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What's behind Google Hire?

Google Hire is the latest move by the internet search giant to expand its reach. We investigate the implications

US small and medium-sized companies running Google’s G Suite will now be able to use machine learning technology to support their recruitment efforts.

This is the latest development in a long-term project to expand the reach of Google’s search algorithm with machine learning as it branches out into the job search market.

Hire is Google’s latest product offering for the jobs market. It builds on the company’s previous Google Jobs and Google Cloud Jobs application programming interfaces (APIs), which use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) for the talent marketplace. With Hire, Google is targeting smaller businesses that may not have a full talent management product already.

A Gartner research paper from February 2016 observed a shift in the way businesses go about recruiting new employees. “Business leaders have long recognised that the ability to hire the right talent plays a significant role in any organisation’s performance,” the report said.

But Gartner found the notion of talent is changing as jobseekers look for more flexible working practices. The report predicted that algorithms and machine learning would become the new tools for human resources professionals to use to quickly identify talent. This is one of the growth opportunities Google has identified.

In a blog post announcing Hire, Berit Johnson, senior product manager for Google Cloud, said Hire was the latest product offering from Google to address the talent marketplace.

“In May, we unveiled Google for Jobs, our initiative focused on helping both jobseekers and employers, across our products and through deep collaboration with the job matching industry,” he wrote.

“Google Search connects jobseekers to job opportunities from the open and broad ecosystem of providers, including employer listings as well as LinkedIn, Monster, WayUp, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor and Facebook. Hire addresses the needs of our G Suite customers, making it easier to hire the right people.”

Hire makes it easy for employers to identify talent, build strong candidate relationships and efficiently manage the interview process end to end. It integrates with G Suite apps such as Gmail and Google Calendar. “With the introduction of Hire, customers now have a hiring app alongside G Suite’s familiar, easy-to-use tools to help run an efficient recruiting process,” said Johnson.

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The underlying technology is an API called Google Cloud Jobs, which Google claims uses artificial intelligence to present more relevant job searches than is normally possible.

Matt Moore, product manager at Google Cloud, discussed the application programming interface at the Google Cloud Next 17 conference in San Francisco. He said the API represented the company’s first pre-trained industry-specific AI module.

“Our goal is to bring this next wave of computing to the entire talent industry, fundamentally changing how employers are able to attract, connect with and retain talent. Job search is just the first step. Once optimised, it is a very powerful tool in your hiring arsenal,” he said.

Improving the career site conversion rate

The project was started as a way to increase the number of people Google could hire. “We found the Google career site was one of the most scalable channels, but it was severely under-utilised. We realised that if we could make even a small change to the career site conversion rate, we would make a massive difference to the number of people we hire every year,” said Moore.

The changes it made ultimately became the first version of the Google Cloud Jobs API.

Describing the data model inside the Cloud Jobs API, Christian Posse, programme manager at Google, said: “At the core, Google Cloud has data models that encode our knowledge of occupation, skills, education and locations.”

Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson is one of the first large enterprises to use the technology. Speaking at Google’s Next 17 conference, Sjoerd Gehring, global vice-president of talent acquisition at Johnson & Johnson, said: “We have been interested in machine learning to help us identify talent faster.”

He said the company needs to improve how it proactively matches specialists in the oncology space with vacancies, adding that “Google’s understanding of language is able to return far more relevant jobs”.

Making the API available to partners

“The Cloud Jobs API is a big investment for Google,” said Helen Poitevin, a research director at Gartner. “Just like Android, it is looking to make the API available to its partners.”

Google’s push means human capital management (HCM) companies will begin at how they can integrate with the new API. Poitevin said CareerBuilder is a Google partner, even through it acquired a major stake in Textkernel, the Dutch company that uses machine learning for recruitment.

CareerBuilder hopes the partnership will enable it to integrate its own domain expertise with the Google Cloud Jobs API to improve its own job search capabilities.

“Google is bringing in another layer and improving search results through machine learning,” she said. This makes the Jobs API an important part of the wider job search market, as well as job sites and corporate recruiters.

Poitevin said Google Hire was more limited. “It has less reach as it is connected to the G Suite applications.”

Capitalising on the job matching algorithm

She does, however, believe Hire enables Google to capitalise on its job-matching algorithm.

“Google Hire makes sense if you are using the taxonomy to find a job,” said Poitevin. “With Hire, Google offers people-matching to identify people with similar skills.”

She said this was a smart move for Google. Although Hire is only available in the US, and primarily targets small and medium-sized businesses that do not require the full recruitment capabilities built into leading human capital management suites, Hire enables Google to test how well the algorithm matches people to jobs.

Gartner has not seen much interest from its corporate clients for the new Google API, but Poitevin said HCM providers and job sites are seriously looking into the new technology. “Why develop your own matching algorithm? Just use Google’s,” she said. “It will be pervasive and brought indirectly into the enterprise via their recruitment partners.”

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