For many job seekers, Internet job search is all about using online job boards. They spend the majority of their hours scouring sites like Monster and CareerBuilder, looking for openings and signing up to be automatically notified when new jobs are posted that match their specifications. Those with a little more savvy may seed their resumes with the keywords most likely to get them noticed in the sea of applicants who are doing the same thing. But is this really the most effective way to job search? Probably not.
- Companies are making less use of online job boards to advertise their openings. Job boards cost money and in recessionary times, companies are looking to cut costs where they can. According to a recent employer survey, 36% of businesses plan to spend less in 2011 on job boards and 38% will be making less use of recruiters. Many are beefing up their own sites and using those to advertise for openings. And with 6 people for every available job, companies often don't even have to advertise openings. They're already hip deep in applicants, many of them over-qualified and willing to work dirt cheap.
- While companies may advertise openings on a job board, they are more likely to actually interview and hire applicants who come to them from trusted sources, such as colleagues. According to Career XRoads, only 13.2% of external hires were made through job boards. Networking, whether off-line or through social media tools like LinkedIn, is still the number one way to get hired. This is even more true now, when businesses are inundated with applicants and looking for any way to screen out less qualified people.
- Many of the jobs on job boards are outdated and have already been filled. HR managers don't take the time to remove postings once jobs are filled, as they're ready to move on to the next item on their "to do" lists.
- It's difficult--if not impossible--for job seekers stand out from the crowd. When job seekers respond to postings on large job boards, their applications are going into a huge database. Even if they are skilled at turning their resumes into keyword-loaded masterpieces, it will still be difficult to rise above the hundreds, or even thousands of other applicants. This is especially true for less skilled and less specialized jobs.
This is not to say that online job boards can't be useful. Job seekers can use these boards to identify companies that interest them so they can do further research to determine if this is a place they'd like to work. They can also see what kinds of qualifications and experiences companies seek in their applicants. Armed with this information, they can do more targeted networking--perhaps through LinkedIn or through personal contact.
Time is limited and job seekers need to make the best use of it. While job boards can work for some people, most job seekers would be far better served by researching and targeting companies and hiring managers and networking their way into jobs.