1. Understand the Rules of the Game.
Dismiss from your mind all of your current perceptions about what constitutes a proper job search. The miracles of cyberspace have altered traditional rules, formats and protocols dramatically – and probably forever. Consider, for example, the speed of the process itself. A search that used to require weeks or even months can now be accomplished in a few days or in some cases – hours.
In today’s “wired” world resumes are seldom sent out in hard copy via postal (“snail mail”) service. The standard delivery mechanism for resumes is now e-mail and the new format is plain ASCII text. If you have relied on dazzling formats and fancy fonts to sell your resume to employers in the past, you are in for a rude awakening on the Net. Here “fluff” is disdained; substance rules.
What this means is that you may have to change your presentation style in order to appeal to prospective employers. You must become adept at expressing your skills and experience in new and unique ways in order to demonstrate to an employer that you possess the specialized knowedge and abilities required for a position. What is more, employers are quickly adopting new artificial intelligence technologies which enable them to sift through thousands or even millions of resumes quickly to identify potential candidates with desired skills and attributes. If the terminology in your resume does not match up rather closely with the stated requirements of the position, you are not likely to make it past this initial and decidedly “impersonal” screening.
More and more frequently, resumes are being stored on-line – in vast electronic databases where they can be actively viewed by employers and transmitted instantly in response to job postings.
The digital frontier has created both opportunities and challenges. To be sure, however, the opportunities far outweigh the challenges for those who are willing to learn the rules and engage the process.
2. Be Patient.
The brave new on-line world holds out the promise of unlimited real-time information and 24-hour global connectivity. It is not surprising then, that we draw the conclusion that thousands of hungry employers are waiting impatiently somewhere out there in cyberspace – six-figure offer in hand – ready to snap up our services on the basis of a hastily scrawled resume as soon as we get around to loading it onto the Web.
It is simply not reasonable to assume that what used to take months of back breaking effort has now somehow been reduced to a handful of keystrokes and a few mouse clicks. Like its conventional counterpart, an on-line job search will require time, effort and a lot of patience.
3. Develop & Stick to an On-line Strategy.
Unfortunately, if you’re like most people your first experience at a large on-line job board was likely to be a bit overwhelming and extremely unproductive. Information overload can quickly send the best laid plans spinning out of control. It is critical, therefore, that you develop and adhere to an on-line job search strategy.
Start by identifying available on-line resources. Spend some time exploring the various job boards. Come to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each of them and identify the ones which seem to offer the most opportunity for you. For a listing of General and Specialty Job Boards Click Here.
Once you have evaluated your on-line options, you will need to begin the process of registering with the job boards you intend to utilize. This generally involves filling out an on-line information form and posting an electronic version of your resume.
It is important that you set goals regarding your job search activities. For example, determine in advance how many hours you will dedicate to site searches each day or week. Set specific goals regarding the number of jobs you will apply for each week. Set aside a portion of your time to research specific companies that interest you. Once you have established these goals, do everything you can to meet them. The establishment of a solid routine early on will help you to maintain the discipline necessary to see your search through to a successful conclusion.
Organization will also play a key role in your success. A disorganized effort will be terribly inefficient and may result in embarrassing mistakes. Over the course of weeks or months, you will begin to lose track of jobs you have applied for and resumes you have sent out. You should maintain a meticulous record of your job search activities. This documentation will serve you well as your memory begins to fail you. Maintain an electronic copy of each version of your resume in a file on your computer. Labeling each resume with the name of the company or position applied for will ensure that you can always refer back to it if you are invited for an interview.
4. Pursue Your Job Search Like You Mean it.
Think back to a time when you didn’t have a job and felt truly desperate. Now – consider the lengths you were willing to go to in order to have a shot at a decent job – never mind a dream job. What would you have given for a single offer – and a modest one at that? If you are serious about finding your dream job, get ready to work – and work hard.
The good news is that a multitude of impressive resources truly are at your fingertips. The bad news is that they are also at the fingertips of millions of other Web surfers. In a very real sense you are competing on the basis of raw stamina and fortitude.
One of the primary keys to a successful on-line job search is perseverance. Successful candidates are those who are willing to put in that extra bit of effort to search one additional job board when everyone else has long since given up. Where others are content to blast out dozens of canned resumes without cover letters as they casually scan their favorite stock listings, serious job seekers take the extra time to personalize their cover letters and tailor their resumes to specific job postings. In the end, these seemingly insignifcant extras can create a significant and overwhelming competitive advantage.
5. Personalize Your Resumes and Cover Letters.
Sending out dozens of generic resumes without cover letters is not only unprofessional, it is counterproductive. If you are serious about capturing the attention of prospective employers, you must tailor your resume to the company and to the specific job posting. Making subtle changes in the wording of your resume will allow you to speak more clearly to specific job requirements. Likewise, a well crafted cover letter will demonstrate interest and convey additional information about your qualifications. By addressing the specific requirements of the positions for which you apply, you will maximize your chances of making it through the initial screening process and generating a job interview.
6. Take Full Advantage of the Webs Most Powerful and Important Feature...
One of the most powerful yet consistently underutilized features of the World Wide Web is its enormous capacity to diseminate information. Information can be empowering if it is properly utilized. It is extremely short-sighted to presume that because you receive a lackluster response – or no response at all – to your on-line applications that your efforts have been entirely fruitless. As long as you maintain careful records of your activities and pay close attention to the presentation and format of each resume, you can build on your experience. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Due to the speed of the on-line process, it is possible to make subtle or wholesale changes to your resume and cover letters on a weekly or even daily basis.
Keep track of the changes that you make to your resume over time. Those changes that generate a more favorable response should be incorporated into future applications; those that do not should be discarded. Experiment with different wording or formats until you find combinations that work.
7. Read the Directions.
There are few things more unproductive than to spend a lot of time and effort tailoring your resume and personalizing a cover letter, only to have your application rejected by an employer’s computer because you failed to include a required tracking number or follow other formatting directions.
Paying attention to details can often mean the difference between being considered for a lucrative position and not being considered. Keep in mind that if an employer provides specific instructions, there is generally a good reason. You should make every effort to follow those instructions if you want to maximize your response rate.
8. Don’t Ignore Traditional Search Vehicles.
Never assume that there is no longer a place for a well-polished 1-2 page paper resume. When all is said and done, many employers still prefer to see hard copy resumes. Always have an up-to-date, nicely formatted resume available during your job search.
Also, don’t underestimate the value of networking. The old adage that it’s not what you know but who you know has more truth to it than most of us would like to believe.
9. Think Carefully Before you Make a Move.
As you initiate a new job search you will be surprised at how quickly the process will take on a life of its own. What began as a simple exploration can quickly result in interview invitations and even tempting job offers. Before you let these visions of new opportunities carry you into never-never land, step back for a moment and consider your present situation. Evaluate your reasons for making a change. Do they seem reasonable? If so, does the offer you are about to accept fully address your issues and concerns? Have you sought the advice of a spouse, family, or close friends?
Don’t forget to include your present employer into your thinking. Is it possible that you could find a more suitable position within your own company without having to make a major career move? You should carefully consider the implications of lost benefits such as 401K vesting, retirement plans, pension funds, vacation accruals and unvested stock options before accepting a position with another company.
If you are certain that you have found your dream job – go for it! Life is too short to waste it on an unfulfilling career.
10. Play the Numbers.
Given the vast and ever-expanding snature of the World-Wide-Web, at any given moment there will be literally millions of job opportunities at your fingertips. Just thinking about it can be a bit overwhelming. Before prSoceeding any further, you need to recognize that, for better or for If in your past job searches you were offered one interview for every 10 resumes you sent out, plan on sending out five to ten times that many to generate an interview on the Internet. Understanding this concept up-front will help you to minimize your disappointment and avoid early burnout. If you are serious about finding a great job – play the numbers and stay the course. And remember – the great jobs really are out there!
The Web is not a panacea, but it is certainly the most comprehensive and immediately available source of raw job information available anywhere in the world. But to be effective in your on-line job search you need to make the Web work for you. This requires patience, perserverance and a solid strategy. You must come to understand the strengths and advantages of the Web and then manag worse, the on-line job search has become a giant numbers game.
Make sure that you use this resource intelligently. Use the Web to augment and enhance your efforts – don’t expect it to replace traditional search mechanisms. Take advantage of the Web’s powerful ability to generate information. Then use this information to fine tune your resume and improve the effectiveness of your search.