Tips for Online Job Hunting

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For Susan Joyce, webmaster of, helping people find work is more than just a professional duty—it’s a personal mission. Joyce, along with several thousand of her co-workers, was laid off in the mid-1990s by a large computer company that ultimately went under. Many of her former colleagues went through some serious trials afterward, even going to extremes like suicide. “I saw some terrible things as a consequence of the layoffs,” she said. “It made a big impression on me.”


In her current role, Joyce maintains a valuable online resource for job-seekers, something from which she derives a great deal of personal fulfillment. Through her extensive experience, she also has formulated a few points of advice for those looking for a new occupation on the Internet. One of the most important suggestions Joyce offers is that these job hunters be mindful of issues related to security and privacy. “People—particularly those who don’t use the Internet a lot but decide to go job hunting online—are kind of vulnerable to the scammers of the world,” she said.


A big concern in online job-seeking is the job boards’ levels of commitment to protection of personal information. Some applicants will submit a resume on the Web, only to find out later that their contact info was given out to credit card companies, online retailers and other interested third parties. “Job sites make their money by getting paid to post jobs,” Joyce explained. “They also have a resume database, and they get paid for access to that. They try to screen who gets access to the resume database, but I’m not sure how hard all of them try to screen. People who aren’t really employers get access to the resume databases. That’s not an intended use of the information, but that certainly happens.”


Another recommendation Joyce had was to make sure the job boards are legitimate in the first place. “The other thing I’ve seen, which surprised me, was a completely bogus Web site. It looked like a job site—they had a job-search capability, but whenever you tried to do a job search, they wanted you to complete a resume form. You didn’t see the ‘results’ until you completed that form. But when you finished the resume form, it shut down. The reason I found it is because they’d stolen information off Job Hunt. They had posted it there and not even posted it cleverly—there were still references to Job Hunt in that information, and other Web sites from where they’d stolen the privacy policy and terms of use.”


Additionally, applicants shouldn’t put all of their job prospect eggs into the online basket or rely too heavily on e-mail as a means of contacting potential employers. “A lot of messages don’t get through, just because of spam filtering,” Joyce said. “I sent an e-mail to somebody at one of the national news organizations who asked me for an article. I sent him an article with the article attached as a Word document, and it didn’t get through. Fortunately, he followed up with me. The other thing is to not forget to check your own junk-mail folder.”


Because of these issues, job-seekers should consider sending hard copies of their resumes and cover letters via snail mail in addition to applying online. “You really stick out when you print off copies of your cover letter and resume and stick them in the mail,” Joyce said. “Call in to find out who’s in charge of whatever group you’re interested in and send a paper version of your resume to say you’ve applied for that job on the Web site. You’re kind of connecting the dots and also going above and beyond what the job board does. Applying for a job on a job board is really kind of passive. You’re sitting at a computer in your pajamas at 6 o’clock in the morning, you apply for a job, and then you go off and forget about it.”


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