Are you working smart online?

Unless you’ve been hibernating in a cave, you know that the Internet is here to stay. It continually evolves and has become the heart and soul of communications, shall we say. In your job search, it can be your friend or your enemy. It all depends on your line of attack.

What the Internet is terrific for

  • Research
  • Finding and connecting with people (particularly through professional and social networking sites)
  • Gathering tips, tricks and blog/article information related to the job hunt or employment landscape
  • A smidge – yes smidge, of actually finding jobs.

What the Internet is not terrific for

  • Finding or getting jobs

The reality

Job boards are tempting and enticing. They typically are stocked with lots of tools, resources and tips to keep you there. Be honest with yourself. Have you ever wasted hours surfing the World Wide Web? Perhaps the better part of a day? Job boards can steal your precious time. Yes, you need to spend some of your time on job boards. But proceed with caution.

The truth is that many jobs are never posted online. Why? Time. Money. The big job boards are expensive. Many smaller companies can’t afford to use them. Smaller job boards, especially niche ones, can be wonderful for companies. The challenge here is that many companies simply don’t have the time or in-house expertise to find the niche sites and post jobs with them. Your perfect job may never hit the Internet.

The conundrum

Yes, 89% of companies use LinkedIn and other Internet sites to prescreen candidates. But your chances of actually fining your next job on the Internet are about 10% to 20%. Companies want you in the database just in case you are right for them. You’ll have to jump through extensive hoops to apply online with them – always hoping they’ll have the right job for you someday. This certainly is advantageous to the companies. For you? Not so much. Your time is better spent elsewhere.

When to jump on it

Don’t let the boards steal your time. There are some exceptions; some situations where you should go for it.

  • You’re applying for a specific job and you are really well qualified for the job. Define well qualified by having 8 out of the 10 skills asked for. Yes, that’s a lot. Reality check again. You’re up against purple squirrels.  If you can, use your networking to find out more about that position before you waste one minute applying online.
  • The company is on your top five list and you really want to work for them.

Frank’s black hole lesson

My client Frank learned the hard way. When he came to me, he knew the statistics (close to 80% of people find jobs through people they know; and only 5%-15% through the job boards). But poor Frank could not pry himself away from hours of surfing, finding a job he “might like” and then blasting his resume out in cyberspace.  Here’s where he was coming from. “I don’t have a network,” he told me. “I really don’t know anyone here, and no one will want to help me, so why ask?” As a result, he had wasted four months since being laid off. He had done nothing but chase opportunities on the Internet.

And here’s the interesting part. Frank said he felt very productive doing this. Searching and applying. And he did get some interviews! The problem was that they always fell apart. He realized that they weren’t solid. They were extremely competitive because everyone and his uncle had seen them. He never got to second base beyond the screening interview. So, Frank and I coached on building his network. Once he started networking and realized that he did know people, he found a job opportunity through his network within three weeks. It was a great fit and that’s where he is now.

Do you have experiences with Internet job searching to share? I’d love to hear from you!


Photo: jared

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