Is Google Hire the Next Market Disruptor for ATS?

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Google’s launch, on July 18th, of a new recruiting app called Hire came just weeks after its job hunting initiative launch on June 20th. Google For Jobs functions like a search feature on its search result pages that allows you to search for jobs across most of the major online job boards like LinkedIn, Monster, WayUp, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder, Facebook and others.

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Hire, on the other hand, builds on (and integrates with) G Suite apps like Gmail and Google Calendar, which are used by more than 3 million businesses. Specifically targeting small to mid-sized businesses, Google has introduced a tool that drives recruiting efforts in a simple and functional manner. Hire claims to be able to efficiently manage the interview process from end-to-end, while building strong candidate relationships.

Recruiters have always considered the task of managing job applications to be very onerous and time consuming. Furthermore, the challenge of matching the right person to the right job, which is critical for every business, has a less than stellar record.


According to Josh Bersin, companies like Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, and others try to give companies branded pages to promote their company culture and wonderful workplaces, but most job descriptions are limited, out of date, and often poorly written – making search engines a problematic way of either finding a good job or finding the best candidate.

Google has had both the data and the resources to study this problem, and has stepped into this breach in a smart and timely manner. Google has also identified another important problem area in job search: the multiple job titles existing in the marketplace for any given job. This lack of non-standardized language for job titles and job descriptions has, according to Google, made the search not only less efficient, but more likely to fail for both employer and employee.

When more than 41 million people (or 27%) are searching for jobs and being recruited every year (in the US alone), and the average cost to companies for the recruitment process averages $4,000 per candidate, it’s not difficult to understand why the recruitment market is a critical player in every industry. As a result, companies such as Google are eager for the opportunity to put their considerable know-how to the test and attempt to improve hiring outcomes.

Google, as mentioned, has an acute knowledge of the dysfunction in the job search field and understands that this dysfunction is carried into the marketplace of applicant tracking systems (ATS). After all, the two functions tend to go hand-in-hand. The ATS is a very central player in the recruitment and staffing system, as it brings together candidate data from across the different modules in this system. It manages candidate records, administers recruitment and staffing routines and workflows, and hosts  requisition and correspondence templates, offer letters, and tests to assess candidate experience and knowledge.

ATS products, currently used by many companies, tend to be outdated and have search and scoring engines that are less than optimal. This present reality provides a strong opening for Google to enter this market segment and attempt to address this weakness. If Google’s mantra is ‘less is more’ or ‘simplify, simplify’, they are probably quite satisfied that Hire will serve both to simplify and optimize the job search and recruitment process.

As it’s designed to coordinate with the G suite, Hire is essentially an overlay that adds organizational functionality over Gmail. Instead of creating an additional document with notes from the interview stages, Hire keeps comments together and syncs with Gmail communications with all applicants. At this stage, Hire is designed to service US-based companies with less than 1,000 employees, that would probably not outsource their recruiting function.

How Successful Will This Google Venture Be? And How Will the Market React?

This Google product has not had sufficient time in the market to provide data for robust analysis, but some data is available, primarily from companies that participated in pre-launch testing. The results appear to be very strong.  According to Johnson & Johnson, using Google’s job search engine led to an 18% increase in job applicants per search and a 25% increase in click-through rate on their career website.

As far as market reaction goes, these comments rely on anecdotal evidence as well as input from ‘experts’ in the field. Google’s job search engine has had many early successes among both employers and job seekers, and will probably have an impact on how job data is handled by search engines across job boards and recruiting sites going forward.

In terms of attempting to assess the market implications for companies like LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed, Facebook and others, the data is sparse. There’s little doubt that LinkedIn, Monster, and Indeed are following Google Hire’s progress quite carefully and considering what strategies might be available to them to respond to Google’s entry into the market. The fact that Google Hire has also integrated ATS into its system reinforces the fact that none of these companies offer that functionality.

In the case of Facebook, who have just recently launched their own Facebook Jobs, the fact that Google has moved into the same market almost simultaneously while offering a hiring platform that Facebook doesn’t may cause them to evaluate the impact it’ll have on their app, and whether any changes may be necessary.

For a legacy ATS provider, the introduction of cloud-based ATS has already had a profoundly negative effect. The entry of yet another player into this already crowded market does not improve their overall financial outlook.

Looking Forward

There’s no questioning that Google’s worldwide influence has been life changing. For example, the introduction of their search engine made the retrieval of any all information possible and unimaginably simple. Google has few rivals in the world of information management. It’ll be very interesting to follow the development of Google for Jobs and Hire in the marketplace. These products are relatively new, and their impact is not yet being felt. But with Google’s capacity for continual improvement, this undertaking has the potential to drive economic growth, as well as foster personal career growth and business productivity for many.

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