BCG: The Internet is taking over the job search process

26 January 2016

Finding a new job can be a daunting experience, requiring considerable research and well-presented applications. New research by BCG highlights that the preferred method for finding new jobs is now internet job sites, with the traditional paper-based vacancy search more often than not, the fourth most successful method. The research further finds that the length of time taken to finding a new job is correlated to a country’s economic growth, with people in regions of >2% economic growth taking on average 5 fewer weeks to find a job.

In its recently released ‘Channels, Search Time, and Income Change’ report, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) researches the key job seeker trends. The firm’s survey involved 13,000 people from 13 countries, representing around 59% of the roughly 3 billion people employed globally today. The majority of the respondents are in their 20s and 30s. A quarter (26%) of respondents has a college degree, while 74% holds a high school diploma or less. Only people seeking employment opportunities (for instance, as company employees and officers, temporary staff, and public officials) have been included.

Survey demographics

Internet search
Finding a job is a complex processes involving a wide range of factors, many of which are conditioned by local economic and political factors. According to the research findings, the way in which people seek employment within their respective ecosystems varies considerably, and is itself undergoing considerable change with respect to the past thirty to forty years.

Channels effectiveness ratings

In the past, job seeking tended to involve reading the newspaper’s vacancy section and sending through a paper application, or hearing about an opportunity through friends. The proliferation of digital channels has not only created new avenues, but also considerable changes in how many jobs are sought out today. Further changes have seen job searches become more standardised, whereby people find information and search for opportunities casually and efficiently.

Across the globe internet job sites are the most common way for people to search for employment opportunities, at 60% of those surveyed. Research by McKinsey & Company suggests that the online talent platform market will grow significantly in the coming years and come to add $2.7 trillion to the global GDP. The second most common job search method is referrals from family and friends at 59%. Direct inquiry comes in third at 50%, while papers now stand at 29%. Temping agencies come in second to last at 26%. The research also finds that 38% of respondents use only one channel in their search, and 26% use two.

Most effective channels for finding job

Search means
In terms of effectiveness in finding new positions, considerable variation exists across the countries surveyed. In the UK using internet job sites to find new employment is seen as the most effective (52%), followed by direct enquiry (10%). In Germany internet job sites are also viewed as the most effective (46%), followed by direct enquiry (27%). For Japanese work seekers the most effective way is internet job sites at 25%, closely followed by public services at 24%. In Brazil and Russia, Alumni networks are shown to be relatively effective, followed by internet job searches. In contrast however, in India family and friend referrals remain the main means of finding employment at 70%, while internet searches come in at 8%.

Duration of searches

Economic search time
The length of time taken to find a new position varies depending economic conditions, according to the researchers. The countries involved in the study were broken down into those where GDP growth comes in above 2%, and those below 2%. The average length of time taken to find a new position, in weeks, was then considered – in terms of both research period and application period.

High growth regions have a considerably lower average research and search time, at 7 weeks and 4 weeks respectively. In the US it takes an average of 13 weeks to find a new job, in the UK and Canada, 14 weeks. In India and China, where growth has been relatively strong, finding a new job takes up to 9 weeks.

For the low growth regions the average length of time to find a new position is 16 weeks, 10 for research and 6 for the applications. In France and Italy, finding a new job takes 17 weeks and 20 weeks respectively. Japan, even with low growth, outperforms the US, UK and Canada at 12 weeks.


Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.