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Online Job Hunting: Has it really come of age?

By VERONICA C. SILVA, Reporter
Business World Online
April 04, 2000

With thousands of college and vocational-technical students graduating each year, searching for the right job at the right price is becoming more and more difficult.

Fortunately, graduates in the new millennium have found an ally in the Internet to help them.

Online job hunting websites are sprouting like mushrooms in the World Wide Web in much the same way as Sunday classified ads are increasing in number of pages.

In the Philippines, local website developers are convinced that job hunting on the Internet is becoming popular among both job seekers and recruiters.

"From the number of websites that are coming up and going online, I can say there is potential in this business," said Roger Chua


Unlike the "Help Wanted" pages in the newspaper, these websites are interactive.

Most of the sites offer a seachable database of job seekers or vacancies -- or even both. Some offer job matching capabilities and e-mail notification of a match.

Job seekers can even post their resume on these websites.

There are thousands of job sites in the Internet. A search for "jobs" at Yahoo! resulted in 169 categories and 6,439 sites. Some of these websites focus on a certain industry, country or region.

In the Philippines, job sites have been around as early as 1996. Local website developers note that the competition in the online job hunting business has lately been heating up.

"From the number of websites that are coming up and going online, I can say there is potential in this business," said Roger Chua, president of Web Philippines, Inc., the developer of Trabaho.com.

Trabaho.com started in August 1996 and caters mainly to Philippine-based corporations, said Mr. Chua. But job seekers come from all over the world, mainly seeking technical jobs. Over the past year, however, he noted that job openings for general staff and executive positions have been increasing.

JobsNet Philippines also observed the same trend in the kind of personnel being sought.

The website is developed by Evolution Services, Inc., an Internet service provider (ISP) and Web content developer. JobsNet was established in the last quarter of 1996.

"Since everyone is getting on the Internet, the most convenient way for them (graduates) to find job openings is to go online," said Bunny Martinez, JobsNet product manager, in an e-mail interview. "Their resumes get to the companies faster."

The trend seems to be different for PHIL-JobNet, a site developed by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) since 1997.

Professional positions, like nurses and medical technologists, top the list of vacancies posted on the site, based on data from the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) as of March 15. But the statistics change daily since postings are placed at any time during the day, BLE said.

TECHNO-SAVVY MANILA

Many of the job seekers come from Metro Manila, which is believed to be the most techno-savvy among the Philippines' key cities.

An estimated 70% of JobsNet seekers are from Manila, said Ms. Martinez.

JobsNet and Trabaho.com sometimes get job hunters from the provinces, the United States and the Middle East.

Ms. Martinez said "there are a good number of Filipinos working abroad who are looking for jobs in Manila. I guess in the end, they would like to settle here."

International online job service firms have recently put up their franchises in the country. Last November, JG Summit Holdings, Inc. launched Jobstreet Philippines at , a joint venture between its Summit Publishing Co., Inc. and JobStreet, Inc., a Singapore-based company. During the press conference last year, Lance Y. Gokongwei, JG Summit vice-president, said he believes the online career service is a "lucrative long-term business." His optimism springs from industry estimates that the online recruitment business will reach $1.1 billion by the year 2003.

Mr. Gokongwei said then that the company does not expect to earn profits in the short term. Aside from revenues from job postings, the company also expects to earn from Web ads.

This year, however, JobStreet has already started earning revenue, said Candice Ablaza, general manager of JobStreet Philippines , in an e-mail interview.

For its part, Trabaho.com claims more than 100% annual growth in revenues for the past three years.

JobStreet uses a job-matching software called LiNa. Job seekers that have registered at the site are notified when their qualifications match job openings published in newspapers in the region.

Some 98% of job seekers at JobStreet are Philippine residents; the other two percent come from within the ASEAN region," said Ms. Ablaza.

Another regional job site that set up shop in the Philippines is Hong Kong-based JobsDB. Online job recruitment sites, however, are not expected to solve the unemployment problem. "That is not the function of the (computerized) system," said Atty. Teresita Manzala, director of the BLE, in an interview. The online site is there to shorten the job search and to make it more efficient. "It assists job seekers find employment opportunities (and) it makes transparent the labor market information," she added. "(But) it doesn't generate the jobs for the labor market."

The Labor Department is currently expanding its computerized labor market information system to include a comprehensive database of the number of graduates and the available job opportunities.

It is spearheading the creation of a manpower registry system that will integrate human resource and labor information from key government agencies.

Will online job recruitment see the decline of the headhunting business?

Not so, said Lourdes Bernardo, general manager of headhunting firm JobsFinder. Headhunters will complement online job recruitment because the traditional way still has its advantages.

There are still job applicants even in Manila who are not technology-savvy and may not have access to the Internet, she said.

DoLE is addressing this access issue. Job seekers and employers can just walk into its offices located in different parts of the country to register to its website. Aftewards. they may call DoLE for possible matches, said Ms Manzala. Once companies have registered to the site, they can also phone in or fax their job vacancies.

Still, Ms. Bernardo observed that some employers still want headhunters to screen applicants and pick out the cream of the crop. Some job sites in the Internet may not have this capability.

And even then, Ms. Bernardo said nothing compares to person-to-person assessment of the applicants.

Sycip, Gorres and Velayo and Co. (SGV & Co.) is one company that is considering using both traditional and online methods of job recruiting.

SGV Partner Vincent O. Abella, who is in charge of human resources at the firm, said SGV is "seriously considering" looking into online job sites. This is aside from putting a career section in its website.

"Let's face it. The Internet economy is upon us," he said "The way we view people in the new economy is there is a war for talent (out there). We acknowledge that we want to be a major player -- a "warrior" -- to become the employer of choice in the Philippines."

SGV is one of the largest consulting and auditing firm in the Philippines.

The Internet is one way of attracting the young talent who are adept with the new technology, he added.

But Mr. Abella said SGV will continue to pursue other means of recruiting personnel such as joining job fairs, hiring headhunters, and conducting career talks in colleges and universities.

IMPROVEMENTS

While more and more people are becoming aware of job recruitment websites, local developers agree that there is still a need to educate the public about their services. They also believe that they have to improve their services further.

JobStreet is planning to improve its jobs seeker and employer services by making its job matching engine more intelligent, said Ms. Ablaza. The company also intends to make its resume management system, called SiVA, more user-friendly.

These improvements will "help our job seekers find jobs faster and more easily, and help employers find the right candidates in as short as one day," she added. JobStreet officials earlier said research and development for JobStreet are conducted abroad.

Mr. Chua said Trabaho.com is also planning to offer job matching services by the second quarter this year.

In the meantime, JobsNet would like to include more content on its site, such as tips on resume/writing and job interviewing.


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