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If you were planning to begin your job search by obtaining copies of the local, state and national print legal periodicals and researching the want ads, you would be missing a larger and just as useful job search resource — the Internet. For those new to the Web job market, it can be an intimidating prospect. If you were to enter the words “legal jobs” into a search engine, such as Google, you would obtain more than 644 entries with the notice “In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 644 already displayed.” The amount of time it would take you to cull through the displayed items would be substantial as they range from varied online newspaper classified ads to headhunter advertisements to a casino with jobs in a “legal gambling” environment. Perhaps not what you were expecting. The Internet gives you all possible choices using the entered search terms — in your case — “legal jobs.” Imagine if you had varied the search to include legal positions, employment opportunities and other such choices. The number of options is mind-numbing. So what is the best approach to using the rich number of opportunities posted on the Internet? The first steps would be a careful screening of your search criteria, an understanding of what you are seeking and the development of a Web method. Technology does not make the job search any easier — it makes it more accessible with a wider array of choices. This forces you to spend time at the beginning defining your job search by evaluating your skills, interests and needs as well as your location of choice. These are the same steps that you would take to do an on-paper job search. Once you have gone through the thought process and have decided what you would like to be doing, the next step is preparing your credentials to be Web friendly. You might want to consider creating two sets of credentials — one set for e-mail use and a second set for responding to Web-based search organizations. The e-mail document should consist of both a resume and a cover letter. It can be used for submission to potential employers who list positions on the Web and who indicate that a response by e-mail would be welcome. Creating an “e-cover letter” for use with e-mail applications takes time and thought. Keep in mind that the individual to whom you are sending it or who will be evaluating it will be viewing your document on a small screen, quickly and with unknown software. Thus, the cover letter should be short and clearly written, with brief paragraphs that can be easily read in short periods between telephone calls and other interruptions. The second set of documents should focus on online search firms. It is rare for a Web-based search organization to request or use a cover letter. They most often utilize an online questionnaire or “profile,” in place of a cover letter, in order to solicit your interests and the focus of your search. The most important document for use on their site is your resume. WEB-FRIENDLY RESUME The production of an electronic or Web-friendly resume is more difficult. There are many different forms of software in use in offices worldwide. If you are using e-mail to send your resume, it is important that the resume not be sent as an attachment (many attachments are not viewable with some software). Include the resume as part of the body of the correspondence. Be sure that you use simple fonts and avoid fancy formatting and graphics. They might look great on the Web but they do not print out well and will leave the recipient with a messy, unformatted end product that does not reflect the original submission. Use simple bold type, capitalization and common fonts (Courier, Times New Roman, etc.). Otherwise, you will cause the intended recipient to waste time and perhaps give up on reading the resume if the font style leads to a slow upload of the document or poor resolution both on screen and on paper if the reader chooses to print out the document. ATTACHMENTS If you have more technical skill, and you would like to attach your resume to an e-mail, the best method is to convert your resume to a “PDF” file. This file is transmitted as an exact image, thus disrupting none of the original formatting. The conversion will, however, require special software, a vendor who will provide the conversion as part of their services or the location of a Web site offering the free use of conversion software. If you are planning to submit your resume to a Web-based search organization, you will have to be even more cognizant of the manner in which your resume is written and its content. As is indicated above, many of these sites do not utilize a cover letter. The only information available to the employment screening software is the content of your resume. You will have to be careful to use terminology in your job descriptions or in your list of interests that will allow your resume to be chosen by the computer when a potential employer checks off a list of hiring interests or criteria. If you have honors in law school, be sure to list them simply and directly. Consider your interests and coordinate them to the new position carefully. If you have an interest in environmental law and your resume details work in natural resources, you might not be chosen. Look at the employer registration segment of the search firm’s Web site for information as to how the system works. Utilize specific wording in your descriptions that mirrors the search criteria that the potential employer will use in their selection of potential candidates. Once your credentials are prepared, you will have to decide how to approach the Web in the most efficient and effective manner. It is possible to divide the results of your search (that resulted in, e.g., the more than 600 listed sites) into four specific categories. They are: Information sites; Job listings sites; Consultant/Headhunter services sites; and Multiple Function sites. Some specific examples of a few relevant Web sites are provided at the conclusion of this article. GENERAL INFORMATION If you are not certain of your next career move or want to explore options, it might be more productive to begin your search with the general information sites. These sites tend to be found on the following Web locations: state and local bar associations, national legal periodicals, law school alumni/ae sites, and some other specific sites such as the “Career Center” segments maintained by the American Bar Association, Westlaw, Lexis-Nexis, and others. They provide a resource for information concerning what is happening in the legal profession (firm mergers, big deals, articles concerning economic projections) that can be helpful in keeping current for job interviews and networking sessions. Most sites provide links to resources and free online career newsletters, job listings and other relevant information. If you already have a transition in mind to a specific type of job in a particular location, the job listing sites can be interesting and informative. General sites such as Monster.com or newspaper classifieds list many different positions, often worldwide, requiring differing educational or experiential backgrounds. Many companies use them just as they would print media classified ads. Web-based resources for finding positions in specific industries include the Web site for the particular industry or company (union Web sites or association sites). Most corporations, law firms, government agencies, not-for-profit agencies, courts and even universities often have extensive job listings online. They tend to be passive sites, meaning that they will not notify you automatically when new listings are posted. They require you to go online to access the job listings regularly. They will also require that you read the site carefully to determine how the employment listings are coded, the order in which they are listed (by date, job title, professional rather than clerical, etc.) and the “level” of responsibility and authority that they carry. Some have easy links to upload your electronic resume in application for a position. Most will provide links to more extensive job descriptions and experiential requirements. HEADHUNTER SITES Consultant and headhunter sites are the most prevalent job sites on the Web. They always contain marketing information about the services of the company or individual providing the services and often contain sample jobs on their site. Use these sites with the same level of care and concern for the confidentiality of your credential information that you would use in selecting any service provider. Ask questions about their business strategies, representative clients and the manner in which your information will be utilized. Most of these sites require you to register in order to obtain further information. Know what will be done with your registration data. Is it confidential? How will it be used, and by whom? Review the questions on the registration screens carefully. Are your answers to mandatory questions either uncomfortable or sensitive? If you are doing an “open” search that does not require you to mask your current employer’s name or information, you might have different concerns than someone who is currently employed and looking at options for a future move. Determine the services offered by each consultant or recruiter and then decide where to register for the specific services you will need. As is true in working with traditional headhunters, it is not good to “flood” the Internet job market with your credentials sent by many different online headhunters. You are better off selecting an individual or company willing to spend time with you online or on the telephone finding out about your interests and skills before they click a button to send your credentials to a potential employer. Many Web sites, especially those owned by commercial entities, can provide you with multiple services. Most have some general information as well as some job listings, and if you are lucky, links to other resources perhaps more relevant to your job search. However, remember that by registering with any Web-based sites you may receive “unwanted” e-mail from third party vendors who are affiliated with many of these sites. It is common on the Web, just as it is with print media subscriptions, for organizations or commercial vendors to sell your registration information to marketing companies. If you decide to concentrate on the Web for the largest part of your search, before registering on a site, ask questions which may include (1) looking at the “sample” listings posted, (2) viewing the “masked” candidate profiles, (3) determining how long the site has existed, (4) researching the listed representative clients (are they target employers relevant to your search?), and (5) evaluating the specific services that are provided to you and to the employer. Is there a charge to you for various levels of service and is it worth the money, or could you identify the same listings on your own? Some sites provide a replay of classified ads that are readily available from the original paper source, while others have unique jobs posted through contracts with specific clients. Ask others if they have used the site and what their success rate has been. NO SUBSTITUTE Web-based job searches may be more fun, seem to be faster and often may lead you to explore options which might not have occurred to you. They are not, however, a substitute for a careful use of all of the options available to you. Most positions are still secured through networking (actually getting out of the house and away from the computer screen and meeting people with common interests and information that could prove helpful to you in your search). If you decide to utilize the Web for your search, be careful with whom you share your resume and other important information. In the end, use a combination of methods, including plain old paper resumes and cover letters, informational interviews, contacts made through professional association events, membership on bar committees, school contacts (undergraduate as well as law school) and other means that will provide you with the information you need to find helpful and informative resources. Ellen Wayne is dean of Career Services at Columbia University Law School.

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