While the Internet can often be a very useful job-hunting tool, surfing it to identify job leads can be time-consuming and tedious. However a 2010 survey by Jobs2web, Inc. of 14.3 million web users indicates that certain strategies are more effective for jobhunters than others. The findings are summarized in Figure 1. These are for all types of job openings, not just ones for chemists.
Figure 1 indicates over it takes an average of 1,050 users of a major job board such as Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com to result in one hire. One reason for this is jobs on big job boards often remain posted after positions are filled. Smaller, specialized job boards such as the jobs board on the ACS website and ScienceJobs.com were not included in the Jobs2web study but reportedly are more effective than the big job boards.
Social media are twice as effective as the big job boards; it takes 785 visitors to a site such as LinkedIn to result one hire. Another popular method is for job hunters to type a description of they want into an Internet search engine. This results in one hire from an average of 465 job hunters conducting searches.
To make one hire from the candidates who visited their own website, companies look at an average of 337 candidates. Clearly job hunters contacting companies through their websites are self-selecting to some degree with a larger fraction of the most appropriately qualified candidates applying for a position.
The numbers look better for people using a search engine to find for a specific type of job opening or who consult a company’s website. These job hunters are self-selecting to some degree and have more relevant experience than all job hunters overall.
If one considers only those Internet users who apply for a job by filling out application forms and/or submitting a résumé, the relative effectiveness of the different Internet strategies is similar. However, the numbers look better because, after reading job descriptions, many Internet users opt out and do not apply for a particular position.
According to the analysis, companies look through about 219 applications per job from job seekers who discovered the posting on a major board, such as Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com, before finding someone to hire. In contrast, companies screen an average of 33 applications from job hunters who find the job opening on the company’s own career site to make one hire. Describing the job you want and using a search engine is about equally effective. Companies make an average of one hire from 32 applicants who find jobs openings this way. Social media sites fall in the middle of the rankings with companies hiring one applicant from an average of 116 people who used social media sites to discover a job opening.
Again, it should be noted that these numbers are fro job hunters in general and not chemists specifically. Still, the trends are interesting.
Internet job search strategies
Just because one strategy of online job searching is more effective than another doesn’t mean you should exclusively focus on that one strategy. Instead use the findings of the Jobs2web study to prioritize the methods you use and devote your greatest efforts on the most promising ones: company web sites and Internet search engine results. For example, the major job boards are crowded with applicants so companies have to sift through a large number of respondents to their job postings. However, according to a 2011 CareerXroads study, about one-quarter of company hires do come through applications submitted through major job boards.
Going beyond the Internet
Remember that there are other effective job search techniques besides using the Internet. For instance, networking can be quite effective in identifying job leads. Many companies like to hire new employees from among people recommended by their current employees. An average of ten such recommendations results in one hire.
The key to effective job hunting is to use a variety of techniques to identify job openings for which you are qualified. Don’t rely exclusively on just one or two.
John Borchardt is a chemist and freelance writer who has been an ACS career consultant for 15 years. He is the author of the ACS/Oxford University Press Book “Career Management for Scientists and Engineers.” He has had more than 1200 articles published in a variety of magazines, newspapers and encyclopedias. As an industrial chemist, he holds 30 U.S. and more than 125 international patents and is the author of more than 130 peer-reviewed papers.