Secrets of the Job Hunt


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Good advice for the online job seeker - Go niche, get hired

Job-seekers increasingly turn to the Web
Experts say posting resume on focused sites beats banking on more general databases

By eric chen

January 31, 2006 - Erik Lu submitted his resume to the Internet job Web site with low expectations. Two days later, he was hired.

Lu, who graduated from the College in 2003, is one of many who have begun tapping into career Web sites to find employment.

While most Penn students still rely on the University's Career Services, On-Campus Recruiting and networking to land jobs, an online component is becoming both a more popular and a more important aspect of the search.

Career Services Associate Director Barbara Hewitt said that almost all students now incorporate an online search into their jobs hunts.

Wharton senior Jason Kalish agreed.

"I looked at getting a job through an online site," Kalish said. "So does everyone; that's pretty standard. But in the end, I didn't get my job that way."

Monster, and -- three of the largest job search Web sites -- offer seekers a listing of job postings in a wide variety of fields. Users can set up free accounts on the sites and submit their resumes to companies that they are interested in.

The heightened visibility of the sites -- Monster has advertised during the Super Bowl since 2004 -- has boosted the number of people posting resumes and employers listing opportunities.
Yet not all applicants have found success online. Hewitt said she has witnessed much frustration among her advisees.

"I often hear my alumni say, 'I've applied to 100 different companies [online], and I've only heard back from two places,'" she said. "I feel like it's going into a black hole."

About 3 to 5 percent of job seekers who use such sites find employment that way, according to The New York Times.

Margaret Dikel, author of The Riley Guide, an online directory of employment and career information, warned of the larger job-search limitations.

She said that they are useful, but only to a small degree, adding that the large sites are overwhelming in the volume of jobs collected, the number of resumes stored and the number of people competing for the listed jobs.

Both Dikel and Hewitt recommend focusing on smaller, niche sites that specialize in one field.
"Don't ignore [large sites], but don't spend all your time on them either," Dikel said. "Fifteen to 20 minutes tops, then get out to the other, more targeted boards."

The best listings belong to niche sites, according to Hewitt.

"Those are the kind of sites that you want to find for your particular field," Hewitt said. "They're going to be higher quality listings, and if you're an employer, you're going to take candidates that are looking at those."

While Dikel and Hewitt encourage exploring the online job avenues, they also urge applicants to exercise caution when exposing their personal information.

"Have a resume ready and in various electronic formats before you start searching," Dikel said. "And read the privacy policies carefully. Having your resume turned into spam without your knowledge is not a good thing."

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