In a blog post last week I contended that Google for Jobs is Evil. Most people disagreed and most weren’t aware that one of Google’s early mission statements was “Do No Evil.” But I think they have. Those who think playing the lottery to get a job is a good thing have no understanding how recruiters and hiring managers make hiring decisions.

Some examples will help clarify the situation.

According to this published report from – an applicant tracking system (ATS) – among their clients only one person out of 150 found a job by applying directly. This is based on 15 thousand different jobs being filled using their system and 1.5 million applicants.

At their customer conference last year Greenhouse – another ATS – said they processed 15 million applications in three years that resulted in 150 thousand jobs being filled. This is the same one in 150 odds. I don’t think this is a great way to find another job regardless of how easy it seems to get started. Google for Jobs will make things worse since it’s more attractive, more efficient and more global.

By the way, in the Lever report cited above they also showed that if you got referred there was a 10:1 chance you got the job. The Greenhouse CEO confirmed this same ratio to me about referrals. The same results were found in a huge survey I worked on with LinkedIn a few years ago.

So it’s clear that when getting a great job – even a better job – being referred is far better than applying directly. In a post last year I provided job seekers some insider secrets on how to use job postings as leads and how to get an interview before the job is posted. This is called the hidden job market. This is where you’ll find the best jobs and Google for Jobs doesn’t have a single one listed.

However, getting referred is hard work. You need to network aggressively. Actively participate in professional groups. Perform well in every job you’ve had. Ask your former boss to take you with him or her when changing jobs and ask your former co-workers to recommend you for jobs at their new companies. Who wants to do this when all you have to do is push the apply button?

Some more bad news. Before Google for Jobs came into being the odds were about 30:1 you’d be contacted if you first passed the knock-out questionnaire and completed the application. To get an actual interview you then had to get past the box-checking phone screen and agree to the salary range. This all happened before the real details of the job were discussed.

Now just look at these job descriptions that supposedly represent great jobs for mechanical engineers in the Chicago area. Can you find any descriptions that actually describe the work? Most start off with laundry lists of skills and "must have" competencies designed to weed out the unqualified. And if you’ve ever met a top performer who possesses a different mix of skills and experiences it also weeds out these people. It also weeds out diverse candidates, military vets, those with comparable experience and older folks like me.



Of course, what Google has done has enabled many more unqualified people to more easily apply for the same jobs minimizing the chance that a truly qualified person will ever get interviewed. Because there are so many unqualified people applying to these jobs, companies have resorted to AI-algorithms to determine who makes the first cut. These are generally based on skills and experiences. So if your resume doesn’t map to the algorithm you don’t stand a chance of ever getting an interview even if you are qualified. So if anyone thinks playing a lottery that’s rigged against you to get an ill-defined job at less pay than you deserve is a good thing, go for it. You’re Google for Jobs’ target customer.

An inside story for the less squeamish: A year or so ago I was in a product development meeting with a major job board. They asked for my opinion on some new features. I suggested two. The first, replace the "Apply Now" button with a, “Let’s have a conversation button.” The second, only let people apply to jobs they’re qualified for. Both got a resounding, “No Way!” They suggested their customers – those who paid for the postings – would complain since they’re paying for applicant flow and the product development folks were being rewarded for getting more flow.

Life Lesson 1Follow the Money!

I’m a job seeker, too. Based on all of the negativity around my Google for Jobs is Evilpost I was a bit down in the dumps so I decided it was time for me to get another job. Of course I went to Google for Jobs to find one. And let me say the site is very seductive. However, as I started reading the job descriptions for jobs I know I could handle I saw the term “digital native” (I think this means I had to own an iPhone before I was 18 years old) and the requirement that I send in a short video as part of the application process. Since I can’t hide my age and while it was easy to push the apply button I decided I’d give the CEO of one of the companies a call. I know one of the board members so this was easy. In fact, I have lunch arranged with her next week.

Life Lesson 2Start networking now, whether you're looking for another job or not.

I contend that doing the wrong things more elegantly and efficiently is not a good thing. You can call it evil or not, but it’s still a waste of time if you’re looking to get on a better career trajectory.

Life Lesson 3The best time to start networking is when you're not looking for another job.