The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Job Searching
The Internet is now an integral part of the job search process for most Americans. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a skilled tradesperson, a midlevel professional or a senior executive, if you’re looking for a new or better job, there’s a very high likelihood that you will visit one or more job boards (e.g., HigherEdJobs.com, WorkInSports.com), job search engines (e.g., Jobs2Careers.com, HealthJobs.com), publishers (e.g., USA Today, The New York Times), association sites (e.g. Association CareerHQ, ASHA.org-American Speech-Language Hearing Association) and social media sites (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn). As a result, these destinations have become more crowded than malls, leaving many visitors dissatisfied with the support and assistance they receive.
Online employment sites are clearly important resources. Both the larger, general purpose sites, such as ZipRecruiter.com and Indeed.com, as well as the niche sites in your career field, industry and geographic location can help you find and compete for great jobs. They do not, however, represent the full range of resources you can find online. Nor does visiting them constitute all that you should be doing to take full advantage of the information and insights available on the Internet. For both of those reasons and with a nod to Stephen Covey, I’ve developed what I call the 7 habits of highly effective online job searching. Adopt these principles and you’ll be far more satisfied with the Internet’s contribution to your career advancement.
Habit #1: Remember the world around you
Visit news and information sites and stay abreast of domestic and world affairs. Expand your perspective by thinking through how events could influence your industry. Work to gain an understanding of the pressures and expectations that political and other developments might impose on potential employers. Weave that knowledge, as appropriate, into your interviews and networking.
Habit #2: Stay on top of what you know
Visit sites that specialize in your career field and industry. These might include sites operated by trade organizations, commercial and academic publications, and professional associations as well as blogs and other online discussion forums. Stay current on the trends, issues and thought leaders affecting your work. Wherever possible, contribute to the dialogue, both in any articles you write for online publication and in the comments you post on blogs.
Habit #3: Find your friends and be one
Network online with friends and former colleagues by visiting sites hosted by your alma mater’s alumni organization and your professional association. Also check to see if there’s a site for the “corporate alumni” of your former employers. As in the real world, networking online is based on a simple principle: you have to give as good as you get. So, do more than simply read what others are saying on these sites; participate in the conversation and offer others the benefit of your wisdom.
Habit #4: Feed your imagination
Expand the universe of employers with which you are familiar by visiting online corporate research sites, such as Hoovers.com and Bloomberg.com. Do your homework on the plusses and minuses of various organizations with an eye toward developing a short list of those for which you might possibly like to work. Then, visit the sites of those organizations and ask about them in your online networking groups to determine which are really a prospective dream employer for you.
Habit #5: Follow the lead of those you know but be your own judge
General purpose sites are designed to deliver job search services to the workforce at large and across the entire country. If you want to find the job boards and social media sites that are most likely to serve your particular career field or location, you will have to look at niche or specialty sites. Ask those whom you most respect in your field and the best of your former bosses which sites they use to check job postings and showcase their credentials. Follow their lead, but not slavishly; ultimately, it’s up to you to determine which of the 150,000+ employment sites now online will serve you best.
Habit #6: Treat every interaction as a first impression
In a crowded job market, first impressions count for a lot, so make sure yours is a good one. Never send out your resume as if it were spam or junk e-mail; if you do, it will almost certainly be treated that way and end up in the virtual trash bin. E-mail transmitted in a job search is a form of business correspondence, so make sure your messages are polite, completely free of grammatical errors, and wherever possible, addressed to a particular individual by name.
Habit #7: Keep a balance in what you do
The most effective job search campaigns are multifaceted. They involve a range of activities, online and off, to find, compete for and win the job of your dreams. The final interviews and offer, however, will almost always occur in the real world. So, make sure that you turn off your computer every day and spend some time honing your skills in interpersonal communications and other real-world activities. They provide a necessary and effective balance for the other 6 habits of successful online job search.
Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books, ranging from his novel, A Prescription for the Soul, to his career success workbook, The Career Fitness Handbook. For more information, visit CareerFitness.com.