Technology, in the form of Internet job boards, is an excuse for many jobseekers to confine their search to sitting in front of a computer. However, overreliance on virtual contacts and not meeting with people face-to-face on a daily basis is a strategy that has been proven to lead to prolonged joblessness.
While the Internet has the potential to be a most useful tool for jobseekers, the biggest winners so far in the online job market are employers, who can count on getting hundreds of resumes from an Internet help-wanted ad – electronic resumes which can be easily scanned for key words that will screen out most of the applicants.
Year after year, our [outplacement] counselors hear jobseekers lament that they emailed dozens of resumes in response to online job postings that they “would be perfect for,” only to hear nothing back from employers. With such an impersonal approach, prolonged unemployment is inevitable.
The latest government data show that nearly 1.4 million Americans have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. That’s almost one out of every five unemployed workers. By contrast, in 1991 – during the last recession – only one in eight unemployed workers were out for such an extended period.
We have seen record use of the Internet for job searching. A recent study from comScore Networks found visitors to sites under the category ‘Career Services & Development’ rose 26 percent from the previous month to 49.8 million visitors in January 2006. Visitors to specific ‘Job Search’ sites grew 42 percent, with CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com experiencing fifty-percent gains at the beginning of the year.
For all its benefits, the Internet has also made it much easier to sit at the computer all day, combing online job boards and sending resumes via email, forsaking the most vital part of a well-executed job hunt: in-person contacts.
The interview is where jobs are won. So, when employers are not coming to you, which they very rarely do, it is critical that you go to them.
Online Techniques That Work
Jobseekers must learn how to use the Internet as the tool it can be, rather than just relying on it as a conduit for electronic applications and communications. Here are some of the most effective ways to use the Internet in your job search.
Visit company sites to get names of key people. Many employers post job openings on their websites, but resumes emailed by jobseekers are probably directed to the human resources department, the last place you want your resume to go. By exploring a company’s website, you will most likely find the name and phone number or email address for the executive who will ultimately make a hiring decision. The person you want to contact for a position will have a title such as director of marketing or vice president of sales.
Use the Internet to keep up with employer news. Perhaps you have identified some companies where you would like to find a position.’Visit the companies’ websites to find press releases, which may indicate the areas of the company that are expanding. You may discover that a company is opening a new facility in your town or expanding its customer service force.
Search job sites, but follow up with a call. Blindly sending resumes to online job ads will rarely result in an interview. Instead, use the ad as a springboard. Call the company directly and ask to speak to the head of the department that is most likely filling the position. Ask about what qualities and/or special skills they are seeking and then tailor your resume and cover letter based on that. The person you spoke to will probably remember your call when he or she receives your information, which will set you apart from those who just email a resume.
Visit trade association websites. These groups often have the best overall view of hiring needs and trends among their members. National organizations may post contact information for local groups in your city or state. The sites might also report industry news, such as expansion plans or which job categories are most in need of workers.
Take advantage of free local news. Many cities’ newspapers now have free editions online. Read them – not for the classified ads, but for the news stories. Staying up to date on local business news is an effective way to gather job leads. If you do not have access to the Internet at home, many libraries now provide computers and Internet access to the public.
The more people who know you are looking for work, the faster you will find a job. Email is now the fastest, most efficient way to publicize your joblessness. Send an email to everyone on your address list, letting them know that you are unemployed, providing some brief information about the type of position you are seeking and your qualifications. ‘Ask the reader to forward the information to their list of email contacts, who will then forward the message to their address list. In a matter of days, the number of people who know you are job searching will have grown exponentially and the odds of finding someone who can help will have increased significantly.