Job hunts moving online in US: Survey

79% of Americans seeking employment used online resources in their most recent search

WASHINGTON • For Americans looking for a job, the Internet is an important, and often an essential, resource.

A just released Pew Research Centre report found 54 per cent of US adults have gone online to look for job information and 45 per cent have applied for a job online.

Among job hunters, the Internet is serving a critical role: 79 per cent of people seeking employment used online resources in their most recent job search and 34 per cent said the Internet was the most important tool available to them, Pew found.

But the study also found a significant minority whose lack of online skills is a handicap for a job search.

Seventeen per cent indicated that it would not be easy for them to create a professional resume if they needed to do so and 21 per cent said they might not be able to highlight their employment skills using a personal website or social media profile. One in 10 adults surveyed said he might have difficulties finding available jobs online, filling out job applications or using e-mail to follow up on an application.

For the more digitally savvy, the smartphone is an important tool in seeking employment. The survey found 28 per cent of adults - and more than half of 18- to 29-year-olds - have used a smartphone in one way or another as part of a job search.

"Online proficiency has become more and more important to finding work in today's job market, but some aspects of the digital job search are a substantial challenge for many Americans," said Pew researcher Aaron Smith.

"And, in many cases, individuals who might benefit the most from being able to perform these

behaviours effectively - such as those with relatively low levels of educational attainment or those who are currently not employed for pay - are the ones who find them most daunting."

For the more digitally savvy, the smartphone is an important tool in seeking employment.

The survey found 28 per cent of adults - and more than half of 18- to 29-year-olds - have used a smartphone in one way or another as part of a job search.

"Smartphone job seekers" use their mobile devices for background research or on-the-go interactions with potential employers. And 14 per cent of adults (50 per cent of the "smartphone job seekers") have used their handsets to fill out an employment application, according to Pew.

Social media sites are also becoming important job-seeking tools, according to the survey - 35 per cent of social media users have used these networks to look for or research jobs and 21 per cent have applied for a job they first found out about through social media.

The researchers surveyed 2,001 Americans aged 18 and older between June 10 and July 12 over mobile and fixed telephones. The margin of error for the full sample was estimated at 2.5 percentage points.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Job hunts moving online in US: Survey'. Print Edition | Subscribe