Pounding the Electronic Pavement for Jobs
Labor, if it were not necessary for the existence, would be indispensable for the happiness of man,” wrote 18th century English author Samuel Johnson.
Sometimes, though, work can make you just miserable.
Whether you’re looking to change jobs, need to hire or are just starting your career, the Internet can help. But, as with everything, the Net is no panacea. And there are serious pitfalls you should avoid.
Pounding the electronic pavement can save on shoe leather, not to mention postage and phone charges. More important, it can reveal possibilities you wouldn’t find otherwise.
Online recruitment is good for employers, too. It can save a company up to $8,000 per person hired, according to a study by Creative Good, an e-commerce consulting firm in New York City. This figure breaks down into $2,000 saved in advertising costs and $6,000 saved in time spent looking for a new hire.
“More companies are using the Web every day in their recruiting efforts,” says Gary Resnikoff, president of National Career Search, which publishes Career Magazine <http://www.careermag.com>.
A study from the online recruiting firm recruitsoft.com <http://recruitsoft.com> backs this up. Nearly 80 percent of the world’s 500 largest companies use their Web sites for recruiting, up from 60 percent last year and 29 percent in 1998.
But online job-seeking and recruitment has its downside. It’s better for entry- and mid-level jobs than executive positions. Companies can be overwhelmed by applications as a result of job postings. And any given posting of your résumé may generate little or no response.
In a study involving interviews of 3,000 online consumers, market research firm Forrester Research found that only 4 percent of respondents landed their last job using the Internet, compared with 40 percent who got work from referrals and 23 percent from newspaper ads.
You, therefore, have to be smart about how you use the Net to find work, says Pam Dixon, author of the book Job Searching Online for Dummies. Stick to the best job sites, she says.
Though the online recruitment industry has consolidated lately, there are still hundreds of job sites out there. Well-regarded examples
include general-purpose sites such as Monster.com <http://www.monster.com> and CareerPath.com http://www.careerpath.com>. MediaBistro.com, a publishing-job site, is a good example of a successful niche site <http://www.mediabistro.com>.
Dixon includes a more extensive list of what she considers the best online job sites at her Web page called the Dixon Report, <http://www.thedixonreport.com>, in the section called The Online Job Search Companion.
Another Web page that recommends job sites is the Riley Guide <http://www.rileyguide.com>. Created by Margaret F. Dikel, nee Riley, co-author of the book The Guide to Internet Job Searching, the site is also a good place to bone up on the basics of job seeking. It offers tutorials on preparing résumés, researching employers, interviewing and salary negotiating.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when job hunting on the Net? “Being too informal,” says Dikel. “Employers want to see a formal cover letter, even one sent by e-mail.” Write in complete sentences and check your spelling and grammar, she advises.
Another big mistake is not following directions, Dixon says. If a company accepts
e-mailed résumés, for instance, it probably specifies that you should include your résumé as plain text within the body of the e-mail message, rather than as a Microsoft Word file
attached to the message. Yet many people still send attachments, which just causes their
effort to be deleted unread out of fear that the attachment may contain a virus.
If you already have a job, Dixon warns against posting your résumé to an online job site. She says she has talked to more than a dozen human-relations professionals who admit to scanning résumé databases for the names of disgruntled employees. It’s smarter to look for job leads and e-mail your résumé to specific companies.
For employers, the biggest mistake is
assuming that only technical people search for work online, says Ward Christman, president of Jobnet.com, a regional job site <http://www.jobnet.com>. Only 30 percent of the jobs advertised at his site are related to information technology, a percentage that has decreased every year since he became involved with the online career industry in 1992. The most common jobs posted at his site are those in customer service, marketing and sales.
Most people shouldn’t rely exclusively on the Internet in their job search. But if you’ve found that looking for work has turned into a devil of a job, and if you do it right, the Net just might work wonders for you.
— Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at email@example.com or http://members.home.net/reidgold.
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