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How to Use the Web to Get Hired

using the web sm.jpgI was running late one evening this past month. Much too late to cook dinner. So I stopped by a popular Chicago pizzeria and ordered a carryout meal of ravioli, a salad and a cannoli for dessert.

While waiting in the tiny carryout section, I couldn’t help but hear a conversation between a young woman and man standing inches away. She was a supervisor at a Michigan Avenue advertising agency. The man was a waiter of the restaurant.

She told him to apply for a job posted on the agency’s website. I listened to her tell him what they were looking for, how to write the cover letter, and what he should include on his resume.

Even with this great advice, he looked forlorn. He told her he had no experience as an “art director.” She said, “You know PhotoShop 7, right? That’s all you need! Get me YOUR resume ASAP. I’ll see ya later.”

He escorted her out of the restaurant with a big smile on his face. I thought to myself, “his table-waiting days would soon be over.”

I mention this incident because it highlights how successful job-hunters use the Web to get hired: they merge traditional job-hunting techniques with the Web to get results.

Jobs-websites have changed the face of employee acquisition since their mass market introduction a few years ago.

They are a useful tool for both job-hunters and employers. But jobs-websites shouldn’t be the only “Web” resource job-hunters use. Yet, rarely do I talk to a veteran who has tried something other than posting his resume on a jobs-website and waiting for an employer to call.

This is unfortunate. When a job-hunter relies solely on getting registered at a website and then waiting to be “called up,” he is bound to suffer disappointment. Why? Job-hunting, unlike enlisting in the service, is an investigative, persuasive and proactive process.

To demonstrate how to “really” use the Web to get hired, I will follow with a real life example of how to do it. In this example, the Web is used in three distinct stages:

  • Adopt an industry and company focus.
  • Making connections.
  • How to use a jobs-website.

I hope the ideas I am about to present will change some behaviors and demonstrate to job-hunters, how to “really” use the Web to get hired.

I am working with a soon-to-be discharged Army SSG/E-6 31S with Level III skills. He has seven years of experience in the installation, operation and maintenance of satellite communications equipment.

During this time he has been a technician, maintenance supervisor, senior shift supervisor, and a site operations supervisor. He is stationed abroad and wants to relocate back to Pennsylvania (PA) or Maryland (MD) when he finishes his enlistment.

So, how can he “really” use the Web to get hired?

Adopt an Industry and Company Focus

For starters, we need some context to get “the big picture.” That is, who needs someone with his experience?

Search engines are great for this kind of task. I used “satellite communications industry” as my keywords for a search at Google.com.

The search obtained plenty of returns. But one in particular, Telecommunications Resources for Industry Professionals, provided some useful information to give our job-hunter an answer to the “big picture” question.

This website’s “industry resources” lists the major sub-sectors of the Telecommunications industry: Broadband, Cable Industry, Call Centers, Consulting Services, IP Telephony, Local & Long Distance Carriers, Satellite Communications, Telephone Networking, Wire & Cable and Wireless.

We can see that Satellite Communications is one of them.

By knowing the sub-sectors of an industry, a job-hunter can broaden his employment search and improve his hiring opportunities. Since most of these sub-sectors are interrelated, our job-hunter may be able to find a job in a sub-sector other than satellite communications, if need be. Wireless, for example.

Going back to Google, I clicked through some of the other search returns. The website of a satellite communications industry association called the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association was listed. This website is packed full of information. Of particular interest is the “services overview” section. It contains an overview of current products and services and the key employers for each product type.

Another useful industry trade association was returned in the search. It is called the Society of Satellite Professionals International. This association has a monthly newsletter and career information.

By reading the newsletter, our job-hunter can learn what’s current in the industry and important to its professionals. This information can help a job-hunter figure out where he can best fit in.

In general, you should subscribe to newsletters that provide you with real insights as well as inside information about a company or an industry. There are plenty of them out there.

Remember, an “industry” in the private sector is like a service branch in the military. And an “employer” in private industry is much like a duty station within a particular military service branch.

Just as military duty stations have unique skill needs due to their missions, so do private sector companies. The more a job-hunter knows about an industry, or companies within an industry, the more he will understand their needs. And the greater likelihood he will frame his job-hunt in terms of their needs, giving him a better chance of success.

There were plenty more returns from this search that I will not comment on here. But I think I’ve driven home my point. So, let’s move on.

The Industry information will help him understand what’s going on overall. The company information will help him know what’s going on within a particular company.

Making Connections

Once we have given our job-hunter some industry focus, we need to start building some connections within the job-hunter’s target industry. The Web can help us with this important step as well.

Where do we begin?

Well, how are professional connections made? In my opening anecdote, we surmised that the man knew the supervisor of the agency. He more than likely met her through family, friends, former work associates, school, job support groups, job fairs or networking.

Use your family to help you get a job! Most people do. Remember, they have their own connections and those connections have connections, etc. Someone is bound to know someone who works somewhere you want to work for who can help you.

If you are stationed abroad, use the Web to create a simple, personal website with your resume posted on it. There are plenty of free homepage companies on the Web. Go to any search engine and use “free homepage” as your keywords and do a search.

With a personal homepage, your family can always give their contacts your website’s address. If their contacts look at your website at work, and if you are a viable candidate, these workers will usually email their human resources department. Essentially, they will give you an employee referral. Bingo!

Old friends or schoolmates. For those with whom you are still corresponding with, make sure you tell them you are looking for a job. Refer them to your homepage. Ask them for help.

For those old schoolmates whom you haven’t seen since graduation day, try using Classmates.com to help you connect with them again. When old friends get reacquainted, they are bound to help each other.

Contact your former teachers. Most schools nowadays have websites. Use a search engine to find your school, and send the school an email inquiring about your former teacher(s). Tell the school what you have been doing and that you are job-hunting. Most schools would love to help a former student.

Think about all the old buddies from previous duty stations you served with. If you have their email address, send them a “What’s Happening?” letter. If they have the same MOS/rating as you, ask them where they work? What’s it like? Ask for their advice. This is the best kind of help. They have gone through what you are going through right now.

After using all your personal contacts to their fullest, start making professional connections. Begin with job support groups or job fairs.

These are run in almost every U.S. metro area. Support groups are basically a group of job-hunters who get together informally to discuss their job-hunts. They help one another. There’s normally a professional who mediates the group and can give you career counseling advice.

Job fairs are good for meeting lots of company reps face to face. You should visit at least a couple of job fairs during your job-hunt.

How do you find the job support groups or job fairs? Let the Web help you!

I used a search engine to search for “job support groups MD.” I found a listing of groups and resources for the Maryland area (where our job-hunter wants to relocate to.)

Even if you are stationed abroad, you can still use job support groups. Sometimes they have online support and others have message boards.

If you can’t attend, ask a family member to. Have them determine if this group is indeed useful. Also, have them ask the group for any advice for a job-seeking veteran. The group is bound to offer some help.

Now, for the bitter pill of making connections: networking.

Most people avoid doing it, period. Networking makes them feel uncomfortable. So, they don’t. As a result, they don’t reap the benefits of networking, such as finding a job faster.

An industry trade association’s purpose in life is to promote the businesses it serves and the careers of its members. Joining an association is the first step of networking.

How can the Web help you here? Most associations have professional email lists (listservs) or message boards. This is where members “talk shop.” Joining a list is a great way to connect with experienced people in your industry.

But the best networking is in person, face-to-face.

Why do so few people enjoy these face-to-face networking events, even if attending them is to their benefit? They are uncomfortable because networking is an unfamiliar experience to most people.

Social discomfort can be overcome with a smile on your face, and a good warm (I might as well say it) Midwestern welcome. Good vibes breed good vibes.

Personally, I think networking should start in the community. Once you understand how the process works, then try out professional networking events.

There are plenty of community organizations around to start your networking. For example, I visited my optometrist last week, who’s located in a Chciago suburb. While waiting for my appointment, I picked up a local community newspaper (The Libertyville News) and found stories about a number of community organizations: Mainstreet Libertyville, Widowed Outreach Network, Lake County Singles group, The Rotary Club, Dynamic Resources.

All these groups are great places to start networking and do something good for the community. Many business owners participate in these groups. They already know the power of networking!

Even in a town as small as Libertyville, IL (about 10 miles from Great Lakes Naval Training Center), there are a number of local business networking groups. The Business Networking Group. The Breakfast Exchange Club. Chamber of Commerce mixer. Network Lake County.

(If I were to look for networking opportunities in MD or PA for our job-hunter, I’d start with a search engine, using the keywords: networking groups PA MD.)

As you can see by the hyperlinks in the references section following this article, the Web can be useful in developing relationships with these organizations. Go to their websites. Email them. Get involved in their work and you’ll soon broaden your contacts base.

How to Use a Jobs-Website

Now that we’ve obtained some industry focus and have begun making connections within an industry, we are ready to begin our online job search.

Why didn’t I start with an online job search first?

A great question! Here’s why.

If you begin applying for jobs without really knowing anything about the industry or companies you’re applying to, job-hunters tend to “miss the boat.”

They either apply to jobs they are ill suited for or they do not get results because they haven’t adopted the industry/company lingo that is used by human resource managers or recruiters to search for job candidates.

Another way of saying it is: It’s too much like blind dating.

By doing some prep work before our online job search, our job-hunter can maintain control over his job-hunt and obtain viable job leads.

Going to militaryhire.com, I searched for jobs with the keyword “telecommunications.” One hundred sixty jobs were returned. This is pretty good for a second-generation, market-niche website such as militaryhire.com in an economy that is just starting hiring again.

If none were returned, I would question whether an industry as hard hit as telecom is in the hiring mode yet due to the recent recession; or I would wonder if the website is doing enough behind the scenes promotions to attract telecom employers. These search returns suggest they are.

Let’s do another search, using the words “satellite communications (satcom)” Thirty-three jobs were returned. Is this surprising?

Not really. I expected there to be many more telecom jobs than satcom jobs because satcom is a sub-sector of the telecom industry. Satcom is more specialized, therefore, the skills employers are seeking are unique. This is good for our job-hunter because it means he will be competing against less folks.

Now let’s take a closer look at the satcom job ads. We are looking for how the group of ads: describes job needs, desired skills and any organizational information (the intangibles).

The way they describe these factors are the “keywords” that our job-hunter must use in his cover letter or resume. This process also helps remove the military jargon from his documents and replaces it with industry and corporate terminology.

I reviewed all the thirty-three ads and summarized my findings below:

Needs description: In general, most of the ads are very long and detailed. This suggests that these are hard-to-fill positions and the companies are “really” looking for exact matches.

Skills description: There are three types of ads in this group: business developers, product developers and product maintainers.

Some ads list the type of equipment a job candidate must have experience with. Thus, a candidate must include this nomenclature in his documents if he is to be selected in an employer search.

One company actually lists the keywords they search by. How nice! For example: “Required Qualifications: Earth Station/Satcom experience, Digital Video Monitoring, Experience with Spectrum Analyzers, MPEG experience, Baseband Monitoring.”

Finally, some of the ads are set up in the following format: Purpose, Duties and Responsibilities, Desired Qualifications. The job candidate should mimic this structure in his cover letter and resume.

Intangibles: A top secret security clearance is required for most of these positions. (Our job-hunter has one. Hurrah!!) A job fair has listed jobs here. What’s nice is that they included a long client list. This is great. Our job-hunter can take this list of key employers and add them to his job-hunting information homepage.

Some ads include the type of personal traits they are seeking: “good team working skills, a high degree of interpersonal skills; the ability to convey complex technical issues equally to technical and non-technical individuals; capable of making independent decisions and judgments under stressful conditions.”

Finally, most of the jobs are located in the Middle East or Asia, California, or the Washington D.C area. A few are located in Maryland. This information is good to know from the outset. Our job-hunter wants to relocate to PA or MD. Now is the time to deal with the geography issue. If our job-hunter is committed to living in those areas, he may be limiting himself. This may require him to open up his job search and redirect his job-hunt to positions in a related sub-sector.

We’ve gathered quite a bit of information, haven’t we–without applying for one single job!

What should we do next?

We need to digest the information first. Then review our job-hunter’s resume and cover letter to make sure it jives with the needs and language of the employers. Finally, we need to determine what kind of positions our job-hunter should be seeking. In this case, he should only apply for maintainer positions.

After doing this, we are ready to register and apply for jobs. We also need to enable the “job scouts” feature offered by militaryhire.com. These scouts will automatically return jobs to our job-hunter’s email inbox which are appropriate for him to apply for. The job scouts should be based upon the keyword list we have developed for his resume.

We need to update our job-hunting info website with any new companies we have found.

Then we begin the process all over again. First, by examining the industry and company information to learn about the industry and the companies we are tracking.

Then, implement any new ways of making connections with companies he wants to work for.

Using the Web to get hired entails much more than applying for jobs. It requires the job-hunter to use the Web as an information source, a means of making connections, and as a source of jobs to apply for.

The process I have outlined here may feel complicated. It really isn’t once you have tried it. But the key point is that it’s a necessary process.

Applying for jobs on websites alone will get some people hired. But most people need to do more.

Jobs-websites are a valuable tool in today’s human resource marketplace. As businesses, they are still in their infancy. Right now, the most successful jobs-websites are market niche websites like militaryhire.com. In the next generation of these websites, we are likely to see more interactivity and more “intangible” information provided to the job-hunter. But this will take time and money.

For now, a successful job-hunter must merge jobs-websites, World Wide Web resources and traditional job-hunting methods such as employee referrals, networking and professional affiliations to seal the hiring deal.

Good Luck in your job search.

All opinions, advice, statements or other information expressed in this article are solely the author’s and do not necessarily express the opinions of MilitaryHire.com or the publisher.

Copyright Randall Scasny. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed.


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