Monday, June 28, 2010

Internet Tools

The longer I work in the area of job search and the more I learn about the various tools available to a job seeker, the more I realize how confusing it is.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is figuring out an appropriate balance. At NFJS, everything we’ve learned strongly reinforces that networking is the key to a successful job search. So it should be obvious, we think networking sites are much more important than any others, heck more important than all of the others combined.

There are really four kinds of web sites that we care about in job search.

Social Networking
The most useful type of web page is a social networking site: Linkedin or Facebook. Each of these provides tools to connect with your existing network. Linkedin is really optimized for your career and is almost required for an effective job search. There is lots to love here, but my favorite is what Linkedin does for allowing you to create intelligence around your network. As in, when you are interested in a particular company, a simple search in of “people” for the company will return how you are connected to the company. Linkedin is a place worth checking every day. Even here though it’s important not to get carried away. The focus of Facebook is your social network, but given that it is still your network, there are lots of ways to use this effectively. Spending time each day on these tools helps. Linkedin will get more results in job search than Facebook, but given that your network is your greatest resource, anything that nurtures your network is a good thing.

Be careful with your posts…. Everywhere. Remember that all of this stuff is permanent and the vast majority of what is posted is visible to a potential employer. You may have been at a great party over the weekend, heck it may have been your wedding, but don’t post a picture of you or any of your friends that got a little bit too happy. What has context with you and your friends doesn’t have context to a stranger.

Job Boards and listing aggregators.
One type not on the list, but very tempting and not very rewarding is job boards. You know their names.,, etc. Each portrays itself as your one necessary stop on your career search, and frankly they mostly suck time without a return. Of course they actually do have real jobs being advertised…. The solution to this is the next type I do recommend: An “aggregator”. What they do is search through other pages to save you the time. The first of these that I recommend is What Indeed does is search a large number (200? 300?) of job boards and report the findings back to the searcher. In addition it can be set up to redo a particular search daily then drop the findings into your email. Another one in this group is It is similar to Indeed, but searches corporate boards instead. Lots of companies are less than excited to advertise on job boards, for lots of reasons, starting with cost. Linkup finds those jobs.

About Companies (as the company sees it)
The third are pages that describe a company. So it starts with the company web page, but also include things like Dunn and Bradstreet. For publicly traded companies, the web page will almost certainly have the most recent annual report and these truly are a gold mine of information. The “President’s report?” (or whatever passes for that) is usually quite accessible and will provide some great information about where the company is going and how it’s dealing with publicly known adversity. Dunn and Bradstreet is the tool companies use to check on each other, so pretty much every company that purchases anything is in here. It may be a little out of date, but never more than a few months, so it’s a resource that can be very useful.

About Companies (as others see it)
Start with Glass Door. It’s sort of rumor central, but take away the flames and the PR and you can get a pretty good idea of what a company is about. Then check stock analysts, business reporters, etc. Go to the library and ask a librarian. These people are amazing researchers and they love to help.

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