In job hunts, Web is king

Big online job sites are not always helpful to those seeking new employment, which is why a growing group of entrepreneurs are starting up their own niche alternatives.

Job seekers browse the Web at a career centre in Miami, Florida. Eliot Schechter / Bloomberg News
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Many job seekers tend to follow the same routine: they dive into the Web, splash through online job postings and surf their social networking sites looking for leads.

But how effective is this strategy?

One study released this year found that 81 per cent of students surveyed in the UK said they had not found social media to be useful in their hunt for jobs, according to the online job board, which conducted the survey. And a growing group of entrepreneurs argues that big online job boards such as and are not always the most helpful for all job seekers.

That's why some of them have recently launched their own niche alternatives.

LinkedIn, which reports more than 120 million members and claims to be the world's largest professional social network, has been criticised by some observers for lacking certain features.

"Despite being a jobs site, LinkedIn isn't very good at letting you know when your contacts change jobs, which surprised me," says Roger Lee, an entrepreneur in the US who launched a site this year called to address this issue.

"At my local advertising start-up, such information is extremely valuable since it creates new sales leads and business opportunities," Mr Lee says. "I knew that this information would also be useful for recruiters, job seekers, and salespeople, so I created JobChangeNotifier to fill the hole I saw in LinkedIn."

Mr Lee's site works for anyone in the world with a LinkedIn account, sending email notifications any time a connection changes employers. Job seekers can then use the information to "uncover new career opportunities", says Mr Lee.

They might apply to the same company or team, if the firm is in growth mode, or they may be a good fit for their connection's old job. People could also learn more about what types of companies are hiring, and the kinds of roles they aim to fill, Mr Lee says.

Already, enough users from this part of the world have signed up that the UAE is within the top 10 countries represented out of more than 100 on is another new entrant. The UAE start-up was launched only this month, so it is still in beta test mode. Unlike many of its bigger competitors, Gradberry caters to students and recent graduates.

"We saw there was a gap in the [Middle East] market for fresh graduates and students," says Iba Masood, a co-founder and the chief executive of Gradberry.

"Even when I graduated, I couldn't find any placements for jobs that required zero to two years of experience," she says.

Rather than trying to offer students and graduates all kinds of job postings within the Middle East, the site primarily lists internship openings and entry-level positions for people with little or no work history.

But like any start-up in this space, Gradberry will take some time to link up with enough employers to provide a deep pool of job openings. Besides reaching out to multinational companies about their open positions, Ms Masood says her team is also going "door to door" and asking start-ups and smaller businesses in the UAE if they have any openings.

"Ninety per cent of hiring in the Middle East and UAE comes from small to medium enterprises," says Ms Masood.

Other sites in the region are also tapping into this sector.

Ibtikarati, Arabic for "my innovations", aims to help start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa. It introduced a feature last month that provides job listings at start-ups to link entrepreneurs with job seekers.