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Lest I be too frothy about Google, Internet career librarian and author of the Guide to Internet Job Searching (McGraw Hill, 2006) Margaret Riley Dikel warns, "Don't use Google unless you have a narrow search term. Otherwise, your on-target links will be buried amid hundreds of off-target ones.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Publications: www.bls.gov/opub/home.htm. Offering far more than statistics, this site is home to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. That contains definitive narrative profiles of 250 careers, each ending with links to additional information. This site also contains the Career Guide to Industries, which provides authoritative data on which industries are hot and not.
JobWeb's Links to Professional Associations: www.jobweb.com. This site links to thousands of professional associations' sites, for example, the American Accounting Association or the National Nursing League. Alas, some of the links aren't current. Most association sites provide career information from leading practitioners. Also, such sites often include a list of its members, which is a terrific source of informational interviews and job leads. In addition, these sites often contain job listings in that field that attract fewer applicants than those on general-interest sites such as Monster.
Amazon.com: If you're still interested in a particular career after reviewing it on Google, the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and the profession's association website, your next stop should probably be Amazon, where, usually, you can quickly find a well-regarded book that profiles life in that career.
Business.com: Your local yellow pages is an easy way to find target employers locally. Business.com enables you to extend that search nationally: It's a searchable database of tens of thousands of U.S. businesses.
Vault.com and Wetfeet.com: Find scuttlebutt on large companies in vault.com's by-company discussion groups and Vault's and Wetfeet's insider profiles. Alas, too often, those reports are based on a small number of employees, perhaps those with an ax to grind. Basic content is free, but access to the good stuff costs. At Vault, $41.70 buys you six months of access to everything on the site. At Wetfeet, profiles of individual companies are $15.95 to $24.95 each.
Linkedin.com: This site holds a database of 5 million professionals seeking to make professional contacts: looking for a job, customers, or investment capital. It's based on the notion that we're just six degrees of separation from anyone, but as Dikel warns, even two degrees of separation may be too far: She has a friend who was a communications director in the Clinton White House and so casually knew Bill Clinton. "That's a long way from meaning she can get me an appointment with Bill." In addition, most people I know who have real power say they're too busy to take the time to be on linked in, let alone risk their reputation introducing strangers to their professional contacts. That said, Linkedin does contain an enormous database of professionals, and so if you're looking for a job, for background information on someone you're about to meet, a salesperson looking for customers, or an entrepreneur looking for funding sources, it may be worth a try.