Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An analysis of two "job seeker" websites.

Preview: (Link to evaluating website handout here:)

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project (P.I.A.L.), “Some 69 percent of all Americans have used the Internet to cope with the recession as they hunt for bargains, jobs, and ways to upgrade their skills…” (Rainie and Smith, 2009, para. 4.). In a 2002 piece titled “Online Job Hunting,” the P.I.A.L. Project discovered that fifty-two million Americans had looked online for information about jobs, with an almost 60 percent jump in online job hunters since 2000 (Boyce and Rainie, 2002). Considering the recent recession, combined with the torrent of new “job seekers” websites out there, this online target market has become one of the most populated, sought after and profitable demographics.

I will flesh out this specific target market of online job seekers, exploring and detailing who is in it, their wants, needs and desires. I will then analyze two competing “job seeker” web sites to see how they in fact respond to that burgeoning target market.

The Internet is a great source of information and an effective tool to utilize if you’re searching for that very first job, a new job or if you are one of the deluge of unfortunate workers who’s been let go because of the recent recession. I posit that because of the ever-emerging power and versatility of the Internet, coupled with the current contagion of economic woes, job seeker websites will fiercely compete with each other and attempt to cater to this entire specific target markets growing needs. So, who are these people that access online job sites, and what do they want and need? Also, just how large is the target market?

According to ClickZ, in 2002 alone there were 13.5 million adult visitors to the “top 10 standalone career websites” (“Job Hunters Choose...,” 2002, para. 1). According to the P.I.A.L. Project, African-Americans are much more likely than whites to look online for information about a new job - 61% to 38% (“How the Internet…,” 2005). But according to Quantcast, African-Americans are using Monster.com 58% less than whites on a monthly basis. This discrepancy in just one aspect of the target market proves the importance of a detailed analysis between some of these career sites, and as I mentioned I will conduct one below between two of the most popular sites.

The same 2005 P.I.A.L. Project report also states the overall percentage of men that use the Internet is 66%, with women at 61% (2005). Covering the specific demographics of the average ages of people that are most likely in need of a new job, it reports that 78% overall of 18 to 29 year-olds uses the Internet and 74% of all 30 to 49 year-olds uses the Internet (2005). As the ages rise though, the percentages of online use go down.

This seems to back up the evidence of which age group is most likely then to utilize online job sites. According to Boyce and Rainie (2002) online job searching is a young person’s game, with more than 60% of Net users between the ages of 18 to29 searching online for jobs, compared to 42% of people ages 30 to 49 and 27% of those aged 50 to 64. Also, on a normal day “twice as many men go online to hunt for jobs as women” (Recruiters Network, 1997-2007, para. 1). So, what are the professional and educational attributes of the people who are accessing and utilizing these various career sites?

According to the website HigherEdJobs.com, the largest percentage (25.7%) of people who visited their job website in November 2009 had two to four years of work experience, and the largest demographic (30.1%) of professionals were administrative/staff workers (2009). In terms of education level, the largest percentage by far (43.4%) of people who visited their website had a master’s degree, with the lowest percentage (2.6%) having an associate’s degree. These percentages make sense because the P.I.A.L. Project states “high socioeconomic status is correlated with online job searching” (“Online Job...A Memo,” 2002, para. 5). What are the specifics when it comes to people choosing certain job websites to visit and then staying to use their career services?

ClickZ states that “there is an emergence of two distinct groups of online job seekers; active and passive” (“Job Hunters Choose...,” 2002, para. 2). A small percentage of visitors to the top career sites appear to be serious users of multiple sites, while the majority tend to flock toward one of the more popular sites and surf it exclusively, albeit more passively the piece states. Both sets of groups look for and want certain characteristics in a job writes HRM Guide: interesting work; opportunities for advancement; people-oriented employers; innovative and financially strong companies etc. (“Job Seekers Want…,” 2006).

But what does this target market want and need from a job website? The P.I.A.L. Project states that they want “immediate access to employment listings, resume distribution and many included members (e.g. employers) (“Online Job...A Memo,” 2002, para .9). Salary information, career advice, and the ability to search for jobs without registering on the site are important attributes too for job seekers, writes About.com (Doyle, n.d.). Social media sites like LinkedIn and MySpace are fast becoming important sites to check out when searching for a job. About.com writes, “Networking (online as well as offline) is still the primary way people find jobs and these sites are simple and easy to use to make connections that will help with your job search” (Doyle, n.d., para. 4). Although this is certainly true and becoming more so every day, I will concentrate on comparing two websites whose central mission is operating solely as a job seeker website.

Analysis of two Websites:

The first job seeker website that I will analyze is CareerBuilder.com and the second website I will look at is Monster.com. I will compare the two sites to discover the specifics of the demographics that use each website, and also to find what factors account for one site being better than the other, if this is in fact the case. I will analyze the usability, structure and marketing communication of each website as well and determine the more popular site. I posit that Monster.com will be more popular overall than CareerBuilder.com. I will begin with CareerBuilder.com.

CareerBuilder.com includes all the usual, stock features of an average job seeker website. It has options to browse job categories (contract and freelance etc.); access to career fields; options to post resumes; the ability to search by industry and by company; the ability to have jobs emailed to seekers; advice and resources and quizzes to take that supposedly point a candidate into the right direction professionally. The site does have a couple attributes that are specific to just CareerBuilder.com. These include a “job discovery wizard” that takes into account a job seekers skills and then calculates the best-fitting profession for them. Patent-pending job searching technology that targets jobs matching keywords in resumes is also available on the site.

The actual color of the site is rather bland (a light yellow that reminds me of being sick) and the usability is below average in my opinion. I say this because their search results are inaccurate and quite difficult to wade through, as I put in public relations and then marketing and a ton of jobs popped up that had nothing to do with either profession. According to user reviews on xomreviews, the site will also frequently spam people who have registered with pointless messages (User comment, Sept. 2007). Another criticism found on xomreviews said that job postings have been stolen off free job boards and then indexed on the CareerBuilder.com as their own (User comment, June 2009.) Some audience data from the Internet seems to give some credence to these negative reviews.

According to Quantcast, females are seven percent more likely than the statistical norm to use this site (All Quantcast data here is from Dec., 2009). Concerning males using the site, as an audience for CareerBuilder.com they are lower (Index score of 90) than the demographic make-up of the total Internet population. Quantcast also computes that 18 to 34 year-olds are 29 % more likely than the statistical norm to use CareerBuilder.com, and 35 to 49 year-olds are 40 % more likely. Some interesting findings from Quantcast states that African-Americans are 107 % more likely than the statistical norm to use CareerBuilder.com and that the site attracts an affluent audience with 4 % more likely than the statistical average to use it ($60 to 100k). I believe that using just these figures, it is safe to assume that most white, young men in the age range of 18 to 34 years-old are less likely to use CareerBuilder.com to find a job. Are they using another site such as Monster.com? We will find out in a bit below.

According to the web information company Alexa, CareerBuilder.com has an “Alexa Traffic Rank” of 422 (with a score of 1 correlating to the highest combination of both page views and visitors over the past three months) (All Alexa data here is from Dec., 2009). Concerning the percent of global Internet users who visit CareerBuilder.com in a month, Alexa calculates it to be a reach of 0.2011, down 1.8% over a trailing one month period. The percentage of visits to CareerBuilder.com that came from a search engine on December 6th alone was 7.7 %, also down 13% over a trailing one day period. According to Alexa, top keywords driving traffic to CareerBuilder.com are “career builder” and “jobs.” I find this quite telling that people searching for “jobs” would then choose CareerBuilder.com, as I found by experiment that Monster.com also appears in the results (third). Also, according to Alexa, CareerBuilder.com isn’t ranked in the top 100 websites in the United States (its #110).

Monster.com also includes the average tools and resources found on most job seeker websites. They provide the tools for resume uploads and cover letter uploads; making a personal profile; advice sections; job postings; searching by industry and company and also database search tools for employers etc. But where they really differ from CareerBuilder.com in my opinion is with their new “community section,” the ability to set up personal webpage’s and site usability (and a much more inviting page color-purple). Accessing the new community section a person can choose between different “communities” to search around in and interact with. The one that caught my eye was titled “Monster College Community.” Here Monster.com says you can network with recent graduates and “learn job-hunting skills from experts” (2009). I navigated around this community for awhile and found it quite easy and interesting to hear other graduates experiences in the work world.

On the website Rate it All! I found some positive reviews for Monster’s layout and ease of navigation. For example, one person wrote “When I joined this service I could navigate its resources easily...” (User comment, July 2009). Another reviewer commented on the search engine results on Monster.com saying, “I love using Monster.com because I find all the right jobs that are provided within the search categories” (User comment, July 2009). Another person wrote about their new features, “They have enhanced the site so much…check it out” (User comment, Jan. 2009). After seeing these positive remarks and navigating around the site myself, I became quite interested to find hard data on the site and see where it stood.

According to Quantcast, females are six percent more likely than the statistical norm to use Monster.com, which is about the same as the CareerBuilder.com statistics (All Quantcast data here is from Dec. 2009). Concerning male use of Monster.com, and quite similar to CareerBuilder.com, Quantcast calculates that as an audience, men are lower (Index score of 93) than the demographic make-up of the total Internet population. Quantcast also calculates with regard to 18 to 34 year-olds, they are 24 % more likely the statistical norm to use Monster.com and 35 to 49 year-olds are 30 % more likely. With these statistics alone it’s safe to assume quite surprisingly that CareerBuilder.com is more poplar among 18 to 49 year-olds looking for a job. With regard to African-Americans, according to Quantcast, they are 77 % more likely than the statistical norm to use Monster.com. With just these figures alone it looks as if this demographic favors CareerBuilder.com over Monster.com by 30 %. Monster.com also attracts a more affluent audience with people making $60 to 100k a year 5 % more likely than the statistical norm to use this site.

According to web information company Alexa, Monster.com has an “Alexa Traffic Rank” of 507 - 85 points higher than CareerBuilder.com (All Alexa data here is from Dec., 2009). Concerning the percent of global Internet users who visit Monster.com in a month, Alexa calculates it to be a reach of 0.2056. This has gone up 2.7 % over the trailing one month period and is higher than CareerBuilder.com’s statistics in the same category. The percentage of visits to Monster.com that came from a search engine on December 6th alone was 8.4 %, signaling that more people are going to Monster.com than CareerBuilder.com after typing in relevant keywords. According to Alexa, these top keywords driving traffic to Monster.com are “monster” and “monster.com.” Lastly, Alexa has Monster.com rated 133 in the United States for websites. This surprised me, as I thought Monster.com would rate higher than CareerBuilder.com.

In conclusion, after reviewing online data and accessing online reviews from various websites, I believe CareerBuilder.com responds to adult job seekers (18 to 49) better than Monster.com, although I believe that it is far from perfect. CareerBuilder.com has a higher world-wide traffic rating also. I believe their bare-boned website structure is actually pleasing to this above mentioned demographic. “The site is virtually idiot proof and easy to use… they are able to leverage their newspaper affiliations and web partnerships to maximize exposure and market share” commented a reviewer on Alexa (User comment, 2009). I believe a factor that also accounts for this favoritism is CareerBuilder.com’s job searching technology that targets jobs matching keywords in resumes. Concerning males and females though, the two websites are about equal in terms of use according to my findings.

According to the data and backing up the P.I.A.L. Projects claim in “The Mainstreaming of Online Life,” African-Americans are more likely to use a site like CareerBuilder.com when looking for employment than whites. Also, the data indicating affluent people are more likely to access job websites backs up the P.I.A.L. Projects claim that high socioeconomic status is associated with looking for jobs online (“Online Job...A Memo,” 2002, para. 5).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oxfam International Uses Internet Tech. to Communicate

A great example of an international group that utilizes the Internet to tell its story and also reach multiple constituencies at the same time is the poverty and justice fighting confederation of 14 organizations working together to form - Oxfam International.

Oxfam International has one succinct website (link above) that provides easy access to all of their blogs; Flickr account; Twitter account; Facebook and YouTube content. Oxfam International writes on their site that "Although we have had blogs for a number of years, this site is our first attempt at bringing you a complete list of the latest posts from our growing portfolio." The site also includes the latest videos, photos and updates of Oxfam members around the world - advantageously giving the organization itself, a human face.

An illustrative example of how they are able to communicate vividly their interactions with the world's poor and also how their work is able to change lives is shown through their "Climate Change Blog." One example of a post from this blog contains content by Oxfam's executive director detailing poor Indian citizens he met and interviewed while at a Climate Hearing in Patna, India's poorest state. The really interesting aspect of this particular post is the quotes by local Indians explaining how climate change affects their daily life and existence. "Summer is two months longer, birds are not coming, so there are more insects and our crops are half of what they were" reads one stark comment by a farmer.

Through these testimonials, the blog post puts a human face on climate change impact and helps to make a person feel like getting involved can really make a difference in someones life. Conveniently at the end of this post a link is then provided to take you to a site to "Join Oxfam's campaign on climate change"

On this Oxfam International site, besides the links to social media platforms their members are using, there is also a Oxfam America blog, an East Asia blog and a Poverty blog. I think this site is very effective in showing how the organization is attempting to help the world's poor and marginalized, and it does this using one clear concise platform - the Internet.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Microsoft Community Blogs & Advertising

A pretty neat example of a corporate brand utilizing both online blogs and advertising is the computer software giant Microsoft. I suppose its no surprise that a software tech company who's products are geared towards creating online experiences is going to be on the cutting-edge of utilizing blogs and online ad's etc, to connect with its audience, but that's the case.
Microsoft engages in community blogs with Microsoft employees encouraged to blog about the company's new technologies, providing insights and opinions. According to Global PR Blog Week 1.o, Link, Microsoft has over 700 employees blogging today. This blog also mentions how Microsoft employee blogging helps to provide and put a " human face" on the giant corporation and it helps "communicate the company message quickly."

Besides technical banter on products etc., content on some of these community blogs can include ongoing dialogue about the authors' children, sports and humor. I believe this results in the subtle change of the audiences perception of big "faceless" corporations, and gives Microsoft an air of openness and integrity.

Concerning online advertising, Microsoft utilizes some Youtube "spoof" ads, that take shots at Apple. The ads are humerous and can reach a lot of consumers this way. Microsoft also utilizes online videos to advertise products - For example their 2008 Bill Gates and Seinfeld videos . Utilizing videos is exciting and gets consumers talking.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ethics in Social Media

One important policy issue concerning the Internet is the broad, delicate and controversial issue of blogger ethics and the more specific offshoot of disclosure. Should online writers have to disclose that they are endorsing a product or a celebrity for compensation? The blogosphere is an area of dynamic communication and of vast value for PR practitioners, bloggers and even everyday consumers. For example, brands are showering bloggers & online "influencers" with money, access and products etc.

But as of yet, there are no hard and fast standards for communicating and sharing information on the Internet. Authors and PR 2.0 advocates Solis and Breakenridge posit that this is a difficult topic because "the fuel that powers the continued evolution of Social Media is the raw and untamed voices of the people." But these virtual voices can cross over into the real world with real consequences, and the Federal Trade Commission may be doing something about it.

According to The Daily Beast , The FTCs new guidelines concerning disclosure will go online December 1st and breaking any of the new rules concerning the disclosure of who bloggers etc. work for, can result in fines of up to $11,000. Can the Internet be regulated you may ask? Good question. But some good information and relevant discussions concerning this topic can be found at TechCrunch. This will continue to be a heated discussion for time to come, as Social Media becomes even more widespread.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Effective & Ineffective PR Online

For our recent assignment I found a very effective and progressive use of public relations online. Traditional press releases are narrowly focused and offer little coherence or genuine value to the people they are trying to reach . Its important to have a release that grabs your attention, is news-worthy and tells an effective story writers can use, and influencers can identify with. Most traditional releases don't exhibit these qualities. A good remedy for this and an example of PR utilizing Web 2.0 tools is the PR Newswire website and especially their multimedia section. I recently saw a PR video on their site for a new product that locates wanderers - The beauty of the site and the subsequent video is that it actually has relevant quotes given by consumers (mother with autistic child,) and authority figures who have experience with wanderers - (police) and experts (on Alzheimer's) that you can actually see and then use your objective judgment if your a consumer. It contains the "because" of marketing. Which brings me to the point - consumers can find these product releases etc. online, at their fingertips. This type of site is also good for practitioners because of its search engine marketing abilities and the convenient ability to reach target audiences transparently.

An ineffective use of PR online is organizations putting press releases on their websites. For example, I went to Starbucks' site and found a news release and video promoting their new ready-brew VIA coffee. Don't get me wrong, this can be effective, I had never heard of this VIA self-brewing coffee before going to their site. But its ineffective PR for a couple of reasons.

1. I would rather hear raving about a product from an independent source (3rd party advocates -key to PR).

2. Too much hype for the most part. Not enough substance. For example, "Beginning November 17th, and just in time for the holiday entertaining season, U.S. customers will have access to a rich, bold cup...." -from Starbucks.com (*Although, I do think the mentioning of "entertaining" & "the holiday season" is effective messaging and illustrates the brand knows it self well)

3. No originality.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

3 Ineffective Websites-

With the multitude of websites out there, there are bound to be a few that fail to capture their intended audiences or maybe they scare away the viewer who stumbled upon the site by accident after a Google search. I began my morning by searching for some of these ineffective websites to see what was out there.

I first Googled 'sports websites' and after searching through a few on the list I found a pretty bad one in my humble opinion - http://www.sportingnews.com/
This sports website is ineffective for a few different reasons. First, its way too cluttered. The actual content is overwhelming and gives me a headache just trying to search around the site. Also, there is just too many ads. The whole backdrop of the site is an ad for razor blades. Next, the navigation bar with a vertical drop-down menu interferes with clicking around. Its too sensitive. Every time I came even relatively close to the long horizontal navigation bar the menu would drop down. The site also has too many pic's and ads which cause it to constantly reload!
This is very annoying and prompts me to immediately go to another site

I next searched for 'civil war websites' and found another ineffective website that doesn't accomplish what the creator intended - http://www.civilwar.com/
This site's main problem is the choice of color for the content and links. Its hard for me to read and someone with minor eye problems probably wouldn't be able to read it at all. They use a very light brown color for the links etc. The Civil War site also strangely includes a user poll that asks a question about health care reform, not a military or war question.

I found a third ineffective website while searching for 'car websites.' The site I found was for Edmunds, which is a site for people looking for used cars, prices of cars, and new car reviews, info etc. - http://www.edmunds.com/
The reason I choose this as an ineffective site is because the home page is way too cluttered. Granted, the site does offer a vast amount of information and tools to answer any of your car-related queries - but most all of this is offered on the home page. Also, the review section was difficult to search through to find the specific car reviews you were looking for.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Plastic Flowers and The Bomb Crater-

On Time.com I discovered an image that adds to its accompanying article as well as the website as a whole by giving illustrative power to both. The article is about former Iraqi Baathists that crossed over into Syria during the Iraqi civil war and after becoming a part of the social fabric in Damascus, have now become the subject of an "escalating" dispute between the governments of Iraq and Syria which involves suicide bombers and stern claims of harboring fugitives.

The picture quite poignantly shows the huge size of a bomb crater outside a ministry building in Baghdad as well as a few citizens starting to stream plastic flowers along its massive rim. This picture adds to the website by giving it credence as a foreign news bureau and it gives the article's content immediacy and weight and also makes me want to explore the rest of the site. The obvious contrast between the fake flowers and the vestiges of the violent act is powerful in itself.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Attacking Iranian Censorship Through Social Media

With the dubious Iranian presidential election held in June and the subsequent deluge of mass protests, rioting and then arrests and gripping violence by the government to counter the swell, technology and specifically Twitter has been highlighted as an important tool to attack and scale the stark wall of totalitarian censorship.
After the fraudulently-perceived reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the loss of reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, upset supporters of Mousavi took to the streets in peacefully and in some cases violent protest. Most foreign news journalists were barred from the demonstrations in an attempt by Tehran to manage the message. But thanks to the Internet, the message escaped and we were shown the harsh realities ensconced in Ahmadinejad's Iran.

The growing influence of social media and more broadly the Internets' reach as a means to express frustrations, help people gather and to spread world news has been given sharp illustration by these protests. Iranians posted links to videos, blogs and used Twitters' supplied 140 characters to direct people to meeting places and to avoid certain areas, all in almost real time. Probably the biggest sign of Twitters growing importance in getting information out to the world from behind the wall of government censorship was the request made by the State Dept. The Washington Post reports-
"The State Department asked social-networking site Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance earlier this week to avoid disrupting communications among tech-savvy Iranian citizens."

The Internet and more specifically social networking sites like Twitter & Facebook have filled an important niche recently and the world of communication is better for it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How Do You Use The Internet?

I use the internet to accomplish myriad things in my daily life. Most importantly, I use the internet to research topics for academic assignments that I might need a better understanding of - (Online tutorials for new media tools and software, library databases such as LexisNexis etc. are convenient and helpful.) This helps to complement the information I already have and may also provide me with estoteric but useful, powerful knowledge. The internet can also free me of incorrect information and misconceptions I might have by the ability to check multiple legitimate sources quickly.

I use the internet for banking and also for fun - watching missed TV shows, listening and downloading ITunes, and sending pictures of my 7 month old son to grandma back home. I also use the internet to get most of my news, which for me falls under the "fun" catagory. I only read an actual newspaper once in a great while. Instead of trying to locate and then buy multiple newspapers and magazines, I can go online and read such informative and varied titles as "The Economist" to "The Nation" to "Wired."

My use differs from that of my parents because they only use the internet for keeping in contact with friends and family - (Face Book, e-mail.) They still get their news from the local paper and cable news and only bank in person. I would say that the biggest difference between their use and mine is that I have adopted the internet as a multifaceted tool to obtain knowledge, make my life more structured (paying all bills online,) and to also have fun with. My parents use it in a strickly utilitarian sense.