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Firmly established as the primary social platform for modern professionals, LinkedIn has grown from a business networking tool to a powerful superdatabase brimming with prospective clients, customers, and sales leads. Its value to recruiters is immeasurable, and its popularity has led to many commentators labelling LinkedIn as peerless.

This could all soon be about to change however, with the announcement that Google is set to launch its own careers platform aptly named ‘Google Hire’. While the tool’s login page currently seems to be out of operation, the service is predicted to be a tracking system for job listings and applications, with an emphasis on utilising user cloud data to link candidates with the most appropriate job openings.

Whether or not this was fuelled by Microsoft’s recent purchase of LinkedIn is another discussion, but with the recent integration of Dynamics 365 with LinkedIn, Google certainly has a lot of ground to make up if it wants to enjoy a healthy share of the recruitment market.

The potential of the Microsoft-LinkedIn merger

As a result of this recent Microsoft and LinkedIn integration, CRMs now have direct access to nearly 500 million LinkedIn users for the purposes of lead generation and recruitment. The potential of this relatively new partnership is massive, with the capability of also analysing related Outlook data — this reaches far further than your simple professional network on LinkedIn.

The software giant is also planning to make recruitment using Dynamics 365 even easier, with the announcement of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Talent; a specialist recruitment tool for HR professionals. Microsoft seems to be aiming to explore the full potential of their services in the recruitment market, with LinkedIn at the helm.

What can Google do to compete?

Of course, Google is no stranger to integration itself. If its new hiring platform is integrated with the already successful Gmail and cloud storage services, there is no saying how much pressure that Google Hire could put on LinkedIn.

The amount of personal data retained by a Google account, including search history, is massive. Having already established the world’s most powerful search engine and map database, not to mention its influence in the online shopping market, Google could combine a candidate’s search and purchase habits with their location to find the most suitable job based on their lifestyle. Likewise, it could help filter candidates based on how long they spend procrastinating or which sites they visit. It’s a level of personalisation that a recruiter could only dream of, but is it a step too far?

Selling personal user data

The sale of LinkedIn to Microsoft generated a fair share of criticism — every member of LinkedIn is now readily accessible on the Microsoft Dynamics platform, which is against the spirit of a direct professional networking service. While recruiters have always utilised LinkedIn for recruitment purposes, never has the sale of data been so clear and pronounced. This concern over personal data extends to Google’s new Hire platform, but the company has already moved to deny claims it will give employers access to private information.

“[Google Hire] will allow employers to collect candidate applications online,” A Google spokesperson clarified. “Only information that a candidate voluntarily provides would be passed to a prospective employer as part of their online application.”

What does this mean for recruiters?

This can only be good news for recruiters. While LinkedIn has always been a standalone platform where candidates must manually populate and update their profile, Google is an already-established service that could pull the appropriate existing data through to relieve the burden on the user. In theory, this could lead to a far higher registration rate than that of LinkedIn.

This is not to say that LinkedIn will be made redundant — quite the opposite. It will take something special to compete with a 500-million-strong social network. With a clear competitor now identified, as well as Microsoft’s financing, LinkedIn could be just about to find a second wind. Either way, recruiters will now have two clear professional networks to scout for candidates, instead of just one.

It is said that iron sharpens iron, and with Microsoft and Google’s immense financial backing, this could be one of the most expensive sword fights in history.

About the author: Chris Thompson is a technology writer who specialises in digital marketing. He is also search consultant for Nigel Frank International, an IT recruitment agency.

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