As a new year dawns we often think of ways to improve our lives. Beyond the ubiquitous (and often unsuccessful) new year’s resolutions, you may be thinking of a job change to start 2003. If you are, or you’re a recent school leaver or graduate, this story is for you.
Since the early days of the dot-com revolution, people have been surfing their way to new jobs. In fact, an often-cited reason for bosses to use software to track employee use of the Web is employment hunting!
Although a lot of sites and businesses from the early days of the Internet are now, with hindsight, thought to be less than useful, job hunting online remains a compelling Web activity. Instead of scanning columns and columns of listings in a newspaper, set up a search agent to narrow down the opportunities. How about saving your résumé online and having the recruiters come to you? You can also have new listings e-mailed to you based on your criteria.
Job seekers are not the only ones gaining from using the Net. Advertisers and recruiters can scan résumés and find candidates without even listing a job. Online listings can also be faster than waiting for an ad to appear in a specific day’s edition of a newspaper.
Of course, not all the news is good. To find a good selection of opportunities you may need to use more than one site, as listings differ from site to site. Similarly, don’t expect longer or more detailed listings than newspaper ads. Even if there’s room on a site for more detail than there would be in a pay-per-word ad, many employers use the same ads they’d run in a newspaper. Plus, like the pre-Net world, don’t expect instantaneous results or rapid e-mails — even if the process feels much faster at a Web site, you still need to wait for companies to process applications and make shortlists.
In other words, the Web hasn’t completely removed the annoyances and legwork from job hunting, but by understanding the pros and cons you can harness its potential for career management. To help you get the most from your online job hunt, we took a look at some of the major Australian job sites and how they work (profiles of various sites are featured below). Plus, the Net can be useful for other job searching activities; read on for more details.
Research your field
Where do you start your job hunt? That depends on whether you’re ready to pursue a new career or plan to stay in your current field. If you’re looking for an entirely new career path, start by taking some free aptitude tests on the Web to see what your talents are. Try several different tests, since no single test is perfect. For starters, check out the career tests at registration-required Princeton Review Online (www.review.com/career/careerquizhome.cfm) and eMode (www.emode.com). Remember: aptitude tests only give you suggestions. Just because one tells you that you’d make a great electrician doesn’t mean you would not be an equally successful accountant.
If you’re looking to stay in your current career — or if you’ve already settled on a new one — swat up on the latest events in the field. What are the current trends? Who are the major players? Researching your field online can give you useful data for determining where to apply — and it can also help you look knowledgeable during an interview: “Oh, yes, I’ve heard about the recent developments in Slinky technology. It seems to me that…”
Reading up on the latest industry gossip could save you from joining a failing company. You can use the employer profiles on the large job listing sites but it would also pay to broaden your search for a range of information — both positive and negative.
If you’re Web savvy, you probably already use the best research tools on the Internet — search engines like Google. Search for a company name and keywords associated with the field.
Make that résumé shine
Craft your résumé before you start looking for a job — that way, when you find a job you want to apply for, all you have to do is modify it. You should tailor the résumé you submit so that it appeals to the particular employer you’re considering.
Look at keywords (such as manager and HTML-proficient) in the job ad and match them to your experience and training. Make sure those words appear in your résumé. A company may use software that searches for specific words; if your résumé lacks them, it will sink to the bottom of the barrel.
Keep your résumé concise (even though you’re not working in pages online, it’s best not to make your potential employer scroll through reams of information), but try to convey as much information as possible about your qualifications. Use verb phrases (“Initiated casual Mondays”) instead of drawn-out sentences (“I was instrumental in forming a committee to study the bureaucratisation of our company processes through the accretion of ad hoc committees.”)
Check for and remove typos and other errors. An employer flooded with résumés is likely to reject those with misspelled words and grammatical errors. Cite all the industry awards that you’ve received. Include a professional objective so that prospective employers can recognise your career goal. Articulating your goal makes you look focused and determined.
You can include on your application a note to say that both references and a hard-copy version of your résumé (assuming that you’ve e-mailed your résumé) are available upon request. If you work in a creative industry (arts, entertainment, or journalism, among others), indicate that you can send samples of your work.
Another thing: include a cover letter that explains why you want the job and why the employer should hire you. Then ask a friend or colleague to proofread and critique your résumé and cover letter before you send them to an employer.
If you plan to send your Word-formatted résumé via e-mail, save it in Word as “Text Only with Line Breaks”; then copy it and paste it into the body of your message. Many employers don’t want to receive résumés as attachments — especially now that virus attacks are a major concern.
For additional tips on crafting a dynamite cover letter and résumé, consult Web sites such as TrueCareers (www.careercity.com) and About.com (http://jobsearch.about.com). Job Search Page.com has HTML templates (www.jobsearchpage.com/templates.html).
Many of the sites profiled in the table above provide tools to help you create a résumé — which is a great first step if you’re unsure what information to include — plus other useful tips. Monster, for example, has sample résumés for different industries you can use as templates (www.monster.com.au) and Seek has a list of ‘horror’ words to avoid on résumés (www.seek.com.au). After all, sometimes the hardest part is getting started.
|Site||Description||Search Tools||Privacy Features||Highlights|
|Australian JobSearch||This site, run by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, lists jobs from the Government's Job Network Services, those listed in the public service gazette, jobs from RCSA (Recruitment and Consulting Services Association), as well as some from national newspapers.||Search using a map of the country or by location and occupation. Advanced search has many more options including search by job type, apprenticeships and traineeships, and jobs that pay by commission. You can also search jobs in the 'new today' category.||Detailed privacy statement.||Free service matches online résumé with jobs listed; good starting point for defence careers.|
|careerone.com.au||Like Mycareer, Careerone works off the back of a newspaper publishing company - this time News Limited - and includes listings from papers like the Herald Sun and Courier-Mail. You can also save your résumé online and sign-up for newsletters and jobs by e-mail.||Search parameters include industry, location, keyword and job type. You can also click through to listings from individual newspapers.||Posted privacy statement. You can allow advertisers to read your résumé, allow some and disallow others, or block them altogether.||Industry channel feature lets you see stories relating to your sector. 'Boss button' for when your manager is near your desk.|
|Jobnet||Catering to IT professionals, Jobnet lists technology jobs. You can search for jobs, save your résumé online, register for contact from recruiters and sign up for newsletters. 'Announce your availability' feature lets you list your skills and have recruiters contact you about available work. Recruiters can't search your résumé here unless you attach it to the availability profile.||Search options include by age of listing, type (contract, permanent or both), position (e.g., manager), location, skills, and whether Australian residency is required.||Privacy statement outlines policies used for different services.||Job trends section lists what skills are most in demand, plus hot locations and vendors.|