Quintessential Careers Reports on the State of Internet Job-Hunting
by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
In 2001, 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. As we update our content, we intend to let these annual reports stand as historical snapshots of Internet job search at the time of publication; thus, updating is limited to removing non-functioning links and outdated advice.
This year, we look at a number of studies of Internet job-hunting that have come out since our 2001 report. These studies affirm many of the problems we explored last year and in some respects paint a mighty grim picture of the state of Internet job-hunting. The studies suggest, on the other hand, that the promise of Internet job-hunting is still there, but job-seekers are wise to know what they’re getting into. The advice we offered in our companion article to last year’s report, Maximize Your Internet Job Search, still holds, and in this article, we expand on that advice and adapt it to the new revelations that have emerged in the last year about the muddled world of Internet job-hunting.
More job-seekers than ever search online.
One thing is certain — more job-seekers than ever are using the Internet for their searches. As of July 2002, Pew Internet and American Life reported that more than 50 million Americans had looked for information about jobs online. More than four million go online on a typical day to do so, the Pew study indicated. The study also reported that the number of online job hunters had risen by more than 60 percent since March 2000.
Those most likely to conduct online searches for jobs are young Internet users between the ages of 18 and 29. Some 61 percent of Internet users in this age category look for jobs online, compared to 42 percent of those aged between 30-49 and 27 percent of those aged between 50-64.
The study reveals that on a typical day, men are twice as likely as women to look for work online. African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to search for jobs online than Caucasians.
More than 50 percent of people working in sales-related jobs who have Internet access look for job information online, compared to 44 percent of online executives and professionals, and 49 percent of wired clerical and office workers. The study also indicates that those in higher income brackets and with high education levels are more likely to look for new jobs online.
Implication: The Internet is here to stay as a venue for job-hunting, but both job-seekers and employers need to use the ‘Net more effectively to meet employment goals.
Job-seekers focus on a limited number of job sites.
Job-seekers may be flocking online in droves, but they focus on just a few job sites, reported Robyn Greenspan of internet.com. “Online job seekers may have only one employment site in their bookmark list, according to research from Jupiter Media Metrix,” Greenspan wrote, noting that more than 76 percent of the 13.5 million adult visitors to the top 10 standalone career Websites were exclusive to just one site, while 15 percent used two competing top 10 sites and only 7 percent visited three or more.
Greenspan reported that while the larger career sites tend to have a higher composition of exclusive users, there is limited cross-visitation especially among the top three domains (Hotjobs, Monster, and Jobsonline). Among visitors to Hotjobs.com, 23 percent visited Monster.com and only 10 percent visited Jobsonline.com. Among visitors to Monster.com, 29 percent visited Hotjobs.com and only 8 percent visited Jobsonline.com. Among visitors to Jobsonline.com, 27 percent visited Hotjobs.com and 18 percent visited Monster.com.
The major, well-known job sites are not only visited most often but also ranked the highest for usability, according to the Weddle’s User’s Choice Awards.
The winners selected by job-seekers are:
- Best General Purpose Job Board for Job Seekers: HotJobs.com
- Best Specialty Job Board for Job Seekers: Dice.com
- General Purpose Site with the Best Information for Job Seekers: Monster.com
- Specialty Site with the Best Information for Job Seekers: CareerJournal.com
- Most “Job Seeker Friendly” General Purpose Site: Monster.com
- Most “Job Seeker Friendly” Specialty Site: BrassRing.com
Sites receiving Honorable Mentions include: America’s Job Bank, BestJobsUSA.com, CareerBuilder.com, ExecuNet, FlipDog.com, Net-Temps, SHRM.org, and Vault.
Implication: Unless job-seekers are attaining results by sticking with just one major job site, they might want to broaden their horizons and check out smaller, niche, industry-specific, and region-specific sites. An efficient way to explore many job sites from one portal is to use Quintessential Careers: Job Sites by Category.
Frustrations still abound with online job-hunting.
Whether job-seekers cruise just one job site or many, they don’t always find the experience rewarding. The very popularity of the major job sites contributes to some of the frustrations because of the sheer volume of job-seekers submitting resumes to the sites. “The crush of resumes has muted the ability of hiring manager to effectively respond,” wrote career advice columnist Joyce Lain Kennedy.
Victor Godinez affirmed this point in The Dallas Morning News, “Machine-gunning resumes across Internet job boards is unlikely to result in a response from an employer anymore, said Lawrence Stuenkel, senior partner of outplacement firm Lawrence & Allen in South Carolina. Stuenkel said … there are about 80 million resumes floating around on the Web.”
In an insightful article, part of a “Diary of a Job Search” series, job-seeker Tim Johnston wrote that “Monster, for example, boasts 15 million resumes in its active database. How many resumes pop up each time an employer runs a search? What are the odds that the right person will see your resume? Babe Ruth is more likely to recapture the record for single-season home runs.”
Turning instead to smaller, niche sites, Johnston noted that many have minimal or outdated job listings or listings from a very limited pool of employers, prompting him to advise, “Avoid sites with no jobs and those where the information you provide about yourself is too brief to be of use to an employer. Review the list of companies that use the site before you bother to register, look for jobs, or add it to your daily list of sites to check.”
Anecdotal evidence suggests that some job sites with minimal job listings, knowing that few job-seekers will visit sites with sparse postings, actually recycle old listings or fabricate jobs.
Johnston also lamented the presence of “intermediaries: Recruiters, agencies, call them what you will.” Like some of the job-seekers in Quintessential Careers’ 2001 report on Job-hunting on the Internet, Johnston related that when he posted his resume online, he was often contacted by recruiters with leads that went nowhere or people trying to sell him something or enlist him in joining a multilevel-marketing scheme.
Implication: It pays to put in the legwork required to find job sites that will yield fruitful results and minimize frustrations.
Company career sites are the emerging hot spots for Internet job-hunting.
Fortune 500 companies are turning their on-line recruiting attention away from the major job boards and to their own, according to a study from iLogos Research. The survey data show that Fortune 500 companies are publicizing a larger number of job opportunities on corporate careers Websites by a factor of nearly three to one over the largest job boards sites of Monster, CareerBuilder, and HotJobs.
Those who are interested in working for a Fortune 500 company will find that the majority of the available positions with those firms are listed in the careers section of company Websites.
Greenspan reports that almost all sectors have seen growth in the adoption rate of corporate Website recruiting. A full 100 percent of companies in the healthcare sector use corporate Websites for recruiting, for example, as do high percentages of companies in manufacturing, high tech, the consumer sector, transportation, wholesale, natural resources, the financial sector, and utilities.
Corporate career sites are not a magic-bullet solution to Internet job-search woes. After all, as Godinez reports, 80 percent of Americans work for companies that have fewer than 100 employees and may not have a Web presence or may be hard to find on the Web. Godinez notes that smaller companies often advertise in newspaper classified sections instead of posting openings on the Web. Still job-seekers can use the Web to access these ads since most classified sections also appear online.
Implication: Job-seekers may find greater success by visiting company career sites than the major job boards. For one-stop shopping at hundreds of company career sites, visit The Quintessential Directory of Company Career Centers. For smaller companies, check out our collection of newspaper classified sections, in print or online.
Even company career sites have their shortcomings.
For all their promise and emergence as a viable alternative to the major job boards, online company career sites are responsible for less than 5 percent of actual placements for the average company, according to Kennedy Information Research Group (KIRG). In its study, Benchmarking the Corporate Career Website: Key Data, Analysis and Trends, KIRG suggests that the best thing companies can do to improve the percentage of qualified candidates coming in through their Web sites is to develop a better careers page within their sites.
Mark Mehler and Gerry Crispin, founders and authors of CAREERXROADS, certainly understand the need for better corporate careers sites. Following a recent in-depth study of employment sections on Fortune 500 Websites, they determined: “The promise of Internet recruiting for the job seeker is still more smoke and mirrors than reality. The job-seeker’s ‘experience’ of the recruiting process on the digital plane is far from satisfying.”
Among Mehler’s and Crispin’s findings:
- Forty companies on the Fortune 500 list do not post job openings on their site; two of those have no site at all.
- 56 percent barely meet the basic needs of an active job-seeker.
- Only three (1 percent) of the company sites could satisfy a prospect’s (very reasonable) expectation to be informed of the status of their application.
Implication: Those whose career interests fit with the companies that have the best career sites will likely have a relatively satisfying online job-hunting experience at those sites. The rest of us will have to hope that more companies get on the bandwagon.
The Internet is still the source of relatively few hires.
In a study that pre-dates their exploration of the best company career sites, Mehler and Crispin concluded that the top two sources of hires today are employee referrals, responsible for just over 23 percent of hires, and the Internet, which accounted for almost 21 percent of hires. Of those hires that came through the Internet, about 13 percent were through company Websites, while almost 8 percent came through job boards. Of the hires through job boards, just under 5 percent came from niche sites (college, association, trade organization, local, and other specialty sites). Less than 2 percent came from Monster.com, and a scant 1 percent came through other job boards.
These findings align with a 2000 study of job-search trends by Drake Beam Morin (DBM) that found that 61 percent of DBM career transition clients found new positions via networking while only 6 percent found them via the Internet. Furthermore, a DBM report on executive job searching revealed that only 3 percent of those surveyed found their jobs on the Internet. Echoes Nick Corcodilos of Ask the Headhunter and The Crocodile, “Various studies done over the past two years say the leading source of jobs and new hires is personal referrals. More than half of new hires (and new jobs) are found through other people.”
Implication: As Crispin states, “For job seekers, the implications are pretty simple — find an employee to refer as the number one strategy.” Crispin further notes, “The data also reinforce the importance of building and maintaining a professional network beyond the current employer if only for the times it will be necessary to tap into it for a new job. Waiting to build a network simultaneously with seeking a new job is an added difficulty that can be avoided.” You can get an assist with networking with our Quintessential Careers Networking Resources.
Today’s successful job search must be diversified — with a mix of high-tech Web-based approaches and traditional low-tech job-hunting techniques.
The two most significant pieces of information we can take away from all the Internet job-hunting research between 2001 and 2002 are that relatively few job-seekers are obtaining jobs through the Internet, and networking is still the best way to find a job. A diversified job search is key.
The Internet can still be an important part of a diversified job search. The ‘Net is fabulous for research, for example. Tim Johnston reported in his “Diary of a Job Search” that he got one interview after reading articles on a consulting Website, finding a company that intrigued him, and mailing a letter and resume to the head of recruiting. To land another interview, he used the Internet to track down the phone number of a company he’d seen a print want ad for in the New York Times. He nabbed a third interview after noticing an opening posted on a job site, going to the company’s site to get the president’s name, and sending him a letter.
In the same vein, Godinez suggests that “sending a paper resume and e-mail resume at the same time may be an effective way [for a job-seeker] to differentiate [himself or herself].”
Final Thoughts on Internet Job-Hunting
So, use the Internet in your job search, but don’t fall into the trap of depending on it and spending too much time searching for Web-based job-postings and submitting your resume. Experts differ on how much of your job-search time should be spent on the Internet — estimates currently range from 10 percent of your job-search time to 30 percent — but certainly, since networking is the most effective w