Feature: Research With a Purpose Redux

Feature: Research With a Purpose Redux

Feature: Research With a Purpose Redux

This column is the second in a two-part series dealing with how to use the Internet for employment-related research. There is an almost overwhelming array of information available online, so it’s best to focus your research on key areas where it will help you the most. Recent surveys suggest that two such areas are interview preparation and networking. The first column dealt with conducting research on an organization with which you have an upcoming interview; this column will explore the research you can do online to expand the reach and the effectiveness of your networking.

Networking has never been more important and potentially more useful than it is today. Making contact with friends and colleagues has long been recognized as a vital part of any job search campaign, and the Internet dramatically increases the number of people you can reach and the speed with which you connect with them. The key is to use the research resources available online to locate people with whom you have lost touch and to reinvigorate those relationships.

Most of us have college classmates, former associates at work, and friends from professional organizations with whom we are no longer in touch. These contacts can help you open the door at more employers, introduce you to a new circle of hiring managers, and acquaint you with individuals who have special insights on or knowledge of the job market. Equally as important, they are also inclined to be helpful to you because of your prior relationship.

How can you track down these former friends and colleagues on the Web?

  • To find a former friend’s address, telephone number or e-mail address, use the meta-search engine at TheUltimates.com. It enables you to look through seven different online directories of contact information, all from one easy location and at no charge.
  • If you’re looking for a former business colleague, check out the database of individual dossiers at Eliyon.com. It holds records on over 20 million people, all of which you can search for free, simply by entering the name of the previous employer where you both worked.
  • If you think your contact may still be a member of some professional society or trade association, you can check with it to see if they are still listed on its membership roster. To find association sites (and, potentially, an online roster), use the free Association Directory at my Web-site, Weddles.com.
  • To reach a former college classmate or roommate, check the alumni association site of your alma mater. If you’re not sure of its Web-site address, search the college and university directories at:

  • Google and
  • Yahoo!.
  • To reach a former friend or colleague who once shared your interest in a particular hobby or activity, check newsgroups (which are nothing more than online discussion areas) and the homepages of virtual communities that might have online discussion forums on that topic.

  • There are over 100,000 newsgroups or “virtual water coolers” where people chat by e-mail about topics ranging from astronomy and astrology to zoology and playing the zither. To find a specific newsgroup, look through the Groups directory at Google.
  • Among the largest virtual communities are Yahoo! Geocities and America Online’s Hometown. You can search their member homepages at no charge.
  • Finally, a word of caution: Once, you’ve located a former friend or colleague’s contact information, make sure that you re-connect with them carefully. Although you may remember them well, it’s possible that their memory of you might have faded a bit. So, begin by reminding them of your previous relationship, and then, be short, polite and to the point:

  • If you’re actively looking for a job, briefly bring them up to date on your career (since you were last in touch) and ask for their suggestions or assistance.
  • If you’re networking for the future (and, that’s never been more important to a successful career), indicate that you are simply trying to re-establish contact and ask about what they’ve been up to.
  • As in the real world, networking online can be an effective way to increase your visibility in the job market and your awareness of interesting employment opportunities. Best of all, the research resources available on the Internet enable you to expand your “address book” of contacts exponentially and, as a consequence, power up the effectiveness of your networking.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. I hope you’re finding my newsletter helpful in finding a new or better job and managing your career successfully. If that’s the case, please do tell your friends and colleagues about WEDDLE’s. We’d very much like to have them join our community of newsletter subscribers.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    CareerWomen.com reported the results of a survey of working women that asked how many were “opting out” of corporate careers and why. It found that the glass ceiling has become a glass floor … with a whole bunch of footprints on it. An astonishing 70% of the poll’s respondents reported leaving their corporate careers behind. They cited family responsibilities and the desire to work in the nonprofit sector or in government as their primary reasons for making the switch. What should you do if you’re thinking about leaving corporate America? Don’t burn your bridges behind you. Stay in touch with former colleagues and bosses-many companies now sponsor “alumni organizations” for just that purpose-because you just never know what’s going to happen. You may find much happiness and satisfaction outside the business world or you may just discover that opting out didn’t work out for you.

    DBM, the human resource consulting and outplacement firm, announced the results of its annual U.S. Career Transition Study, a report on those who went through an employment transition in 2003. Its findings suggest that one of the keys to breaking back into the world of work is flexibility. According to the survey, 77% of respondents took a job in a different industry, and 49% did so in another function. On average, they also accepted a salary decrease of 8% to make the switch. Now, obviously, most of us don’t like such adjustments, and not everyone has the right background, temperament and skills to see them through. Nevertheless, the study suggests that the more willing you are to adapt to the job market, the more likely you are to be successful in finding employment. As Charles Darwin once noted, “It’s not the strongest of the species, nor the most intelligent that survives, but the one most responsive to change.”

    Gartner, a research firm specializing in the technology sector, released a study about a new kind of online scam called “phising.” It involves sending e-mail messages that appear to have come from legitimate companies, including eBay and Citigroup. When recipients click on the embedded link in the message, they are taken to a Web-site that looks just like the official company site. There, they are asked to enter such personal information as their Social Security number, account number, password or credit card number. If they do, of course, they will almost certainly suffer a loss of both their privacy and a lot of money. According to the study, an astonishing 30 million adults have been hit with a phising attack, and 3% of those who were, actually gave up personal information. What’s the key lesson? No one-including prospective employers-should ever ask for such personal information online. If you get such a request, turn it down and contact the HR Department or the Corporate Communications Department of the organization that was represented in the message.

    IFSjobs.com launched as a new job board for the insurance and financial services industry. Based in Allen, Texas, it offers a database of mortgage, bank, risk management, compliance, insurance, securities, claims adjuster, stockbroker, financial advisor and other jobs as well as a resume database and job agent service.

    U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported some good news and some bad. The good news: In the first quarter of 2004, employers recorded the lowest number of layoffs affecting the least number of workers since the first quarter of 2000. The bad news: There were still 1,204 layoff actions affecting 239,361 workers. The single occupation most affected by the layoffs was retail sales, which represents the first time in the history of the DOL report that a career field other than manufacturing lead the list. Most of the layoffs occurred in metropolitan areas, with Chicago, Medford-Ashland, OR, and Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA topping the list. How can this information be helpful to you? Use it to guide your job search. If you’re considering relocation, avoid areas where layoffs are high; and if you’re looking for a retail sales position, tap Yahoo! and Google to do some online research about the health of prospective employers before you apply.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. If you’re a recent college graduate looking for an opportunity in the business world, which of the following sites would likely give you an “A” for your efforts?

  • CollegeGrad.com
  • GoldenKey.com
  • CollegeRecruiter.com
  • OnwardWeGo.com
  • 2. If you’ve just been certified as a mortician and are searching for a position with a national funeral services company, which of the following sites would put you six feet under … a stack of job offers?

  • DrkLoss.com
  • Funerals.org
  • Taphophilia.com
  • HireTouch.com
  • 3. If you have a couple of years of experience as a wedding planner and are looking to move to a position with an established wedding services company, which of the following sites would help groom you for success?

  • FabJob.com
  • DreamJobsToGo.com
  • WedWiz.com
  • BridalDirect.net
  • Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2004 Guides and Directories



    A WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Award Winner

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – Part time, Contract

    Distribution of jobs: National: USA

    Number of jobs: 3,000

    Salary levels of jobs: $51-75K/year, $75-100K/year

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: 365 days

    Restrictions on who can post: Those in a certain industry

    Other services for job seekers: Career/job search information, Links to other sites, Confidentiality feature in resume database

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All of the sites but OnwardWeGo.com, which advertises a multilevel marketing opportunity.

    2. None of the sites; the first three deal with the funeral services industry, but do not offer a job board. The last site is a corporate job board provider. In short, we’re stumped. Do you know of a job board for morticians?

    3. None of the sites; the first three sell books about how to become a wedding planner, and the fourth offers wedding planning services. Once again, we’re stumped. Please drop us a line if you know of a job board for wedding planners.