Internet still growing as job-search tool

Ipsos-Reid study shows nearly 8.5 million Canadians have looked for work online this year

The Internet continues to grow in popularity as a vehicle to search for jobs, according to a study by Ipsos-Reid.

Nearly 8.5 million Canadians have searched for a job online in the first quarter of 2004, up from 7.6 million one year ago.

In total, 55 per cent of Canadian adults with Internet access have looked at job postings online. This translates to 43 per cent of the entire adult Canadian population.

Many Canadians are not averse to posting their resumes on job boards — 22 per cent of those with Internet access, or 17 per cent of Canadians as a whole, have posted their resume online.

Searching for jobs and posting resumes online is more popular among young people (18 to 34) and those who have a university degree. Regionally, people in Ontario are the most likely to take part in online job search activities. In fact, 47 per cent of all Ontario residents have looked at job postings online while 21 per cent have posted a resume online.

“Browsing through job listings is one of the more popular Internet activities among Canadian adults,” said Rhys Gibb, senior research manager at polling firm Ipsos-Reid. “It is one of those rare Internet activities that has been very popular from the day the Internet became mainstream, and it continues to be popular. Job hunters not utilizing the Internet in their job search are clearly limiting their options.”

Why online job searching is popular

The popularity of online job search activities can be largely attributed to the many advantages it provides, Ipsos-Reid said in the study.

When those who have used the Internet to help search for a job are asked to name the primary advantages of using the Internet, the two most commonly cited responses are that it provides access to a variety of sites, positions, and employers (29 per cent) and that it is quick (27 per cent). Other advantages given are that it is convenient (18 per cent), there is no need to travel to apply (13 per cent), and that you gain access to very broad search capabilities (10 per cent).

Downsides to searching online

However, online job hunters do not think online job hunting is a perfect tool. There are distinct limitations to using the Internet for job search activities, the primary disadvantage being that it is impersonal.

There is no personal contact possible. As such it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. More than one-quarter (28 per cent) of people who have used the Internet to help search for a job list “no personal contact” as a disadvantage.

Other disadvantages mentioned are that job postings typically have incomplete information (eight per cent), many positions are not listed online (eight per cent), and that many other people are using the online approach to job hunting leading to a much more competitive marketplace (six per cent).

“The very advantages that the Internet provides in job search activities can also be disadvantages,” said Gibb. “It can be very easy to send out a glut of e-mails to a mass of companies in a shotgun approach when a targeted approach would be more likely to bring success. There is no getting around the fact that doing your homework about a company, tailoring your resume to that company’s needs and crafting your cover letter to show that you are the best fit for an available position are vital steps in getting through that first challenge of being noticed by a potential employer.”

The results from the study are based on two separate data collection instruments. In the first, 1,000 web users from Ipsos-Reid’s Canadian Internet Panel are surveyed online. Panelists are chosen through random telephone surveys conducted on an ongoing basis across Canada. Results are complemented by another 1,000 interviews via telephone with Canadian adults in order to verify results of the panel and track issues among non-Internet users. Telephone interviews were conducted between March 23-30, while the online data was collected between April 7-14.

The results are considered accurate 95 per cent of the time with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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