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Job Hunting During the Recession Tips for E-Searchers

Searching for jobs online can be soul-sucking work involving days of lonely surfing and unrequited e-mailing. So, before sitting down at the computer, consider some tips on how to best game this heartless system.

January 9, 2009
The knee-jerk reaction of those suddenly out of work is to broaden the description of their experience to fit more job openings.

    "But that prolongs the job search," says John Myers, founder and managing partner of Oak Brook, Illinois-based executive recruiting firm Kensington International. "If you're not focused on your best skills, you're not going to find something."

    Recruiters warn that, with so many highly experienced job seekers on the market now, it's not a good time to switch careers. Your best chance of landing a new position quickly, at comparable pay, lies in an opening that closely resembles your old job.

Use words that employers will use in keyword searches
   Companies use keyword searches of specific job descriptions (duties, not adjectives) to cull the résumés they get from online job ads. It allows them to immediately dump the applicants without the specific experience they seek. But even applicants without exactly matching experience can get over this hurdle. Sean Mirzabegian, a 26-year-old musician, entrepreneur and financial analyst, landed his dream job in mergers and acquisitions by first getting those words into his résumé—even though he had no experience in the field.

    In a section marked "training," he described a 90-day online course he had completed that included techniques for valuing companies in mergers and acquisitions. He sent the résumé to Automatic Data Processing Inc. after seeing an ad on eFinancialCareers.com, a job board for financial services professionals.

    He's now a business development analyst specializing in mergers and acquisitions at ADP. He's sure he would not have made the first cut of applicants without those keywords.

Turn off the computer
   Get out of the house and meet people at conferences, networking events and social gatherings. It's still the most likely route to landing a job. "An online ad represents a zero to about 15 percent probability that you'll find your next job," Myers says. "Don't spend too much time there."