Online job vacancies (OJV) have become a key channel for employers to attract talent.

How do employers recruit staff and how do people find a job? As a part of its project on Big data analysis using online vacancies, Cedefop has explored the importance of different recruitment channels for employers and job seekers in all EU Member States. The goal was to understand the role of online vacancies in the job market and establish a basis for interpreting information on skills retrieved from them.

Online job vacancies (OJV) have become a key channel for employers to attract talents. Cedefop review shows that the share of vacancies published online in EU Member States ranges from almost 50% to close to 100%. Aside of private job portals, the digitization of vacancies posted at public employment services (PES) portals significantly contributes to the rising coverage.

Figure 1: Share of job vacancies published as OJV, expert assessment


Figure 1: Share of job vacancies published as OJV, expert assessment

Source: Cedefop

Some countries report growth of the online vacancy market of 10% or more per year.

The OJV market is expected to grow quickly in the near future, together with the digitization of the economy and the increased digital literacy of the population. However, there are other factors influencing employers’ decisions on where and how to advertise job vacancies:

  1. Who the employer is. Large firms, those with international background and those in manufacturing industry and business services (such as financial services, ICT services or professional services) tend to use online vacancies more often. Jobs in construction, agriculture or the hospitality sector – and especially those in small firms – are less likely to be found online as employers prefer other recruitment channels.
  1. Where the job is. Online vacancies cover the lion’s share of all job advertisements in urbanized areas. This is linked to the higher concentration of business services employers and of companies’ headquarters as well as to easier access to digital infrastructure. The concentration of highly skilled talent in universities also helps online vacancies to become dominant marketplace for jobs in urban areas.
  1. What skill level is demanded. On average, a job requiring higher skills is more likely to be advertised online. However, in case of many specialist and executive jobs some other channels might be preferred – such as headhunting agencies.
  1. What the economy looks like. The EU economy is growing and creates more jobs. Unemployment declines and at the same time, more and more people reach their retirement age. As a result, employers find it increasingly difficult to find talent. More jobs will be advertised online as employers will try to expand their recruitment channels.

Until 2030, there will be 14 million job openings in the EU. 91% of them will emerge as a result of the need to replace people who will leave their current jobs.

Will OJVs become the main mean of recruitment in the future then? Not necessarily. They will indeed become a key means in matching of jobs to talents and skills, but there will still be some reasons for employers to promote their vacancies elsewhere.

For a part of job offers there are no published vacancies at all as employers rely on word of mouth and internal recruitment processes. While decreasing in importance, printed advertisements will continue to play a role, especially in rural areas. And as talent becomes scarcer, employers will intensify their search in schools and universities, approaching young people directly.

Increased pressure on employers and digitization represent not only an opportunity, but also threat to the online vacancy market. While more medium to low skilled jobs will be advertised online, higher-skilled jobs – currently the core of online vacancy recruiting - may be promoted in more targeted ways, such as through social media, headhunting or increased use of personal referrals. Competition among different recruitment channels might thus intensify in the future.

If online job portals are to keep their central role in jobs and skills matching, they will also have to be more targeted and efficient. For instance, portals will face the challenge of using more dynamic elements such as videos, testimonials from collaborators and direct employer – job-seeker communication. This new breed of hybrid job-portals and social media platforms will become stronger.

The future: scarcer talent, direct search for talent, blend of job-portals and social media, advanced matching tools

Big market players will also blow the wind of change. Tech giants like Microsoft (via LinkedIn) or Google through its job search may redefine the online job markets and the way jobs are advertised and connected to advanced matching tools. But PES may become drivers of change, too: in some countries they try to consolidate fragmented markets and improve skills and jobs matching efficiency.

Beyond online job portals and vacancies, other recruitment trends matter too. Digitization changes the way people connect and communicate with employers and the way they organize their life and work. The rise of the platform economy where people compete for tasks – not jobs – is likely to diminish the importance of the traditional labour marketplace.

Figure 2: Future drivers of online job vacancy market growth

Figure 2: Future drivers of online job vacancy market growth


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