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Internet can assist, but also frustrate, job seekers

Job seekers might be tempted to spend most of their time using Internet services to find themselves employment. There are, after all, so many options out there. But relying on Web sites rather than networking, research and perseverance won't get you far, University of Tampa career services director Tim Harding advises. "If all that you do is click away on the job boards . . . it is like climbing to the top of the (university) minarets with a stack of resumes and tossing them into the air," he said. "The likelihood is they're going to be tossed into trash cans or blown away as litter." The Internet is "one of the ways" to job search, he suggests, but not the one to yield the best results. Here are some more tips on job hunting over the Internet:

Beyond the surf

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based employment placement agency, said the job sites can be too much of a good thing. In July, for example, there were 3,864,100 job vacancies posted online, according to the Conference Board Help Wanted Online Data Series. That's an impressive figure, but sitting in front of the computer screen all day is not necessarily the best way to land a job. "One could easily spend all day, every day, surfing the net for job vacancies, e-mailing resumes, and waiting for the phone to ring. Unfortunately, this approach will rarely lead to a new job," said CEO John Challenger.

Play the game

Employment experts are by no means advising not to use computer job sites at all, and they offered some advice about the best way to make them part of an overall job-hunting strategy.

Challenger said that human resource managers complain that for every qualified candidate who comes through the Internet, there are 10 or 20 who are not even close to being qualified. That means more companies are prescreening resumes using computer software.

The first step, said Connie Parks, acting coordinator for the employer service unit at the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, is to make sure the resume can be read. That means no bullets, no fancy fonts, no use of words in bold or italic. Then, she said, try to make sure the key skills and qualifications that appear on the job description also appear on your resume. "It's a game of word matching," Parks said. And make sure you follow instructions.

Your Web presence

Laura Hart, communications manager for the Department of Labor and Training, also pointed out that while job candidates can research companies on the Internet, companies can also research job applicants the same way. "Everything lives on the Internet," Hart said, including blogs and entries on social network sites that might not represent you in the most professional light. She suggested Googling yourself and eliminating damaging material if you can.

Beware scam, spam

Employment experts point out that job Web sites may be misused by the unscrupulous. Some job seekers who have posted their resumes on a large employment Web site complain that they opened themselves up to receiving spam and bogus job offers as a result. Parks said to be particularly aware of identity thieves, and take common sense measures such as not including Social Security numbers on job applications.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Internet can assist, but also frustrate, job seekers 11/08/08 [Last modified: Saturday, November 8, 2008 3:30am]
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