Tech & Work

If used right, the Net and e-mail can boost the job search

If you're hitting the big job boards looking for a new gig, you may be wasting your time. IT professionals and career experts offer tips and advice on how best to use the Internet and e-mail in the job hunt.


There’s no denying that the Web offers a plethora of job sites and boards. But IT professionals will waste their time if they don’t follow these tips and lessons learned by recent job hunters on where to look and how to use specific sites.

Tip 1: Avoid the massive boards
It’s tempting to hit monster.com or hotjobs.com, or to sign up with resume services that promise to blast your expertise across the Internet. You’re thinking the more exposure, the better. But consumer job sites offer little value to tech professionals due to the massive crush of resumes those job ads draw. When a job is posted on one of these sites, hundreds—possibly thousands—of resumes hit the hiring HR manager’s e-mail box within hours.

“The strategy and business model is for the bubble era, where there was high demand for technical personnel and not enough labor,” said Dave Hemminger, a Web architect. “Things have definitely changed.”

Hemminger suggested job seekers spend a minimal amount of time on these sites each week. He applies to a job on one of these sites only when the fit appears so perfect that it’s worth applying, just in case.

Doug Berg, founder of techies.com and a career expert, concurred and added that many companies hiring today aren’t using the giant sites as they once were, due to the high response volume.

“People—both candidates and companies—are terrified to work with the big boards,” he said.

The same issues explain why resume “blasting” services often prove fruitless. Blasters send resumes to HR departments by the thousand, noted Jody Harris, a network administrator who recently landed a new job.

“They basically have a method in which they send resumes out to literally hundreds—or in my case, thousands—of companies for a price. They send letters directly to the company even before they are looking. That doesn’t work. If they aren’t looking, they aren’t looking for you,” he explained.

In reality, the hiring manager is a human being and often isn’t able to choose the best resume from thousands of responses, added Harris. “You’ve got people all over the country hammering HR departments on a regular basis, so they are so snowed under it makes it hard for them to pick appropriately.”

Tip 2: Effectively using the Net
The most effective element in finding a job is networking, and in that regard the Internet can be a big boost.

Job hunters need to scour sites and discussion groups closely tailored to their location (or the location where the job is desired) or industry sector. This approach worked well for Hemminger, who moved to Atlanta after being laid off from Minneapolis-based techies.com. After an initial and unsuccessful fling with the big boards, he found very useful groups for Atlanta-based IT jobs on Yahoo. This led him to local area events where networking resulted in valuable contacts, he said.

Another approach is to use e-mail effectively. Berg, whose new company, mywebjobs.com, helps small and medium-sized enterprises more effectively recruit online, said it’s good to target companies and then network to find someone to reach out to within the organization. Today, job hunters can do much of this electronically.

“Do research on the company you want to work for, and then work what I call the 'friends and family’ network and make those people [your] advocates inside the company,” he advised.

Candidates should head directly to a desired employer’s site. If a suitable job appears, the job seeker should dig in for a contact name. “Lots of people are qualified. Now it depends on internal references,” Berg said. “Research like mad [to find] who works there who you know.”

Berg strongly advocates using the Internet to keep up with former colleagues and bosses, which often isn’t as easy as it sounds. Many laid-off workers tend to break their normal contacts and recede into a shell, Berg explained, which is exactly the opposite of what a person should do when searching for a job.

A good practice is to start sending contacts and networks a “Monday Morning Update” on the job search, Berg advised. The e-mail note should provide detail on what the person wants in a job, how an interview went the previous week, and other areas.

“E-mail is an awesome way to communicate,” he said. “You have to kill the sacred cows of not talking about [a job loss].”

 

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