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Online Job Search 101

The Internet has completely transformed the job search, with job seekers moving from circling newspaper ads to searching online job boards and using social-media tools. In addition, many companies now recruit and research job candidates using online resources. But the new online job-search process can be intimidating.

While the World Wide Web may seem like the wild, wild west, there’s actually order and reason to it. There are also job opportunities a-plenty. Learn the basics of online job-searching here, and you’ll be applying to jobs in no time.

 Create a plain-text version of your résumé

Upload your résumé to a résumé database, where submissions are pooled and organized so employers can search for viable candidates. If your résumé has images or sophisticated formatting, create a text-only version that can be easily uploaded as a Word document, text document or PDF. If the résumé has too many bells and whistles, it won’t upload properly or be formatted correctly — major turnoffs to potential employers.

Use keywords from the job description in your résumé

In the “summary of qualifications” section on your résumé, include keywords taken from the job description. Most hiring companies that post jobs online use applicant-tracking systems to narrow down possible candidates. Incorporate keywords naturally throughout the résumé; don’t just copy and paste the job description.

 Learn the job-search terms

There are plenty of ways to approach the position you want through online job searching. Once you’re on an online job board, you can widen or customize your search as much as you like.

  • Location: Unless you’re open to relocation, select your target location and how close to that location you’d like to be.
  • Keywords: If you’re new to online job searching, starting off with a general search, such as “sales” or “administrative assistant” will return a large quantity of results and can help familiarize you with job postings. As you become more accustomed to keyword searches, you can customize your search further.
  • Industry: If you want to work within a specific industry, you can select that industry in your search to narrow down your results.
  • Job category: Besides location, this is the most important selection to make. Choose the category in which your job title (past, current or future) is organized, i.e., “education” if you’re a teacher or “entry level” if you’re new to the workforce. You can also select multiple categories for more results.

Utilize social media outlets

If you already have or are interested in creating a social-media presence, understand that sharing personal information online can impact your career. Many companies now research candidates via social networks, so make sure your pages are clean and professional, and change your privacy settings so you control who views your pages.

Researching the company you’re applying to is simple and essential. Peruse its website and social-media pages to understand the company’s personality and mission. This will give you plenty to write about in your cover letter and help you answer that inevitable interview question, “Why are you interested in our company?”

Details matter

You’ll likely apply for more than one position online. Because submitting job applications and résumés online is so easy, it becomes equally easy to mess up. Don’t send the same information to every potential employer, because you risk accidentally sending a cover letter mentioning a previous application/competitor. Take the time to proof everything.

Susan Ricker researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.

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