Campus helps build nat'l student hiring hall

by Hilary Thomson
Staff writer

Surfing the net for jobs and career information is now a whole lot easier thanks to a new Canada-wide electronic hiring hall developed by faculty and student volunteers at UBC and the universities of Alberta and Western Ontario.

Called CareerOwl, the Web-based service allows post-secondary students and alumni to make a direct connection with employers.

"CareerOwl is off to a vigorous start and will help ease the job-finding problems students face today," says UBC President Martha Piper. "Also, when university students are able to bring their skills to the workplace, employers and taxpayers realize a benefit from the investment they have made in post-secondary education."

More than 4000 students at more than 73 Canadian universities, colleges and technical schools have signed up for the service. Almost 100 students join each day.

CareerOwl currently provides students and alumni with job postings and career information. Next year it will also offer statistical data on salaries, qualifications required within various job categories and trends in employment.

"We want to make it easier for
Canadians with post-secondary training to learn about job oppor-tunities in this country," says Deanna McLeod, co-ordinator of the Western Research Network on Education and Training (WRNET). Hosted by UBC, WRNET provided research data that generated many CareerOwl features.

Once the student registers with CareerOwl, a virtual agent searches the Internet site for jobs that match the student's job preference criteria.

The agent sends the student an e-mail message when a match is found.

The student may then choose to release their resumé, covering letter, electronic transcript and employer-specific application forms directly to an employer.

Employers can target a certain audience by including criteria that match questions asked of the candidates. For example, an employer may specifically request a candidate from a particular university program or faculty.

"We aimed to create a system where both employers and students can state exactly what they are looking for," says Alice Nakamura, one of CareerOwl's creators, an executive member of WRNET and a professor of Business at the University of Alberta.

Second-year UBC Faculty of Science student Merek Siu has been helping to promote CareerOwl on campus.

"The system is really useful for me because I'm from Alberta and would have a hard time accessing career information from another province," says Siu. "And I'm not cut off from the system after graduation. It really uses the power of the Internet to keep everything current."

Services for job candidates are free and registered employers can search candidate information without charge.

Job postings are also free for employers until the end of this year. From Jan.1 to Aug.31 regular job postings that appear for a two-month period will cost employers $25 each. There is no charge for posting volunteer, student part-time, co-op and internship positions.

UBC Electrical and Computer Engineering Prof. Peter Lawrence created the service's concepts. A third-year student in his department, Kiyo Adachi, provided technical assistance.

Support for CareerOwl comes from faculty donations.

Students and alumni can sign on at or e-mail Employers can post their jobs directly at the site or call 1-877-OWL-POST for toll-free assistance.