Abundant online employment postings prompted Gabriel Gonzales — who lost his job as restaurant manager at an exclusive but financially troubled Santa Fe golf club — to move to the Denver area last year.
Six months and more than 100 applications later, Gonzales has had just one face-to-face interview — for a job that still may pan out.
The search has worn down and frustrated Gonzales. each day he scours websites including Craigslist and CareerBuilder. He submits resumes and cover letters online and then waits for responses or acknowledgments that almost never arrive.
"I started questioning whether my e-mail is even going out, are they even getting my resumes," said Gonzales, 38, who lives in Castle Rock. "More than once I checked the phone number on my resume to make sure it's right."
Gonzales is caught in the conundrum that faces many of Colorado's 250,000 jobless workers. Jobs are posted online and applications are accepted online, yet the chances of landing employment from an online ad are very low. making matters worse, few companies bother anymore to respond to the hundreds or even thousands of online applicants.
"You are lucky to hear from the employer at all unless you are considered for an interview," said Larissa Fillingham, 29, of Denver, who is looking for a full-time job teaching secondary-level social studies.
Laura Smith-Proulx, an Arvada-based resume writer and job-search coach, said the problem is the volume of responses generated by job-board ads.
"It's tough for a large employer to weed through a massive stack of resumes, and it's even harder for small companies," she said.
Smith-Proulx recommends that job-seekers make searching for and responding to jobs posted online a small part of their search because it yields a low "return on investment."
"You're pitting yourself against the maximum amount of competition by applying to national online job boards," she said, adding that online postings sometimes don't represent the opportunity they appear to.
Some aren't current, others advertise openings for which companies already have someone in mind and still others are for jobs that organizations are only thinking about creating.
As it turns out, many companies aren't thrilled with the online job boards either. Many of the applicants who apply aren't even remotely qualified, said Lorrie Ray, director of membership development for the Mountain States Employers Council, a nonprofit membership services organization based in Denver.
In a December survey by the Corporate Executive Board Co., a Washington-based business consulting firm, 24 percent of corporate recruiters said they planned to decrease the use of third-party employment websites and job boards in 2011.
More than 70 percent said they planned to increase the use of their own websites, social-networking sites such as Face book, employee referrals and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.
In other words, the Internet remains the central place to seek and apply for jobs, but there are many ways to do it.
First, there are important distinctions among online job boards. Some employers who once relied heavily on the national job boards are now turning more to local and industry sites that return fewer but more qualified applicants, Ray said.
Sites such as Jobing promote themselves as being geared more toward the local market while others such as Dice, a site for technology professionals, are aimed at specific sectors. still others, such as Andrew Hudson's Job List, serve the Denver market and cater to professionals in communications, advertising and other fields.
The major national job boards, led by CareerBuilder and Monster, suffered declines during the downturn but are benefiting from surging demand as hiring returns. They've reoriented their sites more toward geographic markets and specific job sectors, and they've rolled out technology that helps companies sort through applicants to find the best qualified.
Job coaches say a targeted approach can be more effective than pursuing opportunities listed online. that involves identifying specific companies you want to work for, researching those companies and contacting decisionmakers there. The right job may not be open now but eventually may.
"I encourage people to rethink the whole reactive nature of job hunting. If there's a company you want to work for, let them know. Don't wait for them to make a job posting," Smith-Proulx said. "If there's a company people want to work for and they can articulate their value to the company and they can identify someone who will be making the hiring decision, they've got a much better chance of being hired."
Ray suggested that job seekers go to industry events, join associations and build a network in their field, because those are often where the employers are.
As for an online search strategy, they recommend following up on applications with someone at the organization, if possible. Sometimes resumes sit unreviewed until an applicant reaches the right person and asks them whether they've looked at it, Smith-Proulx said.
In addition to having a standout resume and cover letter targeted to the specific company and opening, job seekers should be refining their Linked in profiles and including important keywords, she said. Employers increasingly scour that and other professional networking sites in search of talent.
For Gonzales, searching online job postings is the only way he knows of finding work since he's not from Colorado.
Fillingham said she has had better luck building a network. she has been tutoring at Denver Public Schools and Metropolitan State College of Denver, and her contacts at DPS helped her land a summer teaching job there. she hopes she can turn that into a full-time job.
"I don't know if I've given up on it totally," she said of online job listings, "but I think the good leads come mostly from networking."
Greg Griffin: 303-954-1241 or
<a href="http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_17807081tag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_17807081Sun, 10 Apr 2011 07:06:33 GMT 00:00">Online job postings rarely a direct line to employment