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Search for Tomorrow.

More and more hiring matches are being made in cyberspace heaven. And, despite disbelief from many quarters that those hires include CFOs, they do. In fact, Exec-U-Net, an Internet-based executive job, career and networking organization, runs an average of about 140 senior-level finance jobs every two weeks - up 18 percent over last year, according to Exec-U-Net founder and Executive Director Dave Opton. An October 1998 survey by Forrester Research on Internet classified advertising says, "Career Central already provides an e-mail notification of career opportunities to its database of 50,000 MBAs. Its mantra: 'The perfect job for you is definitely not there when you are looking.'" And Dimitri Boylan, COO of HotJobs.com, says the net "is strong with start-up companies that have a need for experienced people, including CFOs, financial analysts and other people with financial expertise."

So how do you make an online job search part of your career management arsenal?

Bread Upon the Electronic Waters

Jonathan Bastis, vice president and CFO of Sentinel Monitoring Corp. in Irvine, Calif., a $12-million firm that provides electronic monitoring of low-risk offenders, says he posted his resume on Monster.com "just as a lark." Bastis explains, "I left my last position with a $170-million firm in January 1998, got a midlife MBA at the University of California at Irvine and was evaluating my options and sourcing leads. I had no belief that senior-level financial executives would find a job on the Internet." But Sentinel contacted him, he says, "within a month or two"; he joined the company in July 1998. "Just in a year's time, there's been a dramatic shift in the perception of senior-level financial executives of the Internet as a place to post and pursue job leads," Bastis says.

In June 1998, after a 21-year career, Larry Sisel, now vice president of finance at Laidlaw Transit Services in Overland Park, Kan., was downsized following a merger. His severance and outplacement package included a subscription to Exec-U-Net. "I saw an opportunity in Kansas City the first time I looked on the computer," Sisel remembers. "Four weeks later, I got a phone call for a job five miles from my home. By early October, I had finished my [hiring] process." In the meantime, he says, he saw other postings in Kansas City he would have pursued if Laidlaw hadn't made an offer. "I had no reason to suspect that the Internet would be a waste of time, but never realized I would find something so quickly and so close by," he says.

Still, you can't just post your resume, lean back and put your feet up. The Internet is "an important new piece of the puzzle, but it's still only a part," says Deb Koen, a vice president of Career Development Services, a Rochester, N.Y.-based, nonprofit career-management organization and contributor to the Careers Q & A Column on careers.wsj.com. "It's not something to neglect, but 80 percent of all jobs are found by networking. So maintaining a solid base of contacts still is a priority." However, she adds, it's an excellent supplement to a job search, enabling you to research companies to target and providing instant access to information about them.

"Networking is the key," agrees Diane Albergo, FEI's career services manager and gatekeeper of FEI's electronic career center page at www.fei.org. "No matter how you do it - online, offline, in person or by phone - when you make a contact, you're doing the right thing. The phone's not going to go away - eventually, you have to talk to people. Recruiters will still make calls. But when you do a search online, you've got jobs at your fingertips, you've got the names of people to network with and you can send an electronic resume that goes directly into the right person's mailbox."

Jim Tait, senior financial controller supporting the engineering and technology departments at Gulfstream Aerospace in Savannah, Ga., also thinks networking is key, but notes, "I found the Internet almost as useful." Tait was employed but looking; "I had a full-blown campaign," he says, including direct mail, networking and Internet searches. His direct mail efforts yielded a 1-percent to 2-percent return, he says, but his responses to about 30 potential e-opportunities resulted in about a dozen phone interviews - and his present position. "Being able to send a resume electronically is just a fabulous feature," he adds. "Just blast them out instantaneously, especially if they were posted that day. From a cost standpoint, it saves paper, envelopes and postage. And it's time-saving. Modify your cover letter and attach your resume. It's a powerful tool that kept me a little more motivated because I felt productive."

The Internet is also an excellent recruiting tool. "Sentinel's director of human resources reports to me," Bastis says. "We're growing rapidly and are in almost constant hiring mode." Thus, the company frequently trolls for candidates on the web. "You can't afford to ignore it for your personal career development any more than you can afford to ignore it for your business," Bastis adds.

Everybody Into the Pool

When you're ready to jump into the e-job pool, Koen suggests, "Do your homework. Read a book or two about electronic job searches. Talk to someone who's used this method and is comfortable with it. And don't be intimidated, because the potential is tremendous." Then, she advises, "Start with the information part of the process. A lot of flexibility and access is built into the system. Make sure you have a sense for the system and how it works. What a financial executive might want to do, in terms of Internet exploration, is approach a search from both an executive standpoint and a financial standpoint. There is some overlap," she says, but not all available jobs will be listed in both categories.

The basic rules of business etiquette apply, even on the web. In your e-mailed approaches, Koen advises, "Strike the right balance between a cordial and a professional tone. Be careful about too much informality. Use the same level of professionalism you would in a traditional job search."

Next, she says, "Don't bombard potential employers with messages. Attempt to make a telephone follow-up after your e-mail contact. At some point, you need to get to that personal level - and the sooner, the better." A week to 10 days after your first contact is best, she thinks.

"One unknown is how into the Internet is the person you're trying to approach. So it's important not to ignore all the other methods of communication," Koen adds. "Be concise. It's annoying to get a rambling message or cover letter. And writing skills are even more accentuated [in this medium]." Thus, she says, be sure your writing is strong and your spelling and grammar perfect.

Just remember, she notes, "Once you post, you're really out there and have no control over who sees [your information]. That's mortifying to some. It's 'What's the big deal?' to others."

And, she concludes, "Don't disadvantage yourself by ignoring the Internet. But still communicate live with potential employers."

Net Results

* Much of an online job search involves time management - you can get lost on the web very easily. But if you have the time, explore. It might pay off.

* Bookmark any sites of interest.

* If you get frustrated because it's hard to weed through the information on one site, go to another.

* Sign up for a subscription service only if the information it provides seems worthwhile. Otherwise, you'll drown in information.

* Don't treat the Internet just as a place to look for a job or post a resume. Use it as another networking tool. Many sites offer chat rooms, forums and bulletin boards.

* Be careful in answering blind ads - you could be responding to your own company's. One tip-off is a post office box in the town where you work.

* Don't be overly dependent on the web. Pick up the phone once in a while.

By one count, there are over 11,000 job-listing web sites - and an estimated 1 million resumes and 1.2 million job opportunities that will travel over the Internet this year. One headhunter told Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, "In two years, we have received 140,000 resumes via the web, made 1,900 offers and 1,600 hires." With all that activity, how can you keep your data confidential? Richard Johnson, founder and president of HotJobs.com, says it's possible to manage personal data an control its use.

* Create a personal e-mail address. But be wary: Profiles you complete in applying for a free e-mail account may be accessible to others. Assume any information - including your home phone, address and salary - could be made public.

* Work only with well-known sites that offer real opportunities. The key isn't quantity, but quality. While a site may be bigger and offer more listings, if the postings are old and already filled, you're wasting your time. Moreover, read the listings carefully to be sure they're not generalized offers designed to trawl for resumes.

* If you're employed but looking around, you don't want your employer or other affiliated companies to know you're prospecting. Therefore, use a site that offers firewalls to block resumes from unwanted eyes.

* Avoid posting personal information in newsgroups or chat rooms, which are wide open for anyone to read. Personal data are best left to individual e-mails to people you know, rather than to public "positions wanted" postings or in public replies to newsgroup messages.

* Deal only with sites that won't resell personal data to outsiders, won't allow outside agencies to access their database and keep all the information you provide in their system.

"At any level, timing, luck and who you know are elements of a job search. But you're behind the curve if you don't search online. There are so many jobs out there, you can't rely on the Sunday paper any more," says Diane Albergo, FEI's career services manager. In addition to the Career Center section of FEI's web site (www.fei.org), which offers live job postings, here are other places to look.

* www.accountingjobs.com

* www.careers.wsj.com

* www.execunet.com

* www.fincareer.com

* www.fjn.com

* www.futurestep.com

* www.netshare.com

Carol Lippert Gray is managing editor of Financial Executive.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Financial Executives International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Gray, Carol Lippert
Publication:Financial Executive
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 1999
Words:1710
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