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The job-search techniques of techs

IT survey: Finding work
is all in 'who you know'

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Not academic


(CNN) -- It's like death and taxes. In a new survey of IT workers made by, "who you know" hangs in there as the most-frequently relied-on tool for job searching.

The site, considered one of the country's leading online water coolers for tech workers and employers, on Monday is to post the results of a study of 1,606 tech professionals' responses on how they look for work.

graphic Which job-search tool do you like best?

Personal networking.
Online job searches.
Corporate sites' job listings.
On-site career fairs.
Local newspaper ads.
View Results

But despite saying their best leads and results come from friends or co-workers or business associates, many of the respondents -- surveyed earlier this month -- told techies that they use a sort of suite of search tools when they're looking for work. Few said they put all their eggs into one basket.

"The most effective job-seekers," says Cynthia Morgan, vice president for content and executive producer at the Minnesota-based site, "use an average of 6.8 different employment resources when they search for jobs, combining online, networking and recruiter tools."

And as one respondent wrote, "Use your contacts. Never burn bridges, no matter how much you hate the job and the people. You always end up working with them somewhere and somehow."

On the other end of the job-search process, 35 percent of respondents to the survey said their last search had generated only one offer; 33 percent said they'd had two offers; 27 percent said they'd come up with three to five offers. Just five percent of the survey universe said they'd pulled in more than five offers.

Other options

In that cluster of job-search methods deployed, respondents said they choose from a group of 10 potential tools.

•   Personal networking

How would you rate the effectiveness of the following job-search tools?
Networking with friends/co-workers 3.8
Online job boards 3.7
Headhunter - placement agency 3.3
Newspaper want ad 3.1
Career Fairs (the live, in-person kind) 2.9
Contract position that turns full-time 2.9
Niche/vertical newsgroups 2.6
Directly contacting a desired company - without knowing if there is an open position 2.3

•   Online job boards

•   Corporate-site job listings

•   Local newspaper classified ads

•   Headhunters and placement agencies

•   On-site career fairs

•   Specialized career publications

•   Direct contact with potential employers

•   Posting resumés on career Web sites

"Thirty-six percent of techies in our survey," says Morgan, "cited personal networking as the single biggest reason they got their last tech job. Twenty-three percent gave that credit to online job searches and resumé posting. Headhunters placed third on the list at 19 percent."

Not academic

Many careerists in the tech sector may read's newest survey data with much more than academic interest. Job-cut announcements in the Internet sector hit a new monthly high in April, according to Friday's report from the recognized trend-watcher, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Challenger's figures show 17,554 Internet company job cuts announced in April, compared with 9,533 in March and just 327 dot-com cuts in April 2000. The previous monthly high had been January's 12,828 cuts. And the first four months of 2001 have racked up 51,564 Net-sector cuts on Challenger's ledger.

And in's survey responses, you can read the effects of income and experience in the responses.

"Workers making more than $100,000 in yearly salary," says Morgan, "were, not surprisingly, more likely to rate headhunters more highly" than other job-search methods. "More than half of these technologists said they obtained their last job after sending out 10 or fewer resumés. Entry-level workers, not surprisingly, needed to send out many more."

"The best for me is word of mouth, because all who know my work know how good I can be at what I do. It also makes the interview easier, because they've heard about me from someone else and know it's not just me boasting. I still dread looking. It's troublesome to be turned down for any reason, good or bad."
— A self-employed consultant in St. Charles, Missouri, responding to the survey

Women responding to the survey were less likely to send out large numbers of resumés than men. Women also tended to rate online job boards higher in ease-of-use than men -- and women were more likely than their male cohorts to downgrade more face-to-face search methods (networking, direct company contact, live job fairs).

Survey respondents ranked on-site career fairs at the bottom of the list in effective job-search tools, only 5 percent of those asked saying that fairs or Web chat groups had landed them jobs.

"Saturation is the key," Morgan says respondents were saying. And among the tips left by techies for others in the study, she lists diversification of search tools, personal networking -- and patience.


Dot-com job cuts soar
April 27, 2001
Knight Ridder to cut jobs
April 27, 2001
Unilever axes 8,000 jobs
April 27, 2001
Jupiter, VerticalNet cut jobs
April 26, 2001
Tech careers update: Skills shifting, demand easing
April 6, 2001
New IT survey finds tech workers wary
March 6, 2001
Sluggish economy, but recruitment rolls on
February 26, 2001
'Corporate refugees': The biz of being jobless
February 7, 2001
Job cuts rise again
February 6, 2001
The psychology of layoffs
February 2, 2001
A plague of job cuts
January 9, 2001

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