The public sector: an online assessment

Sue
Weekes takes a trip through the public sector’s job sites to see what is on
offer.

The
online recruitment market may have rationalised over the last few years but
there’s still a lot of job sites out there to confound and confuse recruiters.

Specialist
sites have sprouted up for every sector and these can range from big umbrella
sites like 1stfor…(see below) to niche sites with expertise in only one area.

The
public services sector’s online recruitment development has followed the
umbrella model with all of the big sites featuring defined public sector areas.

There
are plenty more individual sites that home in on specific areas such as NES
Online for engineering vacancies (www.nes.co.uk)
and Earthworks, a database for environmental jobs (www.earthworks-jobs.com).

As
ever, the user experience and value to the recruiter will be mixed. We tried
out four that claim to specialise in the public sector.

JobsGoPublic
www.jobsgopublic.co.uk

Who
are they?

Set
up in spring 1999 by Acumen Web, Jobsgopublic claims to be the first UK
Internet recruitment brand to focus solely on the public sector. Over the past
two years it has teamed up with the Improvement & Development Agency to
deliver the official website for local government vacancies at www.lgjobs.com. It also powers the online
recruitment section of the Society of Chief Personnel Officers (Socpo) site at www.socpojobs.co.uk).

What
does it offer the employer?

In
addition to job ads, the provision of a ‘brochure’ page for each client and
more depending on the package they choose. The site claims it had 185,000 hits
last month and currently offers job seekers 2,422 jobs in local and central
government, health, social housing, police and fire services, regional
development agencies and the charity and voluntary sectors. Thee only criticism
is that if you’re coming to the site new as an employer, it’s hard to know
where to go for more information on the various packages.

How
it performs for the job seeker

It
has a good, fast search engine that allows candidates to search using a number
of specific criteria including region, county, sector, occupational group,
salary and term. Some random searches on Greater London, the South West, North
West, Yorkshire and Humberside and Wales returned a good number of vacancies in
each. Candidates can use JobsGoPublic’s service to apply for positions online
and each user also has an email alert and bulletin board facility.

Why
should I use it?

It
knows the sector and working with the Improvement and Development Agency and
Socpo has obviously enhanced its public services prowess. A well-designed
interface and fast search engine should keep the jobseekers coming. Clever user
touches include a glossary of terms and info on browser issues.

Jobs
in Government
www.jobsin.co.uk/government

Who
are they?

The
company behind a series of recruitment sites (www.jobsin…), which can be
accessed from the www.jobsin.co.uk web
address. The company’s aim is to be recognised as leader in the internet HR
software solutions market.

What
do they offer the employer?

Employers
can offer unlimited job ads and Jobsin lets them run its software from their
own sites so it effectively lets you add a recruitment function to your site if
you haven’t already got one. It also provides online psychometric testing. Good
sign-posting for new employer users who can find out about its four main
packages.

How
it performs for the jobseeker

We
liked the facility to search for jobs by organisation and reference number if
candidates have one but overall the interface isn’t as easy to use as we’d like
and it requires scrolling down the window to see full criteria. Random searches
didn’t return a high volume of jobs but they did fit the brief and the search
engine lets you pinpoint exactly which position you’re after from lifeguard and
lollypop person to human resources manger. One annoying aspect was that it
wouldn’t let us use the back button to return to the search field once it was
completed preventing a reminder of the original criteria we’d keyed in or
selected.

Why
should I use it?

It
is certainly worth looking at the packages available and if you’re seeking an
easy way to add a sophisticated recruitment search engine as a front end to
your own recruitment database, it could be the answer.

1stforpublicsectorjobs
www.1stforpubicsectorjobs.com

Who
are they?

Another
major internet recruitment brand that offers a growing number of specialist
jobsites. The public sector site is still relatively new, demonstrated by the
lack of current top jobs in the box on its home page. It is privately owned but
works in conjunction with its sister company Business Professional Partners
which offers executive search, resourcing and consultancy.

What
does it offer the employer?

A
number of packages are available and by clicking the Advertise menu it gives
full and clear details of pricing on everything from single job vacancies to
Gold slots that you can buy for one year. However, for the reasons below, it’s
difficult to comment on current volume of jobs and number of site visits.

How
it performs for the jobseeker

While
it’s a clean interface and non-intimidating search engine, a distinct lack of
pubic sector jobs made it difficult to assess the real user experience. After
keying in administration, local government, teaching and nursing and returning
zilch, we figured it’s still very early days for the site’s vacancies database.
We checked other sites (such as 1stfor marketingjobs.co.uk) to make sure that
we didn’t have to register before seeing the jobs available on the site and
returned a number of vacancies with no trouble. As well as the public sector
umbrella site, you can also search on 1stforteachingjobs, for example, but this
was similarly lacking in jobs when we visited.

Why
should I use it?

No
reason unless it gets some jobs up there PDQ. It’s a strong internet brand that
offers easy links to all the sites in its portfolio but evidence of vacancies
would be even better.

Opportunities
www.opportunities.co.uk

Who
are they?

They
need no introduction for many pubic sector recruiters, as it is the web arm of
Opportunities, the weekly free publication published by United Advertising
Publications that goes to every department of every local authority – and it’s
been doing it for nearly 40 years.

What
does it offer the employer?

Although
the home page says the site has been set up to give jobseekers even more chance
to apply to its vacancies, it doesn’t make clear whether all jobs that go into
the printed version of Opportunities also go on to the website. In a phone call
they confirmed that all jobs placed go on the website. Because the brand is so
well known, it offers good scope and reach for anyone recruiting in the public
sector. It’s a very unflashy site but despite appearances to the contrary, is a
powerful site.

How
it performs for the jobseeker

By
far the simplest interface we came across when it comes to job searching. Users
simply select a category (from admin and corporate services to waste and
recycling) and it will bring up all jobs in that area. Additionally, candidates
can use the keyword facility to refine their search and we used this to select
a geographic location. Searches didn’t return a huge volume of returns (there
were 143 vacancies in total when we tried) but they all entirely fitted the
brief so this site is not going to waste anyone’s time. Each vacancy can be
clicked on for more information including where to apply.

Why
should I use it?

Because
it’s a big public service brand and has been in existence for 39 years. As a
website it is not going to set the world alight but it doesn’t need to and
offers a fast and clean user experience. There are plenty of job sites which
waste both employers and employee’s time and it’s good to find one that cuts
straight to the chase within a couple of clicks.

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