Job boards. Should you use them? Do you use them but feel guilty?
If you pay attention to career experts, they say to not waste time on job boards. But as a job seeker, this is where it feels most comfortable. There’s a disparity somewhere… and a conflict.
I’ve been “down” on job boards sometimes, but I also recognize the value of job boards. Here’s the real issue:
If you spend all (or most) of your time applying to jobs on job boards, you are generally wasting your time. Or, you are investing your time in tactics that are less likely to get you closer to landing a job (that’s the more tactful way of putting it).
Any job seeker who has applied for a job knows about the great frustration of applying online. Specifically, uploading your resume, and then having to copy and paste info from the resume into a long form. This can easily take 45+ minutes per application. If you do a few of these a day you spend more than half your day applying to jobs. This is mind-numbing, and for anyone who has been involved in process improvement, it’s frustrating.
What’s worse, the stats on job boards are not in your favor. Nick Corcodilos says that less than 3% of jobs are filled by people who apply online. So spending your time on job boards is like fishing in a hole that has little-to-no fish. Maybe that’s because so many postings aren’t real? Maybe it’s because the hiring decisions are generally made before a posting ever goes online? Maybe it’s because hiring managers like employee referrals more than random applications?
That’s the conventional wisdom: don’t use job boards (as a major part of your job search). But again, we’re left at the conundrum!
My recent experience shows that job boards indeed have value.
As a job seeker I can get a thumb on what’s going on and who’s hiring from postings. Job boards make it easier to do “competitive intelligence” and learn about the landscape… who is hiring, what are they hiring for?
Here’s a tip that not many people talk about: the effectiveness of any job search tactics depends on many factors, including your level (executive or entry level), your location (small town or big city), your industry, etc.
Let me suggest some effective ways to use job boards:
- Use job boards to find leads on roles for companies you might not have heard of, or openings at companies you are interested in. This is lead generation and information gathering. This is your way to keep up on what the market looks like, what’s available, movement at companies, and even company changes/strategies.
- Use email alerts to avoid spending too much time searching on job boards. For my level and experience I’ve found LinkedIn to be the best, most accurate source of real postings. You might find other boards to be better. Set up email alerts so you are just checking your email daily instead of spending time in the black hole of job boards.
- When you find roles, study them. In my first big job search I was looking for project manager and business analyst roles, and had never heard of product manager roles (which is what I really wanted, I just didn’t know they existed). Job boards are a great place to find trending roles and things that you might not have heard about before.
- As you prepare for interviews (or your targeted resume, or cover letters, or even networking), print out ten postings of the title you are interested in and study them. You should find consistent words and phrases and you might fish out something unique here or there. All of this will help you make a better communication plan. You should pick up on jargon, and trends within your role. This is one of the best ways I can think of to quickly come up to speed on things you need to know, and be able to talk, about.
And really, it’s okay to apply to jobs online. In my experience, even when networking into companies you’ll hear “apply online, and then call this person.” Applying online gets you in the system.
My advice, though, is to not spend hours everyday applying online. Apply for jobs that you are really interested in, and then network to learn about some of the “maybe” jobs.
The biggest problem with job boards is when they consume your job search time. Make sure you use job boards in a balanced way (implement other tactics, like networking!!), and use them in the right ways (as opposed to just finding openings and applying online!).
That’s my take for job boards in 2018.