Google in jobs search dispute

Google in jobs search dispute

Foo Yun Chee and Paresh Dave

Google’s fast-growing tool for searching job listings has been a boon for employers and job boards starving for candidates, but several rival job-finding services contend anti-competitive behaviour has fuelled its rise and cost them users and profits.

In a letter to be sent to EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager and seen by Reuters, 23 job search websites in Europe called on her to temporarily order Google to stop playing unfairly while she investigates. Similar to worldwide leader Indeed and other search services familiar to job seekers, Google’s tool links to postings aggregated from many employers. It lets candidates filter, save and get alerts about openings, though they must go elsewhere to apply.

Google places a large widget for the two-year-old tool at the top of results for searches such as “call-centre jobs” in most of the world.

Some rivals allege that positioning is illegal because Google is using its dominance to attract users to its specialised search offering without the traditional marketing investments they have to make.

Other job technology firms say Google has restored industry innovation and competition.

The tensions expose a new front in the battle between Google and online publishers reliant on search traffic, just as EU and US competition regulators heed calls to scrutinise tech giants including Google.

Google so far over the last decade has withstood similar accusations from companies in local business and travel search.

Ms Vestager, who has been examining job search on Google, leaves office October 31. But a person familiar with the review told Reuters that Ms Vestager is preparing an “intensive” handover so that her successor does not drop it. Her office declined to comment on the handoff.

Lack of action could spur the signatories, which include British site Best Jobs Online to German peers Intermedia and Jobindex, to follow with formal complaints against Google to Vestager, a person familiar with the matter said.

Berlin-based StepStone, which operates 30 job websites globally, and another German search service already have taken that step, another source said.

The US Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice, which are examining online competition in the US, declined to comment on whether they are probing Google’s jobs search.

- Reuters

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