Feature: Research with a Purpose

Feature: Research with a Purpose

Feature: Research with a Purpose

Research has always been a key element of any successful job search campaign, and the Internet is a dream source of employment-related information. There’s both good news and bad news when it comes to conducting research online, however. The good news is that the Internet is rich in easily accessed and helpful information. The bad news is that so much information is at our fingertips, it’s hard to know what to focus on.

How can you organize your online research to make sure that it generates the information you need to find a new or better job? Recent studies suggest that you should concentrate on two key areas:

  • preparation for interviewing, and
  • networking.
  • This column is the first in a two-part series that will explore how to tap the Internet’s information sources in these key areas.

    Interview Preparation

    Despite urban legends to the contrary, an astonishing number of Internet job applicants actually get an interview. The only way to capitalize on that happy outcome, however, is to be well prepared. Your preparation should include acquiring information about both the organization with which you will be interviewing and your current “value” in the labor market. The more you know about the employer, the better able you will be to assess its fit with your goals and preferences. And, the more you know about the salary and benefits currently being offered to others with your skills and experience, the better able you will be to negotiate an appropriate compensation package for yourself, should the organization follow up the interview with an offer.

    The Internet has many sources of information about employers. They range from simple descriptions of an organization’s industry, product or service lines, executives, facility locations, stock price and recent news releases to much more detailed assessments of its financial stability and subjective assessments of its culture and practices.

  • For company summaries, try Hoovers Online (www.hoovers.com). You’ll be able to access some information for free, but will have to pay for in-depth research;
  • For descriptions of individual companies and even a list of the interview questions they typically ask of candidates, study the Company Profiles and Company Interviews posted at Wetfeet.com;
  • For press releases issued by a company as well as references to it in business analysts’ reports and the media, search Google.com and Yahoo! using the company’s name and the names of its executives;
  • For financial information about publicly traded companies, check out the Edgar database of the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (www.sec.gov);
  • For a specific company’s perspective on its business prospects and employment opportunities, visit its Web-site, paying particular attention to its Careers area; and
  • For opinion and commentary about what it’s like to work for an organization, take a look at what its current and former employees are saying around the “Electronic Watercooler” at Vault.com. Although the postings can be insightful, recognize that some are heavily influenced by personal agendas.
  • The more prepared you are for an interview, the more likely it is to go well. That being the case, it only makes good sense to be equally as ready to discuss an offer. Happily, there is also a great deal of salary-related information available on the Web.

  • For the latest compensation and benefits trends in your profession or industry, visit the Web-site of your professional association or trade organization. The easiest way to find these sites is to use the free, worldwide Association Directory at my site (www.weddles.com);
  • For current salary information in your occupational field and region of the country, visit the Salary Wizard at Salary.com, the Salary Info links at Job Star (www.jobsmart.org) and SalariesReview.com, which lists salary information for 5,800 U.S. and Canadian locations. You’ll have to pay for some of the information at Salary.com and all of the information at SalariesReview.com, but the fee is modest compared to the financial impact of selling yourself short when negotiating with an employer; and
  • To compare the cost of living in your current location to the cost of living somewhere else, check out the Moving Calculator at Homestore.com and the Salary Comparison Calculator at Monstermoving.com.
  • As in the real world, research on the Internet can be time-consuming and marginally helpful or it can be efficient and very productive. To make sure that your research pays off, focus on acquiring information that will help you interview effectively with prospective employers and secure a compensation package that reflects your true “value” in the labor market.

    Thanks for reading,


    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm, released the results of a hiring survey among small businesses. It found that hiring at small businesses (i.e., those with fewer than 500 employees) was up 25% during the first three months of this year. Almost two thirds of respondents (63%) hired one or more new employees, up from 50.7% in the fourth quarter of 2003, and the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2001. Although these companies may be smaller than the giants in the Fortune 100, many of them have Web-sites where you can research their products and services, their history, and their employment opportunities. How can you find them? Check the Web-site of your local Chamber of Commerce, the research librarian in your local library, and the Business section of your local newspaper (both in print and online).

    GetEducated.com reported its findings from a survey of online learners. According to the poll, the top ten most popular online business majors are: business administration, management, leadership, project management, information systems management, finance, technology management, entrepreneurship, human resources, and international business. What majors have fallen out of the top 10? According to the site, those associated with the late dot.com boom-Internet and e-commerce-and even some in traditional fields, such as marketing. Why is this important information for you? Because online degree programs-and there are now hundreds of them offered by some of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country-offer a non-intrusive way for you to keep yourself up-to-date in your field (business or otherwise) or to acquire new skills that may make you competitive for more lucrative and/or interesting jobs in other fields. Take advantage of them to keep your career moving forward.

    Experience, Inc. has surveyed college graduates in the Class of 2004 and found that 64% will have participated in at least one internship, up 12% from a year ago. Even more impressive, the number of college graduates who have held at least three internships doubled from 2003. Internships, of course, are a proven strategy for “trying out” employment arrangements on-the-job. They enable both the individual and the employer to determine just how good the fit is likely to be, thereby reducing misjudgments (on either the individual or the employer’s part) and disappointment later. No less important, internships aren’t only for college students. They’re also an effective way to get a foot in the door when your making the transition from one career field to another or if you’ve been in a job search for more than a year and are finding it hard to articulate/differentiate your value proposition as a prospective employee. It’s not the ideal situation, I know, but if you structure it right, an internship can give you an edge in the hunt for a new position.

    Netshare, a company serving the career needs of senior professionals and managers, announced the results of a survey of 200 recruiters. Among its findings:

  • age discrimination continues to be a problem. A majority of respondents (59%) said that age makes a difference in their clients’ consideration of candidates-it isn’t supposed to, I know, but it does-with 47% saying it becomes a factor at 50 years of age, and 13% saying it begins as early as 45.
  • signing bonuses are still rare. Almost three quarters of respondents (73%) said that bonuses were not being offered, even to top candidates.
  • pay packages remain unchanged from last year. Seven-in-ten of the respondents reported that the compensation packages associated with employment offers this year are not any larger than those last year at this time.
  • As usual, however, the glass is not completely empty. A whopping 75% of the recruiters said that their business was up over the spring of 2003, and 59% expect a “major upswing in hiring” within the next six months. What does all of this mean for you? Don’t let up on your job search efforts. This may no longer be a jobless expansion, but it’s hardly an employment bonanza either. Also, be smart and do your homework so that you can appropriately evaluate offers. Knowing what you’re worth in the labor market is the key to making smart choices among employers.

    rhinomite.com announced that it has teamed with NBC 10 and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to offer online employment advertising to the Providence, Rhode Island metro area. You will see opportunities featured in a Job of the Day segment during the television station’s Sunrise News program and in 30 second commercials aired throughout the day. The ads, themselves, are actually posted on three sites: rhinomite.com, turnto10.com and provchamber.com.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. If you’re a lifeguard looking for employment somewhere on the East Coast of the U.S., which of the following sites might be an undertow on your prospects?

  • ClubSwim.com
  • LifeguardingJobs.com
  • SwimOutlet.com
  • Hcareers.com
  • 2. If you’re an experienced software engineer living in Colorado, which of the follow sites would put a bug in your search for a new position?

  • Dice.com
  • Engen.com
  • SoftwareEngineer.copm
  • SoftPros.com
  • 3. If you’re a communication systems analyst with a U.S. Government security clearance, which of the following sites would help you crack the code on finding a new job?

  • TAOnline.com
  • AboveTopSecret.com
  • VetJobs.com
  • ClearanceJobs.com
  • 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 – All

    Distribution of jobs: National: USA

    Number of jobs: 400,000

    Salary levels of jobs: $51-70K/yr

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: Indefinitely

    Restrictions on who can post: None

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

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. ClubSwim.com, the Web-site of a swim apparel company.

    2. SoftPros.com, the Web-site of a software development company.

    3. All but AboveTopSecret.com, a Web-site about government conspiracies and cover-ups.