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Now you can surf the Net for a job

Cyberspace now offers thousands of career opportunities. By Helen Jones
The traditional search for a job involves wading through acres of newsprint, looking for the right post, filling in an application form or dispatching a CV, and then waiting to be called for an interview. But advances in technology mean graduates have a new way of job-hunting by using the Internet. And instead of having to travel to an interview, they can get the nerve-wracking business done using a video-conferencing link.

In the US, recruitment via the Internet and the World Wide Web is fairly commonplace, but in the UK it's still in its infancy. However, having grasped its potential, the recruitment specialist Reed Personnel Services has launched an Internet site with links to an estimated 10,000 jobs. The service has interactive listings of job opportunities that are updated daily and offers direct links to other UK and world-wide recruitment sites.

Job seekers can access an area that they are particularly interested in - such as accountancy or computing, for example - and can then browse and select from recruitment sites.

Unsurprisingly, many of those using the Internet to look for jobs have qualifications in information technology, computing and communications and subsequently don't suffer from "techno-fear". But other posts on offer include those in marketing and the media, health care, finance, retail and the public sector.

Derek Beal, deputy chairman of Reed Personnel Services, says: "There is a lot of hype about the Internet, but we believe it is an additional medium for job seekers. Our interactive application and job specification forms, linking directly into the back up services of our 13 specialist divisions, have already proved useful to job seekers and employers alike."

Neil Cushing has recently been appointed financial controller of Victoria House Publishing in Bath via Reed Accountancy's Internet link. "I wasn't expecting specialist accountancy jobs to be advertised via the Internet and was surprised to see more than a 100 available," says Mr Cushing, who has a manufacturing and computer services background. "With the job market as competitive as it is, the Internet provides another channel to access the best career opportunities."

Another candidate, Annie Timoni, was temping and just began to browse the Internet. "I hadn't used it before, but I saw a job that I was interested in so I applied. I got the job, which is with an insurance company, and the whole process took just three days," she says.

While the benefits of job hunting on the Internet are obvious, some fear that graduates with access to it will have an advantage over non-online rivals.

But Mr Beal says that the service is not elitist: "We are not doing anything exclusively on the Internet. Job seekers can still use our recruitment offices around the country and can get access to the same opportunities."

Another innovation that Reed is launching is a video interviewing network designed to save employers and job seekers time and money. The scheme is being tested in 14 sites from London to Glasgow but is expected to soon be available in 100 of Reed's offices.

The video suites are based in the company's high street branches and job seekers are put into direct visual and audio contact with either a potential employer or one of Reed's consultants. Each individual sits in front of a specialised camera and can see a video image of the person whom they are talking to. "As with any new technology there is some trepidation about using it, but it saves candidates having to travel to interviews and allows human contact between the two parties, " Mr Beal says.

Syed Rahman, who graduated last year with a degree in artificial intelligence, has used the system and says: "Like all interviews, it was quite nerve- racking. But using the gadget was no problem at all, it was just like watching TV. The biggest advantage was that it saved me having to travel to Guildford in Surrey from north London for the interview."