The letters WWW can stand for a lot of things if you're hunting for a financial services job.
You'll find the World Wide Web might work for you as a Wonderful Welcome Wizard, sweeping you away to unheard-of new opportunities. Or it might be a Weird Woeful Wasteland, swallowing time and effort like a bottomless well. And if you're using slow telephone dial-up connections, you may be tempted to couple swear words with its more common nickname, the World Wide Wait.
In spite of its flaws, the Web is emerging as one of the most powerful and necessary job search tools today. But with the dizzying array of choices available on the Internet, where does one turn?
Start with the table on this page. The Web sites listed will offer you a chance to post your resume in a job seekers' data base, or allow you to browse through posted job openings from many companies, much like the want ads in your daily newspaper.
And unlike your daily paper, most of these Web sites will let you e-mail your resume and perhaps a brief cover note directly from your computer screen to the headhunter or company placing the ad.
The Web "offers you a lot of opportunities," says a southern banker who specializes in analysis of direct mail statistics. The banker, who asked that his name not be used, is looking for a new job through the Web, among other routes. "A lot of these Web sites have job postings on them, where you can type in categories, or key words, and look for specific jobs."
In fact, American Banker will have its own Career Online Classifieds debuting in mid-January. The service is expected to offer links to the home pages of banks and financial service companies looking for employees, with e-mail addresses and names of human resources contacts.
In addition to standard Web sites, there are also search engines-such as www.yahoo.com -those sites that will search the rest of the Web for pages containing a word or phrase that you specify.
Using a search engine, you will probably want to start with phrases like "jobs in banking," or "jobs in financial services." And in the process, you'll probably find a slew of sites that have general banking career information, financial services industry trends, economic information, or banking and finance business news, all of which you'll need to keep up-to-date on during your job search.
Margaret Draper, a spokeswoman with the Securities Industry Association, suggests that job hunters in the financial services industry also try looking at the firm's individual sites. "Each firm has its own site; some of them have job postings," she said.
Headhunters say that the existence of the Web has changed the job search process in many ways.
"I think the Web had changed expectations," says Paul Wesman, with Right Management Consultants, a Philadelphia-based outplacement firm. "Both job searchers and potential employers see the whole task of matching the job with the candidate as a faster process now."
The existence of the Internet has certainly made the job hunting process a tad less formal, with employers often asking for a resume to be faxed or e-mailed, rather than waiting for a formal cover letter and printed resume to be mailed, for example.
Sometimes, the Web can let the potential employer come to you. "I posted my resume out on four or five sites," said the southern banker. "You type your resume in there, or cut and paste it. And a lot of them have geographic regions you can specify. Some Web pages are even set up for certain types of jobs."
Headhunters caution against getting so caught up in searching the Web that you experience on-line paralysis. Searching the Web can be so compelling-almost addictive-that the searcher can neglect the primary duty of a job hunter, which is most definitely low-tech: finding and using personal contacts to get a job.
In other words, there's no substitute for maintaining your contacts and being in touch with people.
One final caution for Web-surfing job hunters: Master the technology. For example, your Web browser usually allows for files called "cookies," which preserve a record of the last 50 or so Web sites you've visited. You may want to purge these files or install software to block cookies while you're job hunting.
Susan Allard, the president of Allard Executive Search in San Francisco, tells the embarrassing saga of one job applicant who e-mailed a resume to her firm. This person, while he was sending his resume, had also been browsing Web sites, including some X-rated commercial sites. His resume came to Allard Associates with half a page of all the web sites he visited, apparently cookie files that had somehow been attached to his resume, Ms. Allard said. "It was quite a selection! He'd been shopping," she added.
She sent him back his resume.