Advice about applying for jobs posted online runs the gamut from being a complete waste of time to being the cutting-edge method most employers are using to locate the best candidates for a job opening. Many job coaches feel that getting two or three responses, and one or two interviews, for every 100 online job applications on the Internet is a strong response.
There are a few realities regarding online job postings and applications:
• By the time a job opening is posted online, millions of job seekers will have access to the job opening, so the competition can be extreme.
• Many employers have company policies that require them to publicly advertise job openings, even when they have already chosen a candidate.
• Sometimes a job will be posted online, but budget cuts in the company result the job remaining vacant. This has been especially true during our recent recession.
• Conversely, some employers require online applications and rarely make exceptions.
All this makes applying for jobs posted online a genuine dilemma in today’s world. The best approach is to talk to current employees of companies you have targeted in your job search and ask them how they would recommend you learn of, and apply for, jobs with their company.
Putting too much emphasis on any single job search method is unwise. Even limiting yourself to the most effective job search method, networking, is unwise.
The six main job search methods, listed from least effective to most effective, are:
• Attending job fairs;
• Responding to advertised job postings;
• Using job search agencies and recruiters;
• Asking for information interviews with targeted companies before jobs are open;
• Using social and professional networking Internet sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter;
Let’s look at the first three methods.
•Attending job fairs: Attending job fairs is the least effective method of finding a job, especially during, or immediately following, a recession. Such job fairs typically include a great number of job seekers and a very limited number of employers. Some job fairs include many commission-only types of sales jobs and education-based agencies and programs that encourage you to go back to school (which may or may not be the best path to take).
Here are two tips about attending job fairs:
1) Bring as many copies of your résumé as there will likely be employers that hire your skills; and;
2) Try to get the names of the hiring decision-makers in the company, and then follow up.
• Responding to advertised job postings: As mentioned above, this method will include a great deal of competition.
Here are two tips specifically about online responses to advertised job postings:
1) Ensure you identify the key skills you possess that the employer is looking for, both in your cover letter and in your résumé; and
2) Always include both your cover letter and your résumé in the text of the email, not as an attachment. Attachments require those reviewing your application to take an extra step they more than likely will not take.
• Using job search agencies and recruiters: This method can be especially effective for those who have had a successful career and for higher-level executives. Those with specific skill sets, such as writing code, may find this approach very helpful.
Here are two tips about using job search agencies and recruiters:
1) Ensure your résumé thoroughly identifies your skills and past accomplishments; and
2) Clearly communicate your specific needs and preferences to the agency or recruiter.
The remaining three methods will be discussed in next week’s column. Of special interest will be the increasingly effective use of social and professional networking Internet sites to improve your networking reach and find the names of those all-important hiring decision-makers.
Ron Campbell has worked extensively in the job preparation and job search industry. He can be reached at 801-386-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.