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Be Realistic about Online Job Boards Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Workopolis.com Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit www.CareerActivist.com.

I was clicking through my e-mail a few weeks back and spotted a message from Monster.ca, a leading online job board. They proudly announced having more than 2,000,000 Canadian resumes in their database. After crunching some numbers I let out a respectful 'whew': that's one resume for every eight people in our entire workforce.

In fact, it's even more congested. At any given time maybe 10% of all employees are actively looking to change jobs. Add in the 1.4 million unemployed and what you really have is 3,000,000 or so very serious job-seekers.

Keep in mind that many candidates post more than one version of their resume to each job board they use. Assuming 2 versions per job site, that'd make it 1,000,000 unique resumes from about 3,000,000 job hunters. 'Whew' again: a whopping 1/3 of Canadian job-seekers appear to have put their resumes online.

Fooling around with these figures got me thinking about the big job banks these days. I mean, there's no doubt that hunting for work online is a hot ticket. That's because most published ads for jobs have shifted from newspaper classifieds to the Net. Today you absolutely have to use job banks as part of your overall job search.

But what kind of numbers are you actually up against when you visit the big sites? Like when you upload your resume to Workopolis.com and Monster.ca, or search for the perfect position on Working.Canada.com or Hotjobs.ca?

Take Workopolis, for example. According to Susan Hayes, Director of Marketing and Communications at Workopolis, their site has 35,000 jobs posted. Another 6,000 reside on their Workopolis Campus section (for students and entry-level folk). Last month alone the site overall attracted 2.1 million unique visitors. And get this -- of those visitors, 82% applied for at least one job. That adds up to nearly 1.7 million people going after 41,000 jobs.

Here's one more way to look at it. Assuming every applicant responded to at least three jobs each over the course of the month (a reasonably conservative figure), the total would be 5 million resumes submitted. That's a pretty daunting pile for some poor HR flunky to dig through.

Things are pretty much the same at two out of three of the other major job boards. Gabrielle Bouchard, who founded Monster.ca in 1997, also claims 2,000,000 unique visitors last month.

Bouchard was very forthcoming about how many employers use his service monthly. Turns out in a given year, his site deals with around 10,000 employers in total. So at any time there are typically a few thousand firms posting positions. Some companies only advertise a single job. Recruiters, on the other hand, might post dozens, even hundreds of positions at a time.

Over at Working.Canada.com., the re-launched version of what used to be CareerClick, Kim Peters is the new head honcho. She noted that over 50% of the traffic to her site, in the Ontario region, doesn't bother visiting either Monster or Workopolis. Hundreds of thousands of unique viewers scoured Working.Canada.com last month, where the jobs are listed by city across the country.

Meanwhile, in the Yahoo! Hotjobs realm, things are much less frantic. According to comScore Media Metrix, fewer than 100,000 visitors searched for jobs there last month. Sounds like you should rush in, right? Trouble is there probably aren't many jobs to be had there. Maybe that's why their PR person didn't return my call.

Now, what's the point of all this numerical comparison? Not to deter you from using job banks, that's for sure. Instead, I've got a bone to pick with employers. In all the years I've been around the online job search scene (I wrote a book called 'Get Wired, You're Hired' in the late 90's), one thing continues to bug me big-time: why are there hundreds of thousands of employers in Canada who hire staff, yet such a relatively small number of jobs posted online?

Consider this: if 10% of the workforce does change jobs every year, that's 1.6 million positions. Plus the couple of hundred thousand jobs added each year due to economic growth. Yet out of these close to two million positions, all in perhaps 60,000 to 80,000 can be found on the Net, once you lump the hundreds of Canadian job banks together and adjust for overlap. Why so few?

Bouchard explained that, in the scheme of things, internet recruiting is still in its infancy. Many employers are wary of the job banks. They may fear they'll be overwhelmed by applicants from such a public venue. Moreover, 'it is possible they are somewhat put off by the self-service nature of job banks,'' he says. Peters adds that 'sourcing candidates is often left up to more junior HR staff who may not be comfortable with the technology yet.' Another reason is that some companies prefer not to post jobs at all, opting instead only to search resume databases to find ideal candidates.

Still, it's way cheaper for employers to post an ad online than to go through a recruiter. Which leads to another pet peeve: why are so many positions posted by recruiters rather than by companies directly?

According to Hayes, about 30% of the jobs on Workopolis are through recruiting firms. It may seem like more because ''they are the ones who really understand employment branding. They purchase upgraded advertising packages and generate the most visibility,'' she says.

It's clear that, competitive as it may be, online job hunting is here to stay. Some trends to watch for? Peters points to an increase in pre-screening (e.g. questionnaires, personality profiles) accompanied by immediate feedback. ''You can bring your results with you to the interview,'' she adds. Working.Canada.com, is also adding privacy tools to prevent your current employer from espying your resume, while letting others find you more readily.

At Workopolis, Hayes says they're a week away from adding a Canadianized Salary Wizard (it lets you find out what you're worth), as well as the ability to upload your resume as a Word document in stead of just using plain text. You get to keep your fancy fonts and layouts.

Bouchard observes that Monster.ca lets you upload in Word as well, and they're introducing more accurate search features to increase the relevancy of results when looking for specific jobs.

All in all, it would seem that Workopolis, Monster and WorkingCanada are enjoying boom times. Millions of job seekers visiting their sites, posting resumes and searching for jobs. It's time more Canadian employers jumped on the bandwagon: if you want the best candidates, post more of your jobs online. After all, you're wise to go fishing where the quarry is swimming in schools.

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