Surf's Up! Job Hunters Catch an Internet Wave

Web makes job searches faster, cheaper, more thorough

When Lynn Rosin was downsized out of a job at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts recently, she scoured the classifieds and canvassed the recruiters to find a new human resources position.

She also surfed the Internet. Within a week, she hit pay dirt in cyberspace, an opening at an advertising firm in Boston. She faxed in her rsum, landed an interview, and quickly "downloaded" an offer.

The Internet is revolutionizing the way people look for jobs and the way companies look for employees: It's faster, cheaper, more comprehensive.

"The Internet is a great resource," says Ms. Rosin. "When you go through the newspaper, you have to look through a lot of jobs. On the Internet, you can narrow your search."

This year, the number of job vacancies posted on the World Wide Web has exploded from tens of thousands to millions.

America's Job Bank, for example, an online job board from the US Labor Department (, lists more than 500,000 positions at about 200,000 companies.

Not just for high-tech posts

Worried that Internet job postings are mostly for "techies?" Try accountant, credit analyst, industrial engineer, sales clerk, health-care consultant, administrative assistant, school superintendent, and even chief operating officer.

Most cover middle management, with annual salaries from $40,000 to $100,000, from San Francisco to Sydney.

Even city governments, universities, and the United States armed services recruit in cyberspace.

"Two years ago, most of us were very tentative regarding the Internet," says Steven Green, a principal at CareerPath, an outplacement firm in Northboro, Mass. "Now, when we talk about conducting a comprehensive job search, we're talking about getting on the Internet."

One advantage is cost. Most companies post openings with online job banks, which generally provide job listings, a rsum database, and job hunting/career tips.

Job seekers can usually search these sites for free. Companies often pay a nominal fee per posting, but it's much cheaper than newspaper advertising. And with no word limit, businesses can run job descriptions several paragraphs long.

"There are a lot of opportunities on the Internet that you won't find elsewhere," adds Frank Carta, a job developer at outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison in Boston. Mr. Carta says most of his clients find two to three worthwhile listings a week.

The response has stunned companies.

United Parcel Service in Atlanta says that, since September, it has received more than 3,500 electronic rsums just for high-tech positions.

And San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. has hired a corporate recruiter and several computer programmers since it started posting its job openings on the Web a year ago.

Many companies board the Net for speed alone.

Rapid response

Fred Jandt, co-author of "Using the Internet and the World Wide Web in Your Job Search," says one company he worked with received an application for a Net job posting 10 minutes after the position went online. "We were astonished," he says.

Recruiters often find that job candidates on the Web are more qualified. "If you're looking for someone with online expertise, it's more logical to be online looking for them," says Derek VanBronkhorst of Levi Strauss.

Indeed, more companies are looking online. About 1 in 5 companies in North America uses the Internet or online services for recruiting, according to a survey of 600 business by the William Olsten Center for Workforce Strategies. But the survey also found that nearly half of workers are hired through classified ads.

For those lacking Internet savvy, the Web can be overwhelming. "There's a flood of information out there, and where people are getting stopped is trying to [sort through it]," says Claire Stoddard, vice president of Drake Beam Morin, a New York-based outplacement firm.

Outplacement expert Carta agrees. "Finding a job on the Web can be like finding a needle in a haystack," he quips.

His advice: "To find the good opportunities, you have to get in there and play."

Job Sites To Check Out

* The Riley Guide - A Web job-surfing guide, with resources and links to other sites.

* America's Job Bank - Provided by the US Labor Department,with one of the largest listings nationwide. Many state employment offices also post job listings here.

* The Monster Board - Jobs worldwide, more than half in high-tech.

* Career Mosaic - Jobs worldwide.

* E-Span - Jobs nationwide.

* Online Career Center - Jobs nationwide.

* JOBTRAK - Jobs aimed at college students and recent grads.

* Career Path - Displays classified ads from major newspapers.

* FedWorld - Government job openings.

Here's How ...

1. Learn to write resumes for the Internet. Recruiters, for example, often scan rsums for key words that define a job or skills - such as "network" and "project management." Pat Criscito's book "Rsums in Cyberspace" (Barron's) explains "key words" and other key concepts in great detail and shows you how to post a rsum in various job bank sites.

2. Check out the competition. Compare other online rsums in your field with yours. This is a rare opportunity to assess both the competition and yourself.

3. Watch your manners. When a company spots your rsum online, it will often e-mail you before calling you in for an interview. Your response becomes a prescreen for an interview. Be professional when writing a response: Never address the employer by first name; write in complete sentences; and answer promptly.

4. Don't rely on the Internet as your sole source for finding a job.

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