Job Mega-Sites May Complicate a Search

These are actual quotes from various employment sites and software products. They sound great, don’t they? No more lists of bookmarks for you to maintain, no more time-consuming visits to different employment and career sites online, and no more worries about whether or not you’ve found every job listing that appeals to you. One site and one click does it all. Or does it?

Are these mega-search sites and software agents really doing you a favor?

Based on the results I’ve seen using several of them, the answer is a pretty definite no. Yes, they do what they say they do, namely search several online career sites and return the results to you in a single list. However, they don’t create a one-stop shop to the online employment market that will replace your need to actually visit different sites.

The megasites actually cover a very small portion of the available job databases online. Searching 50, 60 or even 70 sites at one time is just a drop in the bucket if you consider the potential number of places where jobs are posted.

The 2000 edition of “CareerXRoads,” by Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler (JIST Works, 2000), reviews 500 sites and lists an additional 1,500 for reference.

On average, I receive 63 messages a month requesting inclusion in my own web site, the Riley Guide (, a directory of online job and career resources.

Of course, not every site is worth the time and effort of your visit, but many cover new industries or career areas otherwise unrepresented or under-represented online. If you stay with the megasites and their mainstream searches, you’ll miss all of these highly targeted niche sites, some of which may have just what you need.

Another problem with the megasites is the list of sites they do search. They aren’t searching the top 50 most popular job banks online (according to whatever list you wish to consult), so what are they searching? They make up their selected search list by combining some of the more popular job sites online with niche sites dedicated to specific audiences as determined by industry, occupation, geography or selected diverse audience. They then fill out the rest of the list with partner sites with whom they’ve established a reciprocal relationship of some kind or other sites who have requested or paid for inclusion.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since these sites include very good job listings, but if you take a few moments to review the lists of sites included in a megasite (provided you can find the list since many sites hide it from easy view), you’ll notice a weighting towards IT and computing sites. While this labor market is very active and demand for these candidates is high, they’re not the only jobs online. This leaves those not in IT and computing professions standing outside the one-stop center wondering where they turn for equal attention.

Another problem with megasites is how well they execute the search you’ve requested across the variety of sites they list and how specific you can make that search. Most mega-search sites permit only a keyword or two. The better ones allow you to choose a location, job category and specify a keyword or two. But you’ll notice that the further they reach from their own site and preferred partners, the more inappropriate the jobs are that are retrieved for you. The variety of designs and search features that each site has built into its database makes it almost impossible to design a single interface that allows you to execute a request and retrieve a well-matched list from that many sites. This is actually where partnerships between sites become a real advantage. The partnership may allow the megasite to imbed codes in the partner’s database or take other actions designed to better match their search interface to that database, thereby improving the results you see.

For all their potential problems, I’m not going to tell you to avoid the mega-search sites. They have some good points. They allow you to quickly survey a number of sites, allowing you to choose which ones to visit for more in-depth expert searching. Some like offer an interesting list of international and corporate web sites. Others, like CareerBuilder, give you a nice selection of partner sites (and therefore excellent search results) and niche sites with the capability to pick and choose which to search and which to skip. But they won’t let you delete your list of job-search bookmarks nor limit your online search to only one source. Like a well-planned and well-executed job-search campaign, your online search must cover a variety of resources and services, and while these megasites can have a place in your strategy, they can’t take the place of all potential resources for locating job leads online.

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