Maybe you're just out of college, looking for your first full-time job. Maybe you're looking to change careers after years in the same job. Maybe you're just curious about what's out there. No matter. There's only one place to start your search - on the Web.
The Internet Business Network, a research firm based in Mill Valley, California, estimates that the Web is home to 100,000 job-related sites and 2.5 million ré sumé s. But who needs statistics? Consider instead the stories of Jeff Laster and Megan Weeks.
Last summer, Laster, now 36, was finishing his graduate work at Virginia Tech. It was time to look for a job - and Laster looked to the Web. He wrote a ré sumé and posted it on his personal home page. Then he posted it on four of the most popular job boards. He also made a list of companies that he was interested in and visited their sites.
One of those companies was Texas Instruments. TI's Web site lists openings at all of its major locations. It also includes a short diagnostic test, called "Fit Check," to help job seekers figure out whether their "wants and needs" mesh with those of TI.
Within a few days, Laster had received replies from a dozen companies. Within three months, he had interviewed with seven of those companies and had landed six job offers. Ultimately he signed on with TI.
"The information on the TI Web site was important," Laster says. "It was a good reality check on my personal contacts."
Weeks, 28, was working as vice president of consumer marketing for an Internet startup that crashed. She started looking for her next career adventure and turned to PlanetAll, a free Web service that creates links between you and your friends, as well as to all the people in their circle.
A friend on PlanetAll told Weeks about an interactive-ad agency. She asked if he knew anyone there. He gave her a name, and she went to his PlanetAll address book, clicked on the name, and emailed his friend. That friend emailed her back, saying, "It's great that you come recommended." Says Weeks: "We did some emails, which turned into phone calls, which turned into spending several days with the company. A few weeks later, I got an offer."
This edition of @Work is a guide to using the Web to find a job. It offers tips for creating a great electronic ré sumé . It evaluates the most popular job sites. And it explains how to figure out which job is right for you. Forget "pounding the pavement." It's time to move your job search into cyberspace.
12 tips for rewriting your ré sumé
Writing a ré sumé is a task that every job seeker loves to hate. Writing a Web ré sumé is even tougher. Here's how to create a document that will put everyone on the same Web page.
What's in Your Ré sumé ?
1. Think nouns, not verbs. Career counselors used to advise job seekers to pepper their ré sumé s with action verbs that would impress HR staffers who scan ré sumé s with their eyeballs. Web ré sumé s also get scanned - by digital eyeballs. Companies then use software that combs through ré sumé s for words that signal job titles, technical skills, and levels of education or experience. And most of those words are nouns.
"Verbs used to be the important thing," says Kate Wendleton, a career counselor associated with CareerMosaic, a leading job site. "Now employers search for nouns - what products you developed, which software programs you can use."
2. The more buzzwords, the better. Career counselors also used to advise clients to avoid buzzwords in their ré sumé s. Today buzzwords are all the buzz. "Applicant-tracking systems" rank ré sumé s by the number of keywords in them. If a company is looking for an auditor with experience in Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Excel, and Peachtree First Accounting, it can rank ré sumé s according to which ones include all three programs, which have two of them, and so on. "Turn your experience into keywords," urges Margaret Riley Dikel, coauthor of The Guide to Internet Job Searching VGM Career Horizons, 1996, "and maximize the number of them in your ré sumé ."
3. Don't forget to describe your personality and attitude. Just because most ré sumé searches are computerized doesn't mean that companies don't search for human qualities. A tracking system can identify behavioral traits - dependability, responsibility, a high energy level - as easily as it can technical skills. "Be enthusiastic," says Yana Parker, author of Damn Good Resume Guide, Ten Speed Press, 1996 . "Let your passion show. Don't use tired language."
4. Personal home pages should be all business. Like many job seekers, you may want to include a link in your Web ré sumé to a personal Web page, where you can post detailed information about your career. But don't muck up your page with photos of you, your family, or your pets. An HR manager at a big chemical company puts it this way: "I'm not looking for a pretty face. I'm looking for a skill. What you look like is not a skill."
What Should Your Ré sumé Look Like?
5. It's not a ré sumé - - it's a movie trailer. Electronic ré sumé s do eventually get read by real human beings - on a computer screen. You have about 20 lines to grab their attention. So don't waste precious real estate on details such as your address. Lead with your technical skills and personal qualities. "Identify yourself as a solution to someone's problem," says Parker.
6. Break the one-page rule. Limiting your ré sumé to what will fit on a single piece of paper doesn't mean much in the online world. If you can hold your readers' attention, they'll keep scrolling. But don't overdo it: At some point, most executives do print out ré sumé s that they find interesting. The new rule of thumb, says Sue Nowacki, a professional ré sumé writer based in Gainesville, Florida, is to create an electronic ré sumé that can be printed in three pages.
7. One size doesn't fit all. Nowacki also argues that an online job search requires four different ré sumé s: a word-processor document, an ASCII text-only file, an HTML-coded file, and a hard copy. The word-processor document can be printed, stored in an online database, or sent as an email attachment but see point 11 . The ASCII file is what you submit to job-related Web sites. An HTML-coded ré sumé can be posted as a Web page or submitted to job boards. And you still need a hard copy, printed on high-quality paper, for companies that use snail mail.
"How many fishermen do you know," Nowacki asks, "who have one lure in their tackle box, or use the same bait every time?"
What Are the New Do's and Don'ts?
You've created a ré sumé with killer content and a cool design. You've got multiple electronic versions of it. What's left? Doing the little things right.
8. Not all text is created equal. Scanners work well with these typefaces: Helvetica, Courier, Futura, Optima, Palatino, New Century Schoolbook, and Times. And they work best with type sizes in the 10- to 14-point range.
9. Faxes are fine. If you're asked to fax your ré sumé , set the machine to the "fine" mode. That results in a higher-quality printout on the receiving end.
10. Don't send your ré sumé as an attachment. Paste it into the body of an email message. Most employers ignore attachments. They worry about viruses, and they don't want to waste time with files that their computers can't translate.
11. Always include a subject line. If you're responding to a specific posting, put the reference number in the subject line. If you're submitting a ré sumé to a database, include a description of your skills in the subject line. "Sell yourself!" says Joyce Lain Kennedy, coauthor of Electronic Resume Revolution John Wiley & Sons, 1995 . "It's not a subject line. It's a theater marquee."
12. Ask the wizard. These days, most word-processing programs come with good ré sumé templates and with "wizards" - step-by-step guides that walk you through the templates. If you're looking for a real wizard, visit the Professional Association of Ré sumé Writers www.parw.com .
Help Wanted - 11 Places to Start Your Search
We've spent time on 11 of the most popular career-related sites. This table evaluates how they work and how well they deliver in certain key areas: Do they offer a "personal search agent" - that is, software that can search for you? Do they help keep news of your search away from your current employer? And what's the "killer app" that distinguishes them from other services?
|site||description||resume removed after||personal search agent?||can it keep a secret?||killer app|
|The Monster Board www.monster.com||Resume City, the site's job bank, posts more than 25,000 openings and more than 300,000 resumes. It is a monster.||One year. Then the Monster Board asks for an update.||Yes.||Yes. A privacy feature lets you hide your name and contact information from employers. But unless you disguise the name of your current employer, that information will be visible.||Creative resources and events, such as weekly career fairs that feature companies from specific geographic areas or industries. Even the ads feature information about companies and their employment opportunities.|
|America's Job Bank www.ajb.dni.us||A government site. State agencies post an average of 5,000 new openings per day. Companies contribute another 3,000.||Sixty days, unless you update it.||No. But you can save your searches - which saves you time later.||There's no way to block your resume from employers.||Its powerful and easy-to-use search capabilities. Use any of three options: a keyword search, a menu search (which lets you choose from 22 job categories), or a military-code search.|
|Careerpath.com www.careerpath.com||Classifieds from more than 65 newspapers, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe.||Six months. But the site stores "inactive" resumes.||No.||Companies don't have direct access to the database. Staff specialists from CareerPath.com ask job seekers by email for permission to release resume information.||In some cases, you get a jump on the Sunday papers. Ads from the New York Times appear on Saturday afternoon. Plus, no more ink-stained fingers!|
|HotJobs.com www.hotjobs.com||A member-based site that charges companies a hefty fee to post openings or to search through resumes.||%0 9Never. But the site archives dormant resumes.||Yes.||You bet. HotJobs.com denies headhunters (notorious big mouths) access to resumes. The "HotBlock" feature lets users restrict certain companies from viewing their resume.||Job seekers can create a personal home page to manage their search. The page tracks all the jobs they've applied for and collects statistics on how many companies have retrieved their resume.|
|Online Career Center www.occ.com||A pioneer in online recruiting. OCC started in 1992 and moved to the Web in 1993.||One year - if you don't update your information in the meantime.||Yes.||OCC gives you the option of letting employers see only the body of your resume. OCC then sends you an email requesting permission to forward the full document.||The site's "search within a search" feature lets you narrow your search criteria, so you can find jobs that are right for you - and keep your sanity in the process.|
|NationJob network www.nationjob.com||More than 15,000 jobs nationwide, with an emphasis on those in the Midwest.||NA. Doesn't accept resumes for posting.||Yes. See below.||NA.||"P.J. Scout," the site's personal search agent, is the best out there. If it finds five matching jobs or fewer, it emails you the complete listings. If it finds more than five, it sends links to the postings.|
|Careermosaic www.careermosaic.com||More than 70,000 jobs, updated daily.||Your resume stays in the database until you remove it.||No.||No. Posting your resume here is like tacking it to a public bulletin board.||"Radius Search" locates jobs within a desired geographic range. Users enter a zip code and the number of miles away from that zip code that they are willing to travel, and Radius Search does the sorting.|
|4work www.4work.com||Specify the state you want to work in and your skill set, and 4Work emails you the appropriate postings.||NA. The site creates anonymous profiles that employers see.||Yes.||Yes. Except in the "Featured Job Seeker" section, which profiles four people each week (with their approval), the profiles are anonymous.||One of the few sites that includes listings of internships and volunteer opportunities.|
|America's Employers www.americasemployers.com||Maintained by career consultants. It offers several thousand updated listings, along with real-time seminars.||Your resume remains active until you say otherwise.||Yes.||It's in the vault! Users can block specific companies from viewing their resume.||The site's networking forums help you develop new contacts and job leads. There's even a chat room for online interviews.|
|E.span www.espan.com||Another pioneer in online employment services. Maybe that's why the site is so easy to navigate.||Six months, unless you update the resume before then.||Yes.||You can hide your name and contact information. E.span asks you for permission before it sends your resume to an interested company.||The site notifies you every week of job postings that match criteria that you specify. These notifications arrive via email, complete with links to job specs and company information.|
|The CareerBuilder network www.careerbuilder.com||This site focuses on the needs of companies rather than job seekers. But it does include a database of 20,000 openings.||NA. Doesn't post resumes.||Yes.||Sure. When you apply for a job through CareerBuilder, you send your resume directly to a company's hiring manager, and no one else sees it.||Don't want to use an email address from your current company? CareerBuilder, in cooperation with WhoWhere? (www.whowhere.com), will give you a special email account that you can access from the CareerBuilder site.|
11 Ways to Tell Which Job is Right
You've created a great Web ré sumé . You've posted it on all the right sites. What happens next? You get offers! Here are Web sites that will help you figure out which job to take.
What's It Like to Work There?
You never know what it's like to work inside a company until you're on the inside. But to get a peek, check out Experience Online www.experienceonline.com . The site's researchers have spent thousands of hours interviewing insiders about jobs at 200 companies. Users subscribe to a career field or job skill advertising, consulting, marketing . In return, they get the scoop on everything from office hours to dress codes. A six-month subscription to Experience Online costs $34 per category.
1. The site's Snapshot area describes life inside a company. Go to Nestlé USA, and you learn that life is buttoned-down from Monday through Thursday - but casual on Friday, complete with "chocolate martinis on Hollywood Boulevard."
2. The Company Blueprint describes history, strategy, and culture. The site warns about Nestlé 's uptight style - but approves of its "diverse and genuine people."
3. Still want to work there? Then visit the How to Break In section and get the skinny on interviews: what the company may ask you, what you should ask in return.
4. There's even an Interview Cheat Sheet, with the straight dope on company financials and business milestones.
What's It Like to Live There?
Career moves often require geographic moves. HomeFair.com www.homefair.com offers tools to help you calculate the cost of moving, the cost of living, and the quality of life in various places.
5. The Moving Calculator helps you figure out how much it will cost to ship your worldly possessions to a particular city.
6. The Relocation Crime Lab compares crime rates in various locations.
7. The City Snapshots feature compares demographic, economic, and climate information for two cities of your choosing.
8. The Salary Calculator computes cost-of-living differences between hundreds of U.S. and international cities and tells you how much you'd need to make in your new city to maintain your current standard of living.
Will I Be Paid Enough?
You want to work at a great company. You want to live in a great place. But sooner or later, it all comes down to money.
9. The best place to explore your market value is JobSmart http://www.jobsmart.org/tools/salary/index.htm . The site links to more than 150 general and profession-specific salary surveys.
10. For information on salaries in the computer industry, try DataMasters www.datamasters.com .
11. If you're in accounting or finance, check out Experience on Demand www.experienceondemand.com .
The Accidental Job Seeker
Applicant: Jennifer Beardsley firstname.lastname@example.org , 30, Marketing Manager, Starbucks Coffee Co.
Web Tool: Career Central for MBAs http://www.mbacentral.com
Experience: "I'd done searching on the Net before, and I'd been keeping up with friends through my B-school alumni page. That's where I found a link to this site. One night I was bored, so I looked it up and typed in my profile. I was done in less than 20 minutes.
"I was working for a small outfit called the Seattle Chocolate Co. I wasn't really looking for a job. About six weeks later, I got an email that said, in effect, 'We've found you a match with Starbucks. Here's the job description. Do you want to send your ré sumé ?' The rest is history."
Education: "Privacy is a key issue. It's so easy for your current employer to bump into your ré sumé on one of the online employment services. That's one reason why I chose this site. It didn't require me to submit a full ré sumé ."
Online Veteran Seeks Position
Applicant: Rex Ballard email@example.com , 42, Information Systems Architect, The Prudential
Web Tool: CareerMosaic www.careermosaic.com
Experience: "Using the Net to find a job was nothing new to me. Back in 1987, I learned about an opening at FedEx in Colorado Springs through a Usenet group. But a recent experience that I had on the Net was truly amazing. I'd been working for a while as an independent contractor, and I was between assignments. I discovered CareerMosaic through a banner ad. I clicked on the ad, and it asked if I wanted to post my ré sumé . I already had an electronic ré sumé , so after doing some reformatting, I posted it.
"Here's where it gets amazing: I posted my ré sumé on a Saturday night. By Monday afternoon, I'd received 21 phone calls - from companies like Netscape, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems. This would have taken months without the Web. I got three offers within a week."
Education: "The great thing about the Net is that you become visible to so many people at the same time. That's a problem too. To keep from getting swamped with calls for jobs you don't want, be very clear in your ré sumé . Also be clear about money. If you're looking for $100,000, make sure that companies understand your expectations. Otherwise, you'll end up fielding calls about $40,000 jobs."
A version of this article appeared in the August 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.