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Company Web sites need re-design to lure job searchers


Companies wanting to use the Internet to recruit new employees should spotlight the geographic location of positions on their Web sites and include terms used by searchers, rather than site designers or human resource professionals, say Penn State researchers.

"Users’ primary interest when looking for jobs is location, but company Web sites typically don’t highlight geographical information," said Jim Jansen, assistant professor of information sciences and technology. "Location ranks above industry, position, particular companies and even job skills."

Jansen and co-authors Karen J. Jansen, assistant professor of management, Penn State Smeal College of Business; and Amanda Spink, University of Pittsburgh, drew their conclusions by analyzing 7,000 job-related queries submitted to Excite on Sept. 16, 1997; Dec. 1, 1999; and April 30, 2001. The researchers also learned that online job searches yield a higher percentage of non-relevant returns than general Web searches -- 60 percent for job searches compared to 50 percent for general searches, Jansen said.

The researchers’ findings are detailed in a paper, "Using the Web to Look for Work: Implications for Online Job Seeking and Recruiting," available online in Internet Research at::

While the Internet has become popular for job searching, little is known about how effective the Web is in linking prospective employees with employers. Surveys of human resources professionals indicate dissatisfaction with job boards-one reason many companies prefer to use their own Web sites for recruiting, said Jim Jansen, a faculty member in Penn State’s School of Information Sciences and Technology (IST).

But not all company Web sites have been designed with the user/job searcher in mind. Job postings often are buried on sites instead of being a top link, Jansen said. Furthermore, key information such as desired skill sets or industry can be hard to find.

A simple example: Some job postings don’t include the word "job" but refer to "positions" or "openings," Jansen said. Users searching with the term "job" may miss opportunities.

Figuring out how searchers look for job-related information on the Internet was only part of the researchers’ focus. They also looked at the effectiveness of job searches and the likelihood of job seekers finding appropriate job postings.

"We have a system of users, search engines and job postings and a disconnect among the three," Jansen said. "Too many postings are not written in a way that search engines can effectively target for users."

To improve Web sites for job searchers, the researchers recommend postings be written with terms that users use. Postings also should be written for search engines, so that they can index and rank the information users use in searching.

"Companies also may want to investigate sponsored links to ensure their jobs appear on the first page," Jansen said.

Margaret Hopkins | EurekAlert!
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