If you've hung out your shingle as a consultant, or you're an employer looking for one, check out several new features and tools recently added to the IEEE-USA Consultants Database. They can help both parties improve their chances of finding each other.
"This upgrade is very exciting because it gives members new tools to help market their services," says Gary Blank, vice president for IEEE-USA Career and Member Services.
The Consultants Database is a paid service that lets IEEE members anywhere in the world create profiles listing their fields of expertise, skills, and availability. Employers can search the database for people that meet criteria such as expertise, location, type of license and certification, and languages spoken. Employers also can list their needs on the database and have consultants contact them.
One new feature provided through the upgrade is that consultants listed in the database automatically have their profiles also appear on Google and other search engines.
"Let's say an employer is searching for a consultant in Arizona who's experienced with smart grids," Blank says. "They could go directly to the IEEE-USA Consultants Database to find that person, but now the same information will come up if they do a search from their favorite search engine. This is a very attractive feature."
To safeguard consultants against receiving unwanted e-mail, the upgraded database does not list their e-mail address in the search results. Instead, would-be employers must fill out a form to get in contact.
"This keeps e-mail addresses from being harvested by spambots," Blank says.
Other new features include a monthly report that shows a consultant how often his or her listing showed up in search results and how often his or her name was clicked on, as well as broader statistics about all searches conducted in the database.
"Consultants can review their statistics and see how often someone searched by a specific keyword and how many times their profile showed up as a result," says IEEE Senior Member Leslie Haggerty, the database's primary developer. "They can then revise their listing to try to improve the number of hits."
Giving consultants the information they need to improve their marketability is an important feature, Blank says. "If my name came up in search results but nobody contacted me, I know something is wrong," he points out. "Now you can fix that. If you've done a good job with your listing, you shouldn't have any difficulty getting responses."
COMPANY LISTINGS, TOO
Another new feature is the ability for would-be employers to add their own consulting needs to the database through a service called Assignment Postings. Although the service existed before, it had been automated, and inappropriate job listings made their way into the database. Now IEEE-USA staff members review each listing before it is posted.
IEEE-USA staff also might contact the companies posting the assignments and offer feedback on improving postings to attract more responses, Haggerty says. "This makes the database more valuable to all users," she says. "If consultants see good job listings, they'll keep using the database."
The database has come a long way since its original incarnation in the 1990s as an annual directory printed at some expense by IEEE. Transforming it to a Web site in 2001 was a phenomenal breakthrough, Blank says. "We've seen tremendous growth and use," he says. "Now people who couldn't find jobs as consultants in other ways are constantly telling me they found work through the database. It's a very exciting thing to hear."
There are currently about 275 consultants listed in the database, with more joining every month.
Being listed in the database is an excellent way to bring credibility to your business, Haggerty says. "If you get just one contract from it, it's great," she adds.
It costs US $79 to create a profile in the database. Employers may list their assignments for free.