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12 Reasons Why - Recruitment Agencies Beware: Sleep Walking, Comfortably Numb or a Thief of Great Ideas  - Which are you? 

by  David Dwyer on  19/09/2019    213 Reads

If Google for Jobs (GfJ) has the potential to radically change the experience of both job seekers and employers, those who stand to rise or fall by this disruptive tech's introduction are the existing recruitment agencies.  

On paper they are in a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” situation: GfJ threatens to rob them of their livelihood but failure to adopt GfJ and exploit it to the full will only hasten their demise.

The design of GfJ prioritises the results returned by Google to any job search; we have mentioned this in our previous Insights, going as far back as October 2018.  That’s a big deal in a market where appearing at the top of a Google search is as close to a ‘must’ as you can get.  It follows therefore that if they were to disappear from Google search results the recruitment agencies would have to embrace GfJ and do so with gusto.  If they don’t, the resulting plunge in visibility would sound their death-knell as the candidate applications plummet.

The truth of the matter is that whilst many recruitment services should have been early adopters of Google for Jobs and you'd have expected current job searches in Google to be dominated by a high percentage of recruiters advertising, they are most definitely not!

It’s clear that of all the vacancy advertisements on GfJ there are still (worringly for their sector) very few from the HR/Recruitment specialist companies. 

There are plenty reasons, though, why that is the case:


3 Comfortably Numb Reasons

  • They have gotten "comfortably numb" with their current business model and would rather be the "ship that stays in port" than the "intrepid ocean faring vessel"
  • Others doing the legwork for them, some Job boards e.g. S1 Jobs have embraced GfJ
  • Job Boards and Job Portals have raised a legal action against Google, essentially for manipulating the search returns to their detriment, so why invest in their own platform when the issue might just go away

3 Sleep Walking or Wilful Ignorance Reasons

They might not realise the disruptive nature of the change going on in their sector, because:

  • Bizarrely enough for a HR sector they haven't followed their own advice by investing time and capital in their own Continuous Professional Development and are thus Sleep Walking to oblivion
  • Their own understanding of the online world is that it is "just too complicated"
  • Their trusted online partner is not as good as they think they are and has neither the understanding or werewithal to know what is going on or much worse doing anything about it

4 Money Reasons

  • They want to do the bare minumum rather than understand their online presence is a "much needed and must do" investment not a low level priority or simply a cost that can be pushed down the To Do List
  • They were over sold a pup or burnt by previous online partners
  • They're skeptical about GfJ and see it as a fad and just wonder how long it'll take before this new fad moves on
  • They've been told their existing website and Content Management System cannot be changed to accomodate the necessary XML Schema, hence they are not able to add this feature to their website. This is highly likely because to be the case when their trusted online partner is not as good as they think they are. (ED: through our Developer SOS we've actually helped businesses to do what they've been told is not possible, it is possible just that it takes more effort)

2 Resistant to Change and Fat Blockage Reasons

Finding the vision to follow through on such change and allocate the budget for the work is one thing. The second though is the will to change the direction of your ship as you will be impacting on what the business does way beyond just changing the website functionality. From prioritising budget, re-scheduling development time to finding out if you actually have the in-house capacity to deliver the technical implementation of GfJ XML Schema, but the actual much harder task is the change this brings to the business' internal processes and method of writing a job application. 

This issue is very well known in manufacturing and software engineering and can be classified in 2 ways:

  • Too many steps in a process that in turn creates fat, (versus a lean process) and causes blockage. 
  • A culture/approach of a Capability Immaturity Model Framework (i.e. Negligent; Obstructive; Contemptuous; Undermining). 

(ED: Much as it's interesting though this article is not meant to be getting into an Agile UX v Lean UX debate or exploring the benefits of moving from CMMi (Capability Maturity Model integrated) Level 3 to Level 5 (essentially measurement of said processes))

Standardising how we write Job Adverts

What GfJ does though is bring a very structured way of writing a Job Advert, many recruiters, job boards and portals have previously not required the role be deconstructed in such a manner and to do so now is not only very difficult but also a fundamental standardisation of how Job Adverts "should be written", Googles view at least. (ED: we've struggled with how to break down the Job Advert and correctly populate the required fields. For more info see our Insight article on "Let intelligent design do your recruiting for you?", this shares our own journey which eventually rested on us using Maslows Hierarchy of Needs)

This is only very slowly starting to be recognised within the industry and is probably the one main reason for the poor level of adoption so far.

In an age where articles are published every day you'd think that there are plentiful online resources to help companies utilise this opportunity and that the online world is overflowing with articles about how recruitment companies can, should and must incorporate the technology. The sad fact though is that there are not that many and those that are out there tend to be more about the technical aspects of xml schema and doom & gloom about their business model being at serious risk of being left behind.

So if the sectors thought leader(s) content that is out there warns each other that they’ll find the rug whipped out from under their feet if they don’t embrace this change as an industry, then maybe that’s why there is so little explaining to organisations how they can take control of the process themselves and be Thieves of Great Ideas.

So what now? Be a Thief or a Victim?

Therefore recruiters should recognise that GfJ "right now" gives employers the ability to bypass them entirely and bring those seeking work directly to their own websites.  So in order not to fall off the edge of this changing world, should recruiters be rushing to ensure that their own websites are Google for Jobs compliant?

The simple answer is Yes, followed quickly with an "and".

Regardless of the victims, those recruiters who have become early adopters (or Thieves of Great Ideas) of Google for Jobs have seen impressions of their roles rise significantly for free, giving greater confidence to trust the data.

Job Boards and Job Portals are dropping their block credit pricing which also suggests they're struggling with engaging both recruiters and candidates. For those reasons recruiters should be all over this like a rash. Not for them the fate of the Westfield Whip, the famed buggy whip manufacturers of Massachusetts, see Insight: Are you the buggy whip manufacturer of today? 

While this is good for recruitment companies, it’s not so good for recruitment companies whose clients start to recognise the benefit from GfJ, we'll pick up on this in a later piece where we discuss how GfJ impacts employers.

It may be that in the face of such potentially disruptive technology the recruitment world ends up reacting forcefully to a genuinely existential threat, counting on a degree of client ignorance to ensure that nothing much changes – they continue to dominate the market and that the vast majority of their current customers probably don’t realise that there are now some very exciting options available to them, at a cost far below that charged by recruitment agencies.  That’s what disruptive technology does, it disrupts the status quo, but at present it looks like the recruiters are managing to pedal furiously whilst maintaining an air of ‘nothing to see here’.

It’s obviously in their interests to do so, and there is a reasonable amount of discussion online that acknowledges that unless they grab this sector before employers realise what is going on that they stand to lose ground.  Information for employers about how they can leverage the power of GfJ is out there, but it is a drop in the ocean compared to the number of articles telling recruiters how to make the best use of the new facility.

Savvy recruiters know that the game could be up if they don’t act swiftly.

So, how does the recruitment industry react?

  • Take a long hard look at what they do, how they do it and shift their modus operandi to deal with a new world
  • Embrace GfJ to get their adverts prioritised on search return pages
  • Point to this increased coverage as evidence of their exceptional service
  • Hope against hope that employers don’t call their bluff...

Of these options only the first two are serious suggestions although we may see some trying to claim that their increased coverage is purely down to them, playing down the benefits of GfJ.  Realistically the recruiters are going to have to find a new way to make their services attractive to employers who could, should they wish, do all of this themselves.

This is in some respects a difficult proposition to argue – why would you pay for someone to do something you can do yourself?  The world, and not just the world of commerce, is full of such decisions.  You could clean your office yourself every evening but generally you hire someone else to do that as it is not really an efficient use of your time to do it yourself.

The same applies to many business services and having successfully set themselves up as the guardians of recruitment, the agencies are going to want to ensure that they stay there.

GfJ helps their coverage, there is no question about that, but they are going to have to be seen to be adding value to the process because that same technology allows employers to take control themselves whilst ensuring the same degree of coverage and reach as far as potential candidates are concerned.  

Recruiters are going to depend therefore on employers believing that this is a service still better outsourced than brought back in house.

There will be employers out there who would rather not handle any but the final stages of recruitment, or whose on-going recruitment needs are such that to handle them in house would represent a substantial overhead, regardless of the benefits GfJ might bring on paper.  

The recruitment agencies aren’t the walking dead, yet, but they are clearly fighting furiously not to become so. For them GfJ is a valuable tool to be deployed on behalf of their clients and they will be certain to do so. If they set their websites up properly, they can better handle applicants in exactly the same way that employers can – providing proper information to applicants and where required, links to aptitude and psychometric tests (indeed discerning which psychometric tests are appropriate, be they Orpheus Business Personality Inventory or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or other) which can assist in winnowing the field before making recommendations to the prospective employer.  All of this achieves the same ease of use for the applicant which should encourage engagement.

One of the unknows in this is what the ultimate cost of this will be.  Google has made no announcements regarding the future pricing of GfJ, but it would be foolhardy to assume that there won’t be a cost further down the road when employers and recruiters have bought wholeheartedly into the technology.

How Inspire can help you be a Thief of Great Ideas

At Inspire we've considerable understanding of user behaviours and can marry this knowledge with our technical abilities to ensure that whether you are an employer looking to handle your recruitment in-house, or a recruitment agency looking to streamline your operation by incorporating GfJ, you enjoy the fullest benefits this technology has to offer.  

With this in mind we've been tracking developments with Google for Jobs for some time now, and have built up expertise in how best to set it up and manage it to achieve the best results.  We've built 3 different packages to serve what we see as the 3 core website types:

  • Open Source Websites e.g. Drupal, WordPress, Magento, Joomla, Concrete5, Modx, Silverstripe,...

Have an Inspire developer add a GfJ plugin/module feature to your website so you can start posting job vacancies.

From approval to scheduled delivery this should normally be turned around inside 3-4 days.

Billed at nominal hourly rate compared the benefits you'll enjoy from a presence using GfJ.

Note: through our Developer SOS service we've been building our experience in fixing the GfJ plugins that are out in the market. None of the plugins are perfect and we've been engaged to fix those errors over the last 18 months.

  • Closed Source Websites. These tend to be "Off the shelf" e.g. Wix, BT Website

Lots of problems with your existing website being developed upon, then choose to have your own separate smartphone and desktop responsive Inspire GfJ solution.

We deploy the ready built solution and use a sub-domain e.g. jobs.yourdomainname.co.uk, host the solution, backup your Job  and have a server CRON job send the latest changes to Google Search Console.

From approval to scheduled delivery this should normally be turned around inside 6-8 working days.

Billed at a fixed cost but does have an annual Support & Maintenance plan and requirements can be expanded per client request.

  • PHP Framework Websites e.g. Laravel, CodeIgniter, Symfony, CakePHP, Yii and Yii2, Zend, Phalcon, FuelPHP,...

As php Software Engineers we can build on top of your existing architecture a GfJ solution that you can use from the same CMS as you use to manage the rest of your online presence.

After a no obligation review of your existing architecture we give a fixed cost for this work which would be billed at nominal hourly rate compared the benefits you'll enjoy from a presence using GfJ.


As a reminder we've offices in, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fife, Kilmarnock, Livingston, Perth, and Stirling. Have a look at our own web career vacancies page to see how we've made it work for ourselves.

We are always available to discuss your specific requirements, just complete the form below or give us a call at the office closest to you.

Content Management, Content Management Systems, Continuous Professional Development, Customer Experience, Customer Lifetime Value, Customer Relationship Management, Customer Service, Disruptive not Disrupting Tech, Google for Jobs, Hiring, HR, Human Resources, Human Resources, Recruitment, SaaS, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Optimisation (Web Copy), Software as a Service Application Development, The Evolving Web
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