Job Sites Chasing Hourly Workers

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A forgotten job listings category is taking center stage, as the professional and salaried job listings segment reaches maturity.

During the mid-1990s and the rise of the Web, skilled labor and hourly-wage jobs did not always rank among the strongest categories for online job listings. Prompted by research data that showed just a trickling of hourly and skilled workers using the Internet for job searches, employers were happy to stick with print for help wanted ads.

That's changing. As Internet access spreads across all segments of the population and matures as a medium, online recruiters are positioning for an increase in listings for skilled/hourly jobs.

"If you look at the raw numbers, it's a huge segment," said Matt Ferguson, chief operating officer of recruiting site CareerBuilder. "There are huge numbers of food service jobs," for example, he said. "Even manufacturing, which has lost about two million jobs in the last year, is still a very large segment."

Bruce Murray, a veteran of newspaper classifieds publishing and CEO of recruiting research and consultancy firm Corzen, said in any sample market across the country, more than 50 percent of the total jobs available are unskilled and hourly wage jobs, which explains why the online services are increasingly focusing on this area.

CareerBuilder, whose owners include three major newspaper publishers (Gannett Co ,Tribune Company and Knight Ridder ) has just launched a new section aimed at recruiting skilled/hourly workers. It lets candidates sign up by phone or apply online by clicking through their work preferences, education and experience. The new section lists hourly-wage jobs in areas such as customer service, call centers, office administration, construction, trades, transportation and quality control.

Ferguson said CareerBuilder has always offered job listings for skilled/hourly workers, but it wanted to "protect its dominance" in the sector with its latest, more prominent section.

CareerBuilder's new attention to the sector may be no coincidence. One of its biggest competitors, online recruitment category leader Monster.com, is also chasing skilled/hourly workers and their employers with new vigor.

The Maynard, Mass.-based site's parent company, TMP Worldwide , recently told analysts at a presentation in New York that it is moving aggressively to capture market share for hourly/skilled listings. Indeed, TMP recently decided to expand its job-matching service for the segment in one national push instead of following its earlier plan to roll it out by selected markets around the country.

Online recruiters such as Monster.com, Yahoo's HotJobs and CareerBuilder would be happy to pick up new growth anywhere as they prepare to bid farewell to a difficult year marked by sluggish economic conditions and rising unemployment. In addition, competition from non-profit job listing sites such as DirectEmployers (which is expected to see a 12 percent rise in listings this quarter) and other publishers such as The New York Times Job Market, which integrates its print and online sections, is pinching their revenues.

Corzen's Murray said the squeeze comes as hourly-wage employers, especially temporary staffing agencies, increasingly move their job listings online. He also sees newspaper-oriented sites such as CareerBuilder well-positioned for the transition. "This happens to be an area where the traditional help wanted media have been strong. So by going after these workers, the recruiting sites are going after heart and strength of the help wanted medium."

Ferguson said the newspapers affiliated with CareerBuilder's owners are offering hourly/skilled job packages and rates that include print and online listings. The move is similar to The New York Times, which promotes and integrates its Job Market section in its print and online properties.

Andy Wright, group director of recruitment classifieds for The Times, said recruitment revenue is growing overall for the publisher amid an especially strong month for display advertising in the Job Market section. "Our hourly/skilled listings have seen a slight increase that's consistent with this overall revenue uptick."

Given the high rates of turnover in many of these jobs, and the tightened competition for the listing fees, online recruiters can only hope there are enough listings to go around.

Jupitermedia also operates its own job listings site. Those interested in utilizing the service can find the site at jobs.internet.com.

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