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How many times do we hear people say, “The Internet’s a black hole that swallows up resumes.” Most people know this, but they won’t change what they’re doing. They just go and post their resume on another site or send an email reply to a job posting somewhere online. Why? They hope it will work (despite experience to the contrary). They think this is the only way to job hunt in the digital age. They’re afraid not to – and just plain afraid. Nobody’s shown them a better way that works.

A word to the wise: Stop! If you’re honest with yourself, you have to admit that not only is the Internet not leading you to a job, but it’s killing your search in a number of ways:

  1. It’s sapping your energy (which you really need now) by wrecking your morale. Nothing’s more frustrating than spending time on writing a state-of-the-art resume – or spending a lot of money to have one written for you — searching for jobs that fit your skills and experience, sending the beautiful resume out to whoever gets them somewhere on the Interwebs,
    and then – nothing.
  2. It’s turning you into a commodity. How do you differentiate yourself as a human being and a professional when you reduce yourself to an anonymous 65kb pdf file? The answer? You can’t.
  3. It’s wasting precious time that you could be devoting to efforts that will actually get you a job.

Back when the only way you could find out what jobs were available was by searching the newspaper or trade journal classifieds, job search was done over the phone and in person. The rise of the Internet in job search has moved us light years away from this more human approach. At FPC we’ve always championed the importance of personal, individualized connection and from our observation, the pendulum is slowly swinging back.

As I mentioned, when I started my executive recruiting business, I worked for the job board CareerBuilder.com selling postings and resume database access. Then it was the way of the future, but I’ve seen the value of the Internet first plateau and, more recently, start to decline.

Here are some realities about job search on the Internet that explain why:

  1. The Internet empowered HR. The ability to post jobs and get responses direct from candidates had HR departments thinking they could do it all on their own. They thought they didn’t need recruiters and didn’t need to talk to people. Just look through the resumes that would arrive on their desktops and pick the ones that looked best. But
    the sheer volume overpowered HR. Which led to…
  2. The ‘black hole’, of course. Not too long ago I found the perfect candidate for a position that had been unfilled for a long time. When I presented the job to him he said, “I applied to HR for this job online two months ago and never heard a word back.” I introduced him to the hiring manager who had never seen his resume. It had been put into a
    stack or a file in somebody’s Outlook in HR and was never even read. Guess what? I made the placement and he was hired. And it cost the company a hefty fee, when they thought they could fill the job for free.
  3. You may think you have the requirements, but you don’t. Every time I post a job opening for my own company I get a resume from the same person who is completely unqualified to recruit in our areas of focus. But he keeps sending a resume that’s never going to get any attention. It’s a waste of everybody’s time. Quite frankly I think it’s some sort of auto-apply feature on one of the job boards. Think of that for a second – “auto-apply”. It’s like something a robot does – in my mind you should never let a computer decide, based on some keyword search, how you are going to spend 40+ hours per week!
  4. Companies are not posting their best jobs online anymore. We FPC recruiters are getting more exclusive searches than ever before. Companies are just overwhelmed. They want a professional who knows the company, the culture and the job requirements to take over the process and find the right talent efficiently.

The Internet Does Have a Role

Don’t get me wrong, we do use the Internet all the time in ways that have great value in recruiting. The same ways are invaluable to your job search. I was in this business back before everyone had computers and believe me,
the Internet is very useful.

The most empowering way to use the Internet is for research.

  1. Learn about the companies you’re interested in
  2. Use the obvious tools like Hoover’s and SEC filings for basic financial data, but go beyond them
  3. Check out press releases
  4. Do Google searches to see who’s talking about the companies related to various issues
  5. Use LinkedIn to find people who can help you
  6. Do Twitter searches to understand customer and employee sentiment about the company’s brand
    and policies

The main takeaway?
Use the Internet as a tool – not a crutch!

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