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Online job search tools

By Jason Alderman

For those reentering the job market after decades of employment, you should know that the rules have changed considerably since you were last looking for a job. Fifteen years ago, online job sites were in their infancy; now thousands of sites post millions of jobs every year and they're the most widely used and practical job-hunting tool available.

If online job searching is new to you, here are few hints for navigating the process:

Most large employers – and many smaller companies as well – post job opportunities on their own websites. Typically, you either submit your resume or fill out an online application and the company will reach out if you meet their qualifications. Many sites ask you to open an account so you can be contacted when appropriate jobs become available.

To broaden your search beyond individual companies, there are many job search sites from which to choose. Some target particular career specialties, while others post listings from broader categories. Some list jobs for which employers have paid a posting fee – much as they used to do with newspaper classified ads. Others are job search engines that aggregate job postings from company websites, other job sites, newspapers, recruiters, etc.

Features vary widely from site to site and may include allowing you to:

  • Search positions by job title, career level, job type (full-time, part-time, etc.), industry, location, pay range, relevance, key words and age of posting.
  • Post your resume or create a profile outlining what you're looking for.
  • Create and save custom searches.
  • Set up alerts so you'll be contacted when new jobs meeting your criteria are posted.

Some robust job sites include services such as resume and cover letter writing assistance, tips for conducting a job search, interview preparation and follow-up advice, salary and cost-of-living calculators and articles by career professionals. There may be fees for some services such as resume assistance.

Most job sites don't charge to access job listings since fees are paid by employers or advertisers – although some highly specialized sites may charge a fee. Before paying such fees, read the fine print and make sure you fully understand the services provided, since most listings are available free on other sites. Also, beware of sites that make unrealistic promises or that lock you into a service agreement that's difficult to cancel.

Some of the more popular and user-friendly job search sites include:

Finally, be cautious when posting contact information on job sites because spammers and aggressive marketers have been known to troll these sites for leads. You may want to set up a dedicated email account to help weed out spam.

This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how tax laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.

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