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Finding Your Way Through the Online Job Search

Employers are increasingly using the Internet as a recruiting tool. With regards to your job search, the Internet allows you to view job vacancies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you can also communicate with professionals in specialized fields, research organizations, post your resume, and even apply online.

However, searching for a job on the Internet can be very frustrating. Often, there are too many hits or too few hits for any given job or field of interest. But with the right preparation and the right websites, you can find the jobs most likely to interest you.

Define clearly what you are looking for: What work, for whom, and where? Identify your career needs before surfing the web and the search will be a lot smoother. Do not forget to research the jobs tied most closely to your field/industry of choice.

Next, find the websites likely to produce the best results. Many are listed in this handout, but each career field will almost always generate a host of its own, specialized websites.

Pro Tip: Remember, the online investigation is only one part of a smart job search strategy. Talk to the people who actually work in the field as well. They will be able to provide you with some of the best quality job search information you can find.

Getting Started

In addition to providing the resources available for you to conduct a job search, the Internet allows you to browse occupational titles and learn about career management.

When searching for a job , regardless of the method, preparation is the key. To make the most of your search, you should first be able to identify what your career needs are. This is a process that begins with the self-exploration and discovery phase that includes asking yourself, “What career field am I interested in working in?” as well as, “What skills can I offer an organization?”etc. You want to make sure your career provides a good fit with who you are and what you want.

The following list of questions will help you compile the necessary information before you begin your search. Take a few minutes to answer these questions before you go online:

What Do You Want to Do? What Can You Do? (Skills and Occupations)

  • What skills do you have, what interests, etc.? Identify general occupations that interest you, not specific job titles. (Think healthcare or sales, not "Chief Medical Officer" or "Director of International Sales.")

Who Do You Want to Work For? (Industries and Employer Preferences)

  • What industry interests you? What type of employers? If you have some specific organizations you want to target, great! Fortune 500, Inc. 500, high-tech start-up, family-friendly organizations, etc. might be options to begin researching.

Where Do You Want to Live and Work? (Location, Location, Location)

  • Is there a particular city, state, region, or country? (California, Southern Maryland, "someplace with sailing, good golf courses, and very little snow," for example.)
  • Take the time to research the industry or occupation you are interested in and find out what positions they are hiring.

What careers are available within and related to my degree?

  • Formulate a list of possible careers within your field of study, but be careful not to limit yourself solely to these occupations. For example, if you are an Education major, becoming an admissions director or institutional researcher are viable career options in addition to teaching. The What Can I Do With This Major website may assist you in compiling your list.

Searching for Occupational Information

After you have taken sometime to think about these questions, you should have enough information to focus on occupations that interest you. If not, you may want to see a Career Counselor.

Salary, employment outlook, and working conditions are some of the many factors that can influence career choice. The Internet provides a tremendous amount of this occupational information. The following sites are excellent resources you may find useful in obtaining information about today’s labor market with regards to specific occupations.

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: Information compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor such as wages by area and occupation, state and county wages, earnings by industry, cost of living, employment and unemployment, projections, foreign labor, and more.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH OnLine): Sometimes referred to as the Dictionary of Jobs, the Occupational Outlook Handbook is a nationally recognized source of career information designed to provide valuable assistance to individuals making decisions about their future work. Revised every two years, the Handbook describes what workers do on the job, working conditions, the training and education needed, earnings, and expected job prospects in a wide range of occupations.
  • Career OneStop: Find wages and employment trends, occupational requirements, state by state labor market conditions, millions of employer contacts nationwide, and the most extensive career resource library online providing links to nearly 5,500 online career resources.
  • O*Net: Detailed descriptions of the world of work. It features occupations by keyword, a skills search, career clusters, can be sorted by abilities, interests, knowledge, etc., resources of career outlook, training and actual job postings.

Where Do I Find Job Openings?

Once you have completed the self-exploration and occupational information-gathering phases, you are now ready to begin the search for a new career. There are thousands of employment databases, both large and small, on the Internet.

Employer Websites (in both private and public sectors)
These sites may provide current job opportunities, recruitment schedules, and an online application process. For example, Hershey’s website allows you to view current vacancies. You may also follow a link to a Human Resources department to view openings. Chances are, if an organization has a website they will have their current postings.