The poor state of Online Job Search

It's a bold and powerful observation, because it cuts to the heart of a prevailing fallacy that Search is done, no-one and nothing can improve on Google, and in all markets where SEO has been fought and decided, no new players are ever going to emerge.

A recent article on Wired opened with the following wisdom:

Let’s be honest: Healthcare on the internet still doesn’t work. Two decades since the dawn of the web, you’d think the best tool ever invented for connecting people with information—and each other—would offer better ways to practice medicine. Instead, a Google search for nearly any health issue results in a cascade of SEO-optimized link bait—symptom lists and forums presided over by the uninformed. Instead of internet medicine, we have cyber-chondria.

It's a bold and powerful observation, because it cuts to the heart of a prevailing fallacy that Search is done, no-one and nothing can improve on Google, and in all markets where SEO has been fought and decided, no new players are ever going to emerge.

A similar view exists in the Jobs category, where sure enough, if you type any Job-related query into Google, the results are filled with the same job boards and job aggregators that have worked very hard (i.e. paid a lot of money) to get themselves to the top of search rankings.

The thing is, just like with the SEO-optimized link-bait in Health care, just because these are the top search results, does not mean they are solving the user's problem.  In fact, click on any job board search result and you launch into a head-spinning vortex of links and clicks, browser tabs multiplying, buttons flashing: "register with us", "upload your CV", "apply to this job".  Anyone who has taken the bait and applied to any jobs using this method, quickly learns it's a Fake, it's a black hole for your hopes and dreams.

But Google doesn't recognise this (at least not today). To Google, you clicked on one of their results, and then clicked on about 50 more things. To them, that's a success. You didn't click "Back", which is Google's way of learning that the result you clicked on didn't give you what you wanted. You clicked forward, into the black hole.

At Craft, we believe there is huge room for improvement in how people find work (or how work finds people), and we think the online component of job search is broken, mainly because it relies on the same "text search" model that Google applies to the web, applied to the text inside published Job listings.

But the text in Job listings is a very poor descriptor of the opportunity it represents, because (i) hiring managers often cut and paste it, (ii) many exciting opportunities come and go without ever becoming a job listing, and (iii) job listings contain precious little information with which you could actually evaluate if that's the right job for you - things like: what company is this, (astonishingly, some 30% of listings on job aggregators don't even state the employer name because they are posted by a recruiter who doesn't want a candidate to be able to apply directly), how is this company doing? who will my boss be? where could this job lead me in my career?

At Craft, we are building a data model for jobs that answers all these questions and many more, and wraps every job opportunity in its full context that allows a candidate to (i) discover suitable opportunities much more reliably, and (ii) get personalised insights to help them make a better career decision, one significantly more likely to result in a good fit, which will serve both the candidate, and the employer.

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