Finding the Right Job

Click Here for a New Career


By Marty Nemko
U.S. News & World Report

Thousands of websites offer career information; usnews.com career coach Marty Nemko recommends these:

The Best Comprehensive Sites

OneStop Coach: onestopcoach.org. This is a portal to federally funded career websites offering quality help at every stage: identify your skills, find careers that fit, get trained, find money for training, and land the job. Plus, if you need human help, OneStop Coach links you to your local bricks-and-mortar federal OneStop Career Center. Many California high school and college career centers subscribe to Eureka.org, a similar but more user-friendly, California-centric site.

The Riley Guide: Rileyguide.com/prepare.html This is the best portal for those trying to choose a career.

Job Hunt: job-hunt.org. This is the best portal for those who have a career goal and now are trying to land a job.

Best Sites for Specific Purposes

The above comprehensive sites, which link to many sites, can be overwhelming, so here are my favorite individual ones:

WHICH CAREERS FIT YOU?

University of California–Berkeley Career Site: www.uhs.berkeley.edu. Extensive, well-organized information on hundreds of careers. Not surprising for a university site, the focus is on careers requiring a degree.

Vocational Information Center: www.khake.com. This site focuses on careers not requiring a college degree and usually provides links to training resources.

mylifecoach.com: This site offers an online version of the Strong Interest Inventory, the most carefully validated of all career "tests." This half-hour assessment yields a synthesis of your interests and an annotated list of well-suited careers. While other sites offer the Strong, mylifecoach.com is my favorite because for just $24.95, you receive a comprehensive report plus a by-phone 20-minute consultation to interpret the results. That fee also includes free access to Focus, which enables you to link your Strong results to information on well-suited careers.

Career Compass: www.careervoyages.org. This takes just one minute but can be quite helpful. You simply pick your first, second, and third choice among six interest areas (hands-on, investigative, artistic, social, entrepreneurial, and business detail) and up pops a list of matching careers. Click on a selection, and you're teleported to a detailed profile of that career.

TO RESEARCH A FIELD OR EMPLOYER

Google.com: Although not a career site, my clients and I most often end up using Google for all aspects of career research. When I want to find information on a career, I Google it. When I want to find a person, for example, a VP of marketing at Hewlett-Packard, I Google it. When I want to find the name of a professional association, I Google the name of the profession along with the word "association," "organization," "society," "American," or "National." When I want information on a particular employer, I Google its Web tab and also its Groups and News tabs, the latter two which are more likely to unearth dirt.

A client of mine was unsure which of two job offers to accept. To help decide, he Googled one of his potential bosses, Doug Dahlin. He discovered that Dahlin is a legend in his field, beloved by all, and was recently inducted into his industry's hall of fame. My client's choice became clear.

Lest I be too frothy about Google, Internet career librarian and author of the Guide to Internet Job Searching (McGraw Hill, 2006) Margaret Riley Dikel warns, "Don't use Google unless you have a narrow search term. Otherwise, your on-target links will be buried amid hundreds of off-target ones.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Publications: www.bls.gov/opub/home.htm. Offering far more than statistics, this site is home to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. That contains definitive narrative profiles of 250 careers, each ending with links to additional information. This site also contains the Career Guide to Industries, which provides authoritative data on which industries are hot and not.

JobWeb's Links to Professional Associations: www.jobweb.com. This site links to thousands of professional associations' sites, for example, the American Accounting Association or the National Nursing League. Alas, some of the links aren't current. Most association sites provide career information from leading practitioners. Also, such sites often include a list of its members, which is a terrific source of informational interviews and job leads. In addition, these sites often contain job listings in that field that attract fewer applicants than those on general-interest sites such as Monster.

Amazon.com: If you're still interested in a particular career after reviewing it on Google, the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and the profession's association website, your next stop should probably be Amazon, where, usually, you can quickly find a well-regarded book that profiles life in that career.

Business.com: Your local yellow pages is an easy way to find target employers locally. Business.com enables you to extend that search nationally: It's a searchable database of tens of thousands of U.S. businesses.

Vault.com and Wetfeet.com: Find scuttlebutt on large companies in vault.com's by-company discussion groups and Vault's and Wetfeet's insider profiles. Alas, too often, those reports are based on a small number of employees, perhaps those with an ax to grind. Basic content is free, but access to the good stuff costs. At Vault, $41.70 buys you six months of access to everything on the site. At Wetfeet, profiles of individual companies are $15.95 to $24.95 each.

Linkedin.com: This site holds a database of 5 million professionals seeking to make professional contacts: looking for a job, customers, or investment capital. It's based on the notion that we're just six degrees of separation from anyone, but as Dikel warns, even two degrees of separation may be too far: She has a friend who was a communications director in the Clinton White House and so casually knew Bill Clinton. "That's a long way from meaning she can get me an appointment with Bill." In addition, most people I know who have real power say they're too busy to take the time to be on linked in, let alone risk their reputation introducing strangers to their professional contacts. That said, Linkedin does contain an enormous database of professionals, and so if you're looking for a job, for background information on someone you're about to meet, a salesperson looking for customers, or an entrepreneur looking for funding sources, it may be worth a try.

SELF-EMPLOYMENT

Small Business Administration: www.sba.gov. Created by the federal government, this site offers extensive information on starting, financing, and managing your business.

Entrepreneur's Resource Center: edwardlowe.org. This site has a wealth of articles for businesses that are ready to move from the start-up to the growth phase.

FOR CREATING YOUR RESUME AND COVER LETTERS

Resumemaker.com: Here, you're hand-held in crafting your resume and cover letters from start to finish. Resumemaker.com offers dozens of resume styles, and for inspiration, hundreds of professionally created sample resumes and cover letters. Alas, like most resume/cover letter software and coaches, Resumemaker encourages you to use canned, bragging adjectives such as "self-starter" and "team-player." Those create distance between applicant and employer. Better to tell brief anecdotes of problems you faced, how you approached them, and the outcome (cost: $29.95 for students and entry-level workers, $39.95 for others).

JOB OPENINGS

Individual companies' websites: Once you've identified specific employers you'd like to work for, there's no substitute for checking those employers' sites every few days for new listings. Or at some large corporations' sites such as Microsoft's, sign up for their service which E-mails you every time it posts a job opening that matches your chosen keywords. Jobcentral.com aggregates job listings from 200 large corporations' websites.

Field-specific job sites: There are hundreds of sites devoted to jobs in a specific field. These are worth checking because relatively few job searchers scan those sites yet they're on-target for your career. Also, those sites usually contain career advice specific to that career. Top examples: auntminnie.com for radiologists, efinancialcareers.com for finance careers, biospace.com for the biotech industry, acs.org for chemists, astd.org for human resources professionals, talentzoo.com for advertising, marketing, and public relations, 6figurejobs.com, execunet.com and ritesite.com for senior executives. RiteSite requires a caveat. Unless you knew the man behind the site, John Lucht, you'd probably leave it before it even loaded—it takes forever. And once loaded, it reminds you more of a cheesy affiliate marketing site than a useful site for connecting top executives with elite retained recruiters. But for more than a decade, I've known and respected John Lucht, a top headhunter and author of the long-time bestseller: Rites of Passage at $100,000 to $1 million+. So, I looked past the too-slick site and concluded that senior executives should indeed check it out.

You can find links to hundreds of other field-specific job sites on the aforementioned portals: rileyguide.com and job-hunt.org.

The megasites: Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, Hotjobs.com, and Craigslist.org.

Unless your resume is extraordinary, you probably won't find it worth spending much time searching the ads or posting your resume on these sites. That's because the odds are tiny that an employer will pick you from among the millions of job seekers who troll these sites. Mark Mehler, of careerxroads.com, a Chicago-based human resources consultancy, urges that if you decide to post your resume on these sites, to choose an option that allows you to decide who gets to see your resume. If you simply let it float out there, you're a candidate for identity theft. If you're employed and your boss gets a hold of it, you could be fired. And, unscrupulous headhunters could spam your resume to every employer on the planet and then demand a heavy commission if you're hired. (The headhunter finds out you've been hired by Googling you later.) That commission is enough to make most employers move on to another candidate.

What I like best about the megasites is their discussion groups, which provide useful tips from the job-search trenches. I also like some of their articles, which you can get by signing up for Monster's and Hotjobs' free career advice newsletters.

Indeed.com and Simplyhired.com: These entities aggregate job listings from hundreds of employment websites, including the big ones. As a result, you can instantly screen over 4 million job listings from one site. Watch out for stale listings. It is worth scanning job listings on these sites because it's a fast way to be exposed to hundreds of career options and to see what job titles and skills are in-demand. But . . .

USAJobs: usajobs.opm.gov. As of this writing, USAJobs contains 20,723 federal government job openings scattered all across the country and even overseas. Alas, this site contains only two thirds of the federal openings. To find the rest, you need to search the 150-plus federal agency sites individually. A gateway to those sites is: www.firstgov.gov.

State Jobs: statejobs.com. Thirteen million people are employed by state governments. This portal links to all 50 states' state government jobs websites. For some states, the site also links to county and city job sites.

CAREER ADVICE

Career Journal: careerjournal.com. This includes material from the Wall Street Journal as well as articles written just for careerjournal.com, most of it of unusually high quality. There's ample material for those just starting out, but its focus is on middle and senior management.

U.S. News's Career Center: usnews.com/career. Obviously, I'm biased because I'm the site's contributing editor, but I do believe it merits four stars because I had the advantage of developing it recently and therefore was able to learn from other sites' mistakes. Instead of overwhelming you with mountains of articles, I've developed the site's material based on one criterion: Does it provide maximum benefit per second of reading? So, for example, the site includes such articles as "The World's Shortest Management Course," which can be read in three minutes, distilling the best advice from dozens of well-reviewed books and articles on management and leadership.

JOB-SEARCH SUPPORT GROUPS

Five O'Clock Club: fiveoclockclub.com. Just as many alcoholics are more likely to remain sober because of Alcoholics Anonymous's group support, many job seekers are more successful if they join a job-search support group. My favorite is the Five O'Clock Club. Offering both online and in-person sessions, their weekly small groups are led by a career coach well schooled in the proven Five O'Clock Club job-search methodology. It costs $20-$70 a session depending on your income and the number of sessions you purchase.

Job-Hunt's links to local support groups: www.job-hunt.org. This links to hundreds of support groups, arranged by state.

SALARY ADVICE

www.salary.com and salaryexpert.com: These sites estimate salary for hundreds of occupations, adjusted by ZIP code. It's wise to use both sites because they use different sources for their data and so their estimates can vary widely. Basic reports are free, and reports customized based on your experience, size of the employer, and the characteristics of the particular job are $29.

Advice I'd Give My Child

It's tempting to spend most of your job-search time on the Internet. But most successful job seekers spend most of their job search time networking and cold-contacting employers. I recommend you do the same.

Marty Nemko is contributing editor of usnews.com's Career Center.

In addition to the cited sources, Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute, and Peter Weddle, author of the Weddle Guide to Employment Web Sites, were interviewed for this article.

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