If you’re looking for your next gig, you may be searching various online job boards. However, using job boards as a tool for your job search can be hit or miss. There are both good and bad boards out there, and it takes time to sift through all of the offerings before finding the website that’s best for you.
While job boards are a useful tool, Certified Career Coach Cheryl Palmer, founder of Call to Career, tells The Cheat Sheet you should add a bit of networking to the mix:
Most people (60% to 80%) find their jobs through networking. Other job search methods that trail far behind networking are applying to jobs on job boards, using a headhunter, and attending job fairs. If you’re spending most of your time searching for jobs on job boards, you should reverse that and spend most of your time networking. And it will be to your benefit to actually combine the two. You can use job boards to identify vacancies and then follow up by trying to network your way into the company.
Are you ready to start your job hunt? Here’s advice on what to look for when searching for your next job through an online job board.
Choosing a job board
Look for first-person interviews. The best job boards will provide as much first-person data as possible. It’s helpful to get career and salary information directly from the source. One job site that performs well in this area is Glassdoor. The site provides information from current and past employees, who provide salary data, their overall opinion of the company, and job interview questions.
Make sure jobs are updated regularly. When looking on job boards, make sure to pay attention to posting dates. Are job opportunities rarely updated? That’s a sign you might be wasting your time. If you see that there are weeks or months in between job postings, you may want to search another site, advises kununu’s Millennial Career Expert Caroline Beaton. “The best job boards are updated often and highly trafficked. If the last post was a week ago, leave. Outdated listings are one of the most common (and frustrating) ways that both employers and job seekers waste time,” said Beaton, in an email interview.
Beaton went on with additional advice:
For this reason, the best job boards I’ve encountered are open source. Anyone can post about a job or an employer; there’s no middle man, no extra admin. You might think this wouldn’t work, but sites Wikipedia and Craigslist prove that individuals are highly effective at keeping information up-to-date (bureaucracies, on the other hand, aren’t). Speaking of, Craigslist is actually a great place to find jobs. The simpler the platform, the better. As with anything in the real world, use common sense, listen to your gut, and don’t give personal information to strangers.
Try a niche job site. If you work in a specialized field, it may not be beneficial to conduct your search on a general job board. Palmer said this is where a niche job site comes in handy. “For job boards that focus on jobs in specific niches, there are specialty job boards that can be helpful. Here are just a few: idealist.org (nonprofit jobs), dice.com (IT jobs), hcareers (hospitality jobs), flexjobs.com (work from home jobs), and usajobs.gov (federal government jobs),” she said.
How to maximize your search using job boards
Use job boards as a reference. Don’t limit your job search to online job boards. If you do, you could miss out on a great opportunity. Instead, Beaton recommends using boards as a reference point.
The best way to use a job board isn’t as an application. These applications go to the very bottom of the electronic pile. Employers reading applications that came through job boards is like you deciding to skim your spam folder on Monday morning. Unlikely. Instead, job boards should be used as reference points: They can help us understand the kinds of jobs that are out there and the expertise needed to land them. For example, if employers list minimum qualifications, they’re usually serious about you meeting them. Instead of wasting time applying to a job you’re not qualified for, spend your time developing the skills they want.
Set job alerts. The best way to stay on top of your online job search is to create alerts. This will help you see when a new job in your area of expertise is posted. Palmer advised the following:
Create job alerts that are specific enough to cull though the myriad of job listings and send you relevant results. One of the major complaints that job seekers have is that they have to sift through lots of jobs that have nothing to do with what they are looking for. Creating a good job alert is critical to maximizing your time on a job board. When you do that, you allow the machine to do the work and then you can focus your time on responding to openings that match your criteria.
Stay in touch with your network. In addition to your online search, don’t forget to tap your existing network. Former colleagues and acquaintances can often be your best source of job information. Someone in your network may even be able to flag a job that you had overlooked on a job board or alert you to a job that has yet to be posted.