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Your Job Search: Researching Jobs and Employers

Remember when looking for a job meant scanning the newspaper and circling the openings with a red pen? Or remember when you could just walk into the lobby of a company and fill out an application?

Those days are over. Welcome to the brave new world of job searching. Sure, the old methods still work on rare occasions; but otherwise, there’s a new approach to researching jobs.

Online Job-Posting Boards

Employers now post their openings on the Internet. Think of online job boards as the electronic version of the Help Wanted section of the newspaper. You can search for opportunities by location, profession, industry, occupation, full-time, or part-time. You can even find jobs within a 10-mile radius of your ZIP code.

Large, generalized job-search engines, such as Monster and CareerBuilder, post many jobs for a broad range of job seekers. There are specialized boards for industries and occupations, such as and There are also job-search engines or portals based on expected income levels. For example, TheLadders only promotes itself to people earning "over $100,000."

Finally, there are job-search portals specializing in the 50+ worker, including Employment Web sites focused on older candidates are more likely to have openings that appeal to the needs and interests of age-50+ workers. Such sites also feature employers who are actively seeking older workers.

Determine which job sites to use based on the kind of employment you’re looking for; for instance:

1. Hourly Wage Positions (administrative, clerical, manual labor, trades, personal service and technical): Whether looking for full-time or part-time, year-round or seasonal work, job-seekers searching for hourly wages should consider visiting; Monster and; and possibly

Most major employers also maintain their own career-center areas on their Web sites. To find these areas, search by company name and locate the "Jobs," "Careers," or "Open Position" pages.

2. Salaried Positions (professional, senior technical, sales, supervisory, managerial): You can find postings for salaried positions paying $30,000 to $70,000 on the same job sites as hourly positions. However, if this is your income category, extend your search to include profession, occupation, and industry-specific job boards. Also be sure to check the job postings at the Web site of your industry trade group or professional association.

If you have an interest in a public service or government position, try, the official employment Web site for the U.S. government.

3. Higher-Paid Salaried Positions (senior professional, upper management, executive): These are salaried positions generally paying more than $70,000. You can find announcements for these types of openings on some of the sites previously mentioned. More than likely, however, you will have to look at others as well. One of the more popular sites is (only $100,000+/yearly jobs). There are also,, and Executive Search Online.

Employment Agencies and Placement Firms

Employment agencies, placement firms, and "headhunters" search for qualified candidates on behalf of employers. You are advised not to pay recruiters for their services; instead, the hiring companies pay them substantial fees. The placement professional’s job is to locate and screen candidates to present to the employer. The type of agency you use depends upon the type of employment you seek.

1. Hourly Wage Positions. You can locate agencies in the Yellow Pages, online, through your state’s Career One-Stop branch, or a local employment services agency. Many community-based social service agencies also maintain lists of employers seeking referrals.

The most common employment agency is the so-called "temporary" staffing agency. Staffing firms hire you and then place you out on short-term assignments. However, they often provide "temp to perm" jobs, which begin as temporary assignments but may evolve into regular employment.

2. Salaried Positions. Employment agencies for higher-paying positions often specialize in specific industries or professions, although some major firms perform placement services in broad occupational areas. The Yellow Pages, the Internet, or your own networking should reveal the most reputable and effective agencies in your location, industry, or profession. Such agencies are called "contingent-fee placement" firms, because typically, they get paid only if they place a candidate in a job.

Government-run employment offices seldom offer salaried or higher-paid jobs.

There is also an emerging category of temporary or contract-staffing agencies that fill higher-paid positions. These firms match candidates to professional and managerial positions that are paid by the hour, under contract, for fixed periods of time.

3. Higher-Paid, Salaried Positions. Agencies that can help you find these jobs are generally specialized "retained search" or headhunter firms. "Retained search" refers to how these types of agencies are paid for their services. These firms receive payments in advance in order to generate candidates and keep part or all of their retainers, even if they do not produce the final candidate. There are online lists of retained search and specialized employment agencies. Your own personal networking can get you in contact with such firms.

Traditional Print Advertising

Online job postings have not completely displaced print advertising. Newspapers, trade magazines, and professional journals continue to post ads for open positions and are worth a look.

1. Hourly Wage Positions. Check out the Classified or Help Wanted sections of major and local newspapers. Smaller employers in particular still use newspapers, because they are low-cost and reach specific labor markets. Larger employers often post online and in newspapers, so be sure to check the good old Sunday want ads.

2. Salaried Positions. You can still find openings in the newspaper, but you'll also want to look in the trade and professional journals relevant to your field. For example, if you’re searching for a sales management position, in addition to, you’ll want to review Sales & Marketing Management Magazine.

In addition, there’s an association and magazine for virtually every industry, profession, and major occupation. Find association listings online or by using a library resource, such as the Encyclopedia of Associations.

3. Higher-Paid Salaried Positions. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll find job ads for highly paid positions, although nonprofit, education, and health care positions are often advertised this way. Searching for executive positions, you may have better luck with trade magazines and professional journals.

The Old-Fashioned Way: Contact Employers Directly

Contacting employers directly requires doing more research, but many people still find their jobs this way. Spend some time in the local library or online searching for addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail information for local employers. Again, how you conduct your search varies based on the job you want:

1. Hourly Wage Positions. You can sometimes walk into an employer’s facility—be it a store, factory, or office—and ask for an employment application. You may be able to complete it on the spot, in writing; the prospective employer may also ask for a résumé or work history. Be ready, too, to be placed at a computer and asked to complete your application online.

2. Salaried Positions. Particularly when applying directly, be prepared to do more research for salaried jobs. Employers will probably direct you to apply via their career Web pages. But don't stop there. Find out who handles recruiting for the position, and if possible, the name of the hiring manager. This will take a few phone calls or e-mails and networking, but don’t quit. Your chances of securing an interview are much better if you can communicate with an actual person. Continue to research the employer.

You have to walk the line between being persistent and being a pain in the neck, but know that persistence pays off.

3. Higher-Paid Salaried Positions. You can try the methods suggested for lower-paying positions, but the time-proven way to get interviews for higher-paying jobs is through networking and connections. Start working the phones and visiting social-networking sites, such as LinkedIn. You’ll be  amazed at how often you can find someone who knows someone where you want to work.

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