Career Audit

The Job Is In Your Sites

Hunting Online Means Learning to Cast Your Net

Posted Jun 23, 2006 6:38 AM CDT
By Hope Viner Samborn

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By now, most attorneys know about cruising the Internet in search of the next—or the first—job.

Internet sites abound. Sites such as AttorneyJobs, run by Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based Federal Reports Inc., target J.D.s, with positions in firms, corporations, government and academia as well as in nontraditional environments.

Other vendors, such as Monster, cater to more than just attorneys. And specialty sites focus on a specific area of law, like public service opportunities at PSLawNet, run by D.C.-based NALP (formerly known as the National Association for Law Placement). The ABA also has a job bank, and the ABA Journal eReport, which is e-mailed weekly to members who provide an e-mail address, offers a Find-a-Job section.

But job hunters and Web site proprietors alike say using the Net to one’s advantage requires a bit of skill and savvy. Take New York City attorney Glenn Kurtzrock. After two weeks of answering ads posted online, Kurtz­rock had a job. “I have no complaints. I got a job from it in a couple of weeks—and it was free,” he says.

Searching after work hours, Kurtzrock answered roughly 30 ads on LawJobs.com, run by American Lawyer Media, to find a trial lawyer position.

Along the way, Kurtzrock realized that most sites requested that he fax his resumé to an unknown law firm. Kurtzrock surfed the Internet to try to determine which firm owned the fax, allowing him to go to a firm’s Web site and learn about the attorneys.

He kept a spreadsheet of all his job searches so that he didn’t send a resumé twice to the same fax number.

Applicants should also narrow their searches by using specific key words. Kurtzrock, for instance, used the words trial lawyer because he wanted trial work.

But selecting a key word can be tricky. For example, some antitrust ads use the word competition rather than antitrust. For sites that are also open to paralegals and legal secretaries, lawyers should specify that an attorney position is sought.

Applicants also should carefully word their resumés and vary the terms. Many resumés are fed through electronic screening programs that operate similarly to Inter­net search engines: They will select a resumé based on the words in the document.

Each site’s search engine operates slightly differently. Some require users to return daily to conduct searches. Others, such as Vault, will e-mail automated search results to job seekers. Some sites allow users to e-mail a resumé directly to an employer or to post a resumé to retrieve while traveling.

Not Getting Overlooked

Users should also consider attaching a resumé, as well as cutting and pasting into the e-mail a summary resumé filled with significant key words, says Vault co-founder Hussam Hamadeh. Some firms have difficulty reading attachments. This method ensures that they will be able to see an applicant’s experience highlights.

“If you don’t have the relevant information in the e-mail, it may be overlooked,” says Hamadeh, whose site serves about 200,000 job seekers a month.

Applicants should be wary of blind ads or posts that are too general because often those ads are fishing for candidates rather than advertising open positions. For that reason, “we don’t have many jobs that are blind ads,” says Richard Hermann, president of Federal Reports.

The effectiveness and speed of the online job hunt will vary with a person’s qualifications, the types of positions available and geography, Hermann says. “A smaller firm is able to hire faster,” while public sector jobs usually take longer to find. Scouring online job banks is a good way to broaden the job search. “You can only work with so many recruiters,” Hamadeh says. “By just going to the recruiters alone you will miss something.”

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