Many job counselors warn that the Internet can be a giant swamp where you can apply and apply and apply day after day after day—to no avail.
As author Richard Bolles has pointed out, just 4 to 7 percent of people ever find a job using only the Internet. Should you even bother?
Absolutely. It is wise to spend a few minutes a day tracking openings in your field and your area, but not a few hours.
When job hunting on the Internet, focus is important. In its hyperlinked universe, it remains too easy for users to link off to site after site, avoiding the goal of finding a job by learning about random, unrelated subjects.
Stay the course. If you lose track, log off. Here are some tools you can employ to keep your browsing to a minimum and your networking and information gathering to a maximum.
Many companies list their job openings primarily on their corporate websites, a practice that saves them money and keeps the job pool, to a degree, filled by people interested in working there.
An advertisement on a company's "job openings" section and not on job boards will appeal to people checking that company's website. However, some aggregators simply pull those openings off corporate America's websites, opening them to a broader audience.
Visiting a company's website is the first place to go when researching specific employers. You may often find vision and mission statements, a history of the organization, names of key employers and supervisors.
These sites, sometimes called "job boards," are the most popular way to find job leads on the Internet. Similar to search engines, users can put keywords into a search bar to find jobs based on their personal criteria.
They help you get more specific results by location, field, industry or job title. One of the most common mistakes that job seekers make is spending too many hours browsing job boards for openings.
Keep it to a minimum; your chances of finding a position listed on a job board are slim. Job expert Peter Weddles came up with a strategy for using job boards that goes like this: 1GJ = 2GB + 3 NB. Translation: 1 Good Job = 2 General Boards + 3 Niche Boards.
General job boards list thousands of jobs from thousands of employers, the drawback being the popularity of these sites can be a disadvantage. For this reason, dedicate more of your attention to niche job boards focusing on openings in specific industries.
The Internet is the fastest way to access published information. Newspapers, magazines and trade journals can all be found online.
Trade journals contain articles by industry experts, information about networking events, suggestions on industry blogs and jobs. To find a trade journal related to your search, try typing "trade journal directory" into a search engine. Or, go to your public library for help accessing trade journal and professional association databases.
Almost every industry has an association with a website full of information on trends, volunteer or professional development opportunities, best practices, industry news and, inevitably, a job board.
It may require membership in the organization to get at the really good content and the job board, and you ll have to determine whether the fee is worth it. Most charge annual fees, but if you can buy a six-month membership you ll then have the time to check the site and determine whether it yields content that helps you find employment.
Learn how Rachel Pennig used Web-based tools and social networking to land two jobs. Read Rachel's story.
Learn how an online portfolio—or efolio—helped Joseph Schufman find a new job following a layoff. Read Joseph's story.