Using the Internet for research isn't the same as surfing the Internet.
Researching is centered, surfing is wandering.
Stay focused on your research goal. If you find something interesting en route to your goal, bookmark the site and come back to it.
Here are some tips to keep you from getting lost in the murk of the Web.
Develop a plan before you begin looking for information. Decide in advance how much time you're willing to invest. Your topic will influence where you look.
Knowing roughly where your information might be found will help in developing your plan. Remember, "Plan your work, then work your plan."
It's important to keep a record of your research. As you explore potential employers, industries and communities, you will collect a lot of information. Discard that which has little or no immediate value, then file and maintain information that you want to keep. Almost every Internet newbie has given in to the temptation to bookmark sites without discretion. The result is almost always an unmanageable tangle of Internet bookmarks.
Stay on track and have a goal. "I'm going to spend the next hour researching two potential employers who might need someone with marketing skills" is far better stated than "I'm going to look for jobs on the Internet."
Many employers manage and sort resumes in a resume database. They search the database for specific skills and qualifications, so a well-written resume with the right skills and qualifications will show up frequently and prominently in the employer s search.
One advantage to you is that your resume will usually stay current in the database much longer than in a filing cabinet. If the resume doesn't show up in a search today, it has a chance of showing up in a search in the future.
There are several common ways that a resume is placed into a database. It may be entered directly to a job board or at an employer s website or scanned from paper. Any resume (paper or electronic) may find its way into a database.
Many sites allow you to update in standard formats such as Word or as a PDF. Pay attention to the directions on the website for uploading resumes and cover letters; a good first impression for a potential employee is the ability to follow directions.
Newsgroups are another place where you can post your resume. Most newsgroups are discussion forums where people who share similar interests can exchange and browse messages.
Professional newsgroups are excellent places to meet people, but they often ask people not to post resumes. It's considered a bad habit. If you make a job contact through a professional online newsgroup you can always follow up with a private e-mail and resume.
Some newsgroups do, in fact, list job openings or post resumes. Many progressive recruiters look in these newsgroups for qualified candidates, and it may be worth your effort to have your resume posted on these sites. Again, pay attention. You might be limited to uploading your resume as a text file.
Keep a few things in mind about posting resumes to newsgroups. Many resume databases also have a specific period during which individuals can keep their resumes active. You will have to reactivate your resume after the time lapses or, if you get a job, you should take the time to remove it.
Resume posting to newsgroups might open you up to spam, so you may want to use a separate online account, such as Google Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail, to deal with mail generated from newsgroups. Be prepared to screen out the advertisements.
If you're contacted from a posting, screen people carefully before you give any additional information or schedule a meeting. Ask for a phone number where you can call them back and search their name online to determine if they have a website, participate in online activities and have contributed comments to online groups.
Don't be offended if recruiters want to network with you. They may be hoping you know someone with the qualifications that they desire. If they're legitimate recruiters, it may lead to something for you.
Don't give out the names of your friends or associates. If you want to make a referral, give the name of the employer to your friend to follow up on.