With the rise of the Internet, searching for a job has become a predominantly online process. With that reality in mind, this article contains seven tips and secrets for making the most of your online job search.
1. Let Employers Find You (Always Post Your Resume Online)
Job seekers who add their resume to an online database have more chances to receive a job offer as those who simply applied to specific positions. Always keep in mind that many employers never advertise their openings, preferring instead to search a pre-screened database of applicants. Employers overwhelmingly prefer this method to the alternative of advertising a position online and being flooded with hundreds of unqualified applications. If your resume is not in the database that your dream employer is searching, you’ve already lost out.
2. See What Employers See
Most of the major online job boards have a section of their site where potential employers can conduct a free test search of their resume database. Before you post your resume online, use this feature to search for the type of job you want.
There are at least three advantages to doing this:
- You will see the Top 10 candidates for your keywords (i.e., your competitors) and you can then model your own profile and resume after these successful examples.
- You will immediately see that placing keywords in the Title of your profile and body of your resume are critically important (because that’s how employers search the database).
- You will learn what keywords work for your occupation and possibly discover others you hadn’t thought of.
3. Use Third-Party Job Search Engines
Jobseekers don’t realize that the search functions on most job boards are intentionally set up to show you sponsored listings first. That’s the principal reason why your search results often bear little relevance to your search terms and always seem to include so-called "business opportunities." To circumvent this problem, use one of the new third-party job search engines. The big online job boards give these search engines access to their databases because they effectively pre-sort incoming traffic, allowing the job boards to show better-targeted ads. By using one of the free services, you will get more relevant search results and gain the additional advantage of searching multiple job boards at once.
4. Save Your Money
Several online job boards offer paid packages that purport to place your resume near the top of the list when employers search for candidates in your field. Don’t waste your money. First of all, you have no way to measure how much higher your resume will rank over non-paid resumes. Second, for the most competitive fields, thousands of other people have purchased the same package, defeating their purpose. Third, simply changing one word of your profile or posted resume on a regular basis will have the same effect (essentially getting you the outcome of the paid service for free.)
5. Protect Your Identity & Privacy
Unfortunately, online resume databases have become a favorite way for scam artists to find victims. To protect your privacy and identity while still effectively making your credentials available, consider these steps:
- Never list your home address on your posted resumes. Legitimate employers don’t need it in order to evaluate your credentials.
- Instead of listing your full name, just put your first initial and last name. Make sure you follow this practice for both your online profile and your posted resumes.
- Use a free email account (Hotmail, GMail, Yahoo, etc.) instead of one that identifies your current employer.
- If you can afford it, use an inexpensive voicemail box for your phone number. The reason is that a third-party voicemail phone number cannot be reverse-searched to find your home address and other personal details.
- To really protect your privacy, don't put an email address on your posted resumes (in most cases employers can still send you email through the job board’s built-in system). The majority of job board scammers obtain target victims by using special software to “scrape” email addresses off posted resumes. Instead of listing an email address, just list your phone number. Some privacy experts suggest listing only an email (and no phone number). I think it should be the other way around. Here’s why: Legitimate employers and recruiters interested in your skills and qualifications will call you, but most scammers will not. The reason is that it is simple and convenient for scammers to send out email in bulk, but it is inconvenient, time-consuming and risky for them to place individual phone calls (and costly if they are located in another country).
Don’t be an easy target.
6. Always Complete the Online Profile (in addition to attaching your resume)
Why? Because when employers search the resume database, your profile is searched and shown before your resume. In fact, an employer won’t see your resume at all unless they first click on your profile and then scroll all they way to the bottom of the screen (which many won’t do).
7. Optimize Your Resume for Online Job Searches
Just like with normal web searches, when employers search online resumes databases the results are ranked based on the frequency and occurrence of certain keywords. As such, to optimize your resume for online job searches, you should do the following:
- Put your keywords in the title of your resume. For example instead of naming your resume "Bob’s resume – IT version", try "SQL Developer, ORACLE, PeopleSoft, ERP."
- Put your keywords in the fields provided for your former job titles. At several of the largest online job boards, the Title of your profile and the Title of your recent jobs are the ONLY fields that employers initially see when searching for candidates.
- Make sure your keywords appear in the body of your resume multiple times.
(Tip: If they don’t naturally fit elsewhere, create a "Skills" category at the end of your resume and incorporate them there.)