Smart job seekers think beyond simply applying for the jobs they find on job boards. The apply-apply-apply method doesn’t work well now. In fact, applying too often without being careful about the jobs you are applying for can backfire. Employers blacklist “resume spammers” who apply for every job regardless of fit with the requirements.
While job boards are obviously still valuable resources, they can often be a big waste of time. Job boards are not the only source of jobs, and they are not the best way to find a job today. According to recent research, only 12% of jobs are filled via job boards.
Think beyond using job listings to find your next job.
The Best Way Job Seekers Can Leverage Job Boards
Job postings are an excellent source of information for job seekers, if time is taken to collect and analyze it. Do this analysis over time — not just one day or one website. In particular, leverage Indeed.com, the largest source of job postings in the world.
Use the information you collect in your LinkedIn Profile and in any submissions you make for job openings.
1. Use job boards to identify target employers in your target location.
Targeting employers rather than jobs is a much more effective strategy today with millions of jobs posted and intense competition for those jobs (an average of 250 applications for each posted job). Look for the answers to these questions:
- Who’s hiring for the job you want?
- Is the employer’s location an easy and/or cheap commute for you?
- Is the employer’s location in a good neighborhood for you?
- Would you want to work for that employer?
Visit their websites to see if they have additional jobs posted.
Do they need someone to do what you want to do, even if they don’t have job postings for “your” job visible?
Remember, you are seeing only the employers who have openly posted jobs right now. Many other employers may want to hire someone like you, but they are not visible on job boards.
Read between the lines on the job postings you have analyzed. What is missing? Is an employer clearly not using the newest or best technology? Maybe they shouldn’t be on your list.
Benefit: Focus your information gathering and networking (LinkedIn!) efforts on those employers.
2. Use job boards to determine the best job titles for the job you want?
Focus on your target employers. Different employers often call the same job different things. What is an “Admin Wizard” by Company A may be “Administrative Assistant” (or “Admin Assist”) in Company B. So, focus on the job titles being used by your target employers.
Use the most current version of the job title. Particularly if you have held the same job for several years, be sure you are looking for the current title used for the job you want.
For example, in 2005 your job title might have been “Webmaster,” but now the title for that work might be “Content Manager.” Search the jobs, but also check the Indeed JobTrends — what job titles (and other keywords) are used most often?
Benefit: Use the best job titles in your LinkedIn Profile (keywords!), networking/business cards, email signature, and other networking visibility, online and off-line, to attract the attention of your target employers.
3. Analyze the most frequent job requirements — skills, knowledge, and experience. Know your best keywords.
Understand the kind of skills and knowledge employers want in someone they hire to do the job you want. Then, consider whether or not you have those skills and that knowledge:
- If you do have them, include them in your LinkedIn Profile, resumes, and other online visibility. (Keywords!)
- If you don’t have them, can you get them in a reasonable amount of time? Perhaps volunteering at a local nonprofit will help you gain the experience, or taking a course (online or off) or passing a certification test.
Benefit: Your LinkedIn Profile, resumes, and other online professional visibility will contain the best keywords for your goal so that your next job may find you without you needing to do any searching!
To expand your employer options, search Google, Google Maps, or Yelp to find other similar employers in the right location for you.
Leverage the Information You Have Collected
Focus your LinkedIn Profile on your target employers and what they want (or need). Based on the research above, you now have excellent insight into what these employers are looking for, and you can put that insight to use for yourself.
Add the relevant keywords to your LinkedIn Profile:
- Job titles —
Add the job titles to your LinkedIn Professional Headline, LinkedIn Summary, and LinkedIn Experience (as appropriate for the job you do/did in the past). Use the most current version of the job titles. If your current employer uses an old fashioned job title, become a “slash person” with a job title combining both the old an new — “Webmaster/Content Manager” or “Lead/Senior JS Programmer.”
- Professional Headline —
Rather than “Mary Smith, Webmaster,” adjust your Headline so you become “Mary Smith, Content Marketing Manager, experienced in AMP (Advanced Mobile Pages), Google Analytics, and Google AdSense.”
- Location —
Adjust your LinkedIn location to fit your target, if it isn’t already appropriate. If your target employers are in the East Bay Area of San Francisco, be sure that is the location that LinkedIn shows for you.
- Summary —
Be sure that your Summary highlights the terms you have discovered are used most often to describe the skills, knowledge, and experience needed by your target employers. Add quantified accomplishments to your Summary that demonstrate that you meet those requirements.
- Experience —
Describe in detail, related to the requirements for your next job, how you have learned, grown in knowledge and experience, and helped past employers to succeed. In particular, highlight your achievements for each job that are related to your qualifications for your future job.
Job boards are still useful, but don’t spend most of your time searching and applying. That’s not the best use of your time today. For most industries and professions, spend as much time on LinkedIn, polishing your Profile and becoming more visible (in Groups and Pulse), as you do applying for jobs.
More About Effective Job Search
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org and is a columnist on HuffingtonPost and LinkedIn. Follow Susan on Twitter (@jobhuntorg) and on Google+.