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Job Hunting,
Career Direction

The growth in online career resources is leading to a mild backlash. People are frustrated at the amount of worthless job info online. Companies need to do a better job e-recruiting. And people find they can't remove their resumes from the net once they land a job. It doesn't look good when your boss finds your resume online every time he or she is looking for a new employee.

The article, below, addresses some of these problems. It's written by Heather Stone, president of myjobsearch.com, one of the most unusual and useful career web sites available. Myjobsearch.com does not list job openings or maintain a bank of resumes. Rather, it catalogs, reviews, and rates the hundreds of sites that do. And since myjobsearch.com does not charge companies to be listed on their site, or accept advertising from career-related companies, you can expect to rely on the information you find there.

I have posted this article because I find I agree with her on just about every single point she makes! That's almost scary! But if you didn't read my information about these things, I have two words for you: READ THIS!

"Problems Using the Net to Find a Job"
by Heather Stone

~ Good News, Bad News ~

Let's start with the obvious: The Internet has completely revolutionized the way people look for jobs. As of today, there are about 4 million job openings posted online. Over one million people will send out electronic resumes this year. Half of all Fortune 500 companies recruit online, cutting by half their costs of hiring and the time a job is vacant. By all accounts, the career category has replaced book selling, portals, and auction sites as the fastest growing segment of the fastest growing
technology in the history of the known universe. But before you dash off to find that "perfect position," you might want to see some more sobering statistics.

Even with all the hoopla about online job sites, 80% of all job openings never make it to the net-or to anywhere else for that matter. Most positions are filled before they ever become publicly posted, even in an Internet-centric world. Even if you find a job you want to apply for online, the process is anything but smooth.

A recent test of online recruiting by Common Good showed that almost three-quarters of the people applying for jobs online experienced some failure, and 40% had total failure: You *thought* you applied for a job, but the company never got your info. Bad ideas-such as *attaching* a resume file to e-mail-can keep you from ever making it past the electronic screener. With over 28,000 job boards online, Joe and Joan Jobseeker are confused, exhausted, and just a little ticked off. There's more to online job hunting than first meets the mouse. Lots more. Where should you start, and how can you win? Let's take a look.

~ Finding Out Where You Fit in the Job Market ~

If you're looking for a job, the first thing you need to do is start using the Internet for what it is best used for- to gather information. Don't stop looking at and applying for job postings, but do start realizing that the primary value of job boards is the information they give you about companies, industries, and your potential place in the job market. Think of posted positions as *survey results* -- the conclusions of a comprehensive study someone conducted to find out what types of positions employers think are important to their business right now. Think of resume banks as an easy way to check out the strengths and weaknesses of the competition.

Scan posted job openings to see what types of work people are hiring for and what "buzzwords" they use to describe that work. Use those same buzzwords in your resume. See what the daily responsibilities are for jobs you might be interested in. Then be sure you call attention to similar responsibilities at previous jobs in your cover letters and telephone introductions. This is all about making you more savvy about the job market, more aware of what other people with your skills are being rewarded for, and more informed about your options.

So start your job search on the job boards. Use a service like myjobsearch.com to tell you which job boards are easy to navigate and have solid search capability. Don't forget the specialty resume-posting sites that may serve a single industry. Go see what's out there. But once you've seen the world, get off the job boards and go get a job! Jobs aren't found on job boards. But they are on the Internet. Here's how to find them.

~ The Hidden Job Market ~

Use the net to tap into the hidden job market-the dream positions, the ones people seldom leave, the ones that never get posted at Monster. When you know the market, and your capabilities in it, you can tap into these hidden positions with ease.

You can approach trade organizations, government agencies, colleges, and media outlets that cater to your area of expertise. College professors almost always serve on advisory boards of corporations or function as consultants to corporations. And college professors are easy to approach, especially if you are asking for advice about improving your resume, or if you are an alumnus.

Government leaders know many heads of companies, and they can gain you access to jobs in agencies and non-profit organizations that you might not have thought of previously. Or you can approach companies that interest you and get through to a hiring manager simply by calling the company to follow up on announcements and commentary you saw in the news. 

Myjobsearch.com provides links to 3,800 professional and trade associations, 5,200 state and local government agencies, and 1,700 colleges and universities. Behind these links, you'll find industry-specialized newsletters, discussion groups, and numerous opportunities to connect with people who have hiring authority for jobs that no one ever sees. Let me give an example.

You probably didn't know that there's a technical writers online discussion group in the Seattle area, or that companies looking for freelance writers or to hire staff put messages out to this group about once a month. Any freelance job is, of course, a job offer in disguise. If you do good work, the relationship will grow.

Every day, hundreds of executives are featured guests at online chat. They're discussing marketing, e-commerce, manufacturing, international trade, management, etc. You can find out about these appearances by researching the companies' web sites. Make an impression in a chat room and you might open the door to that dream job. The Internet provides open access to company names, email addresses, corporate news, product descriptions, annual reports, and even "internal" information such as org charts and employee names (have you ever checked out the "Credits" or the "Meet the Team" section of your favorite company's web page?). The hidden job market is not really hidden anymore. You just have to know where to look.

~ Applying for Jobs Online ~

Don't network with people for the purpose of getting a job -- network with people for the purpose of building professional relationships. When you get a contact name (from a friend, a company web site, a news story), call or email the person, tell them you're considering a job change, but that you want to get some advice first. In your own words, ask for the following four things:

* INFORMATION about the industry you're considering (i.e., what companies and people are significant, is the industry growing or shrinking, what challenges are facing companies in this industry, etc.)

* ADVICE on how you should approach your job search (i.e., is my resume in the right format for this industry, what do people in this industry typically look for in a manager or sales rep or engineer, what types of people do well in this field, etc.).

* REFERRALS to other people who might give you advice and information (i.e., you have been very helpful today. Can you think of anybody else I could talk to get more of this same type of information?)

* TO BE REMEMBERED if opportunities arise in the future (i.e., feel free to keep my resume in your files or pass it on to someone else who might be interested in somebody like me).

Don't ask for a job. If you are informed, confident, and polite, jobs will quickly find you as you broaden the circle of people you know. And you'll be amazed what you can learn and who you can meet in the process!

(Those four points are combined into what is called an "Informational Interview". I strongly recommend the book, “What Color Is Your Parachute?” available from Amazon.com)

~ Closing the Deal ~

When someone asks to see your resume, send them a custom-tailored one for that specific job. Be sure to ask what format they want to see your resume in. Don't just attach a resume to e-mail and hope it lands in the right inbox. A lot of people refuse to open any unsolicited file for fear it contains a virus. Any time you transfer files via e-mail, you should pre-arrange the format to be used or simply paste the text of your document in the body of the email. Otherwise, your beautiful resume could look like it came out of food processor, not a word processor.

When you have a job offer, you can use Internet for salary negotiations. Myjobsearch.com has links to dozens of salary surveys for each of 50 different professions. If you are a paralegal, wouldn't it be nice to know what the standard wages and working conditions are in your field; the typical career paths of paralegals; and earnings profiles based on 5, 10, or 20 years of experience? I've found that you can't usually get much salary data from job boards (*TBD*, *Varies*, and *Negotiable* are the euphemisms), but there are plenty of other sources for comprehensive compensation information.

Once you've negotiated the job offer you like, you can use the Internet to begin planning your career. Continue the process of market research so that next time you want to make a job change, you can be sure to make a change consistent with your overall career plan, rather than simply responding to a moment of crisis. If you're the average American, you're going to change jobs every few years, and you're probably going to try and find your next job online. Learning how to take control of your career path-and how to obtain each job along that path - - is one of the most important life skills you can develop. It's time to start using the full measure of online resources available to you, not just job postings and resume boards.