Know thy jobseeker!


Although people have searched for jobs for literally hundreds of years, the way they searched remained fairly static: talk to friends and colleagues, physically visit potential employers, and search newspaper classifieds and ‘help wanted’ bulletin boards in their surrounding environment. In other words, looking for work was time consuming, and the chances of learning about a wide variety of jobs matched to the seeker’s skills were low.

Everything changed in the mid-90s with the advent of the internet and online job boards such as Monster and OCC. Jobs were now listed in a searchable database, and the seeker could find jobs from their neighborhood, their nation, or almost anywhere in the world. For employers, job boards offered a higher number of candidates to choose from, and for job seekers, job boards offered a door into new opportunities.

Fast forward to now: Job boards have been around for two decades, and many additional avenues of job discovery have popped up, such as social media. So what do job seekers do now? Is it more the same – or are we seeing new behaviors?

Two recent studies shed light on how job seekers find jobs:  the 2013 Job Seeker Survey (JobBoardDoctor/eHarmony), and the 2014 Candidate Behavior Study (CareerBuilder). Let’s take a look at what these studies tell us.

Where they look

The top 3 tools that job seekers use in their job hunt are job search engines like Indeed (74%), company career sites (70%), and general job boards and/or networking sites (67%). However, when asked which tool is most useful in their search, job seekers put referrals from friends and colleagues first, followed by professional networks (both online and offline).

What devices they use

When looking online, job seekers still rely on their desktop and laptop computers, with two-thirds using them frequently or all the time. Cell phones are also important, with almost half of the candidates using them frequently or all the time. However, over two-thirds of job seekers searching via a mobile device will abandon a company or job site if it isn’t mobile-optimized. Nonetheless (and this may be a function of technology at this point in time), less than 15% are applying for jobs via mobile devices – despite the fact that 98% of candidates own cell phones!

How job boards are used

Job boards still play a key role in most job seekers’ efforts – 85% locate jobs on the job board, and then apply on the company site; 76% locate employers and research jobs; and 62% locate jobs on the job board and apply there.

Social media and professional networks

About half of job seekers surveyed used some form of social media during their job search – usually Facebook or LinkedIn. Of those, 34% have found work via LinkedIn. Usage seems to be trending up – but again, it is centered on the same two channels: Facebook and LinkedIn.

Summing up

Although job seekers value referrals above all else, they tend to use job search engines first – and although social media has become a part of the job seeker’s ‘tool belt’, it hasn’t replaced job boards and networking. It’s clear that searching and applying for jobs via mobile devices will increase – and that those employers and recruiting sites that don’t offer mobile access will suffer.