Career Resources

Marketing Yourself Online: Seller Beware

What an appropriate way for a millennium to end and another to begin! First the essential nature of employment relationships has changed. Employers have gone from placing importance on an employee’s past success and loyalty to valuing most an employee who can satisfy the organization’s immediate needs. Now it seems even the entire approach to finding a job is poised to make its own dramatic shift. The cause, of course, is the Internet.

Using the World Wide Web is becoming a common way for employers to find new employees and job hunters to find their next positions. Although this kind of “job connecting” is becoming more prevalent, for too many executives it is not yet a familiar technique. The purpose of this posting is to acquaint you with the preferred use of Internet technology when looking for a job and alert you to the potential pitfalls.

A Growing Trend

By now you should know that the use of the Internet in job connecting is not a fad—rather it’s more like a tidal wave. Consider these indicators: Andy Grove, chairman of Intel, sees e-jobs following almost the same curve as e-mail in its rate of growth. Fortune magazine provides these data: 17 percent of Global Fortune 500 firms used e-recruiting in January 1998. In January 1999, the number had swelled to 45 percent. Estimated employer spending for online recruiting in 1998 was $105 million—that number is projected to grow to $1.7 billion by 2003. At this writing, the current number of resumes online is 2.5 million and the estimated number of job boards such as ache.org’s Job Bank, Monster.com, HotJobs.com, and CareerMosaic is about 28,500.

Evolving Technology

Many healthcare executives are familiar with job boards that work like classified newspaper ads online. That sort of resource was only a starting point. Now, job boards are searchable based on such variables as industry, position title, geography, and salary range. And these resources continue to evolve. Some boards present information and invite prospective applicants to complete forms or assessments that provide information to prequalify for further contact. These “smarter boards” may assess the applicant’s aptitudes, psychological type, technical knowledge, and preferred organizational cultures. Those with the appropriate profile may anticipate contact by a human resources professional and entry into a traditional recruitment process.

Are these boards only suitable for individuals coming from a technical background? Not anymore. Current estimates are that 65 percent of online job seekers are non-technical—this includes candidates ranging from truck drivers to ministers. The positions being filled are not restricted to middle management either. Fortune cites the case of GTE finding its new second-in-charge of technology integration for its merger with Bell via Internet connecting.

Pitfalls and Preferred Practices

With the tide running so strong in the direction of job connecting on the Internet, could it hurt to just dive in? Yes. There are some pitfalls to avoid and preferred practices to follow.

The biggest risk is losing control of your resume when you post it on the Internet. Even after you have found a new job, your resume may still appear on the Internet. The worst case scenario is having it come to your new boss. How could such a thing happen? There are some new categories of specialists to beware of—spiders and salvagers. Spiders are recruiters who scramble all over the Web looking for resumes to present to employers. Their interest is in landing a recruiting fee and their loose practices may jeopardize your interests. Salvagers are specialists working from within a company to find out which of its employees may have resumes out looking for a new job opportunity. This can result in either negotiations to retain you as an employer or a precarious employment relationship ending in termination.

Mindful of those pitfalls, here are some preferred practices to consider. Post your resume on boards that offer some confidentiality. These boards may allow you to block certain firms from accessing your resume, namely your employer. Other boards may permit posting anonymous resumes that list skills and accomplishments, but not employers or other identifiers. The candidate will be contacted by the board and advised of the name of a prospective employer interested in the resume. If there is no risk, the candidate releases the resume for consideration.

When constructing your resume, prominently display the date of the resume and include an admonition against unauthorized dissemination. In the body of the resume, be certain to use nouns (for instance use the term “change leader” instead of stating you managed transitions) as database search engines more frequently seek nouns. This will increase the likelihood your resume will make it to stage two where human resources personnel get involved. And finally, avoid those easy-to-use flourishes such as bold, italics, shading, and underlining. Those features may introduce glitches that produce an undecipherable string of machine code instead of the attractive document that was on your monitor.

The Internet is an effective way for job seekers and prospective employers to come together. Knowing the technology that’s available and how to use it will increase your chances of getting the job you want.