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The New Job Hunt: Searches Begin Online

Visalia Direct: Virtual Valley
April 2010 Issue
March 1, 2010

The New Job Hunt: Searches Begin Online

My university students are predominantly juniors and seniors. The seniors are entering the job market anxiously, while the juniors are hoping to locate summer jobs and internships to build their résumés.

For several years I have taught a professional writing class that includes a career development unit. Students prepare résumés and cover letters, usually for real jobs or internships they are pursuing. The course has changed dramatically over the last four years; the Internet is now the primary connection to employers.

Let’s first consider how we locate career opportunities.

The days of circling openings in the “Help Wanted” section of newspaper classified ads are history. Last year when I asked students to bring newspapers to class several asked where they could buy a paper. The campus bookstore carries only the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, not the local paper. If you live on campus, as many students do, finding the local paper means a trip to the closest grocery store.

Where did the ads go? The employment ads went online.

Fifteen years ago, as online job searches began to overtake newspaper ad searches, large employers started posting job openings to sites like HotJobs or Monster. Newspaper publishers, realizing a large source of income was shifting media, created CareerBuilder, a competing online job site.

Today, CareerBuilder claims 23 million unique monthly visitors and nearly a third of all online job advertisements.

I tell my students if you are serious about looking for work, you must use CareerBuilder. Sometimes, you don’t even realize you are using CareerBuilder, since many local newspapers use CareerBuilder for their online “Help Wanted” advertisements. To promote CareerBuilder, when an employer buys a traditional ad in a local newspaper, they receive an ad listing on CareerBuilder for no extra charge.

My students often assume you can post a résumé to CareerBuilder or Monster and employers will find you. That’s generally not the case. The online job search might be more convenient, but it is not easier.

Though employers can search for potential employees on CareerBuilder or Monster, most do not. You must search these sites every few days and respond to any appealing advertisements. If you have a résumé on CareerBuilder or Monster, you can click “Apply Now” and the employer receives a copy of your career documents via e-mail.

Both CareerBuilder and Monster also allow you to create “Saved Search” criteria. For example, a student majoring in animal science can have Monster e-mail her a notification anytime employers post an opening for a veterinary technician. This means the student only has to read her e-mail to know if a potential job has appeared online.

One of my students is receiving five or six job announcements via e-mail every day. He is studying environmental science and electrical engineering, two promising fields. Before registering with online job sites, he told me there were no jobs in engineering. He has now had two interviews.

If you would rather not post a résumé online, especially if you have a current employer, then you can use a specialized search engine. My students use Indeed in class because it is simple, like a Google that finds only job openings.

Indeed only locates openings. You have to contact the employer, either via e-mail or the employer’s Web site, to apply for the job. Though this is more work than Monster or CareerBuilder, the benefit is that you control if a company knows you are looking for work. Indeed does not store résumés or other personal information.

There are also specialized careers sites. Some of these are like CareerBuilder, with résumé uploads and personal profiles, while others are only search engines like Indeed. You can locate most of these with the help of Google or Bing.

The last, and often best, way to locate job openings is to visit the Web sites of companies you admire. Most large firms and many smaller companies list current openings on their corporate Web sites. Non-profit organizations are also posting openings to their sites.

Once you have located an opening, there are some guidelines for modern career documents.

Most employers seem to want Word files; surprisingly, some do not accept Adobe Acrobat (PDF) documents. I happen to prefer PDF files because you can share documents that appear the same on every computer, but you have to send what an employer wants.

Because résumés and cover letters are e-mailed to employers, you want to make sure the employer can open and read your career documents.

Keep your résumé simple, in terms of design. It might be read on screen or printed out for managers to read. You never know if it will be printed in color or not, so avoid relying on color in your résumé design.

Also, you should not use fancy fonts that an employer might not have on a computer. I advise students to use Times New Roman, Arial, and other common typefaces. You might think headings in ITC Garamond look great, but the headings might then appear as something quite unexpected on another computer.

There is an on-going debate about how long a résumé should be. I know some employers want two-page documents for management posts and single-page résumés for entry-level positions. This seems to be a safe guideline to follow.

The job hunt is more convenient in the Virtual Valley, but it still requires a lot of work.


Indeed.com: Fantastic free site, with no registration required to search job listings. This is not a résumé posting site. Indeed gathers job postings from dozens of sources into a single search engine. The New York Times Company is an investor in Indeed.
CareerBuilder.com: This is the king of “post your résumé” services. Jointly owned by Microsoft and several newspaper publishers, CareerBuilder serves as the online “Help Wanted” section for many regional newspapers.
Monster.com: Another site for posting résumés, Monster offers a number of fee-based services for job seekers. Services include résumé and cover letter preparation. In February, Monster agreed to buy the HotJobs brand from Yahoo for $225 million. HotJobs had experienced a decline in use since 2004.
SimplyHired.com: A relatively new service, SimplyHired is a search engine similar to Indeed. The site is expanding rapidly and features quick links to information such as average salaries for specific careers.

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