is fixing
Google may be the dominant search engine but it has been pretty much missing-in-action when it comes to major classified markets such as property, jobs and cars. Yes, Google Search indexes such content but its engine is a poor substitute for dedicated ad engines like Indeed or AutoTrader.

Classifies, you see, contain next to no hyperlinks and these are a key ingredient for Google’s search rankings - they were the sauce that Google Search used to deliver its highly relevant results right from the start. Google’s current engine flattens content to fit within its system and much context is lost in this process.

For recruitment ads Google needs technology that understands an ad.

What is the Google Jobs API?
A different approach is required for classifieds. A vertical search engine is one that has intimate knowledge about a market segment. Google started by studying the data required to match job seekers to job ads. It developed occupation and skills classifications to pigeonhole each job advertised.

This approach enables Google to differentiate an ad for a project manager from an ad for an engineer who reports to a project manager even though both can contain a similar set of keywords. Google has also brought its mapping prowess to bear and can filter job results by commuting distance - a major tech win for the new system.

The Google Jobs API enables content to submitted to Google and then searched via any service allowed access to Google's engine.

What’s missing?
Today there are much more jobs in Google’s standard Search than in its new Jobs search.

There is also no applicant tracking system (ATS). Google does have an ATS product - Google Hire. It will be interesting to see how Hire develops in the coming years and if Google gives the product more prominence.

What’s next?
Google Jobs Search is in alpha, USA-only and only available to a small group of recruiters. Google is listening to feedback and deepening the product's features (it recently added support for company logos for example). Even so, my next post: Why Google Jobs API just might fail

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