Alexa, find me a developer! How is voice search used in recruitment?

voice search in recruitment
Imagine searching for your next candidate on a smart speaker. You wouldn’t even have to lift your finger to type your search into Google. In fact, you could probably shout the command from your bath…  

Alexa, find me a Spanish DevOps engineer with 5 years experience and code that’s cleaner than this bath tub

  It seems unlikely now, but perhaps this future isn’t so far away. Obviously voice search could never replace the wide range of technologies and methods we use to find passive candidates, but it could potentially work alongside them.  Using smart speakers to book appointments, check the weather and order a takeout is on the rise. Candidates are already using voice commands to look for jobs. Perhaps Alexa and Google Assistant aren’t that far away from being able to scan the internet for the best and the brightest tech talent.  

Coming back to the present, how is voice search used in recruitment?


The rise of the smart speaker

We’ve all seen the video of an Italian grandma trying to use “Goo Goo”. (In case you haven’t – or you want to watch it again – we’ve included it below). Voice search and smart speakers have taken some getting used to. Alexa absolutely refuses to do anything I say, no matter how slowly or loudly I speak. But it probably won’t surprise you to know that the use of smart speakers around the world grew faster than any other technology in 2017.     One in five U.S. adults now own a smart speaker. In Germany, France and the U.K. alone, 6.5 million units were sold in 2017. The rise of smart speakers has been exponential – and growth shows no signs of slowing. By 2020, it is predicted that the connected home market could be worth almost $150 billion globally. If an Italian grandma spent Christmas 2017 attempting to master it, imagine how many tech-savvy millennials are already using their smart speakers to shop, play music, keep up with the news and book appointments. It won’t be long before they broaden their Alexa use from ordering pizza to finding new jobs.  
Voice search in recruitment
Image: and4me @ Shutterstock

How will voice search change the job hunt in the future?

  Alexa can’t understand whether I want to play John Lennon or John Legend, so deciphering a complicated Boolean search might be beyond its current capabilities. I couldn’t find a concrete answer to whether Alexa understands Boolean strings, so feel free to email if you can enlighten us! There are, however, some things we do know.  

1. Targeted ad campaigns in voice search

Amazon has already been in touch with several big retailers, including Proctor and Gamble, about promoting their products on its Echo device (which powers Alexa). Targeted consumer ads in response to voice requests already exist, so perhaps it won’t be long before companies can pay to feature in response to job-related queries. According to CNBC, “There are already some sponsorships on Alexa that aren’t tied to a user’s history. If a shopper asks Alexa to buy toothpaste, one response is, “Okay, I can look for a brand, like Colgate. What would you like?””  

2. Apps that help candidates find jobs

Using smart speakers to find our dream shortlist of passive candidates might still be months (or years) away. But potential candidates are already using voice search to find new jobs. There are a wide range of apps candidates can use to find jobs – and there are hundreds more in the tech pipeline. Although their reach is limited now, it won’t be long before it becomes as natural to ask Alexa to find you a job as it is to ask about the weather. So, what should recruiters, HR managers and talent acquisition specialists do in the short term? You should be optimising careers pages, job descriptions and event listings for voice search. The shortage of tech talent around the world means we’re constantly looking for new ways to open pools of talented candidates. In a hugely competitive environment, we need to keep on top of the latest recruiting tech, and search is next on our list.     voice search optimization in recruitment

Image: Sammby @ Shutterstock


How to incorporate voice search technology into the recruitment process?

Candidates are already using voice to apply for jobs. While that doesn’t help recruiters find those illusive passive candidates, incorporating voice search into the recruitment process can take your company one step nearer active candidates, and can also boost their candidate experience. Take a look at some other ways tech can improve candidate engagement.  

Step 1: use voice-activated job boards

An easy first step is to list your open positions on job boards that are already integrated with smart speakers. Take a look at the apps that are available on Amazon Echo and Google Home and and post your jobs to the relevant platforms. Remember that new apps are being added all the time!  

Step 2: optimise your job descriptions for voice search

  • Imagine you’re having a conversation with a candidate; use natural phrases and stop keyword stuffing. Rather than focusing on keyword phrases like “Java tech roles Barcelona”, ask “What Java roles are available right now in Barcelona?”
  • Structure your content to answer questions that begin with “how, what, why or when”
  • Think local. Voice search is highly localised (most people search on their phone, which has GPS). So you should tag job descriptions and other information on your careers page with the city and country where the role is based 
  Here in the Nederlia office, we’re still debating whether the future of recruitment includes shouting abuse at Alexa when she doesn’t return us with enough senior UX designers or gets confused between Java and Javascript. In the meantime, we should all be preparing for the candidate job search revolution.