How Google’s AI overviews could screw job boards — or Google

Google's ai overviewsBy now you may have run into Google’s AI overviews – sum­maries of text thrown up in to your query. Google rolled these overviews out to a cer­tain num­ber of search queries, although they haven’t  which types of queries are get­ting the treat­ment. The results have been…mixed. As Axios report­ed : “Peo­ple quick­ly began high­light­ing scores of glar­ing errors, from dan­ger­ous­ly incor­rect advice on what to do if bit­ten by a rat­tlesnake to a sum­ma­ry that had Google’s AI sug­gest­ing it has kids and serv­ing up their favorite recipe.”

It’s kind of fun­ny. But then again, not real­ly. On the one hand, no, Google’s AI does not have kids. On the oth­er hand, these overviews put anoth­er wall between users and reli­able sources of infor­ma­tion – par­tic­u­lar­ly as the sum­maries can stitch togeth­er mul­ti­ple sources to pro­duce a sum­ma­ry that may be quite dif­fer­ent from the orig­i­nal, indi­vid­ual sources.

At this point, I am unaware of recruit­ing- queries pro­duc­ing AI overviews – but that could any­time. What if a query like “civ­il engi­neer­ing jobs and appren­tice­ships in Toron­to” pro­duced an overview that failed to point to either job boards or engi­neer­ing firms?

It does­n’t seem like that would be good for job boards or recruit­ing in gen­er­al. Or, as one SEO site put it, “More search­es, less sat­is­fac­tion.” The new wall that Google’s AI overviews put between job and might (will) lead to frus­tra­tion.

How­ev­er, there could be anoth­er out­come. Job seek­ers might say ‘to heck with this!’, and try to opt out of Google’s AI overviews. At the present, there does­n’t seem to be a way to do so – but I trust that some enter­pris­ing devel­op­er will cre­ate one. In this case, the overviews would actu­al­ly screw Google, and send users to oth­er search plat­forms.

Note one key issue in all of this: as always, job boards are at the mer­cy of Google. They can react, but they can’t change or affect what Google does. I’m (sur­pris­ing­ly) , though. Even in a par­tial roll­out thus far, Google has received lots of crit­i­cism for the overviews. They may try to fix it – but some in the indus­try argue that the prob­lem can’t be fixed, that this is a flaw in the imple­men­ta­tion of AI. Oth­ers argue that the overviews will kill pub­lish­ing – thus killing the con­tent that the overviews depend on.

Per­haps Google’s AI overviews will meet the same fate as Hire or their Job Ad pro­gram?  We shall see.

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