Given that most job searches start with a Google search, it makes sense that Google would seek a top spot in the red-hot jobs technology marketplace.

The company’s most recent foray into HR tech is an online app called Google Hire. It’s limited (so far) to U.S. organizations with 1,000 employees or fewer that use its G Suite (formerly Google Apps) productivity tools bundle, which includes the ubiquitous Gmail and Calendar apps, as well as Drive (for cloud storage), Docs/Sheets/Slides (for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations), and others. More than 3.5 million businesses use G Suite, Google claims.

Hire is hard-wired directly into the G Suite apps, and that’s a big plus for early users such as Pace Avenue, which installs energy- and resource-conservation systems and helps homeowners tap government financing for the projects. Pace Avenue currently has 35 to 40 employees, five job listings that represent 10 to 15 potential new hires, and 167 candidates in its pipeline, says Brad Bowery, VP of sales and operations.

Since joining Google’s beta test program for Hire in April, Bowery has used the app to hire 64 employees — the apparent discrepancy having to do with the nature of his business. “We have a lot of hourly employees, door-to-door sales reps — and lots of turn-over,” he says. “We’re constantly hiring.”

Google Hire is an applicant-tracking system, a platform for logging and following job candidates throughout the hiring process. An ATS sorts and ranks candidates’ credentials based on submitted resumes or data from external job boards and recruiters. It can facilitate and coordinate communication with candidates and among internal parties — some all the way through on-boarding.

A natural fit
There’s a ready market for the technology in the small and mid-sized business space. A third of SMBs have no ATS, according to a survey by Aptitude Research, and of those that do, close to half are unhappy with what they have.

Hire is a natural fit for SMBs because they already do much of their recruiting work in Gmail and Calendar, according to Berit Hoffmann, senior product manager of Google Cloud. And Google is aiming Hire mostly at SMBs that have no ATS, according to Hoffmann, so Hire “is not taking share away from existing vendors in the recruiting space.”

Still, established vendors have an advantage over Google, says Jonathan Kestenbaum, managing director of Talent Tech Labs, a research and consulting firm. They've had time to build up third-party app marketplaces around their technologies, which gives their users access to "deeper functionality" than Google can offer, he says.

But Google is early in the game, Kestenbaum points out, and the search giant certainly knows how to build a third-party app marketplace. Exhibit A: Chrome.

Google Hire follows two hiring-technology introductions by Google in the last year: Google For Jobs, an app for job seekers to leverage its search engine, and Cloud Jobs API, a way for recruiters and job boards to tap Google’s cloud-based predictive analytics algorithms for better matches.

That “many applicant tracking systems have partnered with Google and are adopting the Cloud Jobs API,” according to Hoffmann, suggests Google’s growing clout in the corporate hiring market. If Hire proves a hit with hiring managers, Google’s top rank will be obvious.

Early reviews
Another early beta user is Brad’s Deals, an online price-comparison shopping network with 70+ employees, 13 open positions, and 567 active candidates in its pipeline. Brad’s used a “homegrown process” for applicant tracking that involved Google Drive, a customer-relationship management app, and a Calendar-based meeting planner. Compared to that, Hire is “incredibly intuitive, sleek, and user-friendly,” says Jessica Adams, VP of Human Resources.

The team at Brad's Deals.
The team at Brad's Deals.

Similarly, Pace Avenue’s Bowery hopped on Hire because he was eager to replace the ad hoc ATS he’d been using since co-founding the company in 2015. At his previous employer Bowery had used an established ATS, which he’d hoped to use at Pace Avenue, but he found it was too expensive for a startup.

In terms of pricing, both Pace Avenue and Brad’s Deals got discounts for participating in the beta. For its part, Google won’t be specific, except to say that it charges for Hire based on “company size.” (Media reports claim specifics.)

Pace Avenue’s Bowery is impressed “with how much Hire has put together in a short amount of time.” Hire’s tight integration with Gmail and Calendar helps with scheduling interviews among managers, he says. Also, Hire pulls additional information automatically into a profile, “like a Google Search of that candidate,” he says.

One thing he’d like to see Google engineers add to Hire, though, is a reporting capability to “track and tag our spend on job boards,” detailing the number of applications they’re getting, exactly when, and specifically from where. “They’ve got some of that [functionality] available” in Hire, he says, and based on his positive experiences working with the Google team, he’s confident the rest is coming soon.

“We add new features and functionality to Hire on a regular basis with monthly releases,” according to Google’s Hoffmann.

Hire’s tight integration with Gmail lets Brad’s Deals automatically track and store all the emails related to a particular candidate’s hiring process, including “timely reactions to face-to-face interviews” as well as off-line follow-up discussions among all interested parties, Adams says. Aided by Hire’s tight integration with Drive, all emails end up in “one pool, one place,” she says.

Email tracking also allows Adams “to see if a manager has followed up with a candidate, and if a candidate has sent thank-you’s to the hiring team.” This makes for a positive “candidate experience,” whether that person is hired or not, and that helps Brad’s Deals avoid bad reviews in social media and keeps former candidates readily accessible. Lately, Brad’s Deals has been interviewing “junior folks for senior jobs” — not a good fit, Adams says. But she will be looking to hire for junior positions in the near future, she says, and previous candidates with high marks will more easily get a second chance.

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John Soat

John Soat

Soat is an award-winning multimedia reporter and a long-time observer of technology’s impact on business.