By: Jennifer Luna-Idunate, MSSW, and Robert Canon, Ph.D.
Spring 1997, Vol. 4, No. 2
Editor's Note: This article first appeared in THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER in Spring 1997. Some examples may be outdated.
Job Search @ the Internet
by Jennifer Luna-Idunate, MSSW, and Robert Canon, Ph.D.
What do social work, career development and the Internet all have in common? Networking! As social workers, networking can be our most viable skill when conducting a job search. Since the Internet is by far the world' largest network, what better place is there to extend and enhance your job search! The Internet makes vast career development resources easily available to social workers. These resources are quickly accessible, low-cost, or even free, if you are connected through a university.
Why use the Internet?
Using the Internet for your job search will expand your career opportunities by allowing broad access to professional development services and employment listings at your convenience-24 hours a day. You can research potential employers, areas of practice, and many professional organizations without ever having to leave your own computer. If you are considering a long-distance job search, you will find help wanted advertisements, relocation and salary calculators, and many online services that will even allow you to post your résumé for free. An additional bonus: using the Internet as one of the tools in your search demonstrates an important transferable skill that will definitely increase your marketability in social work-your familiarity with the computer and the Internet.
Basically, an Internet job search requires three things: a computer, a connection to the Internet, and browser software. The computer center at your university or your agency may have existing Internet access. Your university computer center may also have the capacity to allow you to connect to the Internet by modem from your home. If these options are not available to you, Internet service providers are operating in most areas of the country. Some examples of these commercial subscription services are America Online and Prodigy. Although these services may not offer access to all areas of the Internet, they often have a private network with a great deal of information that non-subscribers cannot access. Many have bulletin boards devoted to careers and are linked to electronic employment services. These subscription services provide their own unique content to subscribers and are usually well-organized, an advantage that makes them more user-friendly for the novice.
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web (WWW) is a component of the Internet. Just as your e-mail uses the Internet to get from one location to the other, WWW documents use the Internet to get from the server where they reside to the requesting client. Just think of the Internet as the channel the information flows through. WWW documents are placed on the servers and are available for others to view or download. They contain hypertext links, so you can jump easily from one document on one server to another document on another server. These links can occur through words, pictures, or graphics.
Finding Information on the WWW
Because of its sheer size, one of the most difficult aspects of using the Inter- net can be sorting through the vast amounts of information. Search engines are sites on the WWW that collect and index information on the Internet, allowing you to enter key words or subjects to search for across the WWW. Two of the most popular search engines on the WWW are Yahoo and Altavista. The more specific your keywords are, the narrower your search results will be. Most WWW browsers will have a “bookmark” or “favorites” feature, which allows you to save a customized list of sites in a menu, so you can easily connect to them again later. Check the pull-down menus in your graphical browser to find this feature.
Career Development and Planning from the WWW
Several sites offer assistance in all aspects of career development, including career path exploration, résumé writing, and negotiating salary and benefits. A good way to begin is to check out a few of the more popular sites at one sitting, using sections that link to other sites. You can use one of these services as your jumping off point, but remember every site is linked to other sites, so you may quickly find yourself 10 or 15 links away from where you started. The following are examples of these types of sites:
Career Planning Process
Career Development Manual
Professional Organizations and Affiliations
Many professional organizations and other social service affiliations have WWW sites available for general information, research, and networking. Licensure information and examination services nationwide, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) are all available for gathering information pertaining to your professional development. There are also some local and statewide branches of NASW online. Most of these sites have an e-mail address for requesting information, thus eliminating long-distance telephone calls and possible lengthy waits.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW) National Office
Social Work Examination Services-Publishers of Comprehensive Licensing Review Study Guides for Social Workers
The Social Work Networker
The Council on Social Work Education
Mailing lists use your e-mail account to deliver a running dialog on specific topic areas to your mailbox. There are many listservs related to the social work profession. As a subscriber to a mailing list, you may post questions about issues and trends in the field. These sites are very helpful for seeking information about specific social work organizations and career paths.
When you first join a mailing list, think of it as a meeting and introduce yourself to the group. You may want to just read the list for a few weeks, to get a feel for the nature of each group before posting your own comments/questions. Almost all groups have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section, which lists the most commonly asked questions posted within the group. If you subscribe to several mailing lists with high traffic, you must be careful not to let your mail account become filled, or you will lose mail. To subscribe to most lists (there are a number of exceptions) send an e-mail message to the administrative address, with no subject in the header, containing only the following command: SUBSCRIBE LISTNAME YOURNAME
The Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors has posted a list of Internet Discussion Lists for Social Workers at the following site:
To get started, you may want to join the Social Work Discussion Group, also known as SOCWORK, at email@example.com. Write to this address with the command: SUBSCRIBE SOCWORK YOURNAME. Once you have subscribed, you can send messages to all members of the list at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Employment Search Sites
Several employment search sites post nationwide job listings in almost every career field imaginable. At these sites, you can usually search by professional title such as “social worker” or “therapist” or by location. The key to searching these large databases is to use as many keywords as possible that relate to the type of position you are seeking. The following are some examples of employment search sites:
This site is the home page of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, and includes a variety of career-related services, which are updated and expanded regularly. You’ll find an employer directory of career opportunities, a searchable database with job postings (including links to federal jobs), job search information and guidance, and links to other job-search resources.
Offers employers and job-search information, and job listings
Offers a variety of links to job-search resources and connections to job listings
On-line Career Center
A non-profit job search home page sponsored by employer organizations. It includes information on companies and job listings.
A few employment search sites exist specifically for social work and related professions. One of the most comprehensive job search sites for social workers is the George Warren Brown School of Social Work & Social Services Jobs On-line at http://www.gwbssw.wustl.edu/~gwbhome/jobs/swjobs.html
This database allows you to search for national and international jobs by location in academia, administration, advocacy, case management, clinical social work, community development, direct practice, fundraising, international social development, nonprofit management, social policy, research, and other areas of interest to those in social work. The site also includes links to other job resources, career development resources, and an employer online job submission form.
The New Social Worker-Career Links for Social Workers:
This page contains job links for social workers, employment postings, and feature articles related to career development from THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER magazine.
NASW, California Chapter-Jobs Bulletin
This site lists non-profit career opportunities in the San Francisco, Sacramento, and Bay area.
The Long Distance Approach
When conducting a “long distance” job search, the WWW can be your most useful resource. You can begin by using the national employment databases mentioned previously. Additionally, newspapers in some large cities publish classified ads in a searchable database. Once you have chosen to relocate, there are also sites available to help you calculate salaries, and relocation cost. Many cities are online with information about real estate, local events, restaurants, and other businesses. These pages are often maintained by City Net or the local chamber of commerce.
This site contains local information from over 30 cities around the nation. Information includes classified ads, entertainment, malls, phone book, news, and weather.
Provides classified ads from the Boston Globe, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Denver Post, Baltimore Sun, and many more.
The Salary Calculator...Living, Real Estate
E-Span' Cost of Living
U.S. Cost of Living Comparisons from Datamasters
Publishing Vita/Résumés on the WWW
Most Internet access providers allow users to publish WWW documents, or home pages. These pages can be highly reflective of the developer' personality and serve as a showcase for your technical talents in addition to putting your résumé where it can be accessed from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. Your personal WWW page can be used as an electronic portfolio of other achievements, including résumé/vita, links to other WWW projects, links to pertinent organizations or affiliations, universities attended, presentation / workshops, papers published, and research projects. The basic HTML tags to create an attractive showcase for your accomplishments are easily learned and widely available on the WWW. Many universities provide information on WWW page development for beginners. The following sites will post your résumé for free.
You are required to sign up, but résumé posting is free.
Commerce2000 - Resume Posting Service
The administrators of this site will send your résumé to the major search engines for free.
E-Span' ResumePro Databases
Allows you to put your résumé in front of thousands of hiring professionals.
Thompson Virtual Job Fair
Will let you post your skills in two ways, one public and the other confidential.
When conducting an online job search, you may be asked to submit your résumé and a cover letter via e-mail. Although you can use the same content for your online résumé, the format will probably need some changes. Since you will be sending your résumé electronically, it will have to be stored in plain text format with no bullets, boldface type, or underlining. In order to emphasize key points or section headers you may use asterisks or capital letters. After you have finished checking it for spelling and grammar errors, send it to yourself or a friend to see how it looks after it is e-mailed. When you’re confident that it is picture perfect and ready to send off, don’t forget to send both the résumé and cover letter in the same file and use the advertised position title as your “subject” line in the e-mail message.
While using the Internet for your job search won’t take the place of visiting your campus career office, face to face networking, or scanning the local employment ads, it will certainly be to your advantage to use it as part of your overall job hunting strategy. Think of the Internet as a career development tool that can greatly broaden your professional network, enhance your computer skills, and expand your career options-all at the click of a mouse.
Jennifer Luna-Idunate, MSSW, is Coordinator of the Career Development and Resource Center, University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work. Robert Canon, Ph.D, is Systems Analyst at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work.