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Getting Ready: Get Organized and Develop a Plan of Action

Getting Ready: Get Organized and Develop a Plan of Action

In This Chapter

  • How the online job hunt works

  • Devising a plan of attack based on how fast you need a job

  • Using the Web as a powerful career research tool—not just the job posting boards

  • Using tracking sheets and job-hunt organizers to manage your research findings and résumé-sending actions

  • Getting ready to develop killer career documents

Hopefully by now, you've tapped into the career planning tools discussed in Chapter 1, and you're aware of some of the dangers and pitfalls of the online job hunt that I warned you about in Chapter 2. So, with that part behind you, it's now time to develop your plan of attack. The first step in coming up with an action plan to find your dream job is to understand how the online job search works, and which technique works best for your unique set of circumstances.

Believe me, there's more to the job hunt than searching the job banks and emailing your résumé. It takes a step-by-step process to be most effective, so be prepared to spend a little time looking for your dream job. After all, this is your job we're talking about, so before you start pounding the cyber pavement, figure out how you're going to approach the hunt and what tools you'll bring along.

How the Online Job Hunt Works

Don't start out thinking that the Web has simplified the job-hunting process to the point where all you have to do is have a killer résumé and nice blue suit and voilà!, there's your dream job. Although many job seekers have been wildly successful in finding a job at a job bank or by posting their résumé in a database, if you approach the Web as a hugely powerful research tool to help you find your dream job, you're definitely poised for success.

In fact, there's a chance that you might not find your dream job online at all. But using the Web as a research tool, you'll find the contacts, company information, and techniques to lead you to your dream job.

Here's a general overview of how any kind of job hunter can use the Web for locating a new job or for testing the waters when it comes time to go in for the kill. I'll explore each of these topics throughout the book, but just so you know what your options are, here's the skinny on how you can use the Web in your job search.

  • Log on to job posting sites—There are literally thousands of Web sites that post millions of job openings. You're probably already familiar with some of the big names such as Monster.com or CareerPath.com. Problem is, with so many job sites, how do you know which one to use? Relax, you don't have to answer that question until you've figured out a few other things first, such as what kind of job you're looking for, and how and what your strategy is for finding said job.

    Job-posting sites can be further broken down into regional or industry-specific (niche) sites. These might be the better choice for you if you have objectives in mind, such as finding a new job in a new town (or staying put) or when you want to look for a job in your area of expertise. Part 4 of this book, "Ready, Set...Hunt! The Online Job Site Landscape," details the various kinds of job sites and how to use the one that's right for you.

  • Some critics say online job sites are no better than classified ads, minus the ink-stained fingers. Others will shout to the heavens that these mega job sites are the wave of the future and anyone who skips this part of the online job search is missing the boat. Whatever the case might be, logging on to job-posting sites is just one of the many ways to use the Internet in your job search.

  • Deposit your résumé in a database—Again, there are literally thousands of résumé posting sites, and many of the sites where you can view job openings also allow you to post your résumé for employers or recruiters to view. Different résumé databases have different policies on access and privacy, and I'll get into the nitty-gritty of that later, but you might find that instead of going out to look for jobs, you want one to find you. But before you make a deposit, be sure you're putting the best résumé out there. Part 2, "Get a Charge out of Job Hunting: The Electronic Résumé and Cover Letter," can help you with your résumé and cover letter. And be sure you don't get bitten by the privacy bug, so read through Part 2, which deals with electronic résumés, as well as issues regarding privacy, access, and distribution of your résumé.

  • Put a virtual job agent to work for you—Job agents, or robots, scour the Web for jobs you're interested in and send matches to your email inbox. This is a particularly convenient tool if you don't want to visit job-posting sites over and over again looking for the right match. You'll learn more about job agents in Part 4.

No Penalty for Early Withdrawal

Before you deposit your résumé in a résumé bank (database), read the rules and regulations to find out whether you can withdraw your résumé after you've landed a job. Also, find out how long you can keep it there, and whether you can make changes or updates as you see fit.

  • Locate company Web site job postings—Many companies use the Web as a recruitment tool by posting available positions on their home pages. Often, the jobs listed at a company site are the same postings you'll find in a job bank, but sometimes the openings can be found only at the company Web site. Once again, depending on your job-hunting technique, you might find that going straight to the source is the best way to find your dream job at your dream company.

    You'll also need to locate company Web sites to do your research, so whether you've got a lead or are looking for an opportunity, you have to know how to get to the source. Chapter 18, "Go Straight to the Source," shows you the way.

Job Postings, Delivered to Your Inbox

Robot technology is a software application that enables you to complete a preferences and profile form, telling the robot (job scout) what types of postings you'd like to receive based on position title, salary range, geographic region, and other requirements. The scout then visits job-posting sites and finds matches based on your input, and delivers them to your email inbox.

  • Research target companies—After you've found a job posting you want to respond to, you'd be a fool to fire off your résumé before doing your homework first. NO JOB SEEKER SHOULD EVER APPLY FOR A JOB WITHOUT KNOWING AT LEAST BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE COMPANY FIRST! No exceptions, no way.

    If you ask any employer or recruiter what they dislike most about online recruiting is the huge number of résumés from unqualified or uninterested applicants. I'm telling you now, and I'll tell you many times throughout this book, that with the ease of access to company information made possible through the Web, you're shooting yourself in the foot by not equipping yourself with this knowledge. You're wasting your time and the employer's time, and that goes directly against what the Web is supposed to do—help us save time!

Be Your Own James Bond

There are plenty of Web sites that provide detailed information you simply won't find at company Web sites. Hoover's (www.hoovers.com) and Vault.com (www.vault.com) can help you do in-depth research on some of the biggest companies—both U.S. and international.

  • Participate in newsgroups—Plenty of job seekers post their résumés in job-related newsgroups for the world to see. Others participate in newsgroups to get insider job leads or to stay up-to-date with industry trends and events. You also can develop networking contacts at newsgroups, so add that Internet feature to your job-search toolbox.

  • Establish or develop networking contacts—Your networking contact might be a newsgroup participant who knows a lot about your target company (maybe they work there or know someone who does). Or, it could be your sorority sister who is now the manager at a company you might be interested in working for. It could be your cousin's neighbor who works at your target company's major competitor. My point? If you really want to increase your success in finding your dream job, networking is one of the most effective (but most often overlooked) tools in your job-hunting arsenal. Chapter 11, "It's Who You Know," is devoted entirely to networking, and every job seeker should read about the powerful advantages you'll gain if you learn to network effectively.

    Although networking via email or newsgroups is a good way to establish contact or stay in touch with familiar members of your network community, nothing beats a conversation with a real human being. If the thought of having to talk to a human being gives you the willies, either get over it, or accept the fact that you are at a disadvantage in the online job search. If it helps, just remind yourself that your competitors probably aren't afraid of networking.

  • Connect with third-party recruiters and headhunters—Many employers either have in-house recruiters or retain the services of a third-party recruiter to bring in new blood. Especially in executive searches or to fill positions in the high-tech field, recruiters are going to find you before you go out looking for them. For the rest of us, posting a résumé in a database is likely to lead to some type of interaction with recruiters or headhunters, so consider this in your options when devising your plan of attack. Chapter 17, "Headhunters and Third-Party Recruiters," discusses in detail the role of the recruiter and headhunter, so be sure to read that chapter before you start your search.

  • Stay up-to-date with industry trends and news—One of the most powerful and effective tools in your job-hunting arsenal is information. That's right. When you're locating a target company or preparing your résumé and cover letter, demonstrating a strong knowledge of the industry or field you're searching in indicates to employers that you're interested in not only your job, but how industry trends and events can affect a company's bottom line. Also, knowing what's going on in your industry is like keeping your ear to the ground in terms of opportunities and threats.

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