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).