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Lost in
(cyber) space

How has Web changed application process?

By Danielle Komis
dkomis@decaturdaily.com · 340-2447

Launching a job search ranks up there with other dreaded activities such as parent/child talks about the birds and the bees, attempts at removing the plastic wrap from a new CD, or calling your Internet service provider to troubleshoot problems.

The vulnerable position of being jobless makes us all feel like some sort of beggar in need of a handout. We offer our resumes and cover letters, praying that we caught all the typos before the hawk-eyed recruiters spot them and crumple our papers gleefully and toss them into the loser pile.

While these feelings of anxiety and inadequacy have remained constant over the years, the job search has evolved as the Internet continues its domination in our worlds.

Today, many larger companies use their Web sites to recruit employees and accept applications only through this avenue.

“That’s our standard procedure for attracting candidates,” said Wayne Martin, human resources manager at 3M in Decatur. Applications filed online through the company’s Web site are then screened for minimum requirements in St. Paul, Minn., headquarters and sent back to the respective offices. Most open salaried positions for 3M around the globe can usually be found on the Web site, Martin said.

For non-salary positions such as maintenance or production, 3M still uses the “old-fashioned” process of advertising in the newspaper and accepting paper applications.

Southern Rentals in Decatur also still advertises in the newspaper classifieds for open positions.

“It’s a huge advantage rather than just telling people,” said manager Shantia Bell. “We’ve had a whole bunch of response.”

Trade Web sites

While some smaller employers may not use their own Web sites or other sites like Monster.com to find employees, they often post jobs on trade Web sites or local Web sites, said Celeste Coffman, an adviser/recruiter in Calhoun Community College’s career center.

Job seekers should always be sure to check those Web sites, such as the American Psychological Association’s Web site for psychology-related jobs, or the local chamber of commerce’s Web site.

Donna Oliver, director of sales at Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Decatur, said she has posted sales jobs on the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce’s Web site in the past with positive response.

As well as streamlining the process for employers, the Internet also has streamlined the job search process for applicants.

During a recent job search, Rene Hoover, a nursing student at Calhoun, said she went right to hospitals’ Web sites to learn more about the hospital and check out job openings.

“Most of the time the Web site can give you all the details and breaks down the duties for you,” she said.

She has had some luck applying through hospitals’ Web sites in the past, better than when she’s posted her resume on broader sites like Monster.com, she said.

Your online identity

When applying for jobs, keep in mind that you’re not the only one surfing the net — so is your employer, Coffman said. More and more employers comb the Internet to check applicants. If they run across something less than flattering, they might weed you out.

Experts advise job applicants to Google themselves and check what comes up to make sure it’s something you wouldn’t mind a potential employer seeing.

“You have to err on the side of caution and err on the side of being conservative,” Coffman said.

Also, if you have a Facebook, MySpace or any other social networking site account, make sure it’s painting you in a good light. Or, be sure to change your settings to a restricted mode so only your friends may view your pictures or comments.

“You do have to censor yourself a little bit,” she said.

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