ARCHIVED - Research Report: Perceptions of the Public Service Commission's Web Sites - Executive Summary

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March 2007

Table of Contents

Background and Methodology

The Public Service Commission (PSC) wished to conduct quantitative and qualitative research investigating whether its Web sites are meeting the needs of its three target audiences: Canadians looking for employment in the federal public service, employees of the federal public service and human resource (HR) specialists and hiring managers in federal departments and agencies.

A total of 2,805 individuals completed an online survey hosted on Decima's secure server related to the PSC's recruitment site (www.jobs.gc.ca). A total of 756 individuals completed an online survey hosted on Decima's secure server related to the PSC's corporate Web site (www.psc-cfp.gc.ca).

In addition to the surveys, 2 focus groups were conducted in Ottawa with HR specialists and hiring managers.  These sessions were supplemented with 9 one-on-one telephone interviews with HR specialists located outside the National Capital Region. As well, a total of 3 focus groups were also conducted with members of the general public in Edmonton, Montreal and Halifax.

Results – Jobs.gc.ca

The most common ways in which visitors first reached www.jobs.gc.ca were via Canada.gc.ca (25%), referrals from friends or family members (22%) or via a search engine (21%). The majority (77%) consider it easy to find the jobs Web site.

Approximately half (51%) of visitors access the Jobs Web site every or almost every day, and roughly one in three (28%) accesses it at least once a week.  They most typically visit the site for themselves (70%). Among those who visit on someone else's behalf, four in ten (40%) do so either because the person in question is not experienced or proficient in using the Internet (21%), does not have Internet access (13%), or their Internet connection is too slow (6%).

Jobs Web site visitors usually are at home (61%) or at their workplace (33%) when visiting the site. Close to three quarters (74%) go to the Jobs Web site to search for jobs in their region, and approximately 1 in 5 look for job opportunities for graduates (21%), jobs with no geographic restriction (19%) and/or information about working for the federal public service (18%). Visitors find it easiest to find information/services related to jobs in their regions (84%), jobs with no geographic restriction (80%), and general interest (74%).

The Jobs Web site receives high ratings on all attributes rated by survey respondents. Speed of page display and the clarity of the icons and click-on buttons are the top-rated attributes (88% and 82% respectively rate these as either ‘good' or ‘excellent').

The vast majority (88%) agree that the Web site's content is up-to-date, the information on the homepage is sufficient in guiding them to where they want to go on the site (84%), the home page is well structured (83%), the site is user-friendly (82%), and  that they understand the homepage links (81%).

More than half (55%) of survey respondents say they have never had any difficulty finding the information for which they were looking. There is no common piece of information that visitors believe is missing. Job classification and category sorting, as well as detailed job descriptions and responsibilities, are the biggest issues, with 2% listing these as issues.

Half (49%) of all respondents mention the Job Bank as another Web site they visit to learn about public service of Canada jobs. A very distant second is the Career Place, mentioned by 7% of respondents, followed by youth.gc.ca at 5%. Three in ten visitors (29%) say they are unaware of any other Web sites or portals to learn about Government of Canada positions.

Close to half (46%) of all respondents are aware that the Public Service Commission of Canada is responsible for the Jobs Web site. More than one in ten (13%) provide a more general response, saying the site is run by the Government of Canada/federal government.

Aside from on-line job postings, approximately 2 in 5 (41%) say they learn of public service of Canada job openings via word-of-mouth. Newspaper job ads and employment office job postings round out the top 3 methods at 32% and 16%, respectively. Almost half (45%) of those who refer to job postings at employment offices do so at least once a week or more. Newspaper ads are also frequently accessed, with close to two thirds (63%) of those who use this medium checking these types of ads at least once a week.

The majority (83%) of respondents have not contacted staff at the Jobs Web site by email. Of those who have, 69% have done so within the past 6 months. Approximately 62% of those who have emailed the Jobs Web site for assistance are satisfied with the service they received. The majority (89%) were served in their official language of choice and feel confident that their privacy was fully protected throughout the process (71%). Two-thirds feel they waited a reasonable amount of time before obtaining a response (66%) and were treated fairly (65%). Six in ten (59%) say the Web site staff were knowledgeable and competent. Less than half (41%) say the Jobs Web site went the extra mile to ensure proper information was provided.

Three-quarters (75%) of respondents believe a featured jobs section would be a useful addition to the site. Approximately 71% believe an archiving function for job postings would be useful, while 68% think that an automatic counter tracking the number of job openings would be useful. Less than half think that the option to change font sizes and recent hiree testimonials would be helpful (scoring 44% and 43%, respectively).

Almost all (95%) say they will recommend the Jobs Web site to a friend or colleague, and the vast majority (86%) report being satisfied with the site. The most common reasons for being satisfied are that the site is easy to navigate, has a good layout and is user-friendly (19%); is accessible and it is easy to find information (16%); meets the visitor's needs (8%); and has good/a lot of information (8%). Reasons for dissatisfaction with the site include navigational, layout and user-friendliness issues (29%); hard to find information (12%); not enough information (11%); and the fact that some visitors did not get a job out of it (10%).

When asked how the Jobs Web site could be improved, close to one in five respondents (18%) say no improvements are necessary. Suggested improvements include simplifying and improvement the layout to make it more user-friendly (8%), as well as improving the job postings by providing more detail (4%) and categorizing the positions more effectively (4%).

Results – PSC Corporate Web Site

The most common ways in which visitors first reached www.psc-cfp.gc.ca were via Canada.gc.ca (27%), a search engine (26%) or a colleague's referral (15%). Approximately two-thirds (68%) consider it easy to find the site.

Just over a quarter (28%) of visitors access the site every or almost every day, and a similar proportion (27%) accesses it at least once a week. The majority visit the site at a workplace outside their home (49%) or at a home office (32%).

PSC Web site visitors visit the site for a number of different reasons, but most commonly to find information on specialized recruitment programs (29%), employment or career opportunities (26%) or new Public Service Employment Act information and tools (26%). Appointment Framework information and information about the national area of selection are the easiest types of information to find (64% feel that each of these types of information are at least fairly easy to find), while information on investigation/appeals is considered the most difficult to find (45%).

Approximately three-quarters (73%) of previous visitors to the site indicate they always or usually find that for which they are looking.

Speed of page display receives the highest ratings of the attributes evaluated (82% rate it as excellent or good), followed by the clarity of icons and buttons (74%) and the quality of information available (72%). Being able to quickly find what you need and the usefulness of the search engine receive the lowest scores (55% and 45% respectively).

Navigation-related elements receive fairly high scores, with roughly seven-in-ten visitors indicating that the home page is well structured, the site's content is up-to-date, the links on the home page are clear, the site is user-friendly and there is enough information on the home page to determine where to go on the site.

Close to two-thirds (63%) of respondents say the overall presentation of the PSC Web site (including presentation of information, graphics and photos) is somewhat or very appealing.

Approximately three-in-ten (30%) survey respondents say they have never had any difficulty finding the information for which they were looking, and another 30% do not list any specific types of information they could not find. The most common types of information visitors have been unable to find relate to employment or job postings (7%), testing information or practice tests (3%) and/or information on the recruitment process (3%).

Approximately one-in-five visitors (21%) have contacted staff at the PSC Web site by email. Among these individuals, 77% have done so within the past 6 months. Overall, roughly three-quarters (73%) of those who have emailed the PSC Web site for assistance are satisfied with the service they received. Approximately nine-in-ten (90%) were served in their official language of choice. Roughly three-quarters feel they were treated fairly (75%) and are confident that their privacy was fully protected throughout the process (72%). Two-thirds found the PSC Web site staff knowledgeable and competent (67%) and waited a reasonable amount of time before receiving a response to their query (65%). Half (51%) indicate the PSC Web site staff went out of their way to ensure the respondent got what they needed.

Two-in-five visitors have accessed the Staffing and Assessment Services Branch (SASB) section of the PSC Web site; while a third have accessed the HR Toolbox (35%) and/or the Appointment Framework (34%) sections.

Of the four sections evaluated (SASB, HR Toolbox, Appointment Framework and Personnel Psychology Centre), the PPC section receives the highest scores (roughly 80% agree that it is easy to access, the information is useful and there is enough information on the main page to determine where to go within the section), while the SASB receives the lowest scores (roughly 70% agree with each statement).

Aside from the PSC corporate Web site, the most widespread public service-related sites accessed by visitors to www.psc-cfp.gc.ca include Treasury Board Secretariat (37%), Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada (33%), and Canada School of Public Service (31%). One-third (31%) have not visited any of the other Web sites listed.

When presented with potential new features for the site, the vast majority of HR specialists and government managers (85%) say the information on human resources best practices would be useful. Educational/training videos and an on-line forum to exchange ideas on HR issues are considered useful by more than half of HR specialists and government managers (58% and 55% respectively). The option to change the font size is largely considered neither a useful nor not useful option (44%).

The majority (82%) of respondents say they will recommend the PSC Web site to others and three-quarters (75%) are satisfied with the site overall. One third (32%) have the site bookmarked, and another 41% say they will likely bookmark the site following their current visit. The most common reasons for being satisfied with the Web site are that information is readily available, the site meets their needs and/or is easy to use. The most common reasons for being dissatisfied are that the site is difficult to navigate, it is difficult to find information, they cannot find job postings and/or they prefer the previous version of the site.

When asked how the site could be improved, 16% say no improvements are necessary, and another 23% do not provide any recommendations. Suggested improvements include improving the design/layout (17%) and making it easier to find information on job postings (9%).