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Online Job Searches

I?ve spent the last day or so doing online job searches. I had done it two years ago with some success, and thought I had mastered it. Since that time, all the job search services have undergone several facelifts and are more aggressively pushing their services (an all-too understandable occurrence in this competitive world).

While Monster.com has the most elaborate job search site, it really doesn?t have as many listings as headhunter.net. Headhunter is affiliated with yahoo as well as the local Austin newspaper. Headhunter has a much easier interface and allows you to cut and paste resumes, something which Monster unwisely abandoned a year ago. Monster requires that you use their template. The template is not bad, but it forces you to quantify your experience into years and your salary requirements. That is convenient for employers wanting to filter their applicant pool, but ludicrous otherwise. What matters is not how many years you?ve been doing something, but how good you are at doing it. This emphasis on years of experience rewards people who have only one skill but have been doing it forever. As far as minimum salary, I usually put $15,000 (or whatever minimum amount the database allows). Remember the purpose is to make your resume visible on job searches, not to negotiate salary. I must use this simple search query to find 90% of my job leads.

Headhunter is nice, but it has a crazy rule that resumes or cover letters cannot contain url?s. It?s rather easy to work around it (I just substituted ?http://? for hXXp://?), but I marvel at the inanity of it. Why on earth would a internet recruiting company want to prevent employers from viewing other resumes you have online?

One problem I noticed with most job searches is that they don?t allow you to limit your search to certain regions. Or they allow you to specify only one or two industries rather than several. Interestingly, rather than concocting several crazy database queries by cities, I usually end up searching the whole USA and just follow the ones in places that interest me. (i.e., Austin, Washington DC, Denver, Portland, Houston, Madison and San Antonio, in order of preference).

One problem with these sites is how they determine the freshness of a resume. Resumes from search results appear newest first, so there is value to updating or renewing them frequently. But that is tedious. It never is really clear what is the best way to submit your resume and cover?via Headhunter, the company?s own online job application or the email address of the contact person. And how do they treat attachments? I?ve gotten in the habit of putting url?s to my resume instead; not only does it avoid the problem of attachments being lost, it allows employers to view the most current resume available.

My favorite site is Austin Job Hunt, which lists links to all the local IT companies. The google newsgroups would seem to be the obvious place to find jobs, but actually they aren?t too busy; Perhaps human resource departments have concerns about privacy, but there?s no beating the price.

These job search tools are marvelous, but they demand a level of technical competence just to use them. Have we finally reached a point where making Boolean searches is as vital a life skill as cooking or driving a car?

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