So, where do you find the jobs?
Most people start with the big Employment Super Sites. You cannot, and should not, ignore the big sites, particularly if you want to work for a large employer. However, they are much less important than they used to be, so do not invest a lot of time in searching for jobs on the big job boards.
Note: Limiting your job search to applying for jobs online is not effective. That can feel very productive, but it typically is not the best way to find a job. Networking is the best way to find a job because employee referrals are how employers prefer to find new employees.
[Related: Shortcut to a New Job, Tap an Insider]
You are spinning your wheels and wasting time until you figure out what you want to do. Seriously!
If you don't know the job you want, job hunting without a target job is like getting into your car to go "somewhere" without knowing why or where you want to go. Or like going to the mall "to buy something" or to a giant food buffet for "something to eat."
Chances are you won't end up where you want to be or get what you really want or need, unless you know what that is.
Assuming that you know what you want to do and where you want to do it, you'll find millions of jobs posted online. If it has been a couple of years since you've searched for a job, start at # 1, and go through the whole list:
No one wants to read this advice, but networking is the quickest way to a new job.
Networking doesn't mean attending events in big rooms full of strangers! Networking means staying in touch with people you know, and meeting new people. I've seen people connect with new jobs at a funeral, and they also connect at football games or over coffee with friends.
You are five (5) times more likely to be hired if you have been referred by an employee than if you apply without knowing anyone.
Employers really prefer to hire someone known to a current employee than a complete stranger off the street.
Connecting with people at your target employers or choosing to work for an employer because you already have friends or family who work there is the most effective method of landing a new job.
[Related: Shortcut to a New Job: Tap an Insider.]
Visiting your target employers' websites and finding the jobs posted there is a clear option. Often, you will find a link to "Current Jobs" on the home page. Sometimes, the link to job postings is labelled "Careers." While you are on the employer's website, you may be able to sign up to have new jobs sent to you.
Check out the employers' sites so you are familiar with what they do (products, services, senior management, locations, etc.), and use that information you collect in your interactions with the employer.
The aggregators are powerful and very useful, including sites like Indeed.com, a Job-Hunt sponsor, which is the largest source of job postings in the world, aggregated (collected) from employer websites, job boards, association websites, publications, and more. Indeed, and the other aggregators like SimplyHired, show you job listings.
When you click on a job listing, the link takes you to the job source which can be an employer, a job board, another website, or the job posted on the aggregator's site. Jobs posted on Craigslist sites aren't usually included in an aggregator's site unless the employer cross-posts the job.
[MORE: Using Indeed to Find a Job]
LinkedIn is currently the most powerful and effective professional social network, and offers access. LinkedIn has job postings (see the "jobs" link below the search bar at the top of every page). Also check out the Jobs tab in LinkedIn Groups (you can join up to 50), and the company profile pages for your target employers.
LinkedIn is one of the best online venues for connecting with people who work at your target employers (and who worked there in the past). Use it to vet the employer, too. You can use the "company page follow" to stay up-to-date with what is going on, including members of your network who work for that employer and job postings.
[MORE: Linkedin to Recruiters written by a recruiter.]
In addition to LinkedIn, job postings are available through both Twitter and Facebook. In Twitter, follow your target employers' Twitter accounts for news and look for a Twitter account for jobs, too. Many employers also have Facebook pages for both marketing and, often, also for recruiting.
Job boards are still very popular, but, as employers have increased their recruiting on their own websites and as the aggregators have made those jobs more visible, the general job boards are perhaps not as effective as they once were. Look for niche boards like Dice.com (for IT) and Idealist.org (for nonprofits).
Be careful to avoid the imitation/scam job boards that exist to collect your personal information but offer you no benefit. [Related: Guide to Avoiding Online Job Scams]
Recruiters are the traffic cops in the process of hiring people. They can help or hurt you. The important thing to remember is that they don't work for you. They work for the employer. [Related: Working with Recruiters]
Online classified ads, particularly on sites like Craigslist.org, can be very effective for job search because they are very low cost to use, and free in many locations. That low cost attracts small employers who can't easily post jobs on their own websites. But, do be cautious! Because the price of posting is very low or nonexistent, scams are posted. [Related: Using Craigslist to Find a Job]
Associations and school alumni groups are very effective for networking, and often their websites have job postings for members. If you have worked for an employer in the past, look for an "alumni group" for that employer.
You'll find many ways to connect with other alumni -- both school and corporate -- in LinkedIn Groups. [Related: How to Engage More Recruiters and Employers with LinkedIn Groups.]
Google has many hidden talents plus excellent tools for finding job postings as well as helping you with your job search in many other ways.
[More: Guide to Company Research, and how to be found online >> Guide to Personal SEO (Search Engine Optimization).]
This is a list of the top sources of job postings online, roughly in order of the number of job postings available. Do remember the job postings may not be your quickest way to a new job.
If you want to work at the local mall or in the local McDonald's restaurant, go to that business and ask for an employment application to complete. Dress nicely, be polite, and complete the form neatly and legibly, and you'll probably end up with at least an interview the next time there is a job opening.
When you are looking at job postings, be sure to keep in mind that many scams are published on all job posting sources. So, you need to be relatively cautious and skeptical about applying for jobs you find online. Read 9 Characteristics of a Job Scam for more information.
If you currently have a job, be sure to keep a low profile for your job search so you don't get fired (YES, they can fire you for job hunting in the USA!). Check Job-Hunt's Guide to Stealth Job Search.
Remember - no matter what Website you are visiting, even one listed in Job-Hunt, be sure to protect your privacy, watch out for scams, and avoid the Dirty Dozen Online Job Search Mistakes as well as the Dirty Dozen Dangerous Assumptions!
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 2012, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.