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Online job searching: A virtual waste of time

By Brandon Comstock

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Jan. 13 2012 10:22 p.m. MST

Workers seeking employment create resumes and look for open positions on laptops provided by USAJobs for space workers that lost jobs due to the end of the space shuttle program last year in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Associated Press

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It's where we turn for everything. It's got news, almost every item ever sold and facts on everything from how wide the universe is, to how to make cookies. So it's no surprise that the first place that most people turn to when searching for employment is the Internet.

But that might be their biggest mistake.

More and more, experts are agreeing that time spent searching online for jobs is time poorly spent. Not that jobs aren't found online, but the success rate is low.

Richard Bolles, author of "The Job-Hunters' Survival Guide," estimates that in "good times," online job searching "results in finding a job for up to 10 out of every one hundred people who us this method." That's not to say that 10 percent of jobs are found online, but just 10 percent of people who use that method exclusively will ever find a job. And remember: That was in good times. Bolles goes on to add, "In bad times, the odds are worse."

That's why most professional job search coaches recommend limiting your use of the Internet as a resource for job openings. LDSjobs.org suggests that job searchers contact 50 people or companies a week, then specifically set a limit on the use of advertisements and Internet postings, telling their clientele to "Limit your use of this source to seven leads per week."

And the reasoning is not based entirely on success rate. The process of online job-hunting relies on using key-word searches and, since very few employers use the same title to describe a job, it's easy to miss a large number of jobs that you might be qualified for. You might search for a job as a garbage man, for instance, and miss a job for a sanitation engineer.

Not to mention that when you do find a good job posting, the competition is enormous. Not surprisingly, you're not the only one who is looking for the easiest way to find a job, which means that you'll likely have to send out a lot of resumes before you ever land an interview.

How many? "One study suggested that only one out of 1,470 resumes actually results in a job," says Bolles. "Another study put the figure even higher: one job for every 1,700 resumes floating around out there," he adds.

Granted, for some who are willing to match the odds, applying online can eventually pay off. But be prepared, because going months at a time without ever having any interested employers can take a toll on your self-esteem and may even lead to depression, experts caution.

So how do you go about finding a job? Unlike most things in today's world, the process of finding a job is pretty much exactly the same as it was 30 years ago. According to LDSjobs.org, 35 percent of all jobs are found through word of mouth, while 30 percent are found through contacting companies. In other words, the best way to find a job is to get away from your computer and talk to people.

However, if you still insist on using the Internet as your job search method, there are certain things that will increase your success rate.

Use the Internet to find leads, then visit in person. While the Internet is a less effective way to find jobs, it can be a good tool if you use it right. When you see an opening at a company, submit the resume online, then go visit them in person, experts recommend. If possible, go back several times and make sure the person in charge of hiring knows your face. Then when it comes time to offer interview, you'll have a leg up on the competition.

Use the words in the job posting. One woman reported that "within three minutes of sending out my resume to a company, I received a return email saying that I would not be considered for the position due to my qualifications." She was surprised that her resume was read so quickly, but the fact is that it wasn't read at all.

With the huge number of resumes submitted, companies can't afford to have a person sit down and read each one. Instead, they use a resume scanner that searches for key words in the document. How do you know what words they will search for? Odds are they told you in the job posting.

Most companies list the qualifications and job responsibilities for each position in the posting. Be sure to use as many of those words as possible in your resume. If the posting says the company is looking for someone who is "experienced in business-to-business sales," copy and paste the exact phrase and you'll increase your odds of making it paste the scanner.

Not all job sites are equal. Depending on what you're looking for, you might be better suited to use a smaller, local job site rather than a large national or global one. Most large sites charge a hefty fee to post openings on their site. As a result, many companies recruit on the site year round, even if there aren't any openings. In other words, you might be applying for a job that doesn't even exist.

Smaller sites on the other hand are generally utilized by companies with a few hundred employees or less. Companies like these can't afford expensive fees of large sites or the high-tech resume-reading technology. As a result, your resume is much more likely to be read by a real person.

In addition, with a little work you can usually find someone to contact at these companies about status of your resume, a task you can rarely accomplish with a larger company.

Brandon Comstock, of Hurricane, has worked as a career preparation mentor at BYU-Idaho.

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