The biggest noise - on and off-line - around at the moment seems to be in work-related sites. That is hardly surprising given the accelerated rates of change in the workplace. In March alone, it was reported that 300 career sites were launched; by now the total number of job or recruitment sites is topping the 4,500 mark. These sites can range from fairly standard job lists, plus online CVs, to sites tackling the much larger issues.
Big Blue Dog is the busy upbeat site of Associated Newspapers and the Evening Standard. As you would expect, this is ES on-screen, but very compartmentalised - articles in one box, CVs in another, jobs in another. There is no real attempt to integrate content with functionality.
The brand leader at the moment is Monster and what is impressive about it is the sheer force of it all - play the numbers game and you can't lose. The UK site alone has about 10,000 jobs, with 20,000 jobs on the European site and 430,000 global positions.
To see what was on offer, I put in a search for new media producer/online producer/web producer in the London area, but no jobs matched the query.
Monster is packed with function-ality - three different levels of CV confidentiality and bags of career advice, nifty tools and lots of me-centred questionnaires.
The content is broad-based, covering many aspects of work progression from how to get on to how to resign with magnanimity.
Much of the content has been imported and as such feels resolutely American, so it was refreshing to turn to revolver.com, the recruitment site for the Times and the Sunday Times, and find content designed for the UK market. Revolver, the home page announces, empowers you to get the job you need for the life you want, and the ethos of the site clearly has work/life balance on its agenda.
Its workstyle section has cherry-picked the best of the printed material but is well integrated with brand-new online content, including a 'sticky' soap opera in photo-strip format, plus a panic button that will flip you straight to the Times' front page.
Taking career development a step further is Wideyes: this kicked off with an attractive advertising campaign messaging the individual's potential ('I am more than the job I do'). I saw the ad, was intrigued enough to try and find the site, but after several misspellings got nowhere and never found it. Great message, shame about the search engines!
When I eventually found it much later on, it was nicely designed and very pleasant to use. The site is geared towards personal development ('Your CV is just an outline, Wideyes helps you fill in the blanks. So take control now') and has trademarked the phrase 'Understanding Talent'. It has good material on finding out where you fit in, where you can go and how you can be inspired.
Wideyes has certainly got the brand well showcased, but was weak on delivery.
Again, I searched for a new media job in the UK with budget and project responsibilities and some distance working, but had no luck at all.
Although Wideyes and a few of the other sites offer some of the 'softer' qualities people are looking for to make more sense of their work and life, very few have enough flexible jobs that fulfil those requirements.
Many recruitment sites sell themselves as 'changing lives' but have only very standard jobs on their boards.
At Flametree, we concentrate on services and solutions for people to improve their work/life balance. From the response we are getting it is clear that factors other than salary determine how happy people are with their work choices.
The huge number of online job sites is an indicator of the size and importance of the market, but the sites that succeed will do so because they look at more than matching the CV to the job description and sell jobs that fit the bill.
Hannah Charlton is content development director of flametree.co.uk. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.