Feature: WEDDLE’s Research Factoid

Feature: WEDDLE’s Research Factoid

Feature: WEDDLE’s Research Factoid

WEDDLE’s continuously conducts both primary and secondary research on Best Practices in online job search and career self-management. We recently asked the visitors to the WEDDLE’s Web-site to describe themselves for us. Almost 1,500 people replied, providing an interesting window on who’s going to employment sites on the Internet today.

Among the questions we asked respondents was one about their age. Here are the percentages of employment site visitors by age:

  • 20-25 (8.8%)
  • 26-30 (18.0%)
  • 31-40 (26.9%)
  • 41-50 (23.9%)
  • 51-55 (12.4%)
  • 56+ (10.0%)
  • What the Findings Mean

    These results present a counter-intuitive portrait of today’s visitors to online employment sites. Most would expect that the preponderance of this population would be younger job seekers who, according to conventional wisdom at least, are more comfortable with the Internet. That apparently isn’t true:

  • There are more people over the age of 56 (10%) visiting job boards and corporate career sites than there are people under the age of 25 (8.8%) who do so.
  • There are almost as many people over the age of 50 (22.4%) using employment sites as there are people under the age of 30 (26.8%) who use them.
  • The usage pattern across the entire population is almost evenly split between those under the age of 40 (53.7%) and those over it (46.3%).

    What does all of that mean for those of us who are currently in transition or thinking about making a job change in 2007? Here are the lessons I think we can take away:

    The Internet is an equal opportunity provider. There are as many employment opportunities posted online for senior level and experienced workers as there are for entry-level and younger workers. There are openings for management trainees and for CEOs, for recent college graduates and for seasoned experts in their career field, for those who are looking to start out on their careers and those who want to start over.

    You are not alone on the Web. There’s been a lot commentary in the media about how the Internet facilitates interaction among younger age groups. It’s equally as effective in providing a way for everyone else in the population to connect with their peers. Certainly, there are the social networking sites that appeal to younger cohorts of the workforce, but there are also sites run by professional associations, alumni organizations and affinity groups where older cohorts of the population can meet and interact with one another.

    The online environment opens a window on employers. You can use an employer’s Web-site to evaluate its culture. If the words and images on the site are skewed toward a certain segment of the population-younger or older-it may not welcome those who don’t fit that profile, regardless of what the organization says about its commitment to equal opportunity.

    The online competition for the best jobs knows no boundaries. Every opening on the Internet is accessible by everyone online. As a result, younger workers now compete with older workers, and older workers now compete with younger workers. Age bias may still curtail the success of some in the workplace, but access to open jobs is an equal employment opportunity online.

    The Internet is not a silver bullet, but it is now apparently a bit more silver-haired. There are almost as many job seekers on the Web with a lengthy resume as there are job seekers with a shorter one. This equilibrium has evolved for a very simple reason: the Internet is the most open, the most unfettered, and the most complete catalog of employment opportunity available anywhere. It takes some skill to use it effectively, but that can be learned by anyone … regardless of their age.

    Please Note: As a part of our ongoing research, WEDDLE’s has been surveying both job seekers and recruiters on the Web since 1996. We’ve amassed hundreds of thousands of data elements probing:

  • what they do and what they don’t do,
  • what they like and what they don’t like,
  • and most importantly,

  • what they think works best.
  • To add your insights and opinions to our research, please visit the Polling Station at the WEDDLE’s Web-site.

    Mea Culpa Last week, we announced WEDDLE’s 2007 User’s Choice Awards. There was just one problem. We miscounted. The User’s Choice Awards recognize the 30 sites that collected the most votes from job seekers and recruiters during our online ballot each year. We, unfortunately, listed only 29 of the winners last week. What was the missing site? 6FigureJobs. Congratulations to them and to all of the winners for earning the respect of the toughest judges on the Web-you.

    Section Two: Food for Thoughtful People

    Peter Weddle has been writing columns for his own newsletter and for the Interactive Edition of The Wall Street Journal since 1999. The following column has been drawn from that work and updated for 2006. You can also find many of Peter’s tips and techniques in our book WEDDLE’s WizNotes: Finding a Job on the Web.

    The Application Two-Step

    Consider this scenario; it’s a common one on the Internet today: You spend several hours visiting a number of employment Web-sites; at each site, you search through hundreds of job postings in its job database; and finally, after all that effort, you find exactly what you been looking for. There, right in front of you, is a posting for your dream job. So, what do you do? You apply, of course? You fire off your resume and wait for the phone to ring.

    That’s how most of us think job application works on the Web. Job boards and company Web-sites make the process look easy and simple. And, unfortunately, it’s not. You see, applying for a job online is actually a two-step exercise:

  • Step 1 is a test,
  • Step 2 is the answer.
  • Complete the first step, and you will be considered an applicant; complete the second step, and you will get yourself noticed. Do both steps, and you’ll likely move to the head of the candidate line.

    Step 1: The Test

    When you see a job posting, you’re actually looking at a test. The purpose of this exam is to determine whether or not you paid attention in Mrs. Murphy’s kindergarten class. What was the first lesson you were taught there? That’s right: To follow directions. In essence, a job posting is, first and foremost, a test to determine whether you can (and will) adhere to the employer’s specified procedures for job application. These directions might be:

  • Cut and paste your resume into the body of an e-mail message,
  • Send your resume as an attachment to an e-mail message,
  • Complete the online application form that the company provides, or
  • Send your resume to the company by old fashioned postal mail.
  • Unless the employer explicitly states that it will accept applications several different ways, the one method it specifies is the only way it wants you to apply. So, the first part of the job posting exam in Step 1 is pass or fail; either you follow the employer’s directions and are considered a genuine applicant or you don’t follow its directions and are designated a “graffiti applicant.” The former gets you into the zone of consideration; the latter gets you tossed into the reject pile.

    The second part of the exam tests how well you prepare your resume. In the good, old days, before resumes were done on word processors, you submitted a generic resume and used your cover letter to highlight the relevant details that made you the perfect candidate for a particular opening. Today, the strongest applications are those that have been tailored to the specific requirements and responsibilities of an opening. The cover letter (or message on the Web) reinforces those strengths, but it’s the detailed relevance of your resume that makes you a candidate worthy of consideration.

    Step 2: The Answer

    As soon as you have completed Step 1, begin working on Step 2. If Step 1 enables you to pass the test; Step 2 provides the answer that will ace it. Here’s what I mean: Recruiters are inundated with applicant resumes these days, so it’s very hard for any single person-even one who is perfectly qualified for an opening-to get noticed. To overcome that disadvantage, you must help your resume stand out.

    The minute you have passed the test in Step 1, start networking among friends and colleagues to find contacts in the organization where you have applied. You’re trying to identify one (or both) of two kinds of contacts:

  • Employees of the organization whom you know
  • Employees whom you don’t know, but with whom you share an affinity (e.g., you are both members of the same professional association, alumni of the same college or university).
  • Networking to such contacts is not as difficult as it may initially seem, thanks to the Internet. Use online databases and directories at the Web-sites of such organizations as your professional society, college or university alumni association, community softball league, parent-teacher association, and community gardening club. Research shows that we are all separated by only six other people, and the Web is the best way to find the connections that will help you reach more of them.

    The purpose of this networking is to ask your friend or contact to refer you to the appropriate recruiter in the employer’s HR Department. When they do so, they move your resume from one of hundreds or thousands in the organization’s resume database to one of a handful or less on the recruiter’s desktop. There, it will almost certainly get noticed and considered. Why? Because recruiters believe that the best candidates are those brought to them by the organization’s own employees.

    Simple as applying for a job online might seem, it’s actually both the first assessment an employer will make of your capabilities as a prospective employee and a way to differentiate yourself from the other applicants who are competing for the position you want. All you have to do to pass the test and set yourself apart is follow the Application Two-Step.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    P.S. Remember what you learned in kindergarten: It’s nice to share. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!

    Section 3: News You Can Use

    The Association of Executive Search Consultants released the results of its survey of over 1,000 executives and their view of work-life balance. Not surprisingly, they found that the balance was often out of wack, caused at least in part by the electronic tethers that now tie us to the workplace. Almost six-in-ten (59%) of the respondents said that BlackBerries and mobile phones had diminished the quantity or quality of their leisure time. While such a view is understandable, I think it misses the larger point. The fact that we need a balance between our work and the rest of our life implies that our work is a negative that must be countered by a positive for us to lead a healthy existence. I believe a better strategy is to improve the nature of the work we do so that it provides a level of engagement and fulfillment on a par with what happens in the rest of our life. I’ve described how to make that happen in a new book I’m finishing called Career Fitness: How to Keep Employers From Kicking Sand in Your Face. I’ll provide more details as it gets closer to print.

    Bubbleprice provides a fun, but totally unsubstantiated way to determine just how much venture capital you’ll be able to raise for that business you’ve always wanted to start. Whether it actually takes some of the guess work out of being an entrepreneur or simply offers a “pleasant diversion,” you’ll have to judge. Using the site’s drop-down windows (which does limit your choices), I named my venture Peopleizer.com and described it as a community-driven, easy-to-use niche job board with a business model based on Google ads. How much venture capital would I be able to raise for such an idea? According to Bubbleprice, I’m likely to see just $28,782 in start-up investment funding. So much for that idea.

    The TheLadders.com published the results of its Executive Employment Outlook, an evaluation of the higher-end or $100,000+ job market. It found that the hottest markets for senior level job seekers were in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Chicago and San Diego. The tightest job markets were in Detroit, Tampa and Dallas. With strong markets out-numbering weaker ones by a margin of almost three-to-one, optimism among executives in transition was high. Better than a third (36%) said they expected to apply to fewer than 20 job listings before receiving an offer. A year ago, they said it would probably take 20-to-50 applications before an offer came in the door. While I applaud the emphasis on the individual effort required to be successful in a job search, I think the quality of one’s applications rather than their quantity would be a better metric. The key to finding your dream job is not receiving an offer, but receiving that offer from the right employer. Rather than applying for 20 or 20-50 jobs, I suggest that you apply to five-and use the time you save, as a result, to do the necessary research to identify which five opportunities are best for you.

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