As current television, radio, print, and outdoor advertising makes obvious, both job seekers and corporate recruiters have countless online options. But dissatisfaction with these offerings will lead to the emergence of career networks — sites that aggregate training, assessment, and placement services. According to Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR), career networks will capture 55% of the $7.1 billion online recruitment market by 2005.

Though the tight labor market has kindled the rise of numerous job boards, today’s online recruitment process is plagued with limitations. To reach a critical mass of Web users, recruiters must manage multiple job postings, multiple site relationships, and a flood of risumis. Meanwhile, job seekers must explore listings from both companies and recruitment agencies and submit multiple risumis. Even then, many never receive responses to their online efforts. Multiple boards, low switching costs, and a lack of differentiation further impede the establishment of lasting relationships between these sites and their users.

“Career networks will serve as the marketplace for human capital in the digital age,” said Charlene Li, senior analyst in Media & Entertainment research at Forrester. “These one-stop career management sites will aggregate career services for consumers and recruiters alike and serve them both in an ongoing relationship.”

At the heart of the career network lie three essential components: a profile database, a jobs database, and a matching engine. Because career networks will offer a wide range of career- and even non-career-related services, these large sites will aggregate not just a risumi database but a profile database consisting of detailed information about users gleaned from online behavior. Aggregating jobs from numerous sources, the jobs database will store data on companies and job demand, as well as the types of positions filled online. Finally, the database engine will not only match candidates with jobs but also will learn preferences, saving time for job seekers and recruiters.

Long-term winners in the online recruitment race must have the scale, ongoing user relationships, and technology to be career networks. The AOL/Monster and Yahoo!/WebHire alliances, as well as professional association sites like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), have the potential to dominate the category. Other online job sites will struggle to build the critical mass, technology, and investment needed to form a career network. These sites will remain on the sidelines or will be pulled into the orbit of career networks through partnerships or acquisitions.

As job boards evolve into career networks, online recruitment revenues will fall into three categories. By 2005, online recruitment advertising will total $4 billion, human resource applications will generate $1 billion, online assessment and training will net $2 billion, and 55% of all revenues will go to career networks.

For the Report “The Career Networks,” Forrester surveyed 3,000 Internet users to assess the state of online recruiting. While job seekers are using the Internet in increasing numbers, they also report dissatisfaction with the experience that today’s job boards provide. Forrester also interviewed 50 corporate recruiters about their online recruiting experiences. Despite job board limitations, recruiters said that the Internet is more effective and efficient than offline recruitment methods. They plan to increase their online spending 52% by 2004 while cutting newspaper and search agency spending by 31%.