Sharpen Your Aim When Job Hunting Online

By Sarah E. Needleman

As Internet job boards continue to evolve, it can pay to stay current on the latest search tools and tactics. By learning how to use them, job hunters may be able to boost their chances of securing interviews.

Here are ways to make an online job-search effort more effective:

Find a hook. When an ad lists a hiring contact, research the person's background to get fodder for making a special connection, says Peter Weddle, chief executive officer of Weddle's, a Stamford, Conn., publisher of job-board guides.

You may have graduated from the same college or university or belong to the same professional association. Or, see if he or she has been cited in a news article so you can mention it, he suggests. "Then you can reach out to that person on a more personal basis, rather than as a cold applicant," he says.

Donnetta Walker, 31, emailed a recruiter who was cited in a job ad she saw online in September. She found his email address through Google and wrote about how they were connected on the networking site LinkedIn.com, among other topics, she says. They exchanged emails, and the recruiter requested her resume. Sending it, she mentioned the ad, which sought a project manager at a telecommunications-software provider near her Atlanta home. A few days later the recruiter arranged an interview for her, and she's waiting to hear back, she says. She credits the tactic for getting her foot in the door. Whether or not she gets hired, she says, "I would do it again."

Other sites useful for uncovering connections include Ryze.com, ZoomInfo.com and Google, says Mr. Weddle.

Bear in mind that you might not always be successful. "We all have limited degrees of separation," he says.

Search your niche. Save time by focusing on sites that list openings exclusively in your area of interest, says Linda Matias, a career coach in Melville, N.Y. For example, if you work in the wine industry, check out WineJobs.com, which lists only jobs at wineries, vintners, distributors, wholesalers, bottlers and other related employers. Have your sights set on high pay? Search boards that advertise only jobs paying a minimum salary of $100,000 such as 6FigureJobs.com. [For a list of niche job boards in a range of career fields and industries, read this article .]

Consider posting your resume at these sites in addition to scanning the ads, suggests Ms. Matias. Because they typically attract only resumes from professionals in a given specialty, they may be a first stop in a candidate search for hiring managers recruiting in their niche, she says.

Provide your info. Many employers' career pages invite visitors to fill out candidate profiles, describing their background, jobs of interest, salary requirements and other preferences. In most cases, if a position opens up that matches your profile, you'll receive an email notifying you, says Tod Loofbourrow, founder and chief executive officer of Authoria Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based provider of recruiting software and other talent-management technology. Or, the hiring manager might contact you directly, he says. Authoria's system allows job hunters to sign up anonymously. If you choose this option, avoid using an email address that gives away your name.



Regis Corp., an operator of more than 11,000 hair salons, added a candidate-profile system to its Web site in April. Karen Woodson, director of talent management for Minneapolis-based company, says about 40 employees have been hired through it.

Sign up for job alerts and RSS feeds. On most job boards, you can register to receive emails alerting you to new postings that meet your criteria, such as location or keyword, says Martin Yate, author of "Knock 'em Dead 2007 The Ultimate Job Search Guide" (Adams Media, 2007). Most also allow you to select their frequency, such as daily or weekly. "It's like having a headhunter keeping an eye out for you," says Mr. Yate.

Email alerts from niche job sites are likely to be even more narrowly tailored to your expertise.

RSS feeds are another alternative. RSS is short for really simple syndication, which is an automated electronic information-sharing system that allows you to receive content in an easy-to-read format. You can sign up for RSS feeds for postings from many job boards, including Monster, CareerBuilder, and this site, CareerJournal.com. If you have a customized homepage on Yahoo.com, Google.com or MSN.com, it typically takes a few steps to arrange. Or, consider downloading news-aggregator or reader software to your PC. New job postings that match the criteria you choose will be delivered to you automatically, typically the same or next day, says Mr. Yate.

Compared to job alerts, RSS feeds typically offer fewer options for selecting the kind of ads you want, he says. For instance, they may not be filtered by keyword, so the list may include jobs you aren't interested in.

Use filters. Many job boards offer this tool to help users refine their search results more quickly. Filters are common search categories with subcategories showing the number of job postings in each one. Using them may save you the step of selecting search categories one at a time without knowing their likelihood of bearing fruit.

On most job boards, filters are located on the left of the results page. "[They give] you more of a peek behind the curtain," says Kyle Crafton, publisher of New York-based MediaBistro.com, a career site for media professionals. The site filters for industry, location and duration. "For a niche job board that has a lot of sub-niches, the industry filter is very helpful for showing all the different kinds of jobs we have," he says.

Other job sites offer filters with even narrower categories. For example, at SimplyHired.com, you can filter for dog-friendly, gay-friendly, eco-friendly and socially responsible employers, among others. Indeed.com filters show the number of job ads posted by employers and recruiting firms, in addition to other categories.

-- Ms. Needleman is associate editor at CareerJournal.com.

Email your comments to sarah.needleman@wsj.com .

Article from CareerJournal Online November 2006

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