Review of career sites – Mission impossible?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been reviewing some of the career sites that seem to be popular in India. The goal was to understand how good (or bad) these sites are and then hopefully recommend some sites that are useful. However, while going through these sites, I realized that I promised to deliver something which is very hard to achieve. This post discusses my insights from this exercise in a broad sense.

Here is what I tried: I looked up popular sites (based on search results and my review of local ads of these services in India), and proceeded to review their content, presentation and layout, and overall value they offer. In most cases, I had to register for the site, which I did rightfully. Based on what I saw on these sites and what I claim to know of career management, I started to capture comparison parameters to be used across sites. However, most sites fell woefully short of any reasonable utility value to their target audience.

Here are some of the observations I have, based on this exercise:

  1. Almost exclusively, sites are geared towards students and courses, in Indian and abroad. Only site I could find which catered to professionals is http://workwise.in. This is a sad state of affairs for working professionals.
  2. Most sites do not treat a topic well, they tend to touch upon a topic and then go away, rather than provide detailed understanding, more resources on/off their site, and connection to other parts of their offering. Career information (what kind of careers options are possible for a student, engineering, medical, etc) is a prime example. Only one site (Maa foundation) provided detailed information in this category even though every single site had this section. Most sites preferred to sketch the picture briefly and didn’t provide any insight for prospective students.
  3. Most sites are me-too. There are sections which everyone claim to have, for example listing of colleges and courses. Many of these listings seemed incomplete or inaccurate, and even though I reviewed the sites which claim to be career counseling/guidance sites (I separated out information aggregators in my review), they felt obligated to include this information on their own site, rather than excelling in their core competency of counseling and referring to other aggregator sites. This diluted overall experience of the site.
  4. Everyone seems to have got the fad of career/personality tests. I took couple of tests, and they were extremely inadequate, and in some cases, it was not clear why should I trust their judgment about courses that will be good for me. No one seems to have invested in getting good tests in place and/or provide justification of why these will work in Indian scenarios.
  5. Most sites lack content. They lacked content in every single area. Only exception I found was CareerForum (which is online arm of Career Forum tutoring solution) which had rich content around online resources, course offerings, and tests/quizzes, but the content here is focused on test takers (engineering, CAT, etc) and not overall career aspects.
  6. These sites are not in much use. Some of these sites have forums where you can ask questions, which is a good indication of their popularity and usage among its audience. However, there didn’t seem to be much traffic on most sites. Also, in some sites, I suspect the questions have been created artificially (For example, same person asked about engineering courses, as well as MBA!).

 

Here is short summary of each site that I reviewed:

  1. Careercounseling.in: They offer online counseling and career preference tests. They claim to offer career information on about 10 courses, but most of these have very little information, and some of these point to external links which land you to some unrelated site, or lead you inaccessible link. They do offer career preference test but it is paid so I did not try it. They do offer online career counseling services via online video conferencing service, which again is paid. There is no discussion forum or community, they just offer a canned FAQ and no ability to ask them questions. Other than the brand name of the counselor (Jayanti Ghose is supposed to be one of the leading career counselors in India), they do not have anything on their site which can motivate someone to pay for their test or online counseling. Look and feel of the site leaves much to be desired.
  2. CareerForum: For the area that it targets (test preparation), it is a good site. They have very detailed section on online resources and they sell test series, e-learning courseware, as well as offline courses. They do have pretty detailed question banks and quizzes which are accessible freely. However, they do not provide value to someone looking at career counseling/guidance, so in a way this didn’t fit this section. Their new user creation experience was clunky, other parts of the site had reasonable experience.
  3. CareerGuidanceIndia.com: They have a good focus on career news, deadlines to admission process, etc. They offer a service where a student’s career questions is answered in 24 hours by experts. This seems to be reasonably used. This is searchable too so the content can be used by other visitors. They sell reports and guides too as well as career test. Their career test is offline which that claims to match personality and interest with career choices. Site’s user experience can be better.
  4. Maa Foundation: They have a very colorful and pleasant site. They have very good write-up on various career options for commerce/arts/science students, articles and have interesting (though very old) videos on various topics parents may find more suitable for their kids! This does not seem to be an active site, and it has a very small database of colleges and courses. I believe this site can be a good site with some effort, but currently it is not really useful.
  5. Extramarks.com: This is a site focused to class 6-12 students, so I did not spend too much time on it. They offer live classroom online as well as online testing.
  6. Youngbuzz.com: The site keeps asking me to login to access its content, but there is no page to let me register! Mostly sounds like advertising for their offline business targeted towards schools/colleges and students, and the login may be there only for their offline users.
  7. EducationForIndia.com: This site seems to be geared towards making money via google ads. So they have all the right categories and keywords on their site, and all those are surrounded by google ads. Whatever little information they have on their site is buried in non-intuitive UI and hence useless.
  8. StudyPlaces.com: They give lots of advertisements in India about their services which are free for now. They have nice look and feel but they seem to be geared towards sending students to foreign colleges (and the ads they carry on their site reflect that too). They have very detailed database of colleges and courses abroad (and good search/filter capabilities), scholarships available, etc. They have free online tests (which weren’t that good), but very poor content on their forums (which seemed artificial and useless most of the time). For those who don’t know, there are tons of colleges outside India who spend lots of money to attract Indian students (since Indians are very study-conscious and parents are willing to pay large sums of money to get good education for their children). This site seems to target that market by acting as mediator which seems like a good business idea.
  9. Workwise: This is the only site for professionals that I found. They offer career guidance at different stages of career via workshops of different lengths. Registration gives access to more functionality. They have good description and summary of career options in various areas on their sister site. They have a blog page but that seems to be inactive. askNaukri syndicates their career Q&A to workwise and they provide active and good answers. However, the focus of the company seems to be offering workshops to solve career issues, rather than providing solutions online.

Here is the summarized comparison sheet of some of the reviewed sites above (others didn’t fit the mould as you can read in the description):

 

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