Back in mid-November, Mike Richards found himself in an unenviable position. He was laid off from his job and faced the prospect of going into the holiday season unemployed.

The oil service technician from Tewksbury, Mass., however, didn’t feel sorry for himself. He decided to take action. One of the first things he did was post his availability on the discussion board at

“Who lays off an oil burner tech in November? I already applied for unemployment, but would much rather be working,” he wrote. “Anyone looking for an experienced (4-1/2 years), extremely motivated oil heat technician?

“Where does one go to find jobs in this limited field? All of the job sites force you to choose a category, but the only thing I can choose is ‘HVAC Technician,’ which doesn’t really apply, as I don’t have my refrigeration license. I am planning to hit the pavement Monday morning, and would appreciate any help.”

It didn’t take long for people to offer words of encouragement and references. The word also spread to, other places on the Web, and via e-mail messages. A couple of days later Richards posted again.

“I have been blown away by the number of people who have responded both online and directly through e-mail,” he said.

“In Massachusetts, I am considered an ‘experienced’ oil burner technician, but only an ‘apprentice’ refrigeration technician. I would have to work as an apprentice for three years to get my refrigeration license, and I just can’t support my family on apprentice wages.

“I have talked to one local service company that handles both heating and cooling and is considering my previous experience. It sounds as if they could really use an experienced oil guy (they handle both gas and oil).”

Two weeks later he was hired. Richards toldThe NEWSabout his first month on the job.

He said his first week was a little rough, as he had a very bad head cold and had a little trouble adjusting to the new surroundings. He was given a new van his first day and told to only bring his own tools, but he had to “tweak” the van to how he was used to having it organized.

“I have spent the last few weeks getting things set up the way I want, and all is much better now,” said Richards. He thanked many of the people, including OilTechTalk’s Alan Mercurio, HeatingHelp’s Dan Holohan, oil heat professional George Lanthier, and the Service Roundtable.

“I really did get a tremendous amount of support through these sites, and through private e-mails from many, many people - all of whom frequent the sites - who either just wanted to express their support, or actually supplied me with leads and pros/cons on different potential employers,” he said.

“I was totally amazed at the outpouring from people who didn’t know me from Adam.”


As a result of his experience, Richards offered his own nine-point method for finding a job entirely through the Internet.

1. Find online discussion forums for your chosen field.You should be following these anyway, if you are serious about your career.

2. Announce your availability.It helps if you are already somewhat recognized.

3. Write a decent résumé.Save it in text and Word format.

4. Use online directories.Use Google, an online phone directory, etc. to find all companies within commuting distance that are potential employers.

5. Search for their Websites.If the company has one, you might be able to apply via its Website.

6. Look for an “Employment” link.If they have one, follow it.

7. Watch for the company’s contact e-mail link.For example, it might be or

8. Send them your résumé.Send the company an e-mail message with the text version of your résumé in the body of the e-mail, and the Word version attached. Preface the resume in the body of the e-mail with an explanation of who you are and explain the attached Word document.

9. Reap the rewards.Wait for the offers to come rolling in.

For more information, visit,, or (membership required) orThe NEWS’Website,, and click on “Career Center.”

Publication date:01/29/2007