Virtual versus Real World Job Search: Which is Better?


Recent Weddles research has found that more than 25% of all jobs are now filled over the Internet (and they speculate that far more could be found that way if targeted online search techniques were used). Their recent survey generated more than 17,000 responses that identified these top 5 strategies in order of how the respondent actually found their last job:

– Searching listings on job boards and/or archiving their resume on those sites;
– A tip from a friend (or what most of us call networking in the real world – can occur online or off);
– Reading ads published in a print newspaper;
– A call from a headhunter; and
– Being referred by an employee of the company (also a form of networking).

Notice that 3.5 of these are actually are offline strategies and account for most of the jobs found.

Notice also that at least 3 of these can involve some sort of networking.

Recent research conducted on behalf of Risesmart by Kelton Research shows that the majority of job seekers are spending massive amounts of time in online job search–upwards of 50 hours per month, to be exact. However, all of those hours invested do not necessarily translate into job search success.

In discussing online job search, a recent Weddles newsletter article stated, “You can visit the first job boards that come to mind and that step will certainly give you a check mark in the box labeled “Use Job Boards.” It will not, however, ensure you see the best employment opportunities for you. To achieve that outcome, you must do your homework and determine which job boards typically post the greatest number of the kinds of jobs you want at the salary level you can command. Invest your time and effort at those sites, and you are much more likely to reap a real and significant return in job opportunities for which you are qualified.”

In other words, activity alone does not mean success; it’s the quality of that activity that counts.

On the other side of the recruitment table, executive recruiters are increasingly using online networks (social and professional) to connect with candidates. LinkedIn in particular is actively pursuing affinity relationships with talent management professionals, and the list of sites seeking to develop these relationships is growing rapidly. A recent ExecuNet survey showed that 45.7% of recruiters use online networks to generate referrals to potential candidates and 39.1% to actually engage with those candidates.

My takeaway on this is that job boards and online networking are definitely tools you want in your job search toolkit, but be careful not to let online activities dominate your search strategy to the exclusion of other traditional and proven methods. As the Weddles site points out, “The Internet is a very seductive place. Its vast array of resources and very engaging format can be hard to turn off. But turn it off, you must. As capable as the virtual world is, it is not the one and only answer to employment. It cannot be your one stop shop for finding a job.”