One of the hottest topics in the field of job-hunting these days is how to put the Internet to work for you in your job search.
There are thousands of job-search "boards" on the Internet devoted to helping you find the job of your dreams. Posting a resume on such a board can be free, and is certainly cheaper and further reaching than a mass-mailing.
But how well does this approach work - and how can you maximize your chances of getting noticed out there in cyberspace?
Experts say online jobs sites do not represent some sort of magic bullet for those seeking the perfect job.
Even leaders in more-traditional segments of the recruitment industry allow that the Internet has changed the rules of the game. But they stress it is only one more tool job-seekers have at their disposal. Standing out from the crowd still requires hard work and persistence.
"There are thousands of boards out there now, and they have had a huge impact on an applicant's ability to communicate quickly and directly with companies," says Rick Kean, executive vice president of Dunhill Staffing Systems Inc., in Hauppauge, N.Y. "On their own, however, they are not enough to ensure the right match between an employer and a prospective employee."
Nonetheless, they can be a great start. Just ask Tom Nora, president and chief executive officer of Littlefish Commerce Inc., an Internet company with headquarters in Berkeley, Calif., and Draper, Utah. Mr. Nora found his job through Monster.com, one of the most popular of the job-search boards (it claims to hold nearly 4 million resumes and postings of nearly 400,000 jobs).
Nora was in what he describes as "a unique situation," having taken off a year from work as a consultant to Internet firms to spend some time in his cabin in the wilds of Durango, Colo. "I knew it was going to be tough to get back out there into the real world," he says. "At the same time, I knew the Internet had changed all the rules over the preceding couple of years."
He wanted to land a job as the chief of a well-funded Internet company - but to remain able to spend time at his retreat.
Nora decided to post his resume in the section of Monster.com devoted to consultants, targeting opportunities in towns within a day's drive of Durango.
"I knew the headhunters checked those boards all the time, contacting people whose resumes they find interesting," he explains. "That puts you in the position of having someone courting you to accept a job rather than the other way around."
The process was fast. A job search he expected would take months concluded in about a week and a half. On top of landing just the job he was looking for, Nora is being featured in a new TV commercial for Monster.com, spotlighting him as having landed the highest position ever snagged through the online job board.
While it's unrealistic for most job seekers to expect the kind of results Nora achieved, there are concrete steps job hunters can take to boost their chances of being noticed among the millions of resumes now circulating through cyberspace.
* Update your resume frequently. Years ago, a change to a resume meant a trip to the typesetter and another round of mass mailings. Most online job boards let you update your resume as often as you want.
* Take a proactive approach. Posting your resume is just the first step. Comb through the board's job listings. When you find one that interests you, don't just forward your resume. Send a cover letter (by e-mail is fine) as well.
* Don't view job boards as a replacement for traditional job-search tools, such as personnel agencies, but as extra aids.
A professional job-search firm can save many applicants a great deal of time and frustration, says Mr. Kean. "You might go through 18 applications and interviews using a job board alone, while a professional firm might cut that number to three. We are trained in spotting the things that make a good fit between an employer and an applicant, and we work very closely with our clients," he says.
* Be aware of the down sides to posting your resume on a job board. The most serious one can be the issue of confidentiality. If you do not want your present employer to know that you are in the market for a new job, be careful.
Even responding to a job posting on a board by sending your resume directly to that company is not without risk. Many boards have "auto application" features that route resumes into the general database after they have been reviewed.
* Use the right board. Many target different classifications: regional, specialty, industry-specific. A good place to start is myjobsearch.com (www.myjobsearch.com).
This site not only classifies boards by type, it ranks them on the basis of their overall value, ease of use, the strength of their search engines, and user services.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society