Take it from web developer Paul Zabin - you've got to do more than surf the Internet to find work. It was keeping in touch with a former boss that led to his latest job. Previously, he was crafting code for software creator Cobalt when the company was acquired by Sun Microsystems. Just as he was becoming frustrated with the bureaucracy of the larger organization, he received an e-mail from his ex-boss. She was looking for a web developer for a start up. The position would boost his pay and cut his commute by 40 minutes.
"I told her I was interested in finding out more about it and lined up an interview with three people she worked with. Two days after the interview they made me an offer over the phone," Zabin recalls.
His story illustrates the value of technology in today's job search - e-mail allowed easy communication with his former boss, but was just a prelude to landing the all-important job interview.
The Illusion of Looking
"Do not let technology cloud the ultimate goal of getting interviews," counsels James Challenger, president of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, an outplacement firm.
"Jobseekers must be careful not to let the technology lull them into a false sense of security - into thinking that you are doing all you can do to get a job," Challenger cautions. "While you now may have access to more job openings, so do thousands of other people. Now you can send your resume with a simple keystroke, but so can countless numbers of your competitors.
"No matter how distinctive you think your resume is, the pool of applicants that have access to job listings is so extensive that the chances of your resume ever being read are now remote at best."
Strategic use of technology, as part of an overall job search plan, can be effective. Zabin and his business associates use the Internet to research prospective employers, locate a recruiter, and even selectively post a resume.
Searching without Surfing
Depending upon your field, technology need not be a cornerstone of your job search.
Mark Towns, regional manager of OfficeTeam in Fresno, a company specializing in placing administrative personnel, says Internet contact is important but not essential.
"It always helps to have access (to the Internet), but you can sign up with us in other ways," he explains. "About 90 percent first register at our website (officeteam.com) before coming in. Then applicants can go to our job board and find what jobs are posted. We talk to others on the telephone and they come in, manually fill out an application and use one of our computers."
He says although the Internet is important for completing applications, it doesn't replace the personal interview or the candidate's skills assessment. But all that could change in the coming years.
"Who knows? We may be able to interview online in the future," he speculates. "The Internet has made our job easier and easier for candidates as well."
Shelby Penman, with Contractors Labor Pool in Sacramento, says bigger companies require you go through their websites to even send a resume, whereas smaller companies don't.
"The building industry doesn't require online access and jobseekers in the trades still walk onto a job site," she says. "Answering ads in the newspapers still works too."
For about $1.50, the price of a Sunday newspaper, a smorgasbord of classified jobs is yours. It's up to the enterprising jobseeker to make the calls and the follow-ups.
An example of this non-computerized type of jobseeking can be found in the hospitality industry.
"The Internet is helpful but it is usually for those looking for managerial or higher-level jobs," explains Mike Karimi, general manager of the 114-room Ramada Inn in Modesto. "But the majority of applicants for front desk, housekeeping, and maintenance jobs don't own a computer. They hear about an opening by walking in, through friends telling friends and local newspaper ads."
He feels this non-cyber based method is true of most hotels in the area.
Francesca Repace, administrative assistant at Cal Ram Construction Company (calram.com) in West Sacramento says Internet access is an exception rather the rule in the firm's hiring procedure.
"Ninety percent of job applicants are referred to us by someone or they just walk onto a job site," she reports. "They don't ever use the Internet to get job leads or go to our website to get a job."
Usually, she says, jobseekers come into the office to fill out an application. Then the person who does the hiring will call when work becomes available.
"Although we get a few from the Internet, most of the job applicants come in through word of mouth," reports Terrance Risse, general superintendent in charge of hiring at Risse Mechanical in Sacramento. "If we are looking to fill a real technical position, we go to plumbjobs.com. It all depends on the type of position. For specialty type projects that need people with a four-year degree we shop around. But I don't think it [the Internet] is the only way."
The company, specializing in commercial to light industrial plumbing, heating and air conditioning, still uses newspaper ads to recruit. And, he says there are at least two or three people a day coming in looking for work whereas eight months ago the company was struggling to find one person.
Risse says there is no need for jobseekers to think they have to dash out and buy a computer with Internet access to land a job.
The Power of Persistence
"I look for people who are persistent," Risse explains. "They are the ones who come into the office week after week, then they call and leave messages - that tells me that they have initiative and I will work hard to find a place for them."
That's the kind of follow through Challenger would like to see all jobseekers employ.
Challenger stresses making a list of everyone you know who is working, including family, friends, business associates or anyone you've remained friendly with from a previous job. Then contact each one to see if they have any leads.
He also favors using the old standby, the telephone. "Phone calls are the key to getting the face-to-face interviews you must have in conducting a successful job search," Challenger advises.
The problem is most callers fail to ask for the department manager, and thereby waste the effort. "Before calling, be sure you know the name of the manager of the department that may be hiring," Challenger adds. "Being direct illustrates your tenacity and aggressiveness, traits that may reflect the kind of work you would do if hired."
Qualities that are difficult to demonstrate if your job search is limited to cyberspace.
To contact companies mentioned in this article:
Cal Ram Construction Co - 916-372-1610, calram.com
Risse Mechanical - 916-991-3015, rissemechanical.com
Ramada Inn Modesto - 209-5321-9000
Office Team in Fresno - 1-559-439-6004
Contractor's Labor Pool - 916-567-1700
Other websites to assist in your job search include: