Until a few years ago, only those in the specialized world of high-tech looked for jobs on the Internet. (That’s probably because until a few years ago, not too many of us non-techies even knew what the Internet was!)
Today, all that has changed. Monster.com, hotjobs.com and the other big Net job sites are regular tools of the job hunter’s trade. The sites are such big business, in fact, that CareerMosaic and Headhunter.net recently announced a merger, saying they wanted to become a more formidable competitor. Everyone seems to be looking for a job on the Net. Or maybe not.
In a recent article in The New York Times, economist Alan B. Krueger of Princeton University, examined the economics of job boards and found evidence that the use of the sites may not be as pervasive as we think. Krueger cited a survey by economists Peter Kuhn and Mikal Skuterud of the University of California at Santa Barbara and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, respectively. The two found that unemployed workers were only two-thirds as likely to surf the Net for a job as they were to pick up the help-wanted section of a newspaper.
Professors Kuhn and Skuterud found that just 15 percent of unemployed job seekers and 7 percent of employed workers regularly used the Internet to look for a job. Much of this may be due to limited Internet access: most people still find it easier and cheaper to pick up a newspaper than to log on. When Web access is available at home, Kuhn and Skuterud found that 50 percent of the unemployed and 15 percent of the employed job-hunted via computer.
Since Internet availability and use is more prevalent among the affluent, it makes sense that more than a third of professional, managerial and technical unemployed workers used the Web to search for a job, compared with 5 percent of manual workers. Krueger notes that as the Net assumes a more important role in job searches, “those who lack access to the Internet job bazaar will suffer restricted job opportunities.”
“The digital divide has been hard to bridge, and efforts to provide Internet access and search assistance are increasingly critical,” he said.
As in other areas of our lives, however, the economics of the Internet seem to make its future importance inevitable. The Net’s clear cost advantage over newspaper help-wanted ads make the lure of using online job services too great to ignore.
A listing on one of the major, for-profit job sites, for example, costs only about 5 percent of what a help-wanted ad running 30 days in a major newspaper would cost, Kreuger found. That 20-to-1 cost advantage already seems to have hurt newspapers, which reported a decline in help-wanted advertising last year, even though unemployment reached a 30-year low and employers were clamoring for workers.
The economist in Krueger says that lower job search costs increase productivity, which translates into higher pay for workers and more profits for employers. So overall, as long as Internet access is expanded, job searching on the Web is good for everyone.
Article – Copyright 2000 Evan Cooper. Syndicated by ParadigmTSA