Looking for IT work in all the right places

Searching for an IT job requires candidates get into social networking sites, interactive career tools and targeted online communities.

It's all about who you know when it comes to looking for IT work, and with social networking technologies gaining popularity, today the number of people you know can grow exponentially online.

Sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Ryze draw volumes of professionals looking to maintain contact with former classmates and colleagues, and hiring companies today are exploiting such sites to find and attract IT talent. According to Forrester Research, some 65 per cent of 24- to 35-year-olds rely primarily on the Internet for job information, and some companies are even ramping up their internal career sites with RSS feeds, Wikis and blogging tools.

"Traditional sites are becoming less relevant to job seekers, and employers are getting savvy enough to know they have to go to the candidates' turf if they want to pick from the best available applicants," says Zach Thomas, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. Thomas reported in a Forrester paper earlier this year that most career Web sites fail job seekers in areas such as usability and privacy, but hiring managers are also turning elsewhere to find potential employees.

"Recruiters would rather search LinkedIn or Facebook than go out to Monster because they find more active candidates and less stale information," Thomas says.

That means well-known sites such as CareerBuilder, HotJobs and Monster could become secondary to upstarts such as Doostang, Jobs in Pods and Smuz that aggregate listings from such job boards and provide additional value for job seekers. For instance, Jobs in Pods posts podcast interviews with hiring managers and front-line employees at companies seeking candidates to give applicants more information on job requirements and company culture. Add to that the ability to build relationships online, to stay current on industry issues and to maintain contact with peers and job seekers can create a virtual career network working toward finding the ideal job.

"The Internet has made us much more collaborative by nature, which helps in networking with former and future colleagues," says Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, a technology consultant and IT staffing firm. "People realize the value of a referral or recommendation, a process that can be sped up significantly with social networking sites."

Working the job-search system

The IT job-search game may not have changed entirely, but job seekers realize they must revamp how they play to get ahead.

Networking has always been a staple in career building, but now the Internet enables networking on steroids. Expanding the job search beyond career sites could also help IT professionals find more postings relevant to their skill set. Nina Buik, senior vice president of MindIQ, an e-learning and IT training company, says joining user groups for specific technologies such as those from Cisco, HP or Microsoft could help IT professionals identify more jobs suited to them and companies looking for such talent.

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