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How to Pick Up Job Tips Strewn Along the Infobahn

June 27, 1995

SINCE MY FIRST spin on the infobahn, I’ve been working on my moves.

I’ve figured out some of the road signs (WWW is the World Wide Web and not some wrestling organization). I’ve learned that nontech job listings are increasing, and new career services are surfacing all the time. But it’s still slow going.

So I’ve turned to readers for help. They describe career-enhancing contacts made through on-line chat groups, resumes spruced up with the help of fellow explorers and valuable research gathered about prospective employers. Significantly, though, none of them actually landed a job via on-line connections.

And while this survey is admittedly small and unscientific, it also indicates that the Internet remains a dark and forbidding maze adequately utilized only by techies and people with lots of time on their hands, like the unemployed.

Yet nearly everyone accepts the inevitability of being hooked up in cyberspace. Steve Gaynes, a public-relations specialist, says most people are still hesitant about using the more sophisticated PC programs available. But ``they’re all going to have to change their attitudes,″ he says.

Through a CompuServe forum, Mr. Gaynes met a PR agency owner in California who offered to circulate his resume and an executive recruiter who offered some sage advice. ``He warned me to be careful what I put on-line,″ Mr. Gaynes recalls. ``You never know who’s out there; it could be your boss.″

Mr. Gaynes is happily employed at New York’s Mallory Factor agency but feels the need to check his options. ``You show me a PR professional who isn’t trying to do the best possible networking he can do, given what’s happened over the last five years,″ he says.

MR. GAYNES prefers CompuServe for its ease of use and career-specific discussion groups, such as PR Marketing Forum. (He finds the Internet overwhelming. ``What I saw there was very confusing,″ he says.) He recommends scanning the ``what’s happening this week″ listing for on-line conferences and classes. This week, for example, subscribers can interrogate career expert Martin Yates on CompuServe’s Convention Center.

But who has time for all that? Sandra Kairis does. After being told the Internet was integral to the modern job search, the 32-year-old former purchasing agent for Harris Corp. spent several hours a day for several weeks learning to drive the infobahn after moving to Arizona six months ago.

What has she learned? On-Line Career Center and Career Mosaic carry the most manufacturing job listings. There are plenty of get-rich-quick offers on bulletin boards, but ``You can tell right away it’s garbage,″ she says. She also learned she can e-mail her resume directly to company data bases.

Recently, that landed her a 90-minute telephone interview with a personnel manager at Intel, who has forwarded the resume to the hiring manager, Ms. Kairis says. She recommends inserting lots of industry buzzwords in resumes since data bases use key words to scan for candidates.

Through discussion groups, she met an IBM employee in Canada who reviewed her resume and a career counselor who sent articles on interviewing and offered tips on job searching and salary negotiations. She also gets emotional support online. ``It’s really neat to log on in the morning and see who has written from the East Coast to say, `Hang in there, you’ll get something soon.‴

Christine Sullivan, 42, of Mineola, N.Y., went on-line to improve her technical skills and to accelerate a job search after resigning as an officer of a local bank where she felt stymied. In her six months of unemployment, she scanned job listings in Help Wanted USA and E-Span, met a recruiter who sent her on a job interview, posted her resume on-line and did considerable research on prospective employers.

``If you get a call from a headhunter at 4 in the afternoon for an interview at 9 the next morning, there’s no other way you can get background information on the company,″ she says.

ON-LINE TIPS also prompted her to redo her resume, de-emphasizing positions held and adding a list of software she is proficient in. ``I found out employers didn’t care if you were second VP, they want to know what you can do,″ she says.

To find a job, Marcus Ronaldi, an MBA candidate at West Virginia University, has plunged deeply into the Internet, even developing his own ``home page″ that connects users to career resources.

Thus, the former newspaper ad salesman has talked to many users and on-line site developers. His conclusions:

_ The best things available are company home pages, where you can scan job listings, learn about the company and get the names of department heads to contact.

_ Posting your resume with discussion groups is usually fruitless. ``I’ve contacted a lot of people across the country and have yet to meet someone who has gotten a job by posting a resume on the Internet,″ he says. His resume posting yielded two offers: marketing customized pencils and selling juice products.

_ You don’t need to buy advertised Internet guides. ``If you know where to look, you don’t have to pay for it,″ he says.

I’m off now to do more cruising; I’ll let you know what I find.

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