Online Job Boards: Friend or Foe?

Ask yourself....
  • Why do people use Monster, HotJobs, CareerBuilder, ExecuNet and the Ladders?
  • Do they really deliver?
  • Does anyone get jobs this way?
In case you haven’t already noticed, the traditional, job search system is broken! The system doesn’t work for job seekers and certainly doesn’t work for employers. The job-search and career landscape is in a state of turmoil. What career specialists advised clients 2 years ago, is barely relevant. Moreover, less than 5% of  North Americans have received training in job search strategy, yet job life-spans are shrinking. The average American job is now about 2 years! Then what? Unless you have job search skills, you will be out in the cold again. Educate yourself, see a licensed career counselor, research the field. Most people use job boards, because that is what everyone else does, that is all they know.

Before spending hours and hours using a job-board, here's what I'd ask...

• What is the ratio of applicants to jobs on these boards?
• Will the posted jobs will be filled by job board users, or other methods?
• Is the posted job a “real” job, or has it already been filled by an internal candidate?
• Is it possible to compete on the job boards, with 5.5 million Americans' who are unemployed?
• Are there other "hidden jobs" which are never even posted?
Let's review common misconceptions about job boards...
1. It’s easy to create a profile on most boards and upload a resume. The job boards provide an anonymous way to access the best job-leads.

You may not have to endure face to face rejection on the job-boards. However, many of my clients report that their self esteem has taken a dive, since they never get a response after sending dozens of applications. People begin to question their desirability, their skills, education and experience. Additionally, there are too many people competing for too few jobs. Most of your competition, like you, may be over-relying on a single job search method. Would an Olympic athlete only use one exercise to train for competition? No, they’d cross train, mix it up, research the best multiple methods, hire a coach etc…

2.There always seems to be jobs available.

How many of these jobs are in actual companies with current vacancies? How many people do you know who were hired, after applying to a job-board posting? Using job boards is an ineffective, way to job search, though most people do not know what else to do. Public companies may post a position simply to comply with EEOC equal opportunity regulations and provide the appearance of impartiality/public access. In reality, there may already be an internal candidate who gets the promotion. Posting a job may be an exercise in corporate branding or public relations. There is very little to, no screening by the job boards to ensure that the jobs posted are ethical or that the companies are real. How many times have you seen ‘job postings to work at home and earn $80k a year”? Think about this.

3. My resume will get to the Human Resource staff right away, if I apply online.

The online method is not geared for the job seeker, minimally geared for the employer and is primarily a revenue source for the job-board company. Applicant tracking software, search parameters and “full inboxes” skew conditions against job seekers. The majority of resumes posted online are never personally reviewed. Top employers receive thousands of resumes a week, regardless of whether a job is posted. Getting a job offer using this passive method is equivalent to winning the lottery. Last week, one of my clients told me that they were thrilled to even get a rejection letter, from a job-board! Only 1-3% of job applicants, on job boards will receive a job offer. Most people will just submit resumes, but NEVER hear back. This is a huge time waster.

 4. What is the alternative?

The vast majority of Career Specialists would tell you to create a career action plan and a targeted strategy to access the decision makers. Instead of waiting passively for jobs to be posted, you will need to set your own career direction and create a job-search plan - based on job search best practices. You will need to tap into the hidden job market. What is this, you ask? The Hidden Job Market is comprised of all of the jobs, which are never advertised. In a normal economy 70-80% of jobs are not advertised, currently 85-90% of job openings are hidden. One Department Manager I spoke with recently, has taken a reverse approach. He was tired of being inundated with job applicants who's skills were not a match. He has refused to post jobs and hasn't advertised a position in years! Ask yourself, how does he keep his department well staffed?

To address these issues, I’ve developed a series of workshops on Job Search Strategy and Accessing the Hidden Job Market. I teach these workshops to my business students at the University and to professionals in the community. For my global clients, I’ve also created a virtual advising package to “Access the Hidden Job Market.” This is my most popular program. Feel free to read my client testimonials. Each job seeker is unique and will have their own individual job history and job search targets. Thus, when it comes to hidden job market strategy, ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL.

My Related Blog Posts...
Stay tuned for Online Job Board: Friend or Foe? (Part II)
Author: © 2014 - All Rights Reserved - Sharon B. Cohen, MA, Psychology, CPRP.  Career Counselor and Career Transition Specialist.

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