As part of your job search, you probably hop online and search job boards for open positions. After all, if you want a new job, you should go where the postings are. And you wouldn’t be alone. As early as 2011, 76% of all job seekers used the internet (and job boards) to search for work.
Though searching job boards and applying to positions you find there may feel productive, that may not be the case. It’s estimated that anywhere from 75 to 95% of all open roles never make it to job boards! Even if that estimate is just plain wrong, as much as 85% of all open positions are filled through networking contacts.
That doesn’t mean you should avoid job boards entirely. Instead, change how you use them to help you have a faster, more effective job search.
What Kinds of Job Websites Are There?
There are two types of job boards, and both can be useful in your job hunt. Be advised, though, some job boards are scams. Before giving these sites any personal information, do some research to ensure they are legitimate.
The “Big Boards”
You probably know the names of several large job boards. You may have even searched some of the postings or uploaded your resume to its database. Some well-known job boards are:
These boards are popular with job seekers and employers, making it easy to find open positions. The problem, though, is that while there are a lot of job postings, many of them aren’t what you’re looking for. Instead of spending your time applying to jobs, you’re sifting through tons of postings trying to find a needle in a haystack!
Niche Job Websites
As the name implies, niche job boards are smaller and post openings for a specific group or population. Boards that target digital nomads, nonprofit workers, or people looking for remote work are examples and include sites like:
Companies post their openings on these boards in addition to the large job boards because job seekers who frequent niche job boards are more likely a better fit for their roles compared to applicants from the larger sites.
Because niche job postings are targeted, you’re more likely to find openings that meet your search criteria. However, because they are niche boards, employers may not post to them as frequently because they don’t have an opening that fits the board’s criteria very often.
How to Make the Most of Job Websites
While job seekers can and do land new roles using job boards, the competition is fierce. And given that not every open position is listed on job boards and many positions are filled via networking contacts, using job boards just to find open positions may not be the best use of your job search time.
That doesn’t mean you should avoid job boards during your job search or skip applying to openings you find on them. If you come across something that sounds perfect, go for it! But to really leverage everything a job board offers, use them to research companies that you want to work for so you can better target your job search efforts.
Take a Look Around
Start by reviewing the job postings at companies that sound interesting to you. Check out all of their job postings to see what roles they are hiring for and research salary information. The roles don’t necessarily have to be ones you want to apply for. You’re looking over the job descriptions to learn more about the company’s mission to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Then, look at roles in a variety of fields. Learn what qualifications you need to get this kind of job in general and see what skills are most frequently mentioned.
From this, you can generate a list of companies you want to work for and job titles you are qualified for and want to apply to.
Avoid the Ghosts
You want your job search to pay off as quickly as possible. To do that, you need to make sure you’re applying to open roles at companies that are actively hiring. To that end, if you find an opening on a board that you want to apply for, make sure you avoid “ghost jobs.”
Ghost jobs are postings that are on job boards, but the company isn’t actively hiring for the role. These “ghost posts” often happen because the company was hiring for the role recently but had to pause its search efforts. The posting often remains on the job board in the hopes that hiring efforts can restart soon. The trouble is “soon” could mean a few weeks to a whole year!
See if you can figure out how long the posting has been up. There may be a “posted on” date or a date the applications will close. Likewise, some job boards (like LinkedIn) will tell you if the company is actively hiring.
Talk to Your Network
Once you’ve identified a few companies you’re interested in, reach out to your network and see if you know anyone who works there or who can introduce you to someone that does.
Since networking is one of the best ways to find the roles that aren’t on job boards, using your network can help you connect with these hidden roles at the companies you want to work for.
Employers don’t necessarily post 100% of their openings on job boards, so make sure to check out the employer’s website.
Google each employer’s name (unless you already know the name of their website), look for a link to “jobs” or “careers,” and see what jobs they have posted there.
Do this search once a week for a few weeks or months to get an idea of how many jobs the employer has open and how often they repost them.
Some companies may be in growth mode, so they’re looking for a lot of people to fill new positions. Large employers are almost always hiring new employees to fill vacant roles.
Unfortunately, there are companies that post a large number of job openings due to high employee turnover, which often indicates that the company may not be one you want to work for. Before applying for any role, check Glassdoor for employee reviews and ask your network what they know to ensure you aren’t back on the hunt right after starting your new job.
Sign Up for Job Alerts
Once you’ve got a solid list of companies you want to target, join their talent community and sign up for job alerts. Often, when a new position is about to open, companies will reach out to people who’ve already expressed an interest in working for the company if they’re a good match for the role. Likewise, companies may send out an alert about new positions, giving you the chance to apply early.
There are only so many hours in the day, and you want to connect with a new job as quickly as possible. While applying to postings you find on job boards can be part of your search, it shouldn’t be the only way you use job boards. By treating job boards as part of your research, you’re more likely to connect with companies and roles that are a perfect fit for you.
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