Looking for a job on the Internet can be daunting. Where do you start? What Web sites are best for your industry?
If you're suffering from "job search overwhelm," take heart. Remember the adage about how to eat an elephant one bite at a time.
Your quest for employment is the same.
It's less overwhelming if you slice the online job market into bite-sized pieces instead of trying to visit 1,000 Web sites in a single day.
Here are 4 ways to divide the online employment market into smaller niches -- and get hired faster.
1) Search For Local Job Sites
Like politics, most job searches are local. You'll likely get hired by an employer within 20-30 miles of where you are now. So it pays to find Web sites that list local job openings.
Tip: look for job listings at the Web site of your local newspaper or TV station. You'll almost always find something. Examples: startribune.com, kstp.com, detnews.com, nytimes.com. You'll often find links to other regional job sites this way, too.
A second tactic is to type your state or city name and the word "jobs.com" into your Web browser and see what turns up. Examples: Minnesotajobs.com, Chicagojobs.com, Phillyjobs.com.
2) Search For Jobs By Industry
No matter what line of work you're in, there's probably a Web site with employment postings for that industry. So doing a Google search for "job title + jobs" should produce leads.
Another good Web resource is SearchSimpleton.com. It has links to more than 1,000 industry-specific Web directories, from Accounting and Finance to Travel, Hospitality and Restaurant job sites. It's a good place to narrow your search to a specific industry or job function.
3) Search For Unadvertised Openings
Here's a neat trick. You can get hired by companies before they even know they need you, according to Rich Milgram, founder and CEO of the 4Jobs.com Career Network.
All you have to do is think beyond your title.
"Most people take their job searches too literally. If they don't find an exact match for the position Software Development Manager, for example, they give up. This is a mistake. Instead, look for companies hiring lots of software engineers and go pitch yourself as a manager to that company. That's because employers tend to fill lower-level jobs first over the Internet, so you'll be there ahead of their need for a new team manager," says Milgram.
How do you pitch yourself to employers before they've listed a job opening?
Research the company, make contact with people who work there, then send a networking letter. According to Milgram, your letter should say something like: "I've been in your shoes before, here's what you're going to experience as you hire new people, and I'd be happy to talk to you about it."
"The successful job search is not about you, but about the growth and the future of the company you want to work for," adds Milgram.
The sooner you realize that, the sooner you'll get hired.
4) Contact Old Classmates
You already know that networking can uncover the best job leads. It's essential that you tell everyone you know about your job search. But don't stop with those people.
Talk to everyone you used to know -- folks you haven't been in touch with for years.
And the easiest way is to contact people you went to high school or college with. Even if you haven't talked to them in 20 years, you have something in common and they ought to be glad to hear from you (unless you stole their lunch money or did something equally inapt).
Two Web sites to help make contact with old school friends are Classmates.com and Linkedin.com. Also, most college Web sites will help you get in touch with fellow alumni -- try yours and see.
Now, go out and make your own luck!
Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1996, he and his team have provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients in all 50 states and 23 countries. Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, CBS MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly, CBS Radio, and many others.