In my experience, when clients searching for a new job get stuck – as in, can’t find suitable jobs to apply for, or repeatedly being rejected from those they do apply for – one reason looms especially large: an unstrategic job-hunt. I also find that one of the least effective ways of looking for work (but still one of the most popular) is routinely employed by these clients at the expense of other more fruitful methods.
I’m talking about using the internet to search for vacancies and apply for jobs.
Let me be clear up front: I’m not saying don’t try to find a job with the internet. It has several good things going for it: 24-hour access to information (including information that may not be readily available elsewhere); wide geographical coverage; the potential for a high level of interactivity (such as facilities for searching current job databases); and an ever-increasing number of ways to connect with others who may be able to assist you in your search.
However, it also has significant limits: employers will post some, but by no means all of their vacancies online; searching it for appropriate jobs can be tricky (unless you happen to hit upon the right combination of words to put into the search engines, such as the exact job title); and in the increasing internet “noise” that’s out there, it’s entirely possible that your electronic communications to employers will get lost in the shuffle.
Consequently, it should only ever form part of your job-hunt strategy. As John Lees, one of the UK’s leading career-search authorities and author of Career Reboot, says: “You are more likely to land a job through a face-to-face conversation, even a random one, than spending all week at your PC”.
How, then, should you incorporate the internet into your job-hunt in a way that’s most effective? Here are some pointers as to what the internet is to the savvy job-hunter:
1: “The 10% solution”
According to Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the world’s best-selling career-search manual What Color Is Your Parachute?, statistics show that 10 out of 100 job-hunters who use the internet of their primary (or only) job-search method will find a new job as a direct result. Those aren’t great odds. Therefore, he proposes “it deserves 10% of every job-hunter’s time…but not more than that. Unless you like beating your head against a brick wall.” In other words, you must make a point of ensuring that 90% of your job-hunting time is spent doing something other than staring at your computer screen!
2: A place to do research
You can find out a fair amount about what’s available in your field simply by doing some online research. Try Googling fields of work, job-titles, companies, cities, geographical areas, salaries, and so on, in order to garner yourself some useful information about what’s available, and about what might make your own applications stand out from the crowd.
3: A place to network with others
One of the most effective ways to find new work is on the basis of personal contact with those who have the power to hire you. By using social media cleverly, you can build links with such people, or with others who can supply you with useful information, suggestions and referrals (or even put you in touch with the hirers and firers). As well as the well-known Facebook and Twitter, check out LinkedIn , which is a dedicated social media site for professionals of every stripe. It’s also worth finding out if your chosen specialist work area has a discussion board or online community associated with it.
4: A place to seek out career-search support
Many of the readers of my blog and newsletter found their way to my website (and my services) after searching for job-hunting support online. The internet can help you with finding a professional coach, give you access to thousands of articles on the subject of finding your ideal work, and even serve as a gateway to a range of skills-testing services. I believe avidly that happiness at work means taking account of your talents before your skills, but there is no doubt that for job-hunters who really have no clue as to which next step to take, a skills inventory can result in some helpful suggestions. Amongst the most respected are those based on the Holland Code personality typing system, since this pays particular attention to some of the major factors which we most often consider important when choosing a career (such as the types of people we want to work with, and the kind of environment we want to work in). A relatively inexpensive – and quite useful – test is the Career Key.
5: A place where you can promote yourself
Increasingly, individuals are posting their CVs online – sometimes hosted by another site, and sometimes on their own website. This can be a useful tactic, and gives you something to point a prospective employer towards (online resumes are also fairly easy to update). It’s quite easy to set up an inexpensive – or even free – website these days. Consider a blogging site, such as WordPress or Blogger to start with. For information on online CVs, see Jobstar Central. It’s worth bearing in mind that many employers will now routinely “Google” a prospective new employee. If there is any material about you online which you’d rather they didn’t see – such as photographs of you on Facebook in a compromising position – you might want to ensure that these are visible only to a select few viewers!
6: A place to search for vacancies
I’ve left this till last, because I want to re-emphasise that simply searching for vacancies on the internet is not a good tactic. Let me repeat: employers will post some, but by no means all of their vacancies online (and many employers won’t post any). If you’re relying on this as your “jobs digest”, you’re excluding yourself from a whole range of options. Nonetheless, it’s worth knowing where to look online for advertised vacancies. If you’re in the US, this selection of job boards is a good place to start. If in the UK, take a look at Monster, here.
TAKE ACTION: For more information on how to create success in your job search, download my free ebook The Top 10 Best & Worst Ways To Find A New Job