Yesterday, Google announced the launch of her new Search feature that connects job seekers with employers with a focus on Africa.
It is no news that looking for a job is a job in itself and Google is looking to assist with the first step of securing a job.
Google’s mission as a company is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Hence, it is unsurprising that they will create a product that seeks to organise job-related information and make it accessible and useful, as it aligns with their mission.
The Old – offline job search methods
In 1992, if you were looking for a job in Nigeria, a sub-Saharan African country, you would have been quite limited to offline methods such as word-of-mouth and newspaper listings. Many times, it was a combination of both strategies.
When Mrs. A., a now 50-year old civil service staff was looking for her first job in 1992, she was advised to check the newspaper for Job Adverts. In her words,
“I was looking for a job so people advised me to check the newspaper…they placed ‘vacancy’ there and I applied to a Personal Assistant job to the Chief Executive Officer, which I got.”
However, while the influx of youth into the labour market was growing at an exponential rate, job vacancies were growing slowly at a mere Arithmetic rate.
Therefore, there was a case of a surplus demand for jobs to a somewhat fixed supply of vacancies. Hence, elimination had to occur through a “survival of the fittest” technique.
Thanks to the high level of corruption on the continent, many job seekers began to rely more on their well-connected relatives to place them or “refer” them to vacancies (after giving them bribes). Subsequently, those job vacancies ended up being awarded to people who are less qualified. Or the (public service) roles do not get advertised to the public.
Therefore, creating an increasing level of inequality in the society, where those who are less-connected might be doomed to years of unemployment and after a while, they would outgrow the “entry-level age”.
It’s quite telling that of the 46 Sub-saharan African (SSA) countries profiled by Transparency International only 5 countries are above the 50 mid-point (That’s between clean and very clean). They are Botswana (61), Seychelles (60), Cape Verde & Rwanda (55) and Namibia (51).
The Present – prevalence of online job search methods
Thanks to digitalisation there has been a rise of internet-enabled job-listing platforms. Such that, what was previously exclusive to Newspapers and Out-of-Home adverts has now been replicated online to help increase its reach.
In August 2015, my friend, Parklins got his first job (an internship) via internship-listing platform, Stutern accelerated by Jobberman, a Nigeria’s leading job-listing platform.
Google leveraging on the present but with an edge
What Google is doing with their new job search feature is nothing revolutionary. As it has been done by countless job-listing sites like the afore-mentioned
However, they are at an advantage thanks to the amount of data transactions they mediate. This provides them a massive data store which can be mined for patterns and insights that could eventually lead to the creation of new innovative products like the Job search feature. These also lead to a higher level of personalisation and an improved accuracy.
In previous articles, we have written about Google’s commitment to Africa, from the launch of an entry-level smartphone to a light-weight EMEA-targeted YouTube, YouTubeGo and then the Digital Skills for Africa program which trained more than the budgeted 1 million African youth between April 2016 and March 2017. In July 2017, during the Google for Nigeria event, it Sundar Pichai, the CEO announced that they were going to be expanding the program to 10 million by 2022. Sprinkle on top of that, the training of 100,000 developers in the region.
With their Job search feature, they will be doing more to improve economic opportunities for job seekers and employers. However, this move will ultimately lead to more revenue from the already prolific Search product (that serves Ads through their AdWords and AdSense Network) Google runs as more users find more value from using their service. In Q1 2017, Alphabet, Google’s parent company reported that 86.5% of her revenue came from their Advertising business.
At the launch event today, Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor, the Country Director commented thus:
Finding employment is still very difficult for many people. This new job Search experience will help the millions of Nigerians searching for new opportunities. We believe that the web allows anyone, anywhere, of any age, to grow their business, learn the skills they need to get a job, to grow in their career, become an entrepreneur or developer. This new jobs Search tool will be a key driver for connecting job seekers to open opportunities, helping more people to Grow with Google.
More than a Job-listing platform
While other Job-listing platforms like Stutern and Jobberman list the jobs they currently have on their platform, sometimes with an option to manually filter down for salary, location, and job type.
The Google job search feature combines its advancements in Artificial Intelligence to personalise job seekers experiences.
For instance, a simple “jobs near me” done around Ojodu Berger showed these results.
But because I’m not interested in being a “House Cleaner” I scrolled through the top bar and chose “Computer & IT”. Sadly, there were no such jobs available near Ojodu Berger. Here is the result I got:
I continued my exploration and clicked on the “location” tab, there I was given the chance to select how far I am willing to travel. Basically, the distance from where I am, I chose 50km (which is a 50 minutes drive at 60km/hr) but we know Lagos roads… However, it was then I now got some search results:
In summary, here is a GIF of how it works.
Who can access this Google Search feature for jobs?
Currently, Google has only made mention of three SSA countries where this feature works. They are South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria. Those three countries represent some of the key markets in SSA and are a representation of the three key regions in SSA. West-Africa (Nigeria), South-Africa (South Africa) and East-Africa (Kenya).
I imagine they will add Ghana to the list pretty quickly as it is also a key market for technological advancements in SSA.
How does Google Search find out about job vacancies?
Google takes an Open-sourced approach to finding out about the latest job postings to this end they have published an open documentation that dictates the format in which they will accept submissions.
Currently, they have partnered with existing job listings sites like Jobberman, NGCareers, and MyJobMag. Even up to the Federal Government level to ensure the postings are accurate and timely.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation & Youth Employment, Afolabi Imoukhuede was reported to have said that:
“The Federal Government of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has prioritised Job Creation for the teeming unemployed and underemployed youths as contained in the Job Creation Strategy section of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). It is therefore our pleasure to endorse and partner Google on this job Search experience launch that seeks to connect job seekers to jobs.”
In summary, Google accepts both direct integration and third-party integration to her Job search feature.
What else is Google doing in this space?
Already, on Search Google has made it possible to view lyrics directly on the search page. Also, to view football news in a sleek user-friendly way, learn about public figures and celebrities in a more efficient way.
Outside of Search, Google also supports tech startups at various stages of their lifecycle through the Launchpad program. The Launchpad Accelerator Africa which was announced last year at the Google for Nigeria event will provide over $3 million in equity-free funding, mentorship, working space and access to expert advisers to over 60 African startups over 3 years. Intensive 3-month programs, held twice per year, will run out of a new Google Launchpad Space in Lagos – the program’s first location outside of the United States.
What next for Google in SSA? If you know send us a tip.