Using the Web to Enhance Your Career

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(ARA) - The Internet has fast become a part of daily life for most Americans. From e-mail to message boards, the Web allows us to communicate as never before. And millions are using it to find new careers as well. You can research occupations and find out about industry growth and decline. You can reach deep into your local area as well as take your job search far beyond your geographical boundaries. Although the amount of information on the Web can be overwhelming, executing an effective Web-based job search can be easy and straightforward. Pamela Piliero, a coordinator in the Career Services Department at the University of Tennessee, gives the following suggestions to best use the Web in a job search.

General Search Tips

The term "search engine" is often used generically to describe both true search engines and directories. When used correctly, these tools are extremely useful in pointing you to helpful sites. Different search engines work in different ways, so for best results stay with one or two main search engines and learn how they work.

There is no doubt the Internet has caused a fundamental change in the employment process, as well as the skills required to wage a successful job search. You should have a clear idea of what type of jobs you want and what you are qualified to do. Before you begin, make a list of keywords you can use in your search criteria. Identify general occupations, not just job titles. When you begin looking through job descriptions, note the skills and kinds of experience employers are seeking and use these words in your search.

Researching Career Fields

You don't want to waste time sifting through jobs you don't want or jobs for which you are not qualified. On many job search sites, you can explore career and industry information, job profiles from people currently employed in your field and company information. Many sites allow you to search companies by industry, or if you are interested in a particular company, you can search alphabetically. WetFeet.com and Vault.com will give you information on a company, including an overview, financial statistics and contact information.

Resumes

In today's high-tech resume processing environment it is important all candidates have resumes in an electronic format that can be submitted via the Internet. Be prepared for anything an employer requests. For instance, some employers might ask for a resume created in a Word document, while others will have you fill out an online application.

Executing Your Search

Plan your online job search strategy to cover a limited number of sites in a variety of categories -- large job banks, industry-specific resources and others.

Even if your strategy is sound and your technique thorough, the Web won't work by itself. It's still important to network and make contacts in person. By using the Web adeptly, you can make your search more effective and dramatically increase your chances for success.

From distributing company newsletters to providing instant customer service, e-mail has allowed the business world to instantly communicate important information to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. Most employees have the liberty to communicate via e-mail, but unfortunately many have not been trained in its proper use. Couple this with poor communication skills and you and your employer could be getting a bad reputation due to poor e-mail practices.

Remember these etiquette guidelines when composing e-mails for business use:

Assess your audience

*Just as you would not write a proposal, article or letter without first assessing your audience and its needs, you should not write an e-mail without doing the same.

*Do not be overly casual because you risk being disrespectful to your audience.

*Personalize the e-mail message. Use a salutation, and close the e-mail with your signature.

Grammar Tips

*Punctuate your sentences correctly. Rules of capitalization, comma usage and other punctuation marks apply.

*Pay careful attention to spelling errors. Utilize the spell-check function before sending each e-mail, but remember to read through it as well.

*Forget the purple electronic stationery, green ink, clip art and smiley faces.

Style and Formatting

*Most people only scan e-mails, so it is important to format your message so the recipient is more likely to read it rather than delete it.

*Use the subject field to grab your reader's attention. If the subject line is relevant and informative, the recipient is more likely to open the message: Don't omit a subject line, or you risk the message being deleted!

*Use short sentences with an average of 15 words per sentence or less. Shorter sentences help people scan e-mails even faster.

Paragraphs

*Use paragraphs to separate your thoughts.

*Keep paragraphs short. Summarize your e-mail in the first paragraph, using no more than two sentences. People often only read the first paragraph.

Inflection

*Your reader cannot see your facial expressions, hear the tone of your voice or know your intended meaning. It is extremely important to be cautious when composing an e-mail.

*Since e-mail is short of emotional context, say only what you must.

Security

*A good rule of thumb is to never send sensitive, confidential or personal information via e-mail.

Remember: Your writing is a reflection of you and your communication skills. You never know when a client, customer or employee will judge your business or service based upon these skills. Members of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) use skills like these to find new jobs, hone their online skills and find resources to help them enhance their professional careers. Sound like an association you need to be a part of? Consider joining today. Visit NAWIC online at www.nawic.org.


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