Internet Job Seekers in Latin America 

At any point in time, there are organizations that are seeking to employ people and there are people who are seeking to be employed.  Matching employers and employees is therefore critical to make an economy perform efficiently.  The matching function may be fulfilled through personal networks.  Although this reeks of nepotism, getting the right candidate is often than just finding someone with the appropriate resumé and references on paper.  Sometimes, as is often the case, there are intangible aspects such as temperament and personality, for which a referral through personal networks would have screened out easily.  

For modern organizations with large number of job openings, the matching function may be fulfilled instead by advertising.  For advertising to function fully, there has to be a large number of qualified prospective employees in the audience.  Traditionally, the most common advertising media has been newspaper classified ads.  A newspaper may carry hundreds or even thousands of job-related advertisements, classified by the nature of the jobs (e.g. secretaries, translators, computer programmers, sales clerks, etc).  Since a newspaper may be read by hundreds of thousands of readers, these ads are likely to be read by many likely and interested candidates.

The concept of classified ads is clearly applicable to the Internet.  By virtue of its reach, the Internet also extends the audience beyond the local newspaper circulation areas.  Here is a list of some Latin American job websites.

We will now cite some survey data from the 2001-2002 TGI Latina study.  This is a survey conducted between 2001 and 2002 in nine Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Venezuela).  Within this survey, there was a total of 14,886 persons who indicated that they had used the Internet within the past 30 days, either at home, work, school or elsewhere.  The group of Internet users is not a typical set drawn from the general population, as they are relatively younger, more affluent and better educated.  

Among these Internet users in the TGI Latina study, 13.8% said that they had looked for a job on the Internet in the past 30 days.  This projects to a total of 4,396,000 persons.  In the next chart, we show the incidences separately by age/sex groups and by socio-economic level (Level A = top 10%, Level B = next 20%, Level C = next 30% and Level D = bottom 40%).  The base of this chart is the set of internet users, and not the total population.  If the base had been the total population, the incidence would have been much higher among the SES Level A.  But within the Internet users, the job seekers are more likely to be from the middle levels.  By age/sex, the job seekers are more likely to be between 20 to 34 years old.

In the next chart, we show the incidences by employment status, occupation and education.  On the obvious side, for Internet users who have stated that they are unemployed and looking for a job, the Internet is an immediate resource.  By occupation, the types of job opportunities available on the Internet are most likely professional, managerial and administrative types, which require a certain levels of education, training and experience.

The job ads market is a system with network externality.  That is to say, the utility to an individual user (either an employer or employee) increases with the number of other users.  Employers need qualified prospective applicants to respond to their needs.  When the Internet penetration is low, a job ad may get very few responses.  Candidates need to have a large number of choices that fit their profiles and needs.  In times of economic recession, job postings are scarce.  This is therefore a time of great hardship for job-related websites in Latin America. 

 (posted by Roland Soong, 8/31/2002)

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