Use the Internet to Find Job Leads


The Riley Guide: How to Job Search


Rule #1: Focus!

In the past I’ve said “move from the general to the specific”, but there is now too much out there to waste time in generalities. You need to focus on the specifics of your job search:
  1. Occupation or Job Function
  2. Industry
  3. Location
  4. Other Focus Areas to Consider
You should still scan generic sites and career indexers, but focus your time and attention on the sites that will take you to viable job and employer leads as quickly as possible. Your personal return on investment is important, and none of us has excess time nor money to waste.

Occupation or Job Function

Believe it or not, your occupation or job function is what ultimately drives your job search, no matter if you are an entry-level seeker or an experienced corporate Chief. It is the sum of your skills, qualifications, and experience applied to a specific role you will fill for an employer. In fact, most occupations or job functions can be transferred from one industry to another with little or no effort. Accountants are in demand across all boundaries. Machine operators can move from automobile manufacturing to food and beverage manufacturing with minor retraining on equipment and materials handling procedures. Yes, some changes may require extensive re-training or certification in new areas of expertise, but if it is what you want then the investment could be useful.
Interested in how your current skills and qualifications might be applied in new job areas? Check out the Skills Profiler at Military personnel can use the Military Skills Translator from or the Veterans ReEmployment Portal at to find civilian jobs that utilize your military skills and experience.
The best way to target jobs by occupation or function is through Professional Associations, and I include unions in this list (they are professional associations for those they represent). You also have recruiters who work in specific job functions as well as many niche job sites targeted to people in specific occupations. I have included sites that fit these criteria in my list of Sites with Job Listing in the following categories: Not finding something that fits you? Search these for more listings of associations and recruiters as well as links to similar sites with additional resources. Top of Page


Selecting an industry focus is key before you begin this search. Once you know the industry that interests you you can start targeting specific employers.
When targeting a specific industry, consider your local economy. What industries are growing in your area? Don’t look at national figures because they aggregate and moderate the data. You need to know what is happening in your city or county. This is where Labor Market Information comes in, and you have free access to this data through your state’s website. We have links to even more resources under Employment & Industry Trends.
After selecting your industry, you can use a variety of resources within this guide to create lists of organizations in that industry and locate their websites and/or contact information. While we are merely talking about job leads right now, Industry Research can also be used to target specific employers you want to approach. That activity is discussed in detail in our article on Target Employers Through Research.Top of Page


As in real estate, location can make or break a deal. If you currently live in an area with very poor employment, you may want to relocate to a better market so you have a better chance at finding work, and that’s not a bad idea.Very few employers pay for relocation expenses any more, so if you are not job searching in your own back yard you will need to convince an employer that you are serious about this opportunity and are willing to pay your own relocation. Yes, there are cases where you can work from your current location, but that is a discussion between you and an employer. You need to find the job first, then discuss the rest with the employer.
If you are thinking “I’ll go wherever the jobs are“, then stop, step back, and find out where the jobs are! Head over to the Employment and Industry Trends to start this search. Be sure to utilize the Labor Market Information State by State links to focus on specific states and cities in the US.
Been there done that need more ideas? Try these resources:
  • Look for local Networking and Job Search Support Groups. These often list local resources for the group participants.
  • Check the websites of Local Public Libraries, easily found by searching Libdex. They often have lists of local resources compiled for their users
  • Check out State and Local Governments by visiting State and Local Government on the NET. They frequently offer information for people wanting to work in the area and may even have links to businesses and major employers for the region.
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Other Focus Areas to Consider

Do you identify with a particular diversity or affinity group? Many of us do, either by faith, ethnicity, age, personal interests, level of expertise, or other concept by which we can be or by which we choose to be identified. Some of these identities are valuable targets for recruiters and employers, so keep these in mind when you are job searching. They can add a few more focused resources to your arsenal. Top of Page

Generic Job Sites and Career Search Engines

Finally! Took her long enough…. Yes, I know you’ve been waiting, but these are not as valuable to your search as the resources and techniques listed above. It’s like eating — there’s fast and then there’s what’s really good for you. It’s rare to find fast food that is truly good for you, but that good food tastes better and is much more satisfying in the long run.My recommendation: Select a couple of career search engines to use for a few weeks each. Really learn how they work (the Advanced Search, not just the regular search) and see what they find for you. If they aren’t working, try a couple more. In general, they will pick up a good amount of what is listed in Monster and similar sites but you don’t have to go there unless you see something you want to explore more closely. Just don’t get stuck here every night, and use these LAST.