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Job Search: How Useful Are the Want Ads?

Using the want ads as a job search tool, either from the paper or online, might not be a bad job search strategy, even though some career counselors rant that answering want ads is a weak approach to landing a job. But in light of the number of jobs posted on the Internet, the easy tools for sifting through them, new laws requiring the public posting of jobs, and people getting ever sicker of being "networked," answering ads may be a more powerful tool than you think.

Consider these "want ad" facts:

  • With literally millions of easy-to-search online job ads to choose from, you can focus on those that really fit.
  • It's fast. Respond to an ad today and you could be hired within weeks or even days.
  • Ads are a legal cheat sheet for job applicants. Unlike with networking or cold calling, you usually know exactly what the employer is looking for — the job requirements are right there in the ad. So you can tailor your resume to the employer's needs.
  • Responding to want ads is more psychologically rewarding than networking because you know you're applying for an actual job opening, and responding to want ads is less stressful than asking people to help you find a job or trying to convince an employer who hasn't listed a job opening to hire you.
  • Using the want ads is an ideal approach for people who work during business hours. You can search for and respond to want ads at night and on weekends so you don't have to take time off work.
  • Using the want ads is ideal if you're looking for a job out of town. The Web contains sites with literally millions of instantly searchable job openings all over the world.
  • Responding to want ads is ideal for people who write better than they schmooze.
  • Want ads may be better for you than other job-search tools. Networking works if you have a 500-person Rolodex; cold-calling dream employers works if you're a terrific self-promoter. But most people aren't like that. For most people, responding to want ads feels more doable.

Want ads have long been underrated, and networking overrated, but today, that's truer than ever. More and more job openings are subject to affirmative action hiring requirements, so fewer jobs are filled from the "inside." To fulfill legal requirements, they must be advertised.

Meanwhile, thanks to the Internet, answering want ads is a job-search method on steroids. Millions of job openings are posted on the Web. You can search through them to find tailor-made jobs from the comfort of your home. You can even have personal electronic job scouts scour the Net for you 24/7, searching through those millions of job openings and delivering the best fits on a silver platter right to your electronic door. All free to you!

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