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Not only is online job search technology at its zenith, but the demand for it is greater than ever. The current rate of joblessness is lower than it’s ever been in America since online job searching began. Time was, looking for work meant cold-calling in person, dialing the phone, fumbling with newspapers (the kind made from actual paper, remember those?), or mailing resumes with stamps and envelopes. Now, for most job seekers, a job search without the assistance of the Internet is simply unthinkable. Here we’ll discuss just how and why this came to be, and what it means for the future of employment as we know it.

Like the Internet itself, it’s impossible to narrow down the creation of online job searches to one single inventor or company. Sources differ as to “who was first” in online job searching. Whoever history remembers as being first, this tectonic shift in the way we find work seems to have begun in many different places around the same time. After all, many reasoned, if the Internet was good for finding pictures of kittens, or sending messages to your boss, why couldn’t it be used to find a job?

Founded in 1994, NetStart (now Careerbuilder) was one of the first in the game, starting with a software that allowed employers to easily list jobs on their own websites. As their success grew, NetStart brought their software home and sold employment ad space on their own site. Careerbuilder is now the largest job search engine with over 20 million visitors a month and almost a quarter of the market share in “help wanted” websites.

This success is remarkable considering just how much online job searching has grown.

Beginning with only a few sites, online job searching became an Internet phenomenon, connecting job seekers with employers in unprecedented ways.

No history of the growth in online job searching would be complete without mentioning Monster. Monster was created when two independent, early competitors in Internet job search engines merged. These were known as The Monster Board, and Online Career Center, both of which were also created in 1994. Monster also now commands a significant share of online job search traffic and is well known as a “go to” site in online job searches.

These sites were only the beginners, and there are far too many to list here. The relationship between many of these sites has changed as many of sought to network sites together over the years, or simply acquired them through corporate takeovers.

The latest game changer has been Craigslist and the rise of free online classifieds. Whatever the future of online job searching, one thing is certain: we’re never going backwards from here.

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