Quintessential Careers Reports on the State of Internet Job-Hunting
by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Several years ago, as a service to our readers, the staff of Quintessential Careers began to conduct an annual review of the state of job-hunting on the Web. Because so much is written about the use of the Internet in job-searching (job boards, social media, resume posting, networking), and because job-hunting and networking online has become the norm for finding a new job, we developed these job-hunting annual reports for job-seekers.
Our last annual report on the state of Internet job-hunting was full of negatives. Many corporate sites were inhospitable to job-seekers, investigators found conflicts of interest between publishers and their job sites, and some job-seekers were dragging down the effectiveness of job boards by indiscriminantly sending resumes for jobs for which they weren’t remotely qualified. Those problems have not gone away (although the Websites of more major companies are job-seeker-friendly than was the case at the time of our last report), but in our current review of studies and reports, we sense a new atmosphere. Employers and job-seekers alike are finding new ways and new avenues for using the Internet to meet their mutual needs. When we produced our last report, the word “blog” was barely in our vocabulary. It feels as though Internet job-hunting has turned a corner. It’s here to stay, and it’s growing up. Here’s what we’ve learned in the time since we last produced a report:
Company Websites (as distinguished from independent job boards) continue to grow in importance, and employers increasingly recognize that they must present candidates with an applicant-friendly Web experience. Niche sites also are popular with employers and job-seekers.
CareerXroads, a firm that specializes in employment strategy, hiring processes, and staffing technology, reported in 2004 that a company’s Website is increasingly becoming the destination for job-seekers. In a CareerXroads survey of job-seekers, 92.4 percent of respondents stated they are very likely or likely to visit the employer’s corporate Website to obtain more information regardless of where they first heard about the opening. Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler, co-founders of CareerXroads, describe a new phenomenon, the “virtual walk-in,” the person who goes to a company Website at least once for reasons other than applying for a job and finds himself or herself looking at the jobs. Eighty-five percent of their survey respondents said they had done so, and 64 percent of those have actually applied for a job in that situation. Read the full report. CareerXroads also reported that 86 percent of the Fortune 500 have a link in their main navigation or from their home page to a “careers” section. More than half of 3,900 human-resource personnel and recruiters surveyed by Weddle’s, a publishing, consulting, and training firm, in the first three months of 2005 planned to spend up to 30 percent of their recruiting budgets online. Of those surveyed, 84 percent said niche sites provide access to the best talent while only 11 percent gave the nod to general-purpose recruitment sites. According to CareerXroads, 61 percent of all external hires can be attributed to just two channels — referrals by current employees and the Internet. Just 5.5 percent come from the traditional want-ads. There’s a good reason employers are investing their recruiting dollars online. Five years ago, it cost a company or recruiter $5 to $7 to discover a candidate’s availability. Now finding a candidate costs only 2 to 3 cents through electronic sourcing, according to a panelist at the 2004 Kennedy Recruiting Conference. Job-seekers like niche sites, as well, says the Herman Trend Alert, published by strategic business futurists Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, who note that studies indicate more candidates obtain jobs through niche sites than through comprehensive job boards. Candidates prefer to use niche sites catering to their region or industry to avoid wasting time exploring opportunities that don’t fit who they are or what they’re looking for. Jobseeker-friendly employer Websites are earning increasing recognition, which likely will inspire other employers to emulate the positive aspects of the best sites. The Electronic Recruiting Exchange (ERE) gave its first annual ER Excellence Awards in 2005 to a select group of corporations and individuals to recognize their recruiting accomplishments over the previous year. Job-seekers interested in what an optimal corporate career Website experience is like may want to check out the honorees for Best Corporate Careers Website: Winner, Federated Department Stores and honorable-mention recipients, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Whirlpool Corporation. Similarly, CareerXroads annually recognizes its choices for the Top 25 Fortune 500 Corporate Staffing Sites. Implication: Between company career centers and niche job boards, job-seekers today have better choices than previously. They can be picky and visit only those corporate Websites that offer a positive application experience. Our annual Internet job-hunting reports have repeatedly made the point that searching online should be just one of many job-search techniques. Thus, job-seekers need not waste time with sites that are frustrating, difficult to navigate, and that yield poor results. For some good tips on searching for jobs on the Internet, as well as evaluating job postings, visit Weddle’s.
Recruiters, employers, and job-seekers alike are discovering new online venues — blogs, social/business networks, and Google searches — for matching candidates with opportunities.
- Social and Business NetworksRecruiters and job-seekers are hooking up though online business and social networks. (See our Tools for Career Networking on the Internet and our Internet Career Networking Tutorial for Job-Seekers.) Recruiters, who cite such networks as Jigsaw, Xing, LinkedIn, and the people search engine, ZoomInfo, like these networks because they can learn about prospective candidates, as well as find out who else knows these prospects. They can approach passive candidates through contacts both parties trust. A new network, Jobster, is particularly geared to recruiters and employers in that they can use the network to reach out to working professionals who provide referrals. To use Jobster, you must be referred through an email invitation from someone already using the service. Job-seekers like the online networking sites because they can build their list of contacts and learn about opportunities. They can capitalize on the CareerXroads 2004 finding that employee referrals generate 10 times more hires than the largest online job board. Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, Stacy Teicher described a LinkedIn user whose every request for referrals had led to either a meeting or an interview. Implication: Consider joining some of these networks to heighten your visibility and boost your contacts.
- BloggingSeems like everyone is blogging these days, and that includes job-seekers and recruiters. Blogs, the No. 1 tech trend of 2004, according to Fortune, provide the opportunity to reveal your personality or that of your company. “Blogologist” Alex Halavais, interviewed by Danielle Sacks for Fast Company, notes that a “medium” blog readership of 1,000 people a day can mean an additional 1,000 souls who will have the blogger in mind when a job opens up. Job-seekers can use blogs to build their personal brand. Writing for MarketingProfs.com, Debbie Weil says that “if ever there were a perfect tool for the job hunter, blogging is it.” Weil advises blogging about a topic you’re passionate about, writing short and frequent entries, ensuring correct grammar and no misspellings, organizing your blog well, and including key contact information so employers and recruiters can find you. Halavais suggests blogging with the idea of attracting people in the same profession, as well as reading and commenting on other blogs. Not convinced? Read a blog entry that includes a list of Ten Reasons Why Blogging is Good For Your Career. On the recruiter and employer side, blogs can build networks, attract candidates, and provide applicants with a taste of the company culture so that they can evaluate whether they’re a good fit. Here’s a small sampling of some of these blogs: Recruiter/Employer Blogs
Jobs Blog: Experience Microsoft Former blog of Heather Hamilton, who was a Staffing Manager and Microsoft Employee Evangelist. Blog is not updated as of July 11, 2011, but may still contain valuable information. Semiconductor Jobs, a blog about jobs in the semiconductor industry and a collective intended to bring recruiters and candidates together.
See more career-related blogs. Implication: Visit recruiter and company blogs to learn about employers and opportunities. And consider starting your own blog to raise your visibility to employers and help them get to know you. If you’re in job-hunting mode, though, be careful not to say anything too controversial or inflammatory, as you could turn employers off.
- Google SearchingA recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive shows that 23 percent of people search the Web for the name of potential business contacts before meeting them. The figure is probably much higher for employers and recruiters who want to find out about candidates before deciding to interview them. Google searches are so crucial to recruiters that they hold training classes and share secrets on discussion boards about exotic Google search strategies to find candidates.
- Implication: Both of the above two venues, blogs and social/business networks, can contribute to Google searchability, as can an
- , visibility in industry and professional activities, your own Web page, and an online portfolio.
Employers are deploying online pre-screening techniques to deal with the flood of resumes from unqualified applicants.
In our previous Internet Jobhunting Annual Reports, we’ve noted that “resume spammers” make things difficult for other job-seekers by indiscriminantly sending resumes for jobs they’re not qualified for, thus inundating employers with hundreds or even thousands of resumes for each opening. Employers are now tackling this problem with automated questionnaires that sift through the huge numbers and narrow them to a manageable slate of qualified candidates, reports the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. One designer of these pre-screening tools predicts that within the next five years anyone who applies for a job at a large company will have to respond to an online screening as part of the process. The screening applications generally have 20 or fewer multiple-choice questions, and applicants are asked to check the response that best fits them. Implication: With these pre-screening techniques enabling a large volume of applications to be managed efficiently and effectively, employers may be more responsive to applicants who are qualified, and the search process may take less time.
Final Thoughts on Internet Job-Hunting
Almost 10 years ago, I remember the excitement my students and I felt when I would show them how they could use the Internet for job-hunting. Since then, the growing pains of Internet job-hunting and recruiting have dulled much of that initial excitement. This is this first of these annual reports I’ve compiled that enabled me to revisit those early feelings of exhilaration and optimism about the promise of jobhunting on the Internet. Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms. Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal W bsite or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com. <a target=”-NEW” hr f=”https //plu