If the cyberspace boom has not yet compelled you to log on to the Internet, it should at least have grabbed your attention. If you are looking for a job, the Internet is an information superhighway system that gives you access to an ever-growing number of career, employment, and company sites with just a few mouse clicks.
At the Starting Line
Navigating the information highway is much like driving a paved one. Though you will encounter rush-hour bottlenecks, it's all about how you maneuver the I-way. First, you will need a computer, a modem, a communications program, access to a phone line, and an account with an Internet service provider. These are likely supplied for you (at no cost) on campus, at computer labs, and in residence halls.
Today, the most popular way to access the Internet is the World Wide Web (WWW). By using browser software such as Netscape, Mosaic, or NetCruiser, you can travel to countless home pages on the Web. These pages then can link you quickly to various locations with related data. You also can secure a little corner of cyberspace for yourself by creating a personal home page where you can invite visitors- including prospective employers- to get a peek at your career objectives, talents and qualifications.
The quickest way to get to a Web site on the Net is to type in its "address," or Uniform Resource Locator (URL). But even if you don't know the address of your destination, you can get started by using a search engine. These are directories for the Internet that allow users to type in the subject or keywords in which they are interested. It then scans existing Web sites for a match. A popular choice is Yahoo! <http: www.yahoo.com>.
Usenet groups, also known as newsgroups or discussion forums, are devoted to a vast array of focused topics, including some on career and job search issues. Usenet group discussions tend to be more well-thought-out than those on chat lines and have standard behaviors-netiquette-that dictate communication. So, before you send a message or respond to a posting, spend some time reading a posting entered by other users.
Usenet groups can be a valuable forum to make connections with people, keep up on industry trends, access job listings, and post resumes. To read or post to newsgroups you will need news reader software. If you want to participate in job hunt discussions, check out misc.jobs.misc.
View the Net From the Employer's Perspective
Employers from corporate America to government agencies are increasingly turning to the Net. They are hunting actively for talent through employment bulletin boards, commercial resume data banks, and their own corporate home pages. A recruiter from Tandem Computers in Cupertino, Calif., says enthusiastically: "I love the Web. It gave me the solution I had been looking for - a fast and cost-effective way to direct computer-literate candidates to a database. We went live on the Web with our home page in 1994. We post job openings, college recruiting dates, and other employment-related information; but most importantly, we give our home page visitors an intimate look at Tandem."
Preparing Your Electronic Resume
You may choose to send your resume via e-mail or post it on databases located on commercial online services, bulletin boards, newsgroups, or mailing lists. Remember that the Internet is predominately a text-based (not voice/ video-based) tool. The first impressions you make during your job search are always the strongest, so it's critical that the application letter and resume you send via email immediately set the right tone with the reader.
Figuring out how to get discovered and stand out on employers' computer monitors is actually quite simple. The answer is, keywords! Today's Internet search programs leverage keywords. Pay attention to the job descriptions, skills, and talents the employer is seeking. Use these keywords in your application and resume so that they naturally fit the keyword searches a hiring manager would use when scanning the resume databases.
One successful Internet job seeker offers this advice: When applying for jobs on-line, don't send your resume as an attachment to an e-mail message. Create it in ASCII [plain text] and make sure it is clear and easy to read. Since plain text does not allow you to do much with formatting and layout, it is doubly important to present your experience in a cohesive, orderly manner . I tried to leave the format as naked as possible, brought my most relevant information to the top of my resume, and used clear, vibrant language."
Close the Sale the Old-Fashioned Way
Placing your electronic resume on-line is one thing, but getting a job is quite another. The Web may give you access to job leads, but your success will hinge upon your ability to close the sale during the interview. Since organizations put so much information on their Web sites, you can conduct your research in a fraction of the time you would use through traditional means. So there's really no excuse for not being prepared for your interviews. Be sure to give as much consideration to interviews which you have obtained through on-line job searches as you would to those received through more traditional means. And finally, follow up with a thank you e-mail.