When Hunting For a Job, American Workers Start by Heading to the Internet

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Dec 9, 2015

Americans are as likely to turn to the Internet when searching for a job as to their friends and connections, and many of those who do consider the Internet more important than any other resource.

That’s one of the surprising — and not so surprising — findings in a statistics heavy report on the job search methods of American adults produced by the Pew Research Center.

You can read the report for yourself here. However, its essential message for recruiters is that jobseekers are getting their information about your jobs and your company from the Internet. And 4 in 10 are using their phones to search and apply.

More than half use the Internet to job hunt

Surveying 2,001 adults, Pew researchers found that 54 percent have ever used the Internet to look for a job; 45 percent have applied for a job online. And those numbers are rising. Among those who have looked for a job in the last two years, 90 percent went online and 84 percent applied that way.

They also turned to their friends and family and professional connections and even friends of friends. But even adding them all up the total — 80 percent — comes to  just one percentage more than those who used the Internet in their most recent search.Pew internet jobseeker usage

A majority, of course, used multiple methods to find work. But no one source came close to the percentage that went online. Even more significant is that 34 percent of the online users considered it their most important single resource. That’s well ahead of family, friends. and professional connections.

There’s a second message for recruiters in the report: Don’t ignore social media.

And a third: You must be mobile friendly. Some 28 percent of adults have used a phone to job search.

Millennials search for work on their phones

As you might expect, Millennial job seekers — those between 18 and 29 — are the heaviest phone users; 54 percent have used their phone for job hunting.

What you might not have expected is that those between 30 and 49, the mid-careerists who have the background and experience to step into management or step up the ladder, are also using their smartphones to job hunt. Pew found that 37 percent of those in that age group have searched by phone; and the more they earn and the better educated they are, the more likely they are to use a phone.

What’s also interesting is that as a group, Blacks are more likely than whites or Hispanics to search by phone.

They are also more likely to use social media in their search. The Pew report found Blacks exceeded whites and Hispanics in searching and researching jobs, in letting friends know of jobs, and in applying for jobs found on social media.

There’s also not a huge difference in social media job activity between the 18-29 age group and the 30-49 group. Pew found that both age groups use social media equally in letting friends know about opportunities. Millennials are more aggressive in using social media in their job search (43 percent to 36 percent) and more likely to apply to a job they found there.

Key takeaways from the survey

What are the takeaways from Pew’s “Searching for Work in the Digital Era” report?
  1. The Internet is a key resource for reaching active job seekers.
  2. Mobile optimized career sites are essential for reaching Millennials and diverse candidates, especially Blacks. But, with almost three in 10 Americans having used a smartphone in their job search, the reach of a mobile-friendly site is broad.
  3. You can’t overlook the importance of social media in connecting with candidates and spreading the word about your opportunities.