Gimme a break.

The Washington Post reports: finally vindicated.

Say what?

Two reseachers, UC Santa Barbara’s Peter Kuhn and UC Denver’s Hani Mansour, asked this question in a study they conducted: Do job hunters who “use the Internet to look for work” spend less time unemployed than job hunters who don’t use the Internet?

Guess what? People who use the Internet spend less time unemployed. Whoo-wee. How does this study “vindicate” or any other job board?

It doesn’t. The researchers mention once in their 36-page report, and only in passing. The Post’s reporter, Brad Plumer, makes the subject of his story and puts the name in the headline.

There’s no evidence provided by the authors of the study (or by Plumer) about what is the impact of job boards on how long unemployment lasts. The researchers merely speculate and toss out the names of two job boards — and CareerBuilder. To suggest that use of the Internet makes finding a job easier due to is like suggesting that having a car makes traveling easier — thanks to DeLorean Motor Company. And, by the way, this vindicates the Ford Pinto, too.

The reason more people are finding jobs “via” the Internet is because the Internet is a social venue where people hang out. It’s got little to do with where jobs are advertised, because most jobs continue to be found and filled through — guess what — personal contacts. And the Internet is a great place to make personal contacts.

How about we try a more robust approach to determine how the Internet really contributes to finding a job, eh? What’s up with promoting the idea that a ghost in the machine, like, is what shortens anyone’s unemployment time?

A major newspaper like The Washington Post can do better than publish an advertorial for job boards. Well, maybe not. The Post operates a job board for profit. There’s no vindication of here; just an indictment of a newspaper.

: :

  1. Nick–In our job search skills seminar for workers 50 and over, we stress the use of the internet to research and target employers, not to look for job postings. Most people already now about Monster etc. anyway. We don’t tell people to not look at posted jobs but to then leverage that information to find other companies in the same industry. For example, if I see a posting for a warehouse management position on Edgepark Surgical’s web site (a manufacturer and wholesaler of medical supplies and devices), I can then use a resource like ReferenceUSA to find everyone else in those businesses (see here for a simple guide to this great database). The assumption is that if one company in a particular industry is hiring, others may be as well, and their positions may or not be posted anywhere.

    I’m pretty sure that those who use the telephone as part of their job search find work faster than those who don’t, but not the ones who call and say ‘You’re not hiring, are you?’ and then hang up and add an entry to their unemployment search log. Sitting in the basement in your boxer shorts hitting the ‘Click to Apply’ button all day long won’t pay off either.

  2. I think the Washington Post would want to tout internet job boards because they own Brass Ring.

  3. Awful big jump in logic… The Internet can be helpful in finding a job, but not just because (or should it be, in spite) of sites like Monster.

    Nick, you nail it on the head. The Internet isn’t just classified ads, it’s also a great reference tool as well as a social networking tool. I know that I’ve made several contacts and friends in IT over the years as well as learned a whole bunch of cool stuff.

  4. A major newspaper like The Washington Post can do better than publish an advertorial for job boards. Well, maybe not.

    Considering that the print-newspaper industry is a zombie (dead on its feet, shuffling towards the grave), it is no wonder that the article was sloppy: no in-depth research, no critical thinking, no real news.

    The reporter Brad Plumer, appears to be primarily a blogger (searching the paper’s site for his name turns up mostly blog posts). If so, then he’s already a bastard child. In the newspaper world, the greyhairs still turn their nose up at the online kids. It is considered almost a career purgatory to be in the online group (ironic, considering that print is dead).

    My guess is Plumer doesn’t work under an assignment editor (’cause they don’t really exist any more) and is most likely working in a half- or quarter-staffed online department. He has to churn out the daily blog posts and occasional articles, lest he be the next editorial staffer let go. He’s not going to have time to do any research, except perhaps Googling a few things and then writing something about it.

    Sad, really.

  5. @Bryan: You said it well. Most people don’t understand the change in quality of writing in online editions of major publications. Reporting is one thing; blogging to fill pages is another. What’s a shame is that decent bloggers should be learning how to be reporters, but who’s going to mentor them? It’s gotten so opinions have replaced facts, and solicitation of “user-generated content” (translation: more opinions) now stand in for news articles.

    It’s pathetic. It’s spilling over into the pages of once-respected print publications. I don’t remember when I first subscribed to Newsweek — I’ve always read it. But I can remember when I cancelled: Two months ago. After the DailyBeast took it over, the mag is now largely a blog in print. No thanks. My breakfast time is valuable: When I do my reading at the table, I want solid reporting and news.

  6. Nick and Bryan:

    Have to agree. The so called “news” agencies are no longer reporting news, and if they do they don’t report all of it and what they report on is done poorly.

  7. Research also shows that job hunters who persist longer and use multiple sources during their job search (including the Internet) are more likely to land jobs. As you point out, their findings say nothing about the specific effectiveness of Monster, or any other job board, beyond other sources or approaches. The Post should know better.

  8. Over the years I’ve got quite a bit of work out of online boards, including Monster. Not sure what Nick has against them and why. They’re not a magic wand of course, and the amount of noise they generate is staggering, but for how easy it is to put something up there, they offer a good return on investment. Noise is somewhat manageable too; for example, many times I specified “direct inquiries only” and that did filter out quite a lot of time-wasting nonsense by third parties.