MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google's mission is to steer people to the information they need in their daily lives. One crucial area the Internet giant says could use some work: Jobs.
So Google is launching a new initiative, Google for Jobs, that includes a feature in search that collects and organizes millions of job postings from all over the web to make them easier for job seekers to find.
In coming weeks, a Google search for a cashier job in Des Moines or a software engineering gig in Boise will pop up job openings at the top of search results. With Google for Jobs, job hunters will be able to explore the listings across experience and wage levels by industry, category and location, refining these searches to find full or part-time roles or accessibility to public transportation.
Google is determined to crack the code on matching available jobs with the right candidates, CEO Sundar Pichai said during his keynote address Wednesday at Google's annual I/O conference for software developers here.
"The challenge of connecting job seekers to better information on job availability is like many search challenges we've solved in the past," he said.
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Pichai says he hopes Google's new job search function will surface new opportunities for job seekers who often don't know there's a job opening "right next door."
Google is the latest Silicon Valley company to announce an effort to boost American jobs after President Donald Trump's call to put America first. The aggressive push into jobs could help Google attract even more employment-related advertising. Already, it's expected to pull in three-quarters of search ad spending in the U.S. this year, according to research firm eMarketer.
It's also another example of the consumer-centric company's dive into the corporate sector as it hunts for new revenue sources beyond advertising.
Anytime an 800-pound gorilla like Google enters a market, it sends shudders through the established players in the targeted industry. Google's leap into travel search was a game changer for the travel booking industry. In job search, the heavyweight is Indeed, which says it's the largest job search engine, with more than 20 million job postings and 200 million unique visitors a month.
"We are happy to see that 13 years after Indeed launched, Google has woken up to the fact that searching for jobs is one of the most important searches in anyone's life," Indeed President Chris Hyams told USA TODAY.
Other job-search companies — such as Monster and CareerBuilder — are partnering with Google, an unusual amount of cooperation from its competitors.
Google scours the web, pulling from a broad cross-section of job listings, including from Glassdoor, Facebook, LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter. The aim is to "increase the efficiency of job matching," said Nick Zakrasek, a product manager for Google search, who gave USA TODAY a first look at the new search results job seekers will soon see.
Job seekers who find a listing via Google search are then taken to the company or job-search site listing, where they can apply.
Google for Jobs could prove useful to Americans whose economic anxiety is growing despite low unemployment rates, as more jobs are being displaced by technological advances, increased automation and spreading globalization. Google is very much a part of those advances: It's charting an artificial intelligence-powered future that promises to radically transform how people earn a living in the years ahead.
"Google's always looking at new things it can do with the skill set it has, and particularly ways it can get deeper into search and deeper into enterprises," said Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jackdaw Research. "Jobs is a good fit for both of those, where it can provide a custom or deep search function for job listings on the consumer side and also offer businesses a system to hire workers on the enterprise side."
For employers, identifying the right candidates can be daunting, with nearly half of U.S. companies saying they face challenges in filling open positions.
On the employer front with Google for Jobs, Google is selling artificial intelligence and search technology to companies to make make it easier for them to find qualified recruits on their websites and job boards, Pichai says.
In November, Google launched a piece of that technology — Clouds Jobs API, which employers access through Google Cloud. The pilot program with FedEx, Johnson & Johnson, Health South and CareerBuilder is being expanded to include more than 30 employers, job boards and staffing agencies, he said.
"It's still early days, but we've seen promising results," Pichai said. For example, since using the Cloud Jobs API, Johnson & Johnson has found that 18% of job seekers are more likely to apply for a job on the company's career site, he said.
Some Google competitors in job search says the launch of Google for Jobs will help their own job listings businesses.
Facebook says it launched its own jobs feature to ease the strain of job searches on its nearly 2 billion users. "This partnership with Google helps us accomplish that goal," Facebook product manager Gaurav Dosi said in a statement.
Google for Jobs is good for the American economy and "has the potential to radically improve discovery of the millions of jobs on LinkedIn," Dan Shapero, vice president of careers and talent at LinkedIn, said in a statement.
For many job seekers, applying for jobs online can feel like tossing a resume into a fathomless digital abyss. Google says millions of people each day start their hunt for jobs on its search engine. But finding the right job can be a lot trickier than Googling the next movie times.
Job posts are notoriously hard for search engines to classify because of the wide range of keywords used to describe job functions and inconsistency across industries and organizations in job titles. And many people have very specific requirements for the job they are seeking, such as location, accessibility to public transit and special skills.
"It's something we see in the search logs. We see signs of our users being frustrated and being stressed while they're doing job seeking queries," he said.
How it works
For example, when conducting a search for sales jobs in Raleigh, North Carolina, openings will soon begin to appear at the top of results.
A job seeker can narrow the search by applying filters, such as jobs posted in the last three days, entry level versus management roles, full-time roles versus part-time, and roles in a particular industry such as retail. Once a job seeker spots something promising, they can click through to the website where the listing is hosted and apply there.
The goal for Google is to provide a comprehensive set of job postings that include blue-collar and white-collar positions, Zakrasek said. Google will also be able to point job seekers to jobs that have typically been much harder to search for and classify such as retail and service jobs.
He recently received a thank you note from the brother of a Google engineer who found a job using the feature while it was being tested.
"This guy had done computer repair, which means opening a computer box and fiddling with the wiring. It's kind of a dying job in this day and age and he had had trouble finding work," says Zakrasek. With Google for Jobs, "he was able to find a position he hadn't seen anywhere else."
Follow USA TODAY senior technology writer Jessica Guynn @jguynn