We are awash in information today yet job seekers we’ve spoken to are not always taking full advantage of it. At one time you had to scour libraries for hours or work in a government office with special access to find information or get it quickly.
Some sources of information we regularly point job seekers to include:
- Company websites,
- Online information from the Department of Labor,
- YouTube, and
- Other people’s blogs.
All sources of information, whether online or offline are subject to some degree of error or bias. Cross-reference or verify information you find with other sources whenever possible.
The five sources of information above are just a starting point. You will find dozens more online information sources as you pursue your own search. Share your ideas in the comments below, or on LinkedIn.
Company Websites are useful.
Employer websites are usually my starting point when we work with job seekers. They are useful for two basic things:
- Descriptions of past employers that provide background for resumes and profiles, and
- Information regarding potential employers.
With regard to information about past employers, we use the first few lines of the “About” section on employer sites as a source for one line thumbnails of past employers to appear on a resume. For example, the company thumbnail I used for a client that worked for OpenText, paraphrased from the Company’s website read:
“OpenText helps companies securely capture, govern, and exchange information on a global scale.”
(We discarded some marketing adjectives since we are promoting the job candidate, not his former employer.)
Employer websites are also valuable for researching future employers. A job seeker we spoke with as we started to write this post was using the website of a target company to identify a contact person to whom she could direct a cover letter. She also identified a company apprenticeship program targeted at those who are rebooting their engineering careers.
Websites operated by not-for-profit and public sector employers are sometimes even better than those belonging to public companies. They may offer detailed information on service locations, and even the contact information and bios for some or all employees. Much of this information may have been difficult to find before the Internet age.
LinkedIn is a key source of information.
We have observed that job seekers underutilize LinkedIn because they create a profile and do not do much more. LinkedIn is a veritable goldmine of job search information. Chances are, the companies you are targeting have pages on LinkedIn. If not, you will probably find employees and former employees of your target company on the site when you do a search for the company name.
One of my clients, a fundraiser, used LinkedIn to identify the qualifications that fundraising consultants in her target company actually had, as compared to the qualifications the company claimed they were seeking. This is information that would have been hard to come by in the past.
Even if you choose not to build a robust LinkedIn presence, the site is valuable as a research tool.
US Department of Labor and other government websites are important tools, too.
Government websites, such as the site maintained by the US Department of Labor are among our favorite sources of job market information. Websites the federal government operates are, for the most part, run by career civil service employees, and they are not selling or promoting anything. They don’t have sophisticated AI features that direct you to the most dramatic information.
The OOH is an interactive version of a handbook that has been around for many years. A high school guidance counselor introduced us to the books, and we still use the online version today. It contains descriptions, statistics, and videos about thousands of occupations in the United States, so you will probably find information about the job category, if not the exact job titles that interest you.
DOL’s Employment Projections pages are also useful. An intriguing aspect of the site is that the statistics on the site are available in a variety of format, such as Excel, so you can download spreadsheets and manipulate the data yourself if you choose.
You can probably find a government website with employment data for any state or locality that interests you, too. New York State, for example, has its own Department of Labor site. Pennsylvania has a Department of Labor and Industry Website. That means you can find information for your specific job market.
YouTube has excellent information, too.
While YouTube, like LinkedIn, is an AI-driven social media site, it is also another motherlode of information and training for job seekers. A number of recruiters, career coaches, and other career experts have channels on YouTube. There are many technical training channels, too.
We look to channels such as that operated by CGL Recruiting for both updated factual information and the recruiter’s perspective. Additionally, we search YouTube for videos on specific MS-Word features and ways to keep job seekers informed via social media.
Other People’s blogs can be useful but be skeptical.
Nearly everyone seems to have a blog, as well as a social media presence. Many blogs are well-written and factual. Remember, though, that blogs do not have to be reviewed or fact-checked by anyone. Several months ago, for example, I read a blog post on six-figure jobs, and decided to quote from it in one of my posts. Upon fact-checking it, I found certain information was confusing, if not entirely wrong.
Verify information from blogs and social media posts by following links and check it against other sources. Let bloggers, including myself, know when we are wrong. It’s easy to edit a blog post or social media post in most cases.
So, take advantage of the information cornucopia found online. While some government sites are interactive versions of classic reference sources, other websites, blogs, and social media should be fact-checked when feasible.
Remember, too, that we’ve only scratched the surface. You know your own industry, occupation, and profession, so you will find dozens, and sometimes hundreds of credible information sources related to your field.