With its new hiring software, Google threatens a vast new market

Google wants to help.
Google wants to help.
Image: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
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Google already has its tentacles into your company’s emails, calendars, documents, and storage. Now it wants to manage your corporate hiring.

On Monday (July 17), Google announced Hire, an applicant-tracking system designed for small companies, but which, like Google’s other products (see: Gmail), seems likely to expand if it gains traction.

Applicant-tracking systems have proliferated since the late 1990s, as the popularity of online job applications have led employers to become flooded with emailed resumes. More than 250 software providers are now competing in a market estimated to grow to $1.5 billion by 2020, according to a report from Technavio, a market research company.

Tracking systems—initially designed to help employers keep tabs on applicants as they move through the hiring process—now scan resumes for keywords to cull the applicant pool and automatically generate rejection notices. Some include built-in video interviewing. With Hire, Google is offering a product it says will integrate with its other services, so emails from candidates appear in Gmail, with a side panel that displays their resumes, for example. While it may not tempt large companies with an incumbent system to switch, Hire could be an appealing option for a small business already using Google for its other needs.

It’s not clear yet what Google’s ultimate ambitions are in the job-search space. In June, it announced Google for Jobs, a search tool for US users that scours various online job boards to surface jobs based on selected criteria. At the time of that announcement, Google told TechCrunch it had no interest in building its own job board to compete with Indeed and Monster, preferring to stick to search. But now that it’s offering services to both prospective employees and employers, stepping between the two with its own product seems like a logical step. The market has gained the attention of other big tech players, notably Microsoft, which waded in with its $26 billion purchase of LinkedIn last year.

The job-search and recruitment markets have grown because of the changing nature of employment in the US. As routine job functions become automated, the remaining positions are becoming harder to fill. Companies are competing fiercely for the highest-skilled employees, and spending more time testing for personality and fit. Recruitment and talent acquisition have become important corporate functions, and companies are now tending to their image among potential employees and using recruitment tools to seek out potential candidates for positions which used to be filled by posting simple help-wanted notices.

The US is nearing full employment, with jobs for nearly everyone who wants one, yet both job seekers and employers struggle to find the right fit. The tech company that can best match them will own an enormous market.

Update: This article has been updated to include the size of the applicant-tracking system market.