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Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 16:52 GMT
Casting the net for work

Searching for a job online has a lot of benefits - no incriminating CVs lost in the printer, no agonising over whether to handwrite your covering letter, no traipsing for miles to dingy recruitment offices.

Instead, you can call up a huge range of national and international vacancies, find the perfect match for your skills, shove your CV online and wait for the job offers to flood in.

At least, that's the ideal picture.

Top 10 online CV tips
Be concise
Use industry buzzwords
List all skills, qualifications
Include personality
Use nouns if possible
Use a plain font
Use 10-14pt font size
Include job reference code in subject line
Always check spelling and grammar
Never lie
In the real world, online job-hunting has proved so much less than ideal that the government is cracking down on "cowboy" internet recruitment agencies.

Disasters happen "all the time", according to online recruitment consultant Sue Hill.

People apply for vacancies which do not exist, or which turn out to offer a much reduced salary than that advertised.

And there have been numerous examples of people in hot water after their CV was sent to their manager by a less than circumspect consultant.

"My hobbies are abseiling, water-skiing..."
Ms Hill says there is a "mountain to climb" before UK online job recruitment matches that of America, where a recent study found about 15% of jobs are filled through the net.

She pinpoints two major problems:

  • the unwieldiness of the recruitment sites;
  • a lack of security which could mean all sorts of people posing as potential employers or employees.
"I'd say 99.995% of it was totally safe, but you can never avoid the fact that there are some lunatics out there," she says.

Nightmare scenarios aside, there is still the headache of finding the right website and the right company - and getting them to see you.

There are currently about 300 online recruitment agencies in the UK, which offer wildly varying services.

You're not supposed to job hunt at work
"The best way to go about it is to know your subject area and do the research to find a specific site," says Ms Hill.

However, she added there "aren't that many good sites", and that the experience often proves unsatisfactory.

Even the big corporate sites do not on the whole make very good use of their recruitment sections - with the exception of the IT industry.

But the situation could be radically different by this time next year.

Monster, one of the bigger UK online recruitment sites, with about 50,000 CVs and 6,000 vacancies on its database, agrees.

Nicolette Pollock, an executive with the company, says that is partly because of the jobs market - in which vacancies are beginning to outnumber suitable candidates.

So Monster has tried hard to make itself more attractive to the jobseeker - as have many of the new breed of job sites, such as Stepstone, Big Blue Dog and Jobzone.

Passive job hunting

It encourages "passive" job hunting, where the user may be perfectly happy in his or her current job, but is casting the net just in case there is something better.

It also tried to offer "career management", rather than just a "job shop".

It offers CV writing tips, interview advice, background information on employers and the jobs market, and general help with the entire structure of the jobseekers' career.

Most also boast a high degree of protection for CVs and other details, thus avoiding the nightmare CV-on-bosses'-desk scenario.

The much-bemoaned domination of IT jobs on such sites is diminishing.

Stand out and be counted

At Monster, 26% of vacancies are now in IT compared with 37% one year ago. About 18% are in finance and 12.5% in law, while engineering and sales have 10% each.

But how do you make your CV stand out from the estimated 4.5 million others out there?

Sue Hill says the same principles apply to online job hunting as to the traditional paper chase method.

"The secret is preparation, preparation and preparation," she says.

"You must have a good CV and a good covering letter. There's no point in vaguely firing off CVs all over the world. They will just go into an electronic wastebin, rather than a paper one".

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See also:
23 Feb 00 |  Business
Crackdown on web job agencies
05 Jan 99 |  UK Politics
Dial a job trial
13 Sep 99 |  Business
'CV cheats lie to get jobs'
15 Jan 00 |  Business
CV liars face computer checks
06 Sep 99 |  UK
Job search goes online

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