Google’s Jump in the ATS Market—What Does It Mean for Recruiting?

The HR world has its collective eyes riveted on Google as the Internet giant moves closer to launching a new recruiting platform called Google Hire. This much-anticipated entry in the HR technology space is expected to include a job board and an applicant tracking system (ATS), among other HR recruiting features.

So far, not much is known about the launch of Google Hire. Google itself has not provided many details, other than a splash page that essentially shows that a new recruiting tool is on its way with an invitation to “stay in the loop” by signing up for the Google Hire email list. Those in the know indicate the Google HR technology launch is an offshoot of the company’s 2015 acquisition of enterprise app developer Bebop and the bolstering of the company’s cloud services division.

Early Predictions

Since a formal launch has yet to occur, there’s no way to gauge what the impact of Google Hire will be. However, some experts are already predicting that Google Hire has the potential to seriously disrupt the existing ATS market, where players like Indeed, LinkedIn, Jobvite, Greenhouse, and Oracle’s Taleo currently dominate.

Such disruption has the potential for having both positive and negative effects on existing recruiting sites and job search boards. If Google Hire succeeds, some existing players are likely to lose market share, and marginal players who don’t have the talent or resources to adapt to a changing market may fall by the wayside. On the other hand, some see Google’s move into online recruiting as indicative of the industry’s growth and outlook for a robust future.

“Google jumping into HR tech legitimizes the ideas we’ve all been trying to champion, and it shines a big spotlight on the opportunity for brands,” says Scott Fowle, Chief Sales Officer at SmashFly Technologies, writing on the company’s blog.

Fowle makes a valid point. If Google didn’t see a bright future for the online talent acquisition industry, they would not be making a major investment into the space. That’s the same reason other industry behemoths—specifically, Facebook, with the launch of its job board, and Microsoft, with its acquisition of LinkedIn—have entered the space. As Fowle observes, the inclusion of such brands signals healthy maturation for the HR tech industry and also enhances the industry’s credibility.

Potential for Innovation

The tech giants like Google coming into this space will have the financial resources to push the envelope of innovation. Existing companies in the space will have to step up their game in order to compete. Against bigger competitors with deep pockets, “business as usual” simply is not going to work.

Instead, existing players will have to show a willingness to adapt. Those companies that leverage the dual advantages of their HR tech experience and their deep pool of talent should be able to keep pace. The impetus of added competition just might be the creative spark they need to become proactive in advancing their existing technologies and strengthening their positions vis-à-vis the expanded players in the market.

Recent innovations in the ATS market have centered around greater speed, mobile access, and the advancement of cloud-based technology. There’s good reason to believe that innovations in these three areas will accelerate with the addition of major players in the market.

No Guarantee

At this point, there’s no guarantee that Google’s launch into the HR tech space will succeed. Writing on behalf of Talent Economy, Michelle Rafter recounts that several previous efforts to disrupt the established market have fallen short. Nonetheless, the fact that huge brands like Google and Facebook are pursuing this space shows its desirability. As Rafter observes, “What better indicators that HR tech is having a moment than two of the country’s biggest tech firms jumping into the market?”

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