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Application Yourself : O.C. Job Firms and College Career Centers Link Web Surfers to Employment

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As Anthony Maffini faces graduation from college in just two months, he has yet to pin down the right first job, but he is heavily armed with the next best things: offers, interviews and options.

Some of them came from that most traditional of venues, the career-placement center at Fordham University, where Maffini will earn a degree in computer science in May. Others fell into his lap from the Internet, which is fast becoming the employment office of the brave new world.

Maffini, 22, posted his resume on the World Wide Web using a new service called JobDirect (https://www.jobdirect.com). Based in Greenwich, Conn., JobDirect specializes in entry-level jobs and internships for college students and newly minted graduates.

Looking for a job on the Internet “saves a lot of paper. You can have a multiple number of companies look at your resume, look at the things you’ve done and who you are, without doing all the cold calling,” Maffini says. “It’s a lot more immediate.

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“It’s kind of like putting a sign along the side of the road,” he says. “If [a company] sees something they like, they’ll slow down and take a look. . . . I’ve only had my resume with JobDirect for two or 2 1/2 weeks, and I’ve had a couple of calls.”

JobDirect and other computer services find plenty of clients in Orange County’s large base of high-tech companies--as well as some communications companies.

Some large Orange County companies that place people in jobs operate their own Web sites to link Internet surfers with employment.

Irvine-based Thomas Staffing started its Web page, Orange County Job Hotline, last April. Company president Gene Wilson said at that time “he didn’t think much of this opportunity.” But, after linking it with several other jobs databases he said the page started getting a big response.

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“On a daily basis we get up to 50 applicants from all over the world,” Wilson said. He said the new Web page not only generates a huge stack of online resumes from applicants with good computer skills, but it has increased the number of people calling or stopping by his company’s offices.

Indeed, he said a few companies have filled job orders over the phone from its pool of Internet applicants.

While many in the career counseling world marvel at the Internet’s power and possibilities, Robert Thrisk has a few important warnings for all electronic job seekers.

“I think sometimes people assume now, with this electronic wizardry, that this is the only way to find jobs,” says Thrisk, who is director of Stanford University’s Career Planning and Placement Center. “One easy assumption to make is that all companies are on the Internet. They are not. One must be cognizant of that. It’s just a tool, not the ultimate tool.”

That said, Thrisk continues, wait five years and life will be different along the information superhighway. By then, he posits, 95% of all the jobs openings that are advertised will be advertised on the Net.

Until then, he suggests, use cyberspace’s services as part of an exhaustive job search and don’t forget the traditional ways of finding work: job fairs, recruiting offices, classified ads.

Sara Sutton, co-founder of JobDirect, agrees with Thrisk’s assessment. “It’s still a bit early in the industry to depend on [the Internet] 100%,” she says. “We encourage students to use whatever methods they can. We aim to make ours one of the most effective” online resume banks and job-listing services.

The idea for JobDirect came to Sutton and lifelong friend Rachel Bell in the summer of 1995 in a Boston cab as the two college students were heading to a party. The party was great; the idea was better.

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“Once we got the idea, we researched it all summer and realized if we were going to do it, we had to do it now,” says Sutton, who was heading into her senior year at UC Berkeley. “We took a semester off to try it. That semester turned into two years.”

Officially launched in November, the JobDirect Web site bills itself as “an online recruiting service designed to help qualified entry-level job seekers and employers exchange useful, dependable information in a timely and cost-efficient manner.”

Student job seekers can post electronic resumes in the JobDirect database for free and receive immediate notice of “matches” via e-mail. Companies are charged a flexible annual fee generally beginning at about $3,000 a year to gain access to JobDirect’s resume bank and to post their openings on the service.

“The Internet has taken on the role of giant career counselor to the world,” proclaims Your Personal Net (https://ypn.com). “The career resources of the Net give the average job seeker a new level of control, offering everything from huge databases of listings to chat sessions with career counselors.”

In an offering dubbed “Simple Steps: Some Things in Life Just Got Easier,” YPN walks prospective workers through 10 steps to getting a job online, from figuring out what kind of job you want via skills assessments to writing thank-you notes immediately after interviews.

It also offers a thumbnail sketch of the big job boards. A sampling:

* The Monster Board (https://www.monsterboard.com). With 48,000 listings in its database, YPN says, “it’s a job force to be reckoned with.” It also runs a resume bank called Resume City and allows users to search for jobs via disciplines and geography. In its “Online Open Houses,” AT&T; might be offering account executive jobs throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, while Price Waterhouse might be proclaiming that it “has opportunities nationwide.”

* Online Career Center (https://www.occ.com). A not-for-profit cooperative, the center has a growing database of about 8,000 jobs and resumes. “In addition to the large number of entry-level positions for the Net-savvy college crowd, the OCC lists opportunities for experienced professionals,” YPN says.

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Another board, Los Angeles-based Jobtrak (https://www.jobtrak.com), is like JobDirect in its dealings with younger job seekers. It works with 500 campus career centers across the country and has seen a dramatic increase in the number of jobs employers list on its service.

Both UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton have begun using Jobtrak in their career placement centers. Cal State Fullerton, for example, has three computer stations on campus for students to access the Internet. Jobtrak is one of the 40 career-related Web sites it has bookmarked for students, said Bobbe Browning, director of its career center.

And both colleges are taking it a step further this fall when they plan to collect resumes from students electronically to show employers.

Submitting resumes this way gives the colleges a larger pool of candidates to consider than just the students who drop in to the center on campus for career advice or to look through job postings, said UCI career guidance center director Bruce Riesenberg.

“I think it works very well,” Riesenberg said. “It’s very easy for companies using search criteria to get resumes from people they are interested in.”


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