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Looking for a job online is just part of your search

Many people are using 20th century strategies when looking for a job, despite the fact that they’re using 21st century tools to conduct it.  Their strategies need updating.

Looking for a job is hard under any circumstances, but today it’s become really challenging.  It’s true that the number of jobs available is limited, but I believe something else is also going on.

Why are so many people’s job searches stalling? Why do so many job seekers hit the wall? Most important, what’s the alternative?  What can people do to jump start their searches and feel more inspired?

I’d like to offer a few idea based on both my experience and the experiences of my clients.

The 20th century strategy I mentioned above is familiar.

It developed back when plenty of jobs were available, and people looked for them in local newspapers.  The sequence of events was pretty straightforward: 1) you wrote a resume; 2) you sent it to the employer; 3) you were invited in for an interview; and 4) you either got the job, or you didn’t.  The process was clear and professional. If you didn’t get the job you wanted right away, you simply bought another newspaper and responded to more ads until you landed the right one.

A big problem now is that many people looking for work haven’t done so in ten or more years.  They’re bringing to the process the same expectations they had when they looked prior to 2000.

The reality, however, is that in the age of the internet, looking for a job online is a numbers game.  And it’s a numbers game most people won’t win.  Since the odds are so bad, we need to create other strategies.

First, let’s take a close look at the current situation.  There’s no doubt that the internet has become the #1 job search tool for all involved.  We’re in a digital world, and online tools are used by job seekers, recruiters, employers, coaches, professional resume writers, professional cover letter writers, executive search and consultants.

Using the internet fine for email correspondence.  But it isn’t fine when you’re trying to track down open jobs you can apply for and land.

Think about it — for each job you see posted online, thousands – no, millions – of other people are also viewing it.  As a result of so much traffic, here’s what often happens:

  • Job boards get so inundated with resumes they crash.
  • Applications on company web sites are so detailed, filling them out is tedious at best and horrendous at worst.
  • There is rarely space enough to write anything significant on online application forms.  Who can squeeze all their work experience onto three lines?
  • It’s rarely clear on online job applications if you are supposed to fill in the blanks or cut and paste in your resume. Why more employers aren’t clear on this point remains a mystery.

Q:  So what’s the bottom line?

A:  Tracking down and applying for jobs online is time-consuming and nerve-wracking and rarely get the hoped-for results.

And then there’s the resume. . .

People who aren’t looking for jobs can’t believe how much time and effort it takes to write a resume in today’s market.  But if you’re applying for a job posted online, and hundreds of others are doing the same, the only way you get the attention of the person screening resumes is to have yours match the job requirements perfectly.  Word for word.

The process involves going line by line through your resume, deleting your original text,  and substituting in language lifted from or paraphrased from the job description.  If you do this each time you apply for a job, you can spend hours, weeks, months, and yes, even years stuck behind a computer, cranking out new versions of your resume.

One man I know had 43 versions of his resume, none of which led to a job.  His friends suggested wallpapering his bathroom with the 43 documents, but by then the poor guy never wanted to see them again.  I believe wasting that amount of time is sad, if not tragic.

Limit the time you spend looking for openings online.

The numbers are against you, and there are other more productive ways to search. And check out my earlier posting:  The New Networking is the New Net-Worthing for a new perspective.  Believe it or not, many good opportunities are happening out there today.   But you won’t find them by staying at home and just searching for a job on the internet.