Job Seeker Trends 2015: Channels, Search Time, and Income Change

Job Seeker Trends 2015: Channels, Search Time, and Income Change

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Job Seeker Trends 2015: Channels, Search Time, and Income Change

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  • Job Search Channels

    The Internet changes everything, and it has changed few activities more profoundly than it has the job search process. Thirty or 40 years ago, job seekers were limited largely to paper media such as newspapers and magazines and to introductions from family and friends. The widespread access to the Internet and to mobile devices in the 21st century, however, has given rise to new sources and tools. Today, despite differences across countries, the job search process is more standardized globally, and most people are able to find information and search for opportunities casually and efficiently.

    We asked job seekers about the channels they used to search for and select a job in 2014. The channels included:

    • Commercial channels such as paper media (newspaper and magazine advertisements), Internet job sites (résumé portals, job forums, job posting sites, job aggregators), temporary- and permanent-employment agencies, and job training programs
    • Public channels such as government-run job services, including information centers and online job services
    • Referral channels such as alumni networks and family and friends
    • Direct inquiries with employers (such as applications through a company website, contact with a company employee, and walk-in inquiries)

    Despite the wide variety of choices, 38% of respondents used only one channel in their search, and 26% used two. (See Appendix, Exhibit 3.)

    The Popularity of Internet Job Sites. Globally, Internet job sites were the most frequently used channel: 55% of all respondents had used such sites during their most recent search. In second place was paper media, used by 36% of job seekers, followed by referral and direct inquiry channels, through which 33% and 24%, respectively, searched for jobs. Twenty percent of respondents used public services. (See Exhibit 1.)


    Thirty-three percent of all survey respondents said that Internet job sites were the most effective channel for finding employment. In second place was not paper media—considered the most effective by only 10% of respondents—but referrals, at 19%. Only 5% of respondents thought that public services were the most effective channel. (See Exhibit 2.) Considering these ratings as a percentage of the users of the channel in question, 60% of Internet job site users, 59% of referral users, and less than 33% of the users of paper media and public services said that the channel was the most effective. (See Appendix, Exhibit 4.)


    As Exhibit 2 shows, in all countries except India, 25% to 52% of survey respondents said Internet sites were the most effective channel in helping them find a job. The ranking of the other channels varied by country—a testament to the influence of national policies, economics, and culture on the job search process. For example, in India, the referral channel took the top spot, with 70% of job seekers calling it the most effective. In Japan, the public channel was almost tied for first place with Internet job sites, with 24% of respondents giving it the top ranking. Overall, job seekers in European countries such as Germany, Italy, and the UK found commercial channels (including paper media, the Internet, employment agencies, and job training programs) to be more effective than the average respondent did.

    Different channels cater to different job seekers. In particular, the two most effective channels (Internet job sites and referrals) appealed to different demographics. The average Internet job site user was more educated and younger than the average job seeker. The average user of referrals was less educated and older. (See Appendix, Exhibit 5.)

    What makes Internet job sites such an attractive search option? They enabled survey respondents to apply for more jobs than any other channel. Furthermore, they allowed job seekers to apply to the highest number of jobs in the shortest amount of time. We believe that such ease and speed have increased the popularity of these sites. (See Exhibit 3.)


    The Use of Electronic Devices. Having observed the success of Internet job sites, we examined electronic device use during the search process to better understand how this channel may evolve. In 2014, 76% of the job seekers we surveyed used an electronic device with Internet capability (PC, tablet, or smartphone) in their job search.

    Most countries in our sample had rates of electronic device use of 80% to 90%. India, at 16%, had the lowest use rate and the lowest rate of Internet penetration, 18%. (See Appendix, Exhibit 6.) Unlike job seekers in other countries, those in India relied heavily on regular mobile phones (as opposed to smartphones); 60% of respondents in India named regular mobile phones as the type of device they used most frequently.

    As Internet penetration in a country increased from less than 80% to more than 80%, the proportion of job seekers not using an Internet-enabled electronic device dropped from 32% to 15%. In countries with Internet penetration higher than 80%, about 85% of respondents used one or more devices. As India’s Internet penetration continues to increase—it grew from 7.5% in 2010 to 18% in 2014—we can expect to see more Indian job seekers shift to Internet-enabled electronic devices.

    Roughly 70% of respondents used a PC in their job search, and 85% of them cited it as their most frequently used device. In contrast, 35% of respondents used a smartphone, and only 18% used a tablet.

    About 50% of all PC users employed PCs exclusively in their job search. In contrast, only 14% of smartphone users employed only smartphones, and 11% of tablet users employed only tablets. For now, smartphones and tablets appear to serve as secondary devices.