Finding Your Next Job Online

Web plays a big role when firms look for workers

by Greg Hutchins

Finding a job online is hot. Need convincing? According to Ernst & Young, 70% of the recruiters and about half of the human resources executives use the Internet. More than 20,000 jobs are posted online each week. More than 70% of the larger tech firms use the net to find workers. And these numbers keep rising phenomenally.

What's going on? Here's some more stuff to think about. The typical 32-year-old has held at least nine jobs according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And it's estimated that this person will have held at least 20 jobs in his or her lifetime.

We are often called a "free agent nation." Again some more numbers: In 1998, 22% of the work force were considered free agents. In 2000, it's estimated that around 26% of us are independent contractors. And in 2010, about 41% of us will be free agents. What we're seeing is just the tip of the iceberg.1

What type of sites are hot?

There are basically three types of sites and variants within each category. You'll find :

1. Company sites.

2. General job databases.

3. Job auction sites.

Company sites. Most companies, large and small, advertise jobs on their Web sites. If you want to work for a specific company, just type its name into the search engine, or try www.companyname.com. You'll find lots of information about the company, where it's going and what it may have for you.

General job databases. These are basically search warehouses of job listings. Thousands of employers, including federal agencies, companies and small businesses, post job openings in these sites. The huge advantage of these sites is that by using the search engine, you can find out who's got the quality job you want. The number of hits from a search also gives an idea whether you're in a quality specialty that's growing or contracting. Common job databases include:

Job auction sites. These are probably the most intriguing of the three types of sites. They work this way. You're auctioning your skills and knowledge just like material goods are auctioned on eBay. Let's say you've got some great work skills, such as software quality assurance and quality control in telecommunications. Post your resume, skills and successful projects on the site. Employers bid for your skills on a project basis. At the end of the project, you're out there again trying to get top dollar for your quality skills.

The job auction sites go even further. You've got a great idea, financing and want to leverage up your dot.com idea. On these sites, you can auction, bid or post for entire start-up teams of engineers, marketers, financial types and quality professionals. Check out these hot auction sites:

Even if you've got a great quality job, you may want to check out the action. Maybe you want to shop your resume. Maybe you want to see what you're really worth. Maybe take the offer to your boss, and get a raise.

If you decide to shop your resume, be careful. Use a password protected resume database. I've heard on the street that employers know the free agent site addresses. Getting and retaining employees is key to competitiveness now, and if you're a hot commodity, they'll do whatever they legally can to figure out your intentions, reeducate you on the value of their company and offer you bonuses to salvage and keep your loyalty. If you're a slacker and not a core employee and they find that you're shopping around, well ... guess what.

As employers troll these sites looking for new employees, they're also checking out wannabe free agent shoppers from inside the firm. They can figure out you're shopping around if you list your name, company or project on these open online resume databases. They can use the site search engine, intelligent agents or do database cross checks to find you out.

Common tricks to maintain anonymity: Use a pseudonym, use a password protected resume database, get rid of any personal information or zingers that lead back to you, and don't name specific projects, companies or people. These will always form a trail back to you. Or, search jobs and don't post your resume. List general skills and abilities.

The bottom line is to keep what you got. Don't jump ship until you have a hard offer in hand. And follow the tips in this and the next column, where we'll show how you can find the quality job you want on the Web.


1. Michelle Conlin, "And, Now the Just-in- Time Employee," Business Week, August 28, 2000, p. 169.

GREG HUTCHINS is a principal with Quality Plus Engineering, a process, project and supply chain management company in Portland, OR. He wrote Working It: The Rules Have Changed. Hutchins can be reached at gregh@europa.com or 800-266-7383 or on ASQ's members-only career forum at www.asq.org.

If you would like to comment on this article, please post your remarks on the Quality Progress Discussion Board, or e-mail them to editor@asq.org.

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