Glenn Gutmacher's article published in JobSmart, 1/12/97

This article was published in JobSmart, the employment section of Community Newspaper Company, now called Community Classifieds. Click here to return to Glenn's list of published articles.

JobSmart / Week of January 12, 1997

It’s an electronic world:
On-line services play major role in today's job search process

By Glenn Gutmacher

While newspapers and industry-specific trade publications have traditionally been the primary resources for job listings, the Internet has quickly found a niche with job seekers.

For technical positions, the Internet is already the primary recruiting vehicle. According to Bob Hale, employment man­ager at BBN Corp. in Newton, more than 50 percent of the people he interviews and hires are found through on-line services. Add to that the millions of Internet users who can be called non-technical professionals: at work, they may only use the 'Net for E-mail. but at home, they surf the World Wide Web and participate in bulletin boards, chat groups, and discussion lists.

Because of that large audience, a growing number of employers, head hunters, and other professional recruiters use interactive vehicles to post job listings and search for nontechnical candidates. Customer service, sales, and management positions are just a few of the jobs in fields on-line, ranging from advertising to zoology.

Recruiters often say the best jobs are never advertised. This is partially true: positions that are politically sensitive in nature are filled using recruiters who work confidentially.

On the other hand, some jobs are not advertised because the recruiting compa­nies can't afford to be in the "help wanted" section of all their industry's trade publications and in every major city newspaper. Because of the Internet's potential to reach a world-wide audience at a relatively low cost, however, thousands of jobs find their way on-line. Fortunately, many Internet vehicles let you search through those jobs more efficiently than the print medium allows. In addition, you can communicate with many more employers and other sources of job leads at less cost and time than via telephone, mail, or fax.

If you own a computer, it takes little more to get on-line. Good 28.8kbps modems cost about $100 by mail-order and unlimited 'Net access costs as little as $12.95 a month. You can also connect via commercial services like America On-line or Microsoft Network for $19.95 a month, unlimited time.

Like most Web sites, job hunting sites are typically free to the job seeker. In addi­tion to job listings, many offer other useful resources, such as articles on writing better resumes, preparing for interviews in today's job market, listings of area job fairs to attend, and more. Here are a few of the many places to look for jobs if you want to stay in New England:

If you're looking beyond New England, more than 2,500 job site links can be found on US Resume ( You'll also find many links here to industry-specific Web sites. For example, the Academic Employment Network (http://www.academploy.corn) lists teaching and other jobs in academia, and breaks it out by state, while TVJobs ( is for the broadcasting industry.

If there is a company for which you would like to work, odds are it has its own Web site with a job listings page. Just search by the company name on one of the major Web search engines, and the link should pop up in the results.

Two of the most comprehensive search engines to search with are Altavista ( and Hotbot ( Yahoo! has a nice company listings-specific search, too ( and Economy/Companies/).

If you're a subscriber to America On­line, Microsoft Network, or many of the other commercial on-line services, you get a bonus. These services have their own employment areas, with job listings and career advice. Check your main menu and follow the links that interest you.

Most access providers allot anywhere from 5 to 10 megabytes of space on their Web server for your personal use at no additional cost to your monthly access charges. That means you can post your own Web pages to a unique Web address (URL) -- and bring attention to your job search.

You can create Web pages using almost any word processing program, but inexpen­sive shareware that makes the process easier can be downloaded for a free trial. The only other thing you need is file transfer software (an "ftp program") to upload your pages.

Once your resume is on-line, start pro­moting it. Instead of mailing a resume to every employer, you could just put that URL in an E-mail message. Make the 'Net work for you, too: announce yourself in relevant newsgroups and list your URL. And make sure the major search engines list your pages. Most offer a means to "add a link," but you can save time using, which has a free option that lets you list on about 15 search engines. If you have the money and inter­est, you can choose one of their price pack­ages to get listed at more places.

Despite the power of the ‘Net, you still need to network. That used to mean socializing at work and community functions, getting your business card in the hands of everyone who might be in a position of influence, and making sure everyone you met knew your skills and that you were looking for a job. If you have the opportunity and time to do some of that, great. But the E-mail aspect of your Internet access account will widen your scope and make the process much easier.

A newsgroup is a bunch of E-mail-like messages that relate to a specific topic, to which people interested in that subject add new messages every day. There are more than 10,000 newsgroups, which together comprise what is called the Usenet part of the Internet.

To discover what newsgroups relate to what you’re interested in, try DejaNews on the Web (). This site’s powerful search engine even brings up particular postings within a given newsgroup that match your criteria. Search here for “Boston jobs,” for example, and you may be satisfied enough with the dozens of resulting postings to think you don’t even need a newsgroup reader program. But if you want to scan through the list of consecutive postings within a newsgroup quickly, then it’s worth taking a few minutes to install the free reader software.

Beware of postings that promise you’ll “make money fast.” Job scams are on-line, too.

Newsgroups specific to your industry or to a geographic area are probably worth your time, however. To search geographically nearby, try (for New England), (for contract positions), or (for Maine). Industry-targeted newsgroups are plentiful, covering every niche you can imagine, but note that most postings will not be job openings.

In niche-industry newsgroups, users typically include their title and company affiliation at the bottom of their message (the "electronic signature"). If some individuals’ postings appear more thoughtful, intelligent and/or interesting to you, or they just happen to work at a company you like, copy down their E-mail addresses and send them each a direct E-mail (not to the whole newsgroup).

You can be direct, yet polite, in your E-mail. Say that you have read some of their postings, found them interesting, and thought they might be able to guide you. Say that you are looking for a job in their field. Ask if they know of any electronic bulletin boards or listservs (see below), associations, or publications you should subscribe to in order to learn more, as well as any upcoming industry events in the area you could attend. Tell them if they ever hear of anything appropriate for you, to please mention your name. Include a few of your career highlights in the message, and offer to send them your full resume upon request. Not all will respond favorably, but even a few contacts can blossom into a great professional network.

Listservs are like newsgroups, except you must submit a subscribe message in a specific format to a specific email address. This tends to attract a more committed group of participants than newsgroups do (though not necessarily, since it’s also usually free to join). A listserv is also more convenient because all the messages posted by its subscribers go right to each member’s own E-mailbox. The back-and-forth is typically monitored by someone in the group to ensure the information flow is generally productive.

If you post inappropriate messages, you may be removed from the listserv, so if they don’t have written policies, it’s best to read all the listserv postings for a while to get a sense of what’s acceptable before posting yourself. All that aside, you should learn much in a good listserv, in addition to seeing some relevant job postings, and the professional career networking that can occur in targeted listservs is usually even greater than in industry-specific newsgroups.

Bulletin boards are similar to newsgroups and listservs, as they are targeted to particular users or interests, and like their brethren, vary widely in quality. As you discover them by searching on-line or from friends’ recommendations, check them out and decide if they are worth your job-hunting time.

(Glenn Gutmacher is product manager and editor of JobSmart’s Web site, For more on this topic and related career issues, visit the free Career Resources section of on-line.)

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