The Job Seeker's Internet: Just a Pile of Fool's Gold?


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According to a July 2002 survey conducted during the Pew Internet and American Life Joint Project, over 52 million people have looked for job information online and more than 4 million continue to do so every day.

Furthermore, the study showed, some 47% of all the adult Internet users in the United States have gone online looking for positions or job information. Doubtless, those figures are even higher today, so one might readily assume that the Internet offers the exposure to job leads that the great majority of job seekers want. The truth, however, is less reassuring.

Here’s why:

At first glance, the Internet would seem to be a long-awaited boon to the weary job seeker. There are literally thousands of job sites plus sophisticated search engines to help you sort through them. There are services that will email you fresh openings per your parameters on a regular basis. You can answer help wanted ads online, email your résumé to hundreds of recruiters, explore different career fields, access company profiles, get professional career help – oh, the list of goodies goes on and on!

And, to be fair, most of the job-hunting helps on the Net are useful to some extent. Yet studies show that, at best, of all the jobs posted on the Internet only 5% are filled that way, leaving a myriad of hopeful job seekers disappointed and angry.

Why such a low percentage of hits? Here are some of the reasons:

Low exposure to job openings.
Most job openings are not posted on the Internet. Part of the reason why is that over 80% of U. S.companies have fewer than 100 employees. Thus, the likelihood that these smaller companies use the Internet to post job openings or to seek employees is correspondingly small.

A glut of submittals for each job.
For example, a recent report noted that, which has at least 15 million résumés posted on it at any one time, receives over 4 million new résumés a day. Thus, the likelihood that your résumé will be pulled up by a potential employer—who may be deluged with hundreds of résumés in answer to a single posting—is slim at best.

An over-fed Monster., the “Big Daddy" of all search engines, pulls a disproportionate number of job seekers who use only it. Thus, once again, too many submittals to too few jobs.

Ambiguous job titles.
What you call a “CFO, " another company may term a “Senior Financial Executive. " If you don’t enter appropriate search parameters, you may never know of openings that match your background in all other respects.

User ignorance.
Among those jobseekers with access to the vast and complicated Internet, few know how to use it to its full advantage to seek jobs. Even for the initiated, applying to online jobs can be a time-consuming, frustrating experience. A 2005 white paper about the quality of Fortune 500 company career pages, published by Internet recruiter gurus Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler, notes that although 41% of online job applications on those pages take 5 minutes or less to complete, over 43% of them soak up 10 – 30 minutes, and 13% had nothing to which to apply. Furthermore, the bottom 20% of those Fortune 500 companies, they feel, “target no one, engage no one, inform no one, and respect no one. "

So what are we to do?

Clearly, the savvy job hunter — if he is to get maximum exposure to job openings on the Internet — must research and understand just what is involved, weigh the value of this or that marketing avenue, and proceed accordingly. He must identify those Internet aspects that clearly offer a viable return for the investment of his time, eliminating all others.

And, while it would be foolish to ignore the Internet — people do find jobs through it, after all — the astute job hunter will actively pursue all the other marketing channels knowledgeable seekers use: networking, informational interviewing, telephone contacts, spot opportunities, etc. He will craft a balanced, realistic marketing action plan, one that fully capitalizes on all the job hunting techniques, not just a few.

"All that glitters, " after all, “is not gold. "

About the Author: Pierre Daunic, Ph. D. , CCM, is a senior management consultant for R.L.Stevens & Associates .

About the Company: For over 24 years R.L.Stevens & Associates has been the Nation’s most successful privately-held firm specializing in executive career searches generating quality interviews through both advertised and unadvertised channels.


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