Customize job search, experts advise-Know how employers use technology to sort through digitized resumes

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In this age of electronic resumes and digital job postings, knowing how to take full advantage of the Internet can speed a job search. But career coaches say that making effective use of online resources requires sophisticated strategies and an awareness of potential pitfalls, and they caution against neglecting traditional job-search techniques like personal networking, talking with people in a specific field, and making cold calls to recruiters and employers.

By Thomas J. Fitzgerald, New York Times

Ideally, hunting for a job online will involve the selective use of Web sites in several categories, including general job boards like,, and, specialized employment sites and the sites of potential employers.

Knowing how employers use technology to sort through the flood of digitized resumes that job postings at such sources routinely attract can help you stand out in the crowd. Corporate recruiters frequently use keywords to search such databases. So making sure your resume contains the right keywords — programming languages, for example, in the case of a software engineer — can increase the chances that it will be noticed.

Still, John Kendzior, recruitment manager at Harvard University, which has more than 15,000 employees and sometimes uses keyword searches of its pool of resumes, cautions against overloading a resume with keywords and technical references. An effective resume reflects not only the specific skills relevant to the job description, but also a sense of the employer’s organization and culture.

"Get a sense of some of the nuances of that organization," he said. "Tailor your resume to that specific organization."

The ability to sniff out such nuances quickly is another important advantage of the Internet for job hunters. Mark Mehler, co-author of CareerXroads, an annual guide to Internet job sites, said that acquiring crucial information about employers can be an effective networking tool. The goal is to find people you may know or have some connection with and can contact in the hope of learning about job openings before they are posted, Mehler said.

Career coaches advise job seekers to post several resumes tailored to different sorts of opportunities to at least two of the major boards. It may be more efficient for employers to conduct a narrowly defined search of the board than to post a listing and then sift through incoming resumes. Regularly editing or reposting your resume can help get it noticed in such searches, the advisers say, because many job boards (and many corporate systems) rank newer resumes closer to the top.

Moreover, just as job seekers can create search agents to learn of new postings, employers can use automated resume agents to be notified of newly posted resumes. Reposting a resume could bring it to the attention of such an employer. Some resume agents, including the one at Monster, automatically resend resumes to employers whenever they are edited.

Before posting a resume at job sites, though, job seekers need to make sure they will maintain control over who will have access to it, career advisers say. One person you don’t want to come across your resume at an online job board is your current employer. This means that understanding the confidentiality controls and reading the privacy policies are essential.

Even before the Internet, employers did not like job-hunting employees, said Susan Joyce, president of the Web site development company NETability, which owns, a large index of career resources.

Joyce advises job seekers to protect their identities when posting resumes at job sites, by suppressing contact information or creating a cybersafe resume with contact information limited to a legitimate and anonymous e-mail address like those available at Hotmail or Yahoo. Such steps can also help guard against identity theft or unscrupulous headhunters who might bring your resume to an employer to earn a contingency fee, perhaps reducing your chances if you approached the employer on your own, she said.

Reputable search firms, however, can be an excellent source of leads. One site that provides a way to locate and contact search firms based on industry, profession and geography is, which is run by Kennedy Information, a publishing and research company covering business markets.>

While the big job boards provide lots of leads, many more are to be found at the Web sites of employers. The site regularly scans the Web for job postings at employer Web sites, gathers its findings and publishes them in its own searchable database.

Of course, a standard Internet search engine will normally lead you to an employer’s Web site, and you can usually link to it from the posting on a job board. Another handy resource is /employers.shtml.

Specialty job sites can also be good sources of leads. These niche sites publish postings for specific professions, industries or salary levels and are increasingly used by employers. Some notable examples include;;, for higher education;, for finance and accounting; and, for jobs in the media. A list of specialty sites can be found at .

Another growing source of leads are the Web sites of industry associations, which often allow members to post openings. Examples include for electrical engineers and for human resources.

Some of these sites offer discussion groups, a networking resource for job hunters seeking to make contact with peers. Some other lesser-known but effective job sites include, and A comprehensive list of such sites can be found at

Many employers prefer to seek employees locally through classified ads in area newspapers. A good way to search for such ads online is at

Finally, career advisers say that while the Internet has become an essential job search tool, it is best not become absorbed by it to the exclusion of conventional resources like personal networking, newspapers advertisements and career centers.

"Using the Internet should not take up more than half of the available time you have," said Margaret Riley Dikel, co-author of "Guide to Internet Job Searching, 2002-2003." "Your very best tool for finding jobs is through networking."

The impersonal nature of searching online for hours can be emotionally draining. Local networking groups offer ways for job seekers to meet in person to discuss strategy and leads. Information about some such groups can be found at,1413,82~10834~1264404,00.html

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