Feature: The Smart Consumer’s Dilemma

Feature: The Smart Consumer’s Dilemma

Feature: The Smart Consumer’s Dilemma

Employment Web-sites have been the greatest advance in job search since the creation of the resume. That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s not. In the fifteen years since their first appearance on the World Wide Web, job boards and career portals have connected more people to more employers more efficiently than any other single medium in existence. Both corporate and staffing firm recruiters now consider these sites a core component of their strategy for filling open positions. They are not a replacement for traditional job search methods, of course, but they are an essential addition to them. As a consequence, the employment Web-site industry is now recognized as one of the most successful new business areas on the Internet.

And there’s the rub. The success of job boards and career portals has attracted a crowd. With virtually no barrier to entry, more than 40,000 sites have opened their doors online, and additional sites launch all of the time. Today, employment Web-sites are operated by:

  • stand-alone companies,
  • newspapers and magazines,
  • professional associations and societies,
  • college and university placement centers and alumni organizations,
  • radio stations, and
  • affinity groups.
  • This diversity of choice is both a benefit and a dilemma. It’s a benefit because robust choice enables you to focus your online job search on exactly those sites that are most likely to post openings for the kind of employment you seek. It’s a dilemma because there is no easy way to know which sites offer the best combination of services and which deliver best on the services they say they have. In effect, you can’t capture the benefits if you can’t resolve the dilemma.

    Think of it this way: the benefits of choice represent potential; they are what sites say they can do. To find a new or better job, however, we need to know reality-what they actually do. We have to identify the sites that produce what they proclaim. Said another way, the key to using online employment Web-sites effectively is to be a smart consumer.

    How do you become a smart consumer of employment sites? By educating yourself in two dimensions:

    Design. First, it’s important to acquire the information that will enable you to determine the which, what, where, who, and how of alternative job boards and career portals. Which sites should be considered for your specific employment objective, what are the services of those sites, where are the services delivered geographically, who among the employers and recruiters in that geographic area uses the sites, and how do the services enable you to connect with them? The answers to these questions might include the following data elements:

  • The number of job postings on a site;
  • The salary levels of those job postings;
  • The site’s capabilities, including whether it offers a job database, a resume database, and features that are helpful for “testing the waters” as well as for active job searching (e.g., a job agent and confidentiality protection in the resume database); and
  • The site’s content, including the range, quality and uniqueness of the information that is provided for those who are looking for a job (e.g., salary information, interviewing tips) and for those who aren’t (e.g., assessment tests, career planning guides).
  • Operation. Next, it’s important to acquire the information that will enable you to gauge each site’s ability to deliver the design features it says it has. In other words, what is a site’s actual performance and what are the standards by which it operates as a business? These factors determine the reality of a site’s capabilities and thus the likelihood that it will actually help you. They are the answers to such questions as:

  • Does the site provide accurate data about its performance (e.g., the number of jobs it is posting and the number of employers that are posting them);
  • Does the site deliver the capabilities it claims to have according to the standards expected of a reputable online business operation (e.g., if a site says that job seekers may block certain employers from seeing their resume once it is posted in the site’s database, does it actually permit them to do so); and
  • Does the site fully disclose what will happen to individual information that is provided to the site (e.g., if the site sells the contact information it acquires through on-site registration, it informs individuals that it does so up front).
  • Historically, job seekers have been able to acquire research data (from published guides) to determine what sites are designed to do. To assess the operation of those sites, however, they have had to rely on experience-their own and that of friends and colleagues. While that perspective remains helpful, there is now an additional way to gauge a site’s performance. I recently launched a trade organization for job boards and career portals and the companies that serve and support them. Called the International Association of Employment Web Sites (IAEWS), its mission is to help these sites better articulate their value proposition to you and to help you make the best use of their resources.

    Every site that joins the Association commits to upholding the highest standards of integrity whenever:

  • reporting performance data to the public;
  • representing its capabilities to prospective users of those services; and/or
  • setting its policies for the disposition of information acquired from visitors to its site.
  • The presence (or absence) of the Association’s logo is now one more way that you can evaluate and differentiate employment Web-sites. It’s clearly not yet the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,” but that’s what we intend it to become.

    The IAEWS was launched on November 1, 2005, so it is still very early in its development. Already, however, some of the best known employment sites in the industry have signed on, and more are doing so every day. Eventually, I hope it will be both a “Who’s Who” of the online employment industry and a reference point you can count on for resolving the smart consumer’s dilemma.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. Please tell your friends and colleagues about WEDDLE’s newsletter. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and benefit from your recommendation.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Associated Builders and Contractors launched a new Web-site designed to connect transitioning U.S. veterans with construction contractors seeking skilled new hires. Called VeteransBuildAmerica.org, the site offers both a job board and a resume database. Its services are free to veterans.

    Monster.com released its latest report on trends among job openings posted online. Among the occupational categories showing an increase since mid-summer were:

  • computer & mathematical,
  • legal,
  • life, physical & social sciences,
  • food preparation & serving,
  • office & administrative support,
  • transportation & material moving, and
  • production.
  • Net-Temps, a site that specializes in connecting staffing firms with those seeking full time, part time and contract work, introduced several new services. It’s now possible to receive customized announcements of the site’s job openings by RSS or “really simple syndication.” Those who have an RSS reader can download job openings of interest whenever and wherever they want. In addition, the site has incorporated more advanced search capabilities into its job agents so that the openings that are identified more closely match the job seeker’s specification.

    TrueCareers announced the results of its most recent survey of workers. It discovered that work-life balance is fast becoming “the impossible dream.” The majority of respondents reported that they are spending more time in the office than at home these days. Over a third (35%) said that worries at work have caused them to sacrifice some of their personal life. Yet, over half (54%) also said that their employers encourage them to have a life outside of the office. What does that mean? For some of us, at least, the culprit in our work-life imbalance is the person who looks back at us in the mirror. And that imbalance can undermine both our present and our future in the workplace. Research report after research report has concluded that over-work doesn’t work over the long haul. You may get more done for awhile, but eventually, you’re going to burn out. When you do, your productivity and performance are going to slip and with it, your ability to advance in your career. So, practice the Golden Rule (or a least a variation on its theme): treat yourself as you would like others to treat you.

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published data that suggest the much ballyhooed Free Agent Nation is more like a “Free Agent Gaggle.” Independent contractors now account for just 7.4% of the total employed population in the United States. In addition, fewer temporary workers today are happy with their free agent status than were four years ago. Just a third (32.1%) said they preferred working in contract and temporary positions, down from 45% in 2001. What does that mean for you? If you’re thinking about becoming an independent contractor, learn as much as you can-about the minuses as well as the pluses-before you make a commitment. Talk to friends or business associates who have had some experience with free agency. Discuss your prospects with a staffing firm or two. Make sure that you (and your spouse, if you’re married) understand what you will have to do to be successful and that you (or you both) are willing and committed to doing it.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. You’re an experienced apparel merchandiser who’s just relocated to Boston. Which of the following sites would help you fashion a successful job search strategy with local employers?

  • AllRetailJobs.com
  • ApparelWorks.com
  • SnagaJob.com
  • BostonWorks.com
  • 2. You’d like to get break into the real estate field as a building manager. Which of the following sites would help you maintain a watchful presence in the job market?

  • CareerBuider.com
  • NationJob.com
  • HotJobs.com
  • RESjobs.com
  • 3. You’re an experienced HRIS manager who’s looking for a new challenge. Where could you go online to find timely and accurate information about employment opportunities?

  • HRISjobs.com
  • HRIS.com
  • HRIS.net
  • HRIS.org
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories



    Women in Technology International

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: National – USA

    Number of jobs: 1,524

    Salary levels of jobs: $51-75K, $76-100K

    Offer a job agent: No

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: Indefinitely

    Restrictions on who can post: Must be in the industry

    Other services for job seekers: Career information provided on-site, links to career information on other sites.

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All but ApparelWorks.com, the site of a software vendor.

    2. All but RESjobs.com, the site of Recruitment Enhancement Services, a recruitment outsourcing company.

    3. Only HRISjobs.com; HRIS.com is the site of an Internet service provider, HRIS.net is a site advertising a specific HR information system, and HRIS.org is the site of a company that installs HR information systems.