With the percentage of Slovaks using the Internet approaching the ratio of those without jobs - 18% - it was only a matter of time before job seekers turned for help to 'job pilots', Internet sites listing new job offers.
Since 1997, when Internet use began to increase noticeably in Slovakia, job sites have become another tool for recruiting labour, offering an alternative to traditional job search methods such as combing help wanted ads in newspapers, registering with personnel agencies or visiting the labour office.
Although at 17% Slovakia's 'Internet penetration' - the ratio of those with access to the net - is 9% lower than the figure in the neighbouring Czech Republic, which has the highest rate in the region, the data indicate that Slovaks are taking greater advantage of job sites than their former western compatriots.
"In Slovakia, Internet job sites have become the second most frequently used way of finding and offering jobs, behind the National Labour Office," said Dalibor Jakuš of Profesia, a firm whose web site has given it about 80% of the domestic job site market.
A check of the following websites reveals that www.profesia.sk registered 1,484 job offers over the last four weeks, while one of the leading job sites in the Czech Republic, www.jobpilot.cz, listed 1,368 job offers in the same period. The Czech Republic has a population of 10.3 million people, almost twice that of Slovakia.
Job sites offer people hunting for work free, fast online registration of their CVs and job preferences, as well as access to job listings. Sites often offer extra functions such as that of 'job agents', computer programmes which compares the preferences of applicants with the nature of the jobs offered, and emails any matches to users. Sites also make looking for jobs in different regions and countries far easier.
Since January 2001, 19,172 job offers and 25,421 job requests have been placed on major Slovak job sites, which apart from www.profesia.sk include www.jobs.sk, www.ponuky.sk, www.trhprace.sk and www.jobserver.sk.
The typical user of job site services, according to Profesia, is a university student just before or after graduation, average age 26.4 years. The most typical jobs offered are lower and middle management posts including IT and administrative workers as well as economists.
Jakuš added that the most common corporate users of his service were small and medium sized firms with up to 50 employees. "Foreign companies also tend to use job sites more often than domestic companies because they have more experience of using them back home," he said.
That claim was backed up by foreign business people operating in Slovakia. "We view job servers as the most effective of all possible alternatives for recruiting. They are fast and cheap, and they often address more people than do, say, personnel agencies. Such agencies often take two months to get a candidate. They charge 30,000 crowns [$600] at the beginning of the process, and then even more after the selection of the candidate," said one country officer for a Slovak branch of an international IT firm, who decided six months ago to use a job site instead of an HR firm.
"The last time we looked for a new employee we did it through the site, it took us one month, and it didn't cost anything," the country officer said.
Pieter Jägers, the head of Dolphin Slovakia, a branch of the Dutch water cooler installation business, also reported that his company had been more successful getting employees through job sites, but added that the target group of potential employees was limited to those with access to the Internet. "There might still be someone without Internet access, but who is capable of doing a job I offer on the site. I see these sites more as a good alternative to newspapers and HR [human resources] agencies," Jägers said.
However, human resource agencies argued that job sites could never replace the highly selective role played by head hunters in the recruitment process.
"Companies can get many applications and fill their databases using the site, but all they wind up with are unqualified candidates. They then have to spend a lot of time on selection. If the firm is lucky, it will get three qualified candidates out of 50," said Gerard Koolen, a partner with the Lugera and Makler HR firm.
17. Sep 2001 at 0:00 | Peter Barecz