Dear Joyce: I have been a senior executive who is now facing outplacement status. I probably will accept counseling but I do want to know about using computers in job search. What can you recommend? -- P.N.C.
Dear P.N.C.: Concentrate on the red meat of job search -- the underlying principles of who gets hired, why and how -- and become a Master of the Universe in Job Search before you examine its tools. Start reading to play catch-up for the decades you've spent pursuing other areas of expertise.
The most immediate way to use computers to pump up your job search is to identify prospective employers or their support troops, and communicate with them.
Many companies offer job search databases but one that, so far as I know, is uniquely comprehensive is Robert Bronstein's Pro/File Research (Box 602, Flourtown, Pa. 19031; (215) 643-3411). Although the firm typically works through career counselors, outplacement firms and resume writing firms, serving as their off-site research department, it's possible for individuals to use the company as well.
Individual clients usually are mid-level or top executives or professionals seeking to change jobs, usually in another locale or in metro areas where data for the area is difficult to dig up. As an example of the latter, the 215 area code has 35 telephone directories and this does not include Wilmington, Delaware or tTC South Jersey, which are considered part of the metropolitan Philadelphia.
Pro/File Research uses a number of on-line and subscription data sources to target prospects for clients. They tailor lists of executive recruiters or lists of target companies that fit clients' needs. After identifying headhunters who may be interested in candidates with your qualifications and companies that fit the parameters you describe, Pro/File, for additional cost, will prepare a mailing to the targets using your text and the lists Pro/File generates.
More than 2,200 executive recruiters in the U.S. are listed in specialized directories and telephone books. You can sit down in libraries and go through them or you can use PC technology to spot recruiters with the highest probability of having an assignment for specific jobs.
There may be more than 8 million employers in the country and Pro/File can pull out target companies by where they are, what they make or the services they provide and their size. Pro/File emphasizes that it has no information about who is hiring and who is not.
Pro/File also can help job seekers with "library" research by electronically scanning journals and newspapers for information on industries, companies and executives.
As a variation, computers can be used to locate venture capital companies for executives who would rather run their own enterprises than return to somebody else's payroll.
Like convenience foods, the data costs more to have it served up on a platter than if you do the tedious work of paging through lists. A list of 40 to 200 executive recruiters who handle people in your league costs $75; for another $75 you can have Pro/File print your letters and envelopes.
Bronstein says results are showing what's said in the letter is more important than the resume.
No independent studies have yet been done to show how effective computers are -- as a tool -- to identify and contact recruiters and employers. Direct mail job-seeking is thought to be productive only when well-targeted and plentiful with hundreds or thousands of contacts. Telephone follow-up is important.