There's a wealth of career information on the Internet, and these resources are just a mouse-click away for any job seeker.
But as comprehensive as sites like CareerBuilder.com are, there are other resources on the Internet you can use to land a new job. Here are a few tips and tricks to help maximize your job search on the Web.
1. Career assessment tests
Career assessment tests can be engaging and fun, and the results can give you important insight into your working style to help you find the best fit.
For example, CareerPath.com has a number of helpful career tests, including a color test that gauges your reaction to colors and suggests potential career paths based on the result. Take note of any keywords that appear in your test results and use them as search terms.
2. Network, network, network
Most career experts encourage job seekers to expand their networks. You can connect with other professionals via Web sites like BrightFuse and LinkedIn, and even a personal contact on Facebook can provide an important connection to an opportunity.
Alumni groups with an online presence can also be a great place to network, since the focus of those groups is their eagerness to connect with fellow graduates.
If you're not sure where to start, sign on to a networking site. Search for current or former co-workers and managers and invite them to join your network. Engage your network by sending messages and giving other users recommendations or kudos for the positive experience you had with them.
3. Research your prospective employer
If you're competing against other candidates with equally impressive skills, education and experience, you really need to break ahead of the pack. One way to do that is to know your prospective employer.
Start with the company's Web site; look in the "About Us," "Media" or "Press Room" sections. To be fully informed, you'll want to check out other sites with detailed information.
"Use online news sites to understand which companies are doing well or expanding," suggests Patrick Madsen, the director of professional career services at The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. "Reading through articles and generally knowing where the world is going can open potential new doors and windows."
Madsen also suggests that job seekers research information sites like Hoover's, Vault.com or Careerbeam to learn about companies.
4. Person to person
Do an Internet search on yourself. A recent CareerBuilder.com survey found that one in four hiring managers are researching candidates online. If there's any information out there that could hurt your chances of being hired, you need to be aware of it.
Once you've landed an interview, you can also research the person you'll be talking to. Madsen recommends doing a simple Google search on the interviewer's name, as well as checking Facebook or LinkedIn to see if he has a profile there. The interviewer may also be featured on the company's Web site.
Mark Moran, founder and CEO of Dulcinea Media in New York City, says this step is vitally important. "I've interviewed perhaps 500 people in the last five years, and I can tell you most of them failed to get the job because they did not use the Internet to research me, the company or our industry."
5. Brave the cold
It's ideal to use sites like CareerBuilder.com to reply to job postings from employers actively seeking candidates in your field. But you can also use the Internet to do a "cold" search on companies that are in your field.
Career expert Chris Russell, the founder of the Secrets of the Job Hunt blog, recalls his initial job search. He researched companies in his area (none of which were actively hiring) and compiled a list of 80. From there, he identified a contact at each company. Russell launched his own "direct mail" campaign and soon had seven interviews. One of those companies hired him.
The twist to the story? Russell's job search was in the pre-Internet days of 1993. "The Internet would have made my campaign a much easier one if I had access to it back then. Today, there is so much information on the World Wide Web it can be daunting," he admits. "But if you know where to search, you can end your job hunt that much faster."
6. Back to basics
Some important basic tips to remember when using the Internet to land your new job:
- Make sure your e-mail address is professional; a handle like "partyguy2002" will give employers a negative perception of you before you've even started.
- Don't rely on spell check alone to capture any errors in e-mails, cover letters and résumés. The difference between the word "shift" and a common curse word is only one letter.
- Be sure to have text-only versions of any documents, so they can be easily sent or submitted to employers.
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