There are roughly 5 million small businesses that rely on Google’s G Suite as their primary corporate communications platform. They use Drive, Docs, Sheets, branded Gmail, Meet and Chat, Calendar, Sites, and a wide array of other cloud-based products that efficiently and economically allow them to run their companies. Then, around 2017, the ubiquitous Internet giant introduced Google Hire, an integrated ATS targeting those same SMBs. The solution seemed ideal—until it didn’t to Google. “We’ve made the difficult decision to sunset Hire by Google on September 1, 2020,” the company announced recently. “While Hire has been successful, we’re focusing our resources on other products in the Google Cloud portfolio.” With the sunsetting of Hire, what does that mean to the staffing industry? Is there a void to be filled or opportunities to be seized?


What Happened to Google Hire?

Hire by Google held out a lot of promise, demonstrated by stellar user reviews and G Suite customers eagerly incorporating the ATS into their people operations. Despite the rising adoption and positive reception, however, the product itself fell short of its anticipated goals. The true potential of Hire never really materialized.

Othamar Gama Filho is the co-founder and CEO of Talentify, a recruitment marketing automation platform. Writing for ERE, he said, “For those relying on the Google ATS and synchronization with G Suite, news of its discontinuation came as a shock. Why would Google kill a good thing after only two years? Quite simply, Google Hire was too much of an effort for what it could generate for Google.” Let’s examine some of the challenges.


A New Sunrise After Hire’s Sunset

The question Hire users must confront prior to next September is “what now?” Despite the perceived loss of Hire, the market today is brimming with startup HR tech firms who are working diligently to capture some of the features touted by Google’s ATS. As Othamar Gama Filho explained in his ERE article:

Let’s start with the ATS: For those formally relying on Google for their applicant tracking software, they will now have to look elsewhere. There are currently many third-party companies offering up their solutions to these businesses — many that also integrate with Google for Jobs.

Switching an ATS is a big pain because companies have to migrate tons of data from one to the other. It’s tedious and time-consuming. However, in this case companies don’t have a choice: It’s either switch to a different ATS or follow Google into the grave next year. As a result, these smaller companies will float to the top, filling the space that Google just vacated.

Within the world of staffing, the smaller and mid-sized markets represent a wealth of untapped opportunities. Google realized this when it conceived Hire as a tool for these businesses. Similar momentum is shaping up in regard to the MSP/VMS space, as we explored in our article about Coupa and Beeline.

In 2016, Allegis Global Solutions (AGS) announced the launch of its SIGMA MSP offering. The program came in response to the untapped potential of small- and mid-market companies that spend between $5 million and $50 million on contingent talent. Smaller businesses then and now play a much bigger part in the economy. The staffing industry understands this, but has not quite mastered a solution that can succeed in capturing a significant portion of the revenues that await. In a lot of ways, smaller clients still feel that MSPs are too large for their needs—that their offerings remain better suited to the realm of hefty enterprise spend. These customers would also love to move past manual processes, but they don’t believe they can afford a VMS.

The talent marketplace and direct sourcing platforms designed by Beeline and Coupa could be the answer. Non-enterprise businesses don’t require a specific threshold of spend to participate. They don’t need to purchase a VMS. They can also forgo the operational burdens of selecting, enrolling, and then managing a supply base internally. In these one-stop digital talent exchanges, customers can access solutions for their contingent hiring needs, while receiving the full spectrum of advantages that VMS automation delivers.

But there are plenty of companies attempting to bridge the chasm between SMB and enterprise needs with cloud-based ATS solutions. According to a review of ATS platforms by Juan Martinez in PCMag, these are the top 10 players to watch in 2019:

“AT software can get quite expensive, especially if you're a staffing firm that does most of your work within the system,” Martinez noted. “However, small businesses and organizations featuring handful-sized recruitment teams won't have to break the bank to find a suitable tool. In fact, some AT software firms offer free systems capable of basic data processing, applicant communication, and simple recruitment analytics. JobScore and Zoho Recruit both offer free tools that are excellent starter kits for small companies… The prices for other tools on this list run the gamut from $25 to $100 per user per month for basic plans.”


New Beginnings, New Opportunities

And as we previously mentioned, countless other manufacturers are designing affordable systems that integrate with Google Jobs and G Suite. Although Google shuttered its product, savvy innovators will work to create new offerings that capitalize on the features and benefits that users worry about leaving behind. Google’s strength is in search, and that’s not going away. Connecting to the Jobs feed, incorporating CRM, and uniting platforms with G Suite remain instrumental milestones for software developers seeking to claim their share in this competitive market. Some logistical concerns aside, it’s entirely reasonable to view the end of Hire as the beginning of newer, perhaps better, opportunities for small and mid-sized ATS solutions.


Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash