Website of the Month: AndersenAlumni.Net
By Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, St. Bonaventure University
This column has intentionally avoided references to Arthur Andersen
to this point, under the assumption that the firm has been getting enough press
elsewhere. However, a fairly new Andersen-related website deserves some recognition.
Alumni of the firm will want to check out www.Andersen
Alumni.net if they are seeking assistance in locating other Andersen alumni, finding answers to questions, or looking for new employment. This website is an excellent example of the Internet’s potential to develop and maintain an effective, sophisticated networking community with relatively limited resources.
The website was established by an Andersen alumnus, not the firm itself. Most of the features are available to alumni only, not to current Andersen employees or unrelated parties. Gaining access to the most important features requires the user to provide some basic contact information and agree to the website’s use policies.
Locating Andersen alumni. The website’s contact-a-member section is easy to use and can be accessed through the left-hand index on the opening screen. The user can either scroll through the entire list (or portions thereof) of website members, listed alphabetically by last name and identified by city, or enter a last name for a specific search.
Clicking on the member’s name initiates the contact process. The website sends an e-mail to the prospective contact, who can then decide whether to respond to the searcher. The website provides no information beyond first and last name and city, protecting the privacy of its members.
Discussion groups. Members of the website can ask questions of other members or make comments in the site’s discussion forum. Users can easily create a new topic, or read existing discussion threads and add comments or questions. Members participating in the discussion groups are identified only by user name and can be contacted only through the contact function described above.
Finding employment.The job-search function is the least-developed aspect of this website. The only functions currently available are creating a resume and reviewing posted jobs. Users can also check the website’s current events section for information on activities such as job fairs.
Users can create a resume via an update resume feature. The resume function is the typical structured format, so the user should review the screens before inputting information. The user can save the resume on the website and determine who else has access to it.
Members can access posted job openings by clicking on the index’s search jobs button. The job-search function works the same way as the member-search function: One can either browse a list of all jobs posted or conduct a search. The job information provided is very brief, and there is no way to contact the potential employer directly through the website.
This website is easy to use and allows members to search for and contact other Andersen alumni. The discussion forum provides a useful way for members to ask questions of one another and make comments to anyone who might be interested. At press time, the website had around 1,500 members out of a potentially much larger population. As awareness of the website spreads, the locator and discussion functions should become even more useful.
If the website is to provide serious job-search assistance, its owners will need to improve what is currently a very limited function. One alternative might be to provide direct links to existing job-search websites. Potential employers should have the ability to post job opportunities directly on the website and to review resumes online. Additionally, members should be able to contact employers directly through the website.
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