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Internet takes over job search

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Every year, nearly 20% of workers around the world change jobs – and 55% of those people find their new positions through Internet job search sites.
That finding, from a new report, “Job Seeker Trends 2015: Channels, Search Time, and Income Change”, jointly produced by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Recruit Works Institute, underscores the sweeping changes that the Internet has brought to the job search market.
The report, which reviews findings of a survey of more than 13 000 job seekers from 13 countries, delivers a global view of the job search process today. The countries targeted by the survey cover 59% of the roughly 3-billion people employed globally, or 1,7-billion people, making this report one of the largest global job seeker perception surveys ever conducted.
The findings raise strategic questions that can help employers fine-tune their recruitment and hiring strategies, craft their value propositions for potential employees, and deliver their messages through the channel that best suits their target talent pools. It also presents data that will help government agencies, human resource-related companies, and job seekers themselves to assess the evolving state of the job search market.
“One of the key capabilities that differentiates the Internet channel from the referral channel is the Internet’s ability to process a much higher volume of applications,” says Kazumasa Sakurai, a BCG partner and a coauthor of the report. “We believe that key difference will drive the continued growth and evolution of Internet job search, and we look forward to seeing how future technological developments can continue to drive down the time job seekers spend searching for a new job without limiting – and in fact expanding – their employment options.”
“Job search behavior is drastically changing around the world, but until the publication of this report, we have had little insight into just how it’s changing,” says Yukio Okubo, the founder and GM of Recruit Works Institute. “The unique evidence of job search behavior in various countries presented in the report promises to deepen our understanding of the global job market.”
The Internet changes everything, and it has changed few activities more profoundly than the search for employment. Job seekers 30 or 40 years ago were largely limited to paper media such as newspapers and magazines and introductions from family and friends. The widespread access to Internet and mobile devices in the 21st century, however, has brought new sources and tools to job seekers. Today, the process is more standardized globally, and most people are able to collect job information and search for opportunities casually and efficiently.
Job search channels include commercial channels such as paper media (newspaper or magazine advertisements), Internet job sites (résumé portals, job forums, job posting sites, job aggregators), temporary- and permanent-employment agencies, job training programs, government-run programs, referral channels such as alumni networks and referrals from family and friends, and direct inquiries with employers. About 40% of global job seekers used only one channel in their search, and about 25% used two.
About 55% of survey respondents sought new employment through the Internet search channel, compared with 36% who consulted paper media, 33% who relied on referrals, 24% who inquired directly with a prospective employer, 20% who used public channels, and 17% who worked through permanent-employment agencies.
About 60% of Internet users reported that the channel was the most effective, nearly equal to the 59% of users of the referral channel. About 50% of direct enquirers and 29% of paper media users deemed their preferred channels the most effective. Meanwhile, 27% who used permanent-employment agencies and 25% who used public channels said their preferred channel was the most effective.
The report’s findings make clear that the average users of the key channels have different profiles. The average Internet job site user is more educated and younger than the average job seeker. The average referral user is less educated and older.
The leading reason that people change jobs is to obtain a higher income. But how often do employees achieve that? About 57% of job changers overall saw their incomes improve, although job changers who had lost their jobs when they began their search fared worse overall. Not surprisingly, income improvements were strongest – and search times shorter – in countries with annual GDP growth of 2% or more.
Paradoxically, the advance of recruiting technologies has both lengthened and shortened the job search period. On one hand, Internet job advertisements allow employers to reach a wide target audience at the click of a mouse. On the other, job seekers today are able to subscribe to job posting updates and may thus spend a longer time casually browsing jobs. On average, the global job changer in 2014 took eight weeks to complete his or her research and waited five weeks to receive an offer.