MADISON, Wis. (6/7/10)--Looking for work ain’t what it used to be. Long gone are the days of circling want ads in the daily newspaper and hitting the pavement. Today, like it or not, you’ve got to be prepared to take your job hunt online. With the economy adding 195,000 jobs in April (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
May 7), you want to be as competitive as possible. Here are some suggestions from the Credit Union National Association's Center for Personal Finance for conducting a job search in cyberspace:
* Know your way around. If your computer skills are limited, spend some time getting up to speed. Some public libraries offer Internet navigation courses, as might your local technical college. Not only will you improve your job search, but you’ll also acquire the ability to fill out online applications, which are becoming more and more common. * Investigate prospective employers. Many companies now post job openings on their websites. While you’re there, study each company’s information, its products and services and its industry. This will help you identify places that are a good fit for your talents and career plans. It’ll also help you write cover letters that reveal knowledge relevant to the position you aspire to get. * Consider several job search sites. By now you’ve probably seen ads for Monster.com, but there are many competing sites out there. On her website job-hunt.org, self-described online job search expert Susan P. Joyce says, “Many of the ‘big names’ are great sites, but they can also be expensive for employers to use and not attractive to some specialized groups of job seekers.” Therefore, you’ll need to poke around and compare search site features, ease of use, and supporting help, such as résumé guidance. * Complement your personal network with online contacts. The more people you know who are aware that you’re looking for work, the more likely you’ll hear about openings that aren’t advertised. Be sure to spread the word about your availability and employment interests among relatives, friends and business associates. But also set up accounts with one or more online social networks such as LinkedIn and cast your net among acquaintances you don’t see every day. * Be careful. The Web can help you snare a great job, but it also can be a trap. Joyce points out that identity thieves and con artists often use job seekers’ eagerness and desperation against them. So, for example, she warns against including your Social Security number on your résumé and urges you to be “very wary of an e-mail from an anonymous employer or recruiter.”
Finally, if you’re successful in getting a job interview, don’t forget the final step, which the Internet can never improve upon--a thank-you note, on paper and in ink, just like Mom always told you, remember?