It goes without saying that the Internet has drastically changed the way people today hunt for jobs. After all, it's probably been a few years since you've submitted a resume via mail or fax. But even though most professionals turn to the Internet first for help locating a new position, not all understand the finer points of a Web-based job search. Following are some tips to keep in mind the next time you look online….
1. Think big. It's wise to start your search by visiting large job sites such as CareerBuilder.com because of the sheer number of listings offered. In addition, employers of all sizes and in every industry are apt to list their job openings on sites with strong brand recognition. Checking out smaller niche Web pages can be helpful, but if you're at a crossroads in your career or willing to relocate, the big boards offer the widest view of what jobs are currently available.
2. Scan the oldies but goodies. When visiting job boards, many job hunters make the mistake of limiting their search to positions posted in the last few days. A position posted one month ago might still be open, especially if it requires hard-to-find skills. Plus, with most job seekers focusing on recent postings, you may be competing with fewer candidates. A dated job advertisement doesn't reflect the quality of the company or the potential desirability of the position.
3. Visit recruiter sites. In addition to browsing the large boards, visit the Web sites of recruiting firms that specialize in your field, which maintain their own job postings. Some even offer detailed career information and job search advice. The advantage of these sites is that job seekers can conduct highly targeted searches and also connect with a recruiter who can work on their behalf.
4. Go surfing. Job sites offer more than just listings. They also can serve as a launching pad for other opportunities. For instance, you may find an appealing job posting for which you are overqualified. Though you're not right for this role, you now know the company is hiring. Visit the prospective employer's Web site to see if there are any additional openings. Send a resume and cover letter to the company expressing your desire to be considered for future jobs.
5. Get social. Networking is one of the most effective ways of locating new opportunities, and the Internet makes it easier than ever to expand your web of contacts. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn.com provide "virtual" opportunities to connect with other professionals -- in your area or halfway across the world. Participating in chat rooms and discussion forums, such as those hosted by professional associations in your field or industry, also is an excellent way to find about open positions.
6. Don't blast away. Most job sites enable users to apply for a position with the simple click of the mouse. But don't blindly blast your resume to every company you come across. Hiring managers seek tailored resumes that directly tie a job seeker's unique skills and abilities to the requirements of the position. Take the extra time and effort to customize your application materials to each specific opportunity.
7. Spell well. Completing employment applications online is convenient but potentially costly if you're not careful. Be mindful of your spelling and grammar when typing information directly onto online forms. Typos are no less problematic on screen than on paper. In a Robert Half International poll of employers, typos and grammatical errors were cited as the most common mistakes job seekers make on their resumes.
8. Tread carefully. There's a time and a place for everything. With that old adage in mind, be careful of when and where you do your online job hunting. Using your company's computer and Internet connection to look for a new position is a bad idea. Employers have the right to monitor the sites you visit and the e-mails you send. So, resist the temptation to hunt for a new job at the office if you want to keep the one you have for the time being.
9. Follow up! When job hunting online, it's critical that you follow up with prospective employers after applying for a position. More than a few resumes have gotten lost in cyberspace. If you've submitted your application and haven't heard back from the company, make a call or send an e-mail to verify that the resume was received and to reassert your interest in the position. Don't worry; you're not going to annoy the employer. Eighty-two percent of executives polled by our company said job seekers should contact hiring managers within two weeks of submitting application materials. While the Internet has revolutionized the way job seekers connect with prospective employers, an online job hunt shouldn't be the only strategy you use to find a new position.
The best searches combine a variety of approaches, including exploring the services offered by recruiting and staffing firms, touching base with members of your professional network, and participating in industry events where you can hobnob with hiring managers.