Depending on whom you ask, online job hunting can be a boon or a bust as there are lots of pros and cons to using the Web as a career tool. But in this economy, it’s a needed tool, and can prove valuable if you follow some best practices for identification protection and privacy issues and create a Web-specific resume in order to grab attention.
To get some tips about how to create the best Web resume, I interviewed Otis Collier, author of You Don't Know SQUAT About Job Hunting (a self published book on sale on Collier's Web site) and an IT manager who has used the Internet for the job hunt. A job board expert from Atlanta-based ComputerJobs.com also weighed in on the topic of e-resumes. Here's what they had to say.
Why post to the Web
Many IT managers, not understanding how recruiters conduct business, simply don't post their resumes on the Web, said Collier. And those that do bring the Web into the job hunt sometimes mistakenly believe that posting to job boards is enough.
“But posting to a job board only limits the opportunity for you to be found," explained Collier, a Marietta, Georgia-based author and "sourcer"—a person who looks for job candidates—for one of the big-four accounting firms. The reason is that hiring leaders, as well as recruiters and headhunters, are looking lots of other places to find the right person for a job.
If a resume is posted to the Internet, Collier and other recruiters and headhunters can locate the resume using Internet keyword searches. The method costs recruiters nothing when compared to using Monster or any other job board.
IT manager Kurt Huhn of Granville, Ohio, understands the value of having a resume online, as Huhn first posted his resume in cyberspace about six years ago.
"It's always helpful to have the resume out there for the world to see,” said Huhn. “Opportunity doesn't give any warning when it's looking for a door to knock on. That doesn't always mean that you let opportunity in, but it's nice to be given the choice," added the IT leader, who is works for a firm providing risk analysis for portfolio managers and investors.
Just because you post an e-resume on the Internet, however, doesn't necessarily mean everyone knocking at your door will be a recruiter. Huhn, for example, often hears from students seeking information about IT careers and has received several inquiries regarding contract positions that he's been able to trace back to his resume.
"I've never had my identity stolen, and I don't anticipate having my resume posted to the world would make me any more susceptible—appreciably more so anyway," said Huhn.
Avoiding trouble in cyberspace
Yet there is potential for identity theft when you post a resume on the Internet, noted Collier. To avoid unnecessary exposure, he advises that IT managers take some preventive steps:
- Use a pseudonym. If you post your real name, you run the risk of having your present employer and employees find out that you're open to work elsewhere.
- Don't include a physical address. List only the city in which you live, rather than your full mailing address.
- Use an alternative e-mail address and phone number. Email addresses are too easily plucked from Web pages by spiders, resulting more often than not in spam, explained Michael Turner, VP of marketing communications with ComputerJobs.com. Including a phone number can also get you bombarded with phone calls from recruiters, many of whom may just be trolling for names of colleagues to woo. Voicemail boxes are available for $4.95/month and up from providers such as Yahoo!, uReach.com, or Onebox.
Preparing a Web resume
The key to online resume success lies in using the right words—search keywords to be exact. IT managers need to prepare an e-resume by modifying their paper resume.
Keywords should cover at least four different topics, said Collier:
- Keywords for skills. Keywords for job skills should include all of the soft skills, such as negotiation and team building skills, as well as hard skills—such as project management abilities or computer languages.
- Keywords for job titles. Although the current or most recent job title may be IT Manager, you should include other possible job titles as well. To find a list, peruse job listings and include job titles for any job that you would honestly be qualified.
- Keywords for locations. If you live in Birmingham, Alabama, but would consider relocating to Houston, Miami, or San Diego, let employers know by including those places in your keyword list for locations.
- Keywords for certifications/affiliations. Group these together, too, making it easier for recruiters to see your educational and community affiliations.
A good approach is to make up lists for each keyword category and then slide in the words where applicable in the resume. For example, you can include a sublisting of skills above experience that houses all the related keywords. Read over your job role descriptions and make sure that all job title key words and skills are worked into them. You can easily add a section below Experience, listing your certifications and affiliations.
Use some marketing
In additional to including keywords, job seekers should employ some Internet marketing tactics to get the resume noticed.
One approach is to include metatags in the document, which can improve your listings on some search engines. Huhn has also submitted his e-resume to search engines. Free tools such as Microsoft bCentral's page can help with that task.
If you create an online home for your resume page, make sure it’s a page that hits the searches. As noted above, more hiring managers and recruiters are using free online searches to look for candidates.
"If you want to be seen out of hundreds and millions of pages out there you've go to do something special, or you're not going to be found among the hundreds and thousands of resumes that are out there," said Turner.
Doorway pages are a common method for boosting a page’s [a posted resume] position in search results, as they provide "food" for spiders—spiders crawl Web sites and follow the links in order to weight pages according to how many keywords are present, according to Turner. (See SearchEngineWatch.com for more on Doorway pages.)
Lastly, Turner recommended including a date on the e-resume to indicate to recruiters the freshness of the Web content.
For IT managers already employed, having an e-resume might not only land the occasional job lead from a recruiter or hiring manager, it can serve as a tool for staying on top of the continual challenge of keeping a resume current.
"If you get laid off," said Collier, "The first thing you have to do is build a new resume. So this is a good way of keeping on top of what your skill set is."