Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Internet: Friend AND Foe of Job Seekers

The Internet has made major changes to job seeking during the last decade. Some of these changes are good, and some of them bad. Some uses of the Internet for job seeking, whether just changing jobs or changing careers, are effective. Some are disappointingly ineffective. Some are effective uses of your time and energy. Some are distractions at best, and harmful to successful completion of your job search at worst.

If you haven't read my previous post, which explains that mitigating risk is the primary driver in the hiring process, you might want to do so as it provides a foundation for understanding why much of what is available via the Internet is ineffective.

First, let's deal with what doesn't work well.

1. Internet sites that promise to match job seekers with employers don't work well. In fact, for people who rely on these sites as their only strategy to find a job, about 5 people in 100 actually find a job. If you're in IT, finance, or medical fields, the success rate is higher, around 10%. If you're in any other field, the success rate is generally less than 1 in 100. (Source: 2005 edition of What Color is Your Parachute)
  • These sites do list real jobs, and that information is valuable in itself. But these sites also receive an incredible number of resumes and responses. While the logic behind these sites seems to have so much promise, they often simply fail to make the promised matches.
  • Nearly everyone I have worked with who has posted to these sites hears from people wanting to talk to them about jobs not related to the positions they apply for -- what I call positions with low barriers to entry. These are generally sales positions of one type or another where the company will provide you training while you allow your trainer to work all of your friends and family to sell them your product. These operations use the Internet sites as an ongoing source of lead generation disguised as jobs.
  • Only 15-25% of all open positions are ever advertised anywhere. If you rely on positions listed on the internet, you are restricting yourself to only a small portion of these positions, and ignoring most of the available postions!
These sites are good places for research. They provide information on positions that are being listed and companies that are hiring. They also have abundant information on writing resumes and other job searching skills. Use them primarily as research sites.

2. Electronic submission of resumes has become almost standard operating procedure for employers of any size, but also is very inefficient.
  • This practice started with the promise that software could help scan resumes and pick out the most promising candidates for human review. The fact is, the software doesn't work very well, especially if you don't very carefully tailor your resume for what the software is looking for.
  • Further, the databases that handle the resumes continue to get larger and larger as the number of resumes build. It's estimated that there are now millions, maybe hundreds of millions, of resumes in these databases. Finding anything meaningful is suspect.
  • Additionally, it is intimidating for humans on the hiring end to sift through all the data these systems spit out, so if other options for finding people to fill the positions appear, they take them.
You may have to submit your resume to a company using an online system, but if so follow up by sending a physical resume by mail and by email -- or even better, have a contact inside the company hand it to the hiring manager (not HR).

Now let's cover what is good about using the Internet for job searching.

1. The Internet is an amazing tool for doing research on companies and positions.
  • Most organizations of any size provide information on open positions within their organization on their web sites. You can find out a lot about what types of needs a company has just by studying their web site.
  • You can often find out who the decision makers who will decide who gets interviews and utimately the job by doing some Internet research. Many job postings will provide the title of the person the position will report to, or the name of the organization within the company. You can then do a Google search and often find the name and even the contact information you need to present yourself to the decision maker. This is extremely valuable information. (If this doesn't work for a given situation, go to your local library and enlist the help of a librarian -- they have access to subscription sources that may provide the information. Alternatively, put out the word in your network that you need a contact inside that company.)
  • You can learn a lot about the company and whether that is an organization you would fit into and like to work for. Start with a Google search, and don't forget to do a Technorati search -- no telling what is out there on blogs of people who work for that company.
2. The Internet is a valuable source of advice and tips and techniques for job seekers and those interested in making career changes.
  • Monster, Career Builder, and other matching sites all have abundant and helpful information of this type.
  • Many universities and state and federal sites are good sources of employment information, including interest and career testing.
  • Many career coaches and career counselors post good information on career selection and career change.
The Bottom Line
  • Use the Internet for research on positions, companies, to get contact information, and to get career advice, tips, etc.
  • Minimize reliance on Internet sites for finding you a job. One professional recruiter suggests that you spend no more than 5% of your time and energy on the Internet for your job search.


Post a Comment

<< Home