Two years ago, 41% of adults (not teens) used voice search. Yesterday, Apple announced that it was opening up the Siri platform to third party developers. Google already has made great strides in voice command with Ok Google. And let’s not forget Amazon’s hit Echo/Alexa platform, which will end up under a lot of Christmas trees this year.
Voice controls are not a fad. They are here to stay, and with Siri’s opening, they will be threaded into almost every aspect of life.
Including the job search.
Voice search is more than a new means of extending the existing web; it adds new functionality that changes the search. More to the point, this functionality will change how people find jobs.
Let’s start with the basics. First, most people use voice commands on their phones, which means that there is embedding information that doesn’t always exist on the laptop. For example, all phones have GPS, so Siri will know where you are when you ask it something. This matters because if I search for nursing jobs, it will know that I am in Chicago or Phoenix and add that information to the query.
Second, voice search tends to go through more data processing than straight text search. For example, we’ve all learned how to “think in Google” – that is, to frame our query in a manner which Google understands. We remove all the little words that don’t add value. We don’t search “How much does an IT support manager make at IBM?”; we search “IT support salaries IBM.” But on our phones, we are much more likely to ask the first question because it is more conversational. Siri and the like use more natural language support to take something that sounds more conversational and turn it into something more query-like.
This means that searches will be very different on a phone voice search. Siri will be interpreting what you meant rather than what you said.
In voice search, do you want ten thousand results? Or just one? This changes things.
Speaking of conversational, voice searches take into consideration what you just asked previously. If you go to Google and type “Where is Paris Texas?” and then ask “What’s the best restaurant in Paris?” it will ignore the first question and deliver restaurant recommendations for Paris, France. Text searches are almost always 100% independent of previous searches. Voice searches will not be.
This means that the process of finding and narrowing down results will start to become more natural as someone requests IT jobs in their area, then starts to filter those jobs based on qualifications or years of experience or management criteria.
The last major change coming with voice search is what people’s intentions usually are. For example, when you search Google and you get 10,000 results, you feel like there’s something helpful for you in there somewhere. You just have to make adjustments to your query to fine-tune the request until you get something useful. And you’re comfortable clicking three or four links in order to find what you want.
In voice search, do you want ten thousand results? Or a hundred? What you really want in a voice search is a single result that answers the question and completes the request. Combining that with natural language queries means that people will be relying on longer and longer queries, usually referred to as “long-tail queries” because they don’t get a million searches a week, they get ten. But they get ten a week for years.
So if your prospects are going to be using voice commands to job hunt (and they will), what does that mean for you?
1: Stop Relying on “Words” and Focus on “Natural Phrases”
Your job descriptions are optimized for specific keywords. Usually they are your job title or career area with some geographic information thrown in. What happens when someone searches “What are great entry-level jobs nearby?” They won’t find your job titles.
2: Tell More Stories
Telling stories forces you out of the SEO-keyword-stuffing model. No one tells the story of Romeo and Juliet in a bulleted list. The form of a story dictates that you write in a more natural way, something that will better connect to the manner in which people talk to Siri.
On top of that, stories tend to use longer phrases and sentences than standard job descriptions do. This aligns more with how people ask questions and limits search results, increasing the likelihood that a searcher will get a handful of results rather than tens of thousands.
3: Answer More Questions
People ask Siri questions that start with Who and What and Where. Building content in a question and answer structure not only helps you connect to voice searchers, it actually supports conversion rates, as people who are on the fence after reading your job descriptions will feel more comfortable applying because their questions are being answered.
These changes and additions to your jobs and career site will drive more voice search job hunters to you. Luckily, they align with a lot of the things you’ve been thinking about lately (employer brand, using content to differentiate, answering questions, etc.). The rise of Siri should give you more motivation to change the way you are marketing your jobs online.