(This article is part of a book called How to Find a Job, which now is available as an ebook on Kindle, nook, and Smashwords. All of the chapters have been revised, many have been expanded, and the book contains three bonus chapters (including Negotiating) that are not available on this blog.)
Perhaps fifteen years ago, everyone knew where to go to look for a job: The Newspaper.
It was a simple process. You needed a job, so you went to the local newspaper stand, or bookstore, and you bought a paper, and you looked at the want ads.
If you were being extra-frugal, you would wait until Sunday, when the classified section was full-to-bursting with people looking for people.
Obviously, things have changed. Everyone knows that today you have to look up job listings on the Internet.
The problem is, most people don’t know where to start.
So here you go:
Start and end at Indeed.com.
Why there? Well, long story short, it’s a web site that goes to all the other web sites and looks for job posts with criteria that you select. So instead of going to fifteen web sites and punching in the information you want, you can go to one.
There are other advantages to this site as well. To start with, you can upload your résumé there.
I will say, however, that I feel uploading a résumé at almost any job site is next to worthless. In today’s economy, a simple post on a web site will get a 200 or 400 résumé response. People who have 400 résumés to sort through will not be hunting web sites looking for additional résumés. They’ll go straight to LinkedIn if they go anywhere at all. More on that later.
Other things you can do at Indeed include performing searches using key words. So go there and put in Chicken Farmer, or just Farmer, and see what you come up with.
You can restrict your hunt by zip code, which is nice, and you can also restrict the distance you’re willing to go for work. So if you’re okay with driving 50 miles, punch that in. But if you need to be near your day care, save yourself some time and narrow your field.
And here’s one tip I always gave to friends looking for work that I have never seen anywhere else: Try putting in your zip code without any other search terms and seeing what comes up.
At first, this can be somewhat awkward, as you’ll see a ton of jobs you aren’t qualified for or have no interest in.
But what I discovered from doing this over time was that there are a lot of jobs that might use my skills, but which didn’t come up on regular searches.
For example, a couple of local businesses were looking for people to give tours of their facilities. They wanted workers with an educational background, because the majority of the tours were meant for local schools and day cares.
I thought that sounded like a great way to spend my working day, so I applied. Didn’t get the job, but I applied.
I found one job with an odd title that was partly writing, partly helping university students, and partly basic office work. It never came up in any of my more pointed searches, it wasn’t a job I would have thought to look for, but it sounded like it could be fun and it came with some amazing benefits.
Of course, I didn’t get that job either.
The point is, searching only by zip code will increase the time you spend job hunting each day, but it’s time very well spent.
A few other thoughts on job hunting online:
If a job sounds too good to be true, it probably is. One particular job site (Job.com) kept offering up postings of low-end work (filing, for example) at 15 or 20 dollars an hour. If you find yourself at an unfamiliar job site, go to Google and put the name of the job site and the word scam into your search. More than likely, the site will come up on a listing somewhere.
For ease of use, when I performed my job search I didn’t just click on each posting and start reading it then and there. I right-clicked (I use a PC) on each job posting I thought would interest me and opened them in a new tab. Once I was done perusing the job headlines, I’d go from tab to tab and look at the jobs more closely.
Eventually, I learned that even job postings have a tier of sorts. If I was reading a posting and wasn’t sure if I was interested or not, I’d save it to my Favorites (I had folders in my web browser for “Applied” and “Job Possibilities”) and I’d come back to it later.
Once a week, I’d go through the Maybe pile and take another look. Sometimes, I realized that the job really wasn’t for me. Other times, I’d wonder why I hadn’t immediately applied.
But either way, it was worth having a pile of things to consider.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you to follow all the rules of paper-and-ink when it comes to applying for jobs online.
Because the Internet can be such a casual place, it’s easy to forget to put your most businesslike foot forward.
For example, some job sites will ask you if you WANT to include a cover letter. Unless the person posting the job tells you that they don’t want one, you need to create a cover letter and send it along. At worst, they won’t look at it. At best, they’ll be impressed you did so, when so many others didn’t. There is almost literally no way sending that letter can hurt you.
Along those same lines, read through the job posting very carefully and make sure you give them everything they’re asking for. If the posting says No Attachments, then copy and paste your résumé into your email. If they ask for references, send them.
And be sure to note if there is any special information on the job posting that might be useful, and either write it down or put it into some kind of computerized database. Useful information includes the address of the workplace, phone numbers, the name of the person you contacted, and whether or not you’re allowed to contact the job poster via phone.