I. Overview Of Topic
Online career information is another huge online industry. Starting from none about a dozen years ago, there are now thousands of online career information websites. In total, they are generating hundreds of millions of dollars annually, with market capitalization in the billions. The reason for this success is obvious: job searching online works. It offers enormous benefits to both employers and job seekers.
Why does the Internet work so well for job searching? Think of it this way. Job hunting is basically a kind of “information problem.” From the jobseeker's standpoint, it's a problem of finding the job that he or she wants and is best qualified for. From the employer's standpoint, it's a problem of finding the best candidate for the job. In other words, people and employers search for each other and need a way to find each other. The Internet now provides an extremely efficient way for this to happen.
But though the Internet can help you find openings, it can't get you hired. To accomplish that you will have to go through an interview (or several interviews). You have to solo that part on your own. Even so, the Internet can help you find out about job openings in your field you'd never have known about otherwise. (It can also possibly smooth out the interview process a little. For example, you can use it to research a potential employer or their industry before going to the interview; and in some cases you can even do the interview itself online -- an “online interview.”)
Should you spend all or most of your time job hunting on the Internet? Absolutely not. Virtually all career counselors and recruiters recommend spending only a small part of your time using career information sites. For example, Richard Bolles, famous author of What Color is Your Parachute? believes your online job searching effort should only comprise about 15% of your total effort. I think the reason he and others feel this way is that, even in the Internet age, most people land white-collar jobs through networking. You need to actively network with colleagues, associates, friends, potential employers, etc. This is usually even more productive for most people than searching for job opportunities online. Of course, all your networking doesn't have to be in person; you can also use the Internet to network, for example, via job-hunting and career information forums (See following Section of this Guide) and via email.
At any rate, even though Internet job hunting is not the complete answer by itself, it's not a waste of your time either. Thousands of people do find jobs through career information websites every year. How effective it will be for you depends on a lot of factors, such as what your field is, how strong demand is in your industry, etc. (Technical people generally do somewhat better; creative types, like advertising copywriters, and liberal arts types, do less well.) But I think it's fair to say that almost anyone in a white collar field ought to seriously consider researching Internet job-sites as part of their job search strategy these days. And even if you're not currently in the job market, it's a great way to keep abreast of new options and new opportunities in your field.
Online Job Search Tips
Of course one could write a 200 page book on online job searching and many have, but the basics are pretty straightforward. The following are the things you need to know, at a minimum, about online job searching.
Start out by first developing your resume. Your resume will give you the keywords (e.g., skills and qualifications) you'll need to use in searching career information website databases of job openings. Also, you'll probably want to post an online version of your resume to a couple of the many online resume services which employers can scan. Just don't expect too much from online resume posting unless you're in a tech field, and even then most calls will probably come from recruiters, not employers.
Make a list of likely companies that might hire you. Then contact likely hiring officials at those companies even if you don't know if there's a current opening in your field. This way you preempt the many people who will apply for jobs once they become publicized. You can make a company list easily by going to the Yahoo directory (not the search engine, the directory) and drilling down to your specific industry or occupation. The best way to make an initial contact is by letter, unless you know someone that can arrange an interview or phone call for you. Never send email as an initial contact. (By the way, another good source of company information is Hoovers.com – however I'd suggest using only their free material as their paid (“member's”) information is extremely expensive.)
Get involved in online networking. Today there are literally thousands of online discussion groups in virtually every occupation, field, topic and interest you can imagine. People are very informal in these groups and with luck you may find yourself in a one-to-one conversation with a vice president or personnel director. At any rate, try to post informative comments to the group, and try to strike up conversations, especially with people you think may turn into good contacts. To locate groups in your field or occupation, the best resource is Google Groups. (By the way, Web Search Guides is starting a group, too. See “Discussion Group” section below.) Caution: Be careful what you post on any group – your name/screen name/comments may be archived and searchable via Google Groups for years to come.
Some people also recommend using chat sites for job networking. This is just my opinion but chat groups seem to me more trouble than they're worth. I can't imagine a serious businessperson spending their time on a chat site. Stick with professionally-oriented discussion groups.
As said above, posting your resume online is not a totally bad idea, especially if you're in a technical or other high-demand field. But you should be aware that there's a privacy issue to consider. Your online resume should never include your name. What if your current boss happens to find your resume on there? That would not be good at all. However you probably can post your educational and experience qualifications on a site like Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com, where it will quietly reside among many thousands of others, without getting you into trouble. Much depends on the field you're in and privacy concerns only you can evaluate for yourself.
Search the online job listings of career information websites. Searchable databases of online job listings are the primary service offered by most career information sites. You enter your keywords or search criteria (e.g., electrical engineer, Des Moines IA) then press “Submit” and view a list of openings. You can then zap an online resume or send an email to apply for selected openings. Pretty cool. Note there are two main types of job search sites, namely the megasites and the specialized sites. The best megasites are Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, and Job.com (but see Section II, For Additional Research, below). You probably should start with one of these, then also search one or more specialized sites in your field or industry. Examples of the latter are Editor and Publisher Online, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and Academic Employment Network. But there are hundreds of specialized sites out there.
One of the best resources for finding specialized career information sites is The Riley Guide. This huge compilation of job sites (and career advice) was developed by a librarian at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Margaret Dikel, formerly Margaret Riley) and she does not just let it sit there, she actively updates and expands it. It's a great service to job hunters and should help you a lot in your research (but see also Beyond.com, in Part II, below).
America's Job Bank. This site shows that even Uncle Sam can do something right on occasion. This government-sponsored megasite combines job listings from all the state employment services nationwide. It is probably the largest job bank in existence and is easy-to-use and well-organized. Many of the jobs are blue-collar, which is great if you happen to be in one of the blue-collar fields and are looking for a job (you probably won't find a better resource anywhere). But there are also a lot of white-collar listings, so nearly all job seekers should consider utilizing this site.
Note that cities and states often maintain career information websites or website pages listing private industry positions. Check Google for geographically-specific sites. Also check out the city's or state's official website.
Government jobs. Want to work for the Feds? Try USAJobs. If you prefer city or state government jobs, visit Govtjob.net.
International jobs. There are numerous career information sites which focus on international job opportunities. Some good resources in this area are: JobPilot.com, PlanetRecruit.com, and JobShark.ca.
That's it – our ten minutes are up! (OK, maybe twelve or thirteen.) Below is a listing of Web resources to help you continue your research on online career information.
II. For Additional Research
This Section provides reviews and recommendations of websites and other online resources.
Job.com is a simple but useful career information site with a wealth of worthwhile job-hunting tools. It offers job postings, resume writing, resume distribution, career matching, reference checking, and other career tools and articles. Not one of the best-known career sites but in my humble opinion unusually well-developed and well-organized. You might encounter a little less competition here than on a Monster.com or CareerBuilder.
Looking for niche career sites in your particular occupation or field? Beyond.com is part of an extensive community of over 11,000 national, general, local, and regional niche career information websites which are used by job seekers in every industry and geographic location in the U.S. and Canada. A good site for active job hunting in a specific field or area, and also good for professionals interested in keeping an eye out for new opportunities in their field.
Opinions vary among career counselors as to the effectiveness of blasting resumes out to recruiters. Some think it's a good strategy, some feel otherwise. Personally if I were job hunting I would give it a try simply because it's not expensive, probably can't hurt, and might just get my resume into the hands of somebody who could find me a job. But that's just me. If you'd like to at least learn more about this “brute-force” technique of jobhunting, I suggest
Resume Zapper, which is one of the better-known outfits providing this service.
OTHER MAJOR CAREER/JOBHUNTING WEBSITES:
Online community for freelance professionals and companies looking to hire skilled freelance experts. Lists thousands of freelance and work-at-home jobs in the US and worldwide.
Premiere online source for acting and modeling auditions and casting.
Number one source for hourly employment-- part-time and full-time hourly employees.
"Post your resume free. Hot Resumes is one of the fastest growing resume databases on the Internet."
Publishes over 120 career guides and features thousands of company, university, industry and occupational profiles.
A job seekers resource that provides hundreds of printable and online applications for financial institutions, airlines, retail and department stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.