Google’s Job Search changes requires action and will improve applicant experiences

Google has changed its Jobs Search function in ways that have either already gone into effect or will take place on October 1. The new system should improve the experience of  job searching. However, these changes will require recruiters to clean up their job postings and job boards.

Google’s Job Search platform looks for job postings on the internet from employers and job sites such as Indeed, Zip Recruiter, and other job boards. The advantage for job seekers is that can simply go to Google and type in the job title and city. Then, they are given a lost of jobs matching their search terms title from a variety of job boards that make it to the top of Google’s list.

Google has been conducting research on the experience of users. Google asked tens of thousands of job seekers around the world to tell them more about their experience when applying to jobs online. Based on this feedback, Google identified common themes to help improve the quality of job results. On July 13, the company announced a new structured data property to determine if a job is a “direct apply job, or a so called “one click” job application to the company’s website (more definition to come later), and new editorial content policy. Google intends to promote direct apply job postings and eliminate bogus postings.

Job aggregators, such as Indeed, have been popular because they promote job postings on the internet. Still for several years, some unscrupulous job aggregators are besting recruiters mainly using Google’s Job Search function. These job aggregators scrape job postings from job boards and make them available on their “job aggregator” websites to their recruiter clients, often on a pay-per-click business model. They can also advertise a job, like a Google ad, and be paid on a pay-per-click business model by their clients. Reputable job boards, such as Indeed, on the other hand, are websites where employers post jobs directly to the board, thereby preventing the vast majority of scamming.

There are increasing stories of job aggregators distorting the job posting process, by failing to digitally forward the candidate’s applications to the job board, or, when contracted directly with the recruiter, not forwarding the job application directly to the recruiter’s applicant tracking system.

Worse yet, some job aggregators are high-jacking the job posting and selling the applications to competitive job postings. Some recruiters report that their identities are being copied from social media as part of scams that seek to bilk cash from unsuspecting job candidates. Many recruiters are unaware that job candidates have applied to their jobs on these unscrupulous job boards and the applications are not being forwarded to them.

If all of this is not bad enough, the job postings may stay open on job aggregators long after the job has been filled, confusing job applicants on where to spend their time to apply for truly open jobs. With its changes, Google hopes to reduce this abuse.

Google’s requirement for new editorial content will require job posters to clean up the language of their job postings. According to Google’s develop.com page, the Direct Apply property is an optional way that enables recruiters to share if their job listing offers a direct apply experience. Google defines a direct apply experience in terms of the user actions required to apply for the job, which means that the user is offered a short and straightforward application process on your career page.

Recruiters likely offer a direct apply experience, according to Google, if the company’s career site provides one of the following experiences:

  • The user completes the application process on your site.
  • Once arriving at your page from Google, the user doesn’t have to click on apply and provide user information more than once to complete the application process.

To eliminate bogus postings and misinformation by job boards, job aggregators, and company career sites, Google is launching a new editorial content that goes into effect on October 1, 2021. Google advises companies and recruiters to:

  • Verify that there are no scammy or spammy job posts on your site. These are job posts that don’t represent a real job opportunity. Make sure that you only markup pages with a single and actionable job opportunity.
  • Ensure a good user experience. According to Google’s users, sites with poor user experience are those that ask for user information when it is not necessary, have poor quality pages (for example, excessive or obstructive ads), and/or have complex application processes (for example, lead to many redirects). Poor user experience also reduces application completion rate.
  • Remove expired job posts. Don’t leave a job post open if you are no longer accepting new applications. Applying and not hearing back from the employer is a common complaint of job seekers. When you remove the job from your site, make sure to also remove the markup or update the valid Through. Google encourages the use of Indexing API to update them. Landing on an expired job post, especially after a few redirects, is a very frustrating experience.
  • Make sure that the job’s posting date is genuine. Users see freshness as a signal to assess if a position will be accepting new applicants, the chances to get hired, the attractiveness of the position and more. Don’t mask old jobs as new ones and don’t update the DatePosted property if there was no change to the job post.
  • Don’t include wrong or misleading information in the job post or the markup. This includes incorrect salary, location, working hours, employment type, or other job specific details. To avoid problems like this, make sure that the job post describes the job correctly and that the markup is an accurate representation of the job post.

While looking at your job postings, I also recommend you review them to ensure they are accurate and easy to understand and do not use language that drives away female applicants. Forty percent of job seekers say they regularly see job titles they don’t understand. Sixty-four percent said they would not apply for a job if they did not understand the title, according to a recent survey of more than 2,000 job seekers by Monster. Fifty-seven percent said jargon puts them off, and one-third said it is confusing. Unbelievable to me was learning that in the era of automatic spell check, 23 percent of job seekers said they had found misspellings in ads, according to the Monster survey.

The words you select in a job posting can drive away female job applicants, which is a disaster if you are trying to diversity your workforce. Academics have known for years that men and women respond differently to various phrases in job postings. The Gaucher-Frey-Kay study found that women tended not to apply for these jobs in statistically significant numbers when male dominated words were used. Moreover, they have a negative view of the company’s work culture and believed they wouldn’t feel like they belonged there. I share more advice in this column on how to write gender neutral job postings.

Google’s changes will improve job postings and the experience for job applicants and recruiters, but it is time to clean up our sites.

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting, managing partner of InnovationOne, and Sales Advisor to MeBeBot. He works with companies to transform HR, implement remote work, recruit executives, and develop extraordinary leaders, teams, and innovation cultures. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Hack Recruiting: the Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. Subscribe to his weekly blogs at www.VictorHRConsultant.com. 

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