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

Google's AI overviewsBy now you may have run into Google’s AI overviewssummaries of text thrown up in answer to your query. Google rolled these overviews out to a certain number of search queries, although they haven’t reveal 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-related queries producing AI overviews – but that could change 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 seekers and employers 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) optimistic, 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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